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Last October, I follow the October Unprocessed Challenge.  I wasn’t in a good position to actually do the challenge but I loved the information that was shared.  This post on making your own sea salt really got me thinking.  We seem to make it to the ocean for a vacation every year – how hard is it to bring back several gallons of salt water?

Turned out – not that hard.  For our trip in May, I packed several cleaned milk and juice jugs.  I figured it was the easiest way to pack the water back.  I did think about getting large bottles such as a three or five gallon to bring the water back but it just didn’t seem right and I didn’t want to buy a container.

As part of our trip equipment we had two coolers, one on wheels, and two five gallon buckets.  These were necessities for foraging and fishing so they weren’t an extra burden to use for gathering salt water.

I wish I had pictures from that because some of the gathering was far too funny.  We didn’t really think it through as well as we thought.  Our first gathering was with a five gallon bucket.  It was a long walk from the water back to our car.  We didn’t fill the bucket that full because that was harder than it looked.

My husband and I were on that particular beach to clam but the beach was really rocky and we just weren’t seeing any evidence of clams.  So I thought we’d fill the bucket with water and head back to the house.  The water was rather choppy at that moment so it was tough to fill the bucket without nearly drowning but I got it about half full and we walked back over the hilly sandy/rocky beach.

The second time we got water (from another bay), we thought we’d be smart and take the cooler with wheels.  It glided across the beach with no problem.  We stayed smart and only pulled the cooler part way to the water (this beach was much smaller than the last so the beach was much closer to our vehicle).  It took about 10 minutes to fill the cooler.  Then we discovered that a cooler filled with water doesn’t like traveling on the beach.  It took us another ten minutes to pull/drag the cooler to the van but we got it so I’m not complaining.

I had water from two bays so I kept them separate just in case there was anything funky in one of the bays.

The first thing you do with the water is let it sit for a while – that’s to get all the sand and stuff to gather at the bottom of the container.  Then it gets boiled down.  I boiled the first batch a lot to discover that the salt is next to impossible to get off the metal pot.  It’s finer crystals that way but I lost a lot in the process.  I did save about 1/2 gallon of the boiled water from that bay.  The bowl above is what we got from that first batch.

The second batch of water didn’t get boiled as much because we were running out of time on our vacation so I ended up taking home five gallons of water.  I haven’t processed that yet because I still have a little bit of the first batch drying.

I had to think about what was the best process for drying the remaining water so that I could harvest the salt.  I wanted to create a system where I could harvest the water and the salt so I could learn how to purify water.  That system failed so now my water sits in that system but I’m getting an amazing amount of salt.

The first thing I did was go shopping – I bought a dishwashing tub and a mattress protector from the dollar store.  The idea was to tent the plastic over the tub so I could collect the condensation but as I said, it didn’t work.  However, I still believe one needs the plastic.  We cover the salt at night to keep out bugs and when it rains to prevent extra water.  Since the whole set up cost me two dollars I didn’t mind.

The larger tub was to collect the water.  It has a small crack in one corner (my son dropped it) so I didn’t feel comfortable pouring the salt water into it.

I poured the salt water into the tub and let it sit out in the sunshine.  It’s not evaporating as quickly as I imagined but it’s leaving behind an amazing amount of salt.

I would guess that our first batch gave us nearly 2 cups of salt.  We went back to the dollar store and bought a pepper grinder.  The lid easily twisted off to refill so I added the peppercorns to my own stash and cleaned out the grinder.  I filled the grinder and it looks like I didn’t take any salt.  I am just impressed with the amount.  The crystals vary from about the size of a peppercorn to the size of a saltine cracker.  They do break up so I could get most of them down to the peppercorn size.  I still have them in the bowl to make sure all the water is out of the crystals before I store them in a canning jar.

The taste is incredible.  It’s the best salt you will ever have and so full of goodness.  The best part – it was free.  Okay it did cost me $3 to get all the stuff for it but I could have probably gotten away with stuff I had in the house.  Even with that – we found a place that was selling bay salt for $3 a package.  I don’t think each package had more than about 1/4 cup of salt.  So if I got 2 cups – that means I got $24 worth of sea salt for $3.

It’s not hard work.  I’m not going to boil any more water because it’s far too hot in our house but that vacation home was so cold that we were grateful for the extra heat.  All the boiling does is make the drying time less.  Now that I have some salt, I don’t care if it takes the rest of the summer for the rest to dry out.