It’s there in abundance, absolutely free for the taking, rolling in wave after wave, yet we go to the store and buy unnatural chemical compounds. The oceans, not to mention the other bodies of salt water, comprise the bulk of the planet, so why aren’t we making the most of it? We do not get our salt naturally ourselves.
Sea salt has become much more common on the average American dinner table, and it’s readily available at even run-of-the-mill grocery stores these days. And, the reason we originally moved to chemically constructed salt rather than the natural stuff was to combat deficiencies in iodine, which it has successfully done. Nearly 70 percent of table salt is iodized.
However, many of us now struggle with health problems due to high sodium intake, and some of us also strive to get our vitamins and minerals from natural sources. The sea and its salt do naturally provide iodine (and many other trace minerals). We can get our daily recommended intake of iodine from sea plants and naturally iodized sea salt. Also, making sea salt is an interesting and fun DIY project.
Step 1: Collecting Your Water
It’s as easy as getting to a source of salt water, a sea or ocean or even the occasional lake, with buckets, jugs, bottles or what have you. Fill the jugs and take them. Figure on between half and three-quarters of a cup of salt per gallon of water. Obviously, it’s a good idea to consider the state of the water source: if it’s contaminated, the salt won’t be safe. You can do a quick search on the body of water that you’re collecting water from and see if there is any information available about any recent contamination before diving in. Typically, choosing sources that are far away from industrial areas is the best bet – the farther away from human development, the clearer it is likely to be.
Step 2: Filtering the Sediment
Because this salt is coming from the sea, which if is full of both natural and synthetic debris, it’s necessary to first filter these elements out of the water. This can be done easily by pouring the saltwater through a cheesecloth (or old t-shirt even), removing any unwanted particles but allowing the salt and water to squeeze through.
Step 3: Boiling Away the Water
Now that there is nothing left but saltwater, we need to get rid of the water to get the salt. This is done by boiling or simmering the solution, and it’s a great time to pull out that enormous outdoor pot with the propane burner. For a rolling boil, which the fastest way, it’s important to stir the mixture to prevent burning the salt. Simmering is another option, but it will take much longer. The goal is to get the salt down to something resembling wet sand.
Step 4: Drying Out the Salt
Moist salt isn’t exactly what we are after, so it should be spread out thin on a pan in order to dry it out. The rest of the task can either be performed naturally by using the sun to evaporate the remaining liquid, or the salt can be put into a dehydrator or an oven (on very low heat) until it’s completely dry. The sun can take several days, a dehydrator only a few hours. Either way, it works.
Step 5: Storing the Salt
If five gallons of water produces three or four cups of salt, storing it for a while will now be an important part of the process. In this case, old spice shakers can be reused, glass jars are even better. Sometimes the salt crystals will be a bit large for table salt, so in that case, simply get a regular pepper grinder and use it for fresh ground salt instead.
Really, that’s it. It’s not complicated at all, but the process is rather lengthy. Even so, salt goes into nearly everything we cook making it well worth the effort for the amazing payoff!
Image source: Quinn Comendant/Flickr