How is this popular additive extracted from the ocean to be used in kitchens all over the globe?
Sea salt is harvested in one of three ways. The first is a freeform natural technique where human labourers manually dredge natural, high salt-content waters (such as those found in Lake Retba, Senegal) with sieves. This is the oldest practice and delivers small amounts of sea salt over a long period of time – ie the supply and generation speed is controlled by entirely natural means.
The second method is a semi-manual technique in which natural seawater resources are artificially dammed off and segmented into a series of shallow ponds (as demonstrated in the Dead Sea). These ponds, as they are exposed to the Sun and wind, evaporate, concentrating their salt content; indeed, salinity is increased almost tenfold, from around three per cent up to nearly 30. At this stage, the contained salt starts to crystallize and can be harvested manually.
The third process is an evolution of the second, with the entire operation scaled up and detached from a natural source of seawater. Here, salt water is artificially pumped into man-made shallow ponds, which are all interconnected.
As the water begins to evaporate, it is moved closer and closer to a processing facility through their connections, meaning that the water in the nearest pond has the most crystallized salt. The mineral is then raked up by huge mechanical harvesters and transported to a processing facility for cleaning.
Sea salt is processed by first washing it in a brine solution in order to flush out any calcium and other impurities, and then in fresh water to dissolve any remaining magnesium chloride. After this, it can be re-dried, packaged up and distributed to retailers. Read Hebridean Sea Salt