Puerto Rico Solar Salt
In the southwest corner of Puerto Rico, you will find the Cabo Rojo salt flats. Did you know that tons of salt are extracted from the sea annually in the Salinas de Cabo Rojo? Learn about how it’s done and why it can take up to 6 months to harvest the salt.
How is salt extracted from the Cabo Rojo salt flats? done?
Sea salt, also called solar salt, is produced through the evaporation of ocean water. The Caribbean sun and sea breezes are responsible for evaporation. The sea water starts off with a salinity of about 3% and ends up at about 25% salinity. At thiat point, the salt starts to crystallize and can be then harvested. Being a natural process, it can take up to six months to harvest the solar salt. Since there is little processing, all seawater minerals are preserved.
1. Sea water is transferred to a large pond, called a hypersaline lagoon. Salt water comes from the nearby bay through doors and canals that connect them.
2. After 2 to 3 months under the warm Caribbean sun, much of the water has evaporated and its salinity has increased.
3. Over-salt water is pumped into pools called cuajadoras or cristalizadoras. These are very large but shallow cement pools.
4. The salt will begin to crystallize as the water continues to evaporate.
5. More water is pumped back from the hypersaline lagoon to the pond. This process is repeated until a considerable amount of salt accumulates. This takes about an additional 2 to 3 months.
6. When there is enough salt, excess water is removed using pumps leaving the salt crystals.
SEA SALT IS COLLECTED FROM THE CABO ROJO SALT FLATS
7. Salt accumulates in small mountains and is left to dry outdoors before being packed in bags.
8. Before packing, move the salt to a drawer where the salt is raised by a screw.
The salt is ground through a tunnel that crushes the salt.
It is a tunnel that rotates where, heat is applied and has metal spikes that grind the salt.
Finally, it is packed in bags of 50 and 100 pounds.
What is Sea Salt used for?
Solar salt is also used to:
– Water softeners.
– Additive for livestock feed.
– Keep meat and other foods.
– Used in the leather manufacturing process.
You can visit the Cabo Rojo salt flats. The Caborrojeños Pro Salud y Ambiente group manages the Centro Interpretativo de las Salinas, located at Km. 11.0. It’s open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. Admission is free of charge.