From desert and sea to heavenly meals
Few raw materials have as many uses as salt. And different salts can have widely different properties. Our insatiable pursuit of new sources of salt, flavours and variations has brought us to some of the most dramatic places on earth.
Our rock salt is mined from the salt deposits found in the European bedrock, formed more than 200 million years ago. Rock salt consists of remnants from prehistoric seas that have dried up and left layers of salt behind. Over time, the salt deposits have accumulated into depots through collisions of continental plates that “crumpled” the crust and caused mountain ranges to form. The salt deposits can be hundreds of meters deep and cover large areas around the world. On our Swedish latitudes there is no rock salt, but as far north as in Denmark, salt is extracted from the bedrock. The salt is broken by drilling, blasting or cutting off pieces of salt from the rock. Mining takes place between 100 and 1500 meters deep, in mines that can consist tunnel systems of several kilometres. The salt blocks are crushed or ground and sieved to different grain sizes before packing.
Salt with naturally
Near the high peaks of the Andes in northern Chile is the Atacama Desert, one of the world’s driest places. From there, SALTWELL is extracted, a unique salt that contains 35 percent less sodium than ordinary table salt – naturally. The harsh landscape hides an underground lake of water with particularly good properties and high mineral content. When the water is collected up to salines above ground, the water evaporates and remaining are these special crystals. When the salt is harvested, each individual grain contains only 65 % sodium chloride and all of 30 % potassium chloride. The unique composition of each crystal gives a low sodium salt but with the taste of ordinary sea salt.
Salt flakes can occur naturally or be produced by different methods. That these brittle flakes can be formed is basically due to the natural behaviour of salt. Namely, sodium chloride is crystallized in cube form. When, under optimal conditions, the crystal is given the chance to grow out of its dissolved form, the growth takes place rapidly on the flat surfaces and the outer edges of the crystal, respectively. That is why crystals can be formed in the form of pyramids or hollow cubes. Depending on how long the crystals grow, the flakes can vary in size, from small to several centimetres in size. The salt crystals are brittle and thin, which easily crushes them; during the crystallization process, at the harvest or when the salt is packaged. If you look closely at a flake salt, you can see crystals in different stages – some more intact than others.
Most of the world’s salt can found in the sea. From there, man has collected salt since ancient times. To extract sea salt, water is fed into so-called salines, which are shallow pools or ponds. In the salines, the water evaporates slowly under solar heat and blowing winds and salt crystals begin to form. This is because there are not enough water molecules left to keep the salt dissolved. Eventually, a salt crust is formed on the water surface and the salt is ready to be harvested. After the harvest, the salt is cleaned before it is dried and sorted into different sizes. Since a great amount of sun and heat is required for evaporation, our sea salt is extracted from the Mediterranean Sea.
The popular salt variety called Himalayan salt is a particularly mineral-rich rock salt that comes from hundreds of millions of years of salt deposits. The most distinctive feature of Himalayan salt is the beautiful colour – the salt is made up of crystals in different shades of pink. The colour depends on the natural composition of the salt crystals containing a variety of minerals and trace elements. In addition to the 97-98 percent sodium chloride, the salt contains, among other things, magnesium, potassium and calcium. But also iron, which primarily gives the salt its special colour. The Himalayan salt is mined in the Punjab province in northern Pakistan. Here lie the Salt Range mountains, which houses several underground salt mines, the most famous of which is Khewra (which is said to be the world’s second largest salt mine). History says it was Alexander the Great who discovered the salt deposit in 326 BC, but there is evidence to suggest that salt may have been collected here sooner than that.
Table salt is usually a so-called vacuum salt, one of our purest salt varieties. It is a kind of refined rock salt extracted from ancient salt deposits in the bedrock. When water is pumped therein, it dissolves the salt that is stored in the rock, whereupon the salt solution is pumped back up to the surface. In the next step, the solution is purified from minerals and impurities before boiling under vacuum in special vessels. As the water evaporates, salt crystals begin to take shape. When all the water is boiled away, only crystals of a very dry salt with a sodium chloride content of close to 100 percent remain, a level not found in natural salt. We have a vacuum salt, which is eventually crushed or tumbled to the desired shape and grain size. Vacuum salt is available in both fine-grained and coarse varieties and, thanks to its high degree of purity, it is very common in the food sector.