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How Salt Is Made: 3 Common Types of Salt Production

How Salt Is Made: 3 Common Types of Salt Production

Justin Rollin

Have you ever wondered where rock salt comes from and whether it’s found or made? You are likely knowledgeable about its many applications, but you might not be familiar with its sources and production. There are 3 different types of commercial salt production methods that are traditionally used.

  • Rock salt mining
  • Solar salt production
  • Evaporated salt production

In this article, we’ll answer some of your potential questions, including: How is salt made? What are the different methods? And what is salt made of?

Rock Salt Mining 

Rock salt mining refers to the sodium chloride manufacturing process done in salt mines. This process involves using mechanical methods to extract sodium chloride from ancient seabeds that have dried up over the course of millions of years of geological aging. These underground salt deposits sometimes span for thousands of acres and reach depths of 2,300 ft. 

The salt can be found in both veins and domes, the former of which is how salt is naturally found and the latter occurs when the Earth’s pressure pushes salt up through cracks in the rocks. In order to reach this salt, miners install two shafts — one to transport workers and the other to move equipment and materials. 

This form of rock salt production is tried and tested and a very popular way to produce the sodium chloride we all use in our daily lives, from dust control to ice management. 

Solar Salt Production

The oldest and most traditional method is producing salt from seawater. It was first developed when someone noticed that there were salt crystals in small pools of water.

In this process, naturally occurring salt water is pumped into shallow, connected ponds. The water will move through the different ponds over time, and the sun will aid in the evaporation of seawater to produce salt. Because of this, it’s only practical in warm climates where the rate of precipitation is lower than the rate of evaporation.

Any impurities are discarded and the salt is then harvested using special machinery, resulting in high-quality salt.

Evaporated Salt Production

what is salt made of

Another method is evaporated salt production, a process by which salt crystals are formed when the moisture from a manufactured brine is evaporated.

First, fresh, not salt, water is put in a salt deposit underground. It then dissolves the salt from the deposit into a saturated brine. Next, the brine is pumped to the surface. Finally, the brine is boiled and evaporated to form the aforementioned salt crystals.

This salt production method is most commonly used for food-grade salt and its various applications, thanks to the salt’s purity (99.6%-100% purity) and overall high quality.

Where Rock Salt Is Mined

So where can you find rock salt? Well, the largest exporters of salt, also known as halite, are Egypt, multiple countries in North Africa, China, Germany, India, and, you guessed it, the U.S. However, the mines in Africa are becoming increasingly popular thanks to the efficiency of shipping methods and competitive pricing.

Overall, salt can be found worldwide and there is no shortage of salt-producing areas. The real considerations are the infrastructure, shipping methods, reliability, and price.

You might be wondering “where is salt produced in the U.S.?” There are just a few states that account for 90+ percent of salt production here — Michigan, Ohio, Utah, New York, Kansas, Louisiana, and Texas.

With these states producing vast amounts of rock salt, there has been no issue supplying bulk salt for government entities and large-scale applications.

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As you can see, the process of making salt can vary depending on the application and source. If you’re looking for high-quality, mined rock salt for de-icing, Ninja De-Icer is ready to help. We’re a trusted bulk rock salt supplier serving the Midwest and beyond, and your new one-stop shop for all of your de-icing needs. Get a quote!