Oil is one of the most important and precious natural resources on the planet, but would you ever take a bath in it?

In the energy-rich nation of Azerbaijan, you now can. Situated in the capital Baku, the Naftalan Health Centre offers its customers a chance to dip in the black gold.

Seb, an Australian tourist to the region who was visiting the facility, described the experience:

"It's pretty OK, it's about the same temperature as a normal bath, it's a bit like chocolate I suppose in texture, reminds me of those chocolate fountains at the malls. Pretty warm, pretty painless, does not really smell much," he said.

Bathing in Naftalan oil for medicinal purposes is a practice that stretches as far back as the 6th century. But there has been criticism as well that the oil contains naphthalene hydrocarbons, a possible carcinogen. The spa's doctor Hashim Hashimov said that the treatment could cure up to 70 ailments.

"Naftalan kills everything, viruses, bacteria and fungi. It's consistence is unique and pure, it does not contain any dirt," he said.

crude oil bath
After 10 minutes in the tub, the crude oil is scraped off the customers to be used again Reuters

Just don't expect to linger for long. Customers are allowed 10 minutes in the tub before scraping down and showering off the sticky substance, which is then used again for the next customer.

"Usually we lose some material on each person, and every time we add material for each person. But to dump the whole thing is impossible, as the material is expensive," said Hashimov.

Perhaps not as luxurious as it first seems, but it's all part of Azerbaijan's plan to use its abundant natural resources to fuel the country's growing tourism industry.