You may have guessed by the title of this blog that I have a thing for salt. Resting on a little ledge in the kitchen, always within arms reach, are at least three different salt varieties. In the inside pocket of my purse I carry with me a small container that contains a modest amount of both Fleur de Sel and Maldon. In our kitchen salt is the most frequently used ingredient, which is why I’m surprised that it took us until now to make some ourselves.


We grabbed the largest containers we could find, (at our house those just happened to be two growlers) and headed to one of our favorite local beaches. Carrying the growlers down to the beach, we ignored the odd looks from the fellow beach goers that were shot in our direction. Eager to gather our ingredient we headed straight to the water stopping only to catch our breath as the cold bite of the pacific caused a temporary stall in the process.


Soon enough we had the containers filled and we continued our time on the beach searching for shells, skipping rocks and watching the kite surfers rush past us as they soared through the water.

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When we arrived home I passed the beach water through several layers of cheese cloth (four, at least) to capture the bits of sand, rogue sea shells and kelp that came with our catch. The water that was left in the pot was perfectly clear.

With the sea water set somewhere between a simmer and a boil it took nearly four hours for us to reach salt. Every so often we would check the process then return to our daily tasks while we continued to wait for the water to vanish and leave behind a finely grained salt that manages to capture the best of sea.

By the time we had salt the boys had gone to bed. My excitement caused rash thinking as for a moment I contemplated waking them to show the end result. Reason took over and I waited until morning to share with them the fruit of our labor.

We ended up with about 1/2 cup of salt after boiling down 2 gallons of ocean. Not a lot considering the time invested in the process but it remains to be well worth it. It has given us even more reason to return to the beach often and there is nothing wrong with that.

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As for the salt itself – it’s wonderful. We had been enjoying it on our food for weeks before I ended up at a potluck with Mark Bitterman, the author of Salted– a book I adore, and also the owner of The Meadow located in Portland, OR and New York. I had Mark give it a try and he ended up taking home the remaining salt I had brought with me that evening. The next day he sent me a message saying he had a chef try it and the chef “flipped out”.

Needless to say my boys are thrilled with their effort. Now we find ourselves busy keeping up with the demand as word has gotten out that they are making salt and people have been wanting to buy. In the meantime we are enjoying this activity that provides plenty of learning opportunities, fun times together, and many trips to the beach. Not to mention, great salt.

I realize it’s not Friday but this post was shot with film. Most often I try and post my recent film shots of Fridays. Here are other Film Fridays to peruse at your leisure.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

All images were shot using Kodak Portra 400 using a Canon A1 50mm 1.4.

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I realize it’s not Friday but this post was shot with film. Most often I try and post my recent film shots of Fridays. Here are other Film Fridays to peruse at your leisure.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

All images were shot using Kodak Portra 400 using a Canon A1 50mm 1.4.

88 Responses to “Making salt”

  1. Kenya

    great story about salt!
    but first, what kinds of salt is Fleur de Sel and Maldon, and what are they used for? can you use sea salt on anything?
    what a wonderful experiment to have with the kids, and this is coming from one of the biggest 32-year old kid you’ll ever meet ;P
    love the pix too, as always

  2. Jenn

    This is one of my favorite posts you’ve ever done, ever 😉 Beautiful story & pictures! I can’t wait to try and make some of my own salt…

  3. Julie

    How totally cool – I’d never have thought of it! I’ll be doing this with the boys next time we’re out in Tofino! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Amber

    I loved this post… such a great idea! My family has property in the San Juan islands, so last weekend when I was there I got a couple gallons of seawater to make the salt. Then I can give it to them as a place-based gift (sort of… not that water stays in the same place, but it’s a nice idea). I ended up getting about a cup and a half of salt from the gallons, and it made me wonder if the water is saltier closer to the open ocean than in the Puget Sound. Also, where did you get the cute little glass jar with stopper?

  5. amy

    I might throw a few empty gallon bottles into my car for the next time we end up at the beach. we only live about 7 miles from the gulf of mexico

  6. lyndsey @ the stationery place

    i’m a new reader (came over from stephmodo) and a recent seattleite — this post is amazing! i have never even thought about making my own salt, so this is fascinating to me. in addition to being practical and delicious, i think making salt from seawater would be such a cool way to commemorate places you’ve been. i grew up in southern california and would love to have some so cal salt to bring with me — though i’m sure it would be radioactive or contaminated 😉 anyway, great post!

  7. Kerri Nel

    You might want to look up the water pollution in your area, air pollution, and most importantly understand that ocean water and some sea waters are high in methylmercury which can cause serious damage to the central nervous system including your brain.

    This site explains it’s best not to consume salt from ocean water because it is likely high in methylmercury

    “Don’t try to harvest sea salt from public beaches or beaches that are contaminated by chemical runoff or offshore petroleum drilling.”
    Read more: How to Harvest Sea Salt |

    This very scary image of water pollution:

    and this of air pollution:

    Before everyone runs to their local beach to make their own sea salt, please inform them of the dangers!!!!

  8. Christie

    How did you keep it from burning and how to you get it completely dry???

  9. Sheryl

    WOW That was way to cool. I am not a beach person. I prefer the mountains. But this would sure make me want to go to the beach. Thanks so much for this. I always enjoy your posts.

  10. Andrew

    I would be very careful with how much of this is used. Although non-toxic, there are dissolved minerals that are not good for you that are in that water. For example, calcium sulfate. When seawater evaporates, calcium sulfate (also known as gypsum, which is used in cement and making drywall boards) precipitates into solid before sodium chloride, and is known to cause kidney stones. It isn’t until the seawater has evaporated about 10-15% that sodium chloride begins to crystallize.

  11. Pamela

    I do not usually respond to posts but I will in this instance.

    My God, I thought you had been going to chip in along with some decisive
    insight at the end there, not leave it with ‘we leave it to you to decide’.
    Thanks, so much appreciated!

  12. tessa

    too bad you didn’t collect the fresh clean water too, instead of just letting the precious liquid evaporate….

  13. Loyda Coulombe

    If you get the chance travel down to Seaside Oregon. You can learn about Lewis & Clark where they had to stop and make salt for their trip back east. They have a salt cairn to view. Its pretty neat to see.

  14. Aude Sapere

    What about radiation from Fukushima in the Pacific? Also, you burn up a lot of fossil fuel boiling water for 4 hours to make a half cup of salt. Anyway, I live next to the Ionian Sea in Italy and I was thinking of trying this, but letting it dry in the sun.


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