Making salt from sea water


An article in the Irish Times (http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/magazine/2010/0703/1224273550711.html) provoked a thought that we should take advantage of being close to the Atlantic Ocean and bring some salt water home to see if we could make some sea salt. I duly went down to the Coral Strand near Clifden and filled bottles with two liters of sea water.

Back home, the water was ignored for a few days until an unfortunate accident resulted in one of the bottles being put on the table at dinner time. Suffice to say that I didn’t enjoy drinking sea water when I expected San Pellegrino. In any case, after that it was time to see whether we could turn the water into salt before any other accidents occurred.

The process of transformation is simple. First, pass the sea water through a filter (a paper coffee filter works well) to remove any small debris that might have been scooped up when you filled the bottle.  Then pour the filtered water into a pan and boil the water off until salt has obviously formed in the bottom of the pan. Use a deep rather than a shallow pan for this purpose as the salt spits as the water boils off and can make quite a mess of your hob. Keep going until the water has almost disappeared and you are left with salt that still contains water… it will look like a  white mass on the bottom of the pan. Scrape this off into a baking dish and leave to one side to allow the remainder of the water to evaporate to leave dry salt behind. If you’re impatient like me, you can set your oven to a low temperature and bake the wet salt for about an hour to encourage drying. In either case, you should be left with some nice salt on the baking tray. There may be some clumps of salt that have to be broken up before it can be used. We poured the salt into a salt mill and it worked perfectly. The article in the newspaper said that you’d get about 40 grams of salt from one liter of water and this is about what we ended up with.

This method isn’t something that you’d use often as it’s much easier to buy salt from the shops… but it’s a nice way of creating something that is a reminder of a vacation and the salt seems to be more piquant than the norm… and I know exactly what part of the Atlantic ocean it came from!

– Tony

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About Tony Redmond ("Thoughts of an Idle Mind")

Exchange MVP, author, and rugby referee
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