Salt is an important mineral that has been part of human life for a very long time. From adding flavor to preserving food, salt plays a vital role in various aspects of our daily lives.
But have you ever thought about how salt is made? In this article, we’ll take you on an exciting adventure to learn about the different ways salt is produced.
Let’s discover the fascinating world of salt production together!
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Salt Production Methods
There are mainly three methods to produce salt on a larger scale:
- Rock Salt Mining
- Creation of Salt Brines
- Seawater Evaporation
Rock Salt Mining
From its name, you might guess rock salt comes from the Khewra salt mines. Rock salt, also known as Himalayan pink salt, is found in large amounts under layers of rock covered by lava. To know about Himalayan pink salt – Visit Ittefaq Salt – a Himalayan Salt Supplier in Pakistan.
Khewra Salt Mines: A Brief History
The Khewra salt mines are in Punjab, Pakistan, near the Jhelum River. These deposits formed when ancient oceans dried up millions of years ago.
Himalayan salt contains 84 trace minerals and elements and offers several health benefits. Himalayan pink salt is mined by hand which is why it is the purest salt on Earth.
Process Of Salt Mining
Currently, the Khewra salt mines have a network of tunnels that go through 19 levels and about 25 miles.
Also, the temperature inside the salt mines is consistent at 64 degrees. About three hundred miners used the tools like hand drills, gunpowder, and pickaxes to work in salt chambers.
The first step is to use a hand auger to do the drilling. The salt is then broken into large pieces. Around 1000 tons of salt are dug up by miners every day.
Room and Pillar Method
The miners use a method called “Room and Pillar,” in which they split the salt rocks they take out of the ground into two equal parts.
First, the miners take out the rock salt, usually in a horizontal direction. This makes a lot of pillars and rooms inside the mine.
Half of the salt rocks are used as pillars to hold up the ceilings of the salt rooms. On the other hand, the miners take the other half of the ore out of the mines for industrial use.
Miners use special equipment to extract large blocks of rock salt out of the mines.
Processing Rock Salt
Then this rock salt is washed and crushed according to specific requirements. Large blocks of salt are ground into smaller grains in the grinder.
Rock salt also called Himalayan salt comes from salt deposits that are hundreds of years old and can be found in Pakistan.
The Production of Table Salt
Table salt is the most commonly used type of salt and is made by brining salt deposits and evaporating salt brines.
After the salt crystals have been obtained, manufacturers process them into fine grains that can be easily mixed into food.
A method called hydraulic mining or solution mining is used to get salt out of salt deposits.
For this method, wells are drilled 100 to 1000 feet away from the salt deposit. The salt is then mixed with water pumped below the earth’s surface. This makes a concentrated salt brine.
Connecting these wells with lateral drilling can do more solution mining work. The brine is pumped into storage tanks for further evaporation by using heavy machines.
Evaporation and Cleaning
The salt brine evaporates using steam heat in large commercial evaporators called vacuum pans. This way of evaporating water makes more pure and refined salt.
During the cleaning process, impurities and other minerals like calcium and magnesium are evaporated from the brine.
The result is pure sodium chloride crystals which can be used as regular table salt.
The Production Of Sea Salt
Solar evaporation is one of the oldest and very effective methods to get salt from seawater. This method is used to make sea salt.
Solar Evaporation Technique
About 3.5% of the world’s salt comes from the oceans where salt crystals form naturally in shallow ponds and dried-up bays.
Because the sun evaporates more water than it rains living in places with strong winds and warm weather is best. It works as follows:
Saltwater gets stuck in shallow ponds, and the sun evaporates, leaving salt crystals and concentrated brine behind.
Later, special machines collect the salt which is washed, moved, and graded to remove any impurities before packaging.
We get the salt we need through a simple yet amazing process.
Harvesting Advanced Sea Salt
As technology has advanced, businesses now use two different types of ponds to harvest sea salt more efficiently.
- Concentrating pond
- Crystallizing pond
- Harvesters collect seawater and place it in ponds.
- Sun and wind work together to accelerate the evaporation of the seawater, leaving behind concentrated brine.
- The concentrated brine is transferred to an area where salt crystals can form.
- After evaporation, the final product obtained is sea salt in the form of grains.
- Crystallization ponds have a salt floor about one foot thick which covers 40 to 200 acres.
- It takes a long time for these salt deposits to form.
- A continuous flow of concentrated brine moves through the ponds during the process.
- As the water evaporates, pure salt crystals crystallize out of the solution.
- Sea salt crystals are typically large but can be ground down to different sizes as needed.
But this method can only be used in places with less rain and higher temperatures like the Mediterranean and Australia. Old ways of solar evaporation are used to turn seawater into sea salt crystals.
Understanding how various salts are produced empowers you to make a wise choice when purchasing salt for your daily needs.
It’s important to know that rock salt is considered the purest form of salt, whereas the salt obtained from salt brines, commonly known as regular table salt, undergoes significant processing and includes anti-caking agents.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which salt to use by considering your taste and health concerns.