Sea salt

HR_Ston Saltworks-8150

Sea salt is a crucial resource that has shaped civilizations. In the Adriatic area, it is still produced in a traditional manner - with the help of the sea, sun, and wind. Unrefined salt is harvested in salt pans in Nin and Ston, while ‘Fleur de Sel’ salt, made through the evaporation of naturally occurring saltwater pools, can only be found along the inaccessible cliffs of the island of Mljet.

Name of Material in the local and Latin language
Sea salt, unrefined, no additives (Lat. Sal); Morska sol; Fleur de Sel (Lat. Flos Salis); Cvijet soli
Type of Material
Mineral
Commonly Found Locations
Clean sea, large and shallow marine bays Climate: many sunny days, wind that aids evaporation (nighttime summer burin, daytime moderate maestral, Šilok)
Major Industrial Producers or Suppliers
Ston Saltworks; Nin Saltworks; So, Soline, Mljet

Colour
White
Density
Varies depending on the temperature and concentration of salt in the water
Hardness
Varies depending on the processes of crystallization, crystal size, presence of impurities or other minerals, as well as environmental conditions
Melting/Boiling Point
Greater than 801° C
Solubility
The solubility of sea salt, primarily sodium chloride (NaCl), depends on the temperature of the water. At 20°C (68°F), the solubility of sodium chloride is approximately 357 grams of NaCl per liter of water. However, solubility increases with higher water temperatures.
Structure
Sea salt, which is mostly composed of sodium chloride (NaCl), has a crystalline structure. Crystals of sodium chloride typically have cubic or octahedral geometry. This means that crystals can form in the shape of cubes or octahedral pyramids.
Chemical Composition
Unrefined sea salt (Nin Saltworks) NaCl, Sodium chloride (97%), moisture from 0.5% to 10%; Salt flower (Salt production So) NaCl, Sodium chloride (97%), Ca, Calcium (0.132%), Mg, Magnesium (0.301%), K, Potassium (0.301%)

Industrial and Crafts Applications
Sea salt, besides being essential in gastronomy as a seasoning and preservative, is also used in handcrafted cosmetic products such as soaps and body scrubs. Fleur de Sel boasts a richer mineral profile compared to regular table salt, notably due to its high concentrations of magnesium chloride and potassium chloride. This characteristic enhances and amplifies the flavors of foods.
Historical or Cultural Uses
Salt not only had a practical role as a food preservative and seasoning but also served as a symbol of wealth. Saltworks were centers of economic and cultural life, and many became important hubs for trade, the exchange of ideas, and cultural influences.
Environmental Impact
The muddy and salty water in the basins of Nin Saltworks benefits numerous animals and plants. Around 80 species of birds live in its vicinity, the most famous being the black-winged stilt who feeds on brine shrimp, the only creatures capable of surviving up to the fifth stage of salt production. Another famous inhabitant of the salty basins is the samphire, a medicinal wild plant commonly known as the sea asparagus. The construction of industrial saltworks or evaporation ponds can alter marine and coastal ecosystems, leading to habitat loss for birds, fish, and other marine organisms. The release of saline solutions or discharge waters back into the sea can disrupt the balance of marine ecosystems due to increased salinity. Implementing sustainable practices like those observed in Nin, Ston, and Solin saltworks can help alleviate their negative impact and reduce environmental damage.
Innovative or Emerging Applications
Innovative applications of sea salt include solar energy, agriculture, sustainable materials, and skincare and wellness products. Sea salt is being researched as an ingredient for salt batteries, natural fertilizers, ecological packaging, and skincare products.

Extraction Methods
Evaporation of seawater in basins (either naturally-occurring or constructed), drying under the influence of solar and wind energy during dry and warm periods of the year, concentration and crystallization of salt, hand harvesting, washing, sun drying, packaging, distribution
Processing Techniques
After hand-harvesting, the salt is washed to remove impurities such as sand.
Sustainability and Environmental Considerations
Sea salt is a product of the sea, sun, wind, and the human hands that harvest it. In salt production, it is important to focus on careful management of resources and the purity of the living and biodynamic ecosystem. This includes preserving natural habitats for birds and other living organisms, controlling wastewater discharge, and promoting practices that minimize negative ecological impacts. The traditional technique of hand-harvesting allows for the preservation of natural minerals and characteristics of sea salt. In Soline, salt is harvested from naturally occurring pools of seawater on the wild and inaccessible cliffs of the island of Mljet, while Nin sea salt is enriched with a higher concentration of natural iodine due to the presence of the petula algae in the seawater.
Recycling and Waste Management
Waste management in the industrial production of sea salt involves the reuse of salt and proper waste disposal. Waste solutions can be treated and recycled for other purposes, such as the production of mineral fertilizers. Depending on the composition of waste solutions, they can also be repurposed for the production of solar batteries or cells.

Interesting Facts or Historical Anecdotes
Ston Saltworks is the oldest active saltworks in the world, and Ston is still one of the best planned and best-structured cities because of the salt industry, which contributed a third of its revenue to the Republic of Dubrovnik. To protect the salt pans, monumental walls were built in the 14th and 15th centuries. The Nin Saltworks were purchased by the Venetians in 1423 to have monopoly over salt production and was reopened only in 1954 and continued to produce salt using traditional techniques.
Relevant Organizations, Associations, Producers
Solana Ston; Solana Nin; So, Soline, Mljet

Sea salt is a crucial resource that has shaped civilizations. In the Adriatic area, it is still produced in a traditional manner – with the help of the sea, sun, and wind. Unrefined salt is harvested in salt pans in Nin and Ston, while ‘Fleur de Sel’ salt, made through the evaporation of naturally occurring saltwater pools, can only be found along the inaccessible cliffs of the island of Mljet.

Ston Saltworks are situated in southernmost part of Croatia on Pelješac peninsula, while Nin Saltworks are located in Zadar region. Fleur de Sel crystals that form on the surface of the pools, are harvested from naturally occurring pools of seawater on the wild and inaccessible cliffs of the island of Mljet.

  • 04-Branje soli (2)

    Milan Pavić, Salt Harvesting, Ston, 1956, Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, MUO 38040

  • 04-Branje soli (3)

    Tomislav Veić, Shoveling Salt in Ston, 2009. – 2010., Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, MUO 51619

The production of salt in a natural and environmentally friendly manner occurs in basins, each serving a different function in the production process. The first step is the evaporation of collected seawater from shallow basins, which occurs under the influence of sunlight and wind. The seawater gradually evaporates, leaving behind a concentrated salt solution – brine. Through progressive evaporation, the salt concentration in the basins increases, forming salt crystals that are harvested and separated from the remaining liquid during the summer months. Following this, the salt is washed to remove impurities such as sand and residues. The salt is then dried in the sun or in dryers, packaged, and distributed for use.

The hand-picked salt flower is a spice that is especially valued in cooking. Compared to regular table salt, Fleur de Sel has increased mineral complexity. It brings out the flavor of food due to the high concentration of potassium and magnesium chlorides. Sea salt, in addition to being indispensable in gastronomy, is used in handmade cosmetic products such as soaps and body scrubs.

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