Food

How to Make Sea Salt

Make your own seasalt

Want to make your own Sea Salt from Seawater? 

Congrats! Making your own sea salt is basically the equivalent of being an actual, honest to goodness badass homesteading pioneer, if you ask me. Use your DIY salt to flavor your favorite meals, maybe in some homemade peanut butter, or as a thoughtful gift. Salt-making is kind of magical and addictive once you start too, so be prepared to dive in.  

My salt making adventures began because we’re hunkered down on an island in Thailand to wait out the Covid-19 pandemic. I was really missing the flavor of sea salt in my meals as it’s now quite expensive. We can buy boring ‘ol table salt, but the good stuff isn’t available without paying an arm and a leg. What a ridiculous thing to miss, I mused one day, when the ocean is a 3-minute walk from our house.

So, I made it my mission to make some salt from scratch (well, from sea), and I was pleasantly surprised at how simple and easy it is.

I experimented and tried a few methods of making homemade sea salt, and here’s the method for creating your own salt that I found that worked best and most reliably for me.

1. Gather Your Seawater.

Go to an area that you know isn’t overly polluted on a relatively calm day. You want the sea calm so not too much sediment is stirred up.  I recommend starting with two big 1.5 L bottles of ocean water to start with your first homemade sea salt attempt, which will yield about half a cup to ¾ a cup of salt. As a quick reference point, a gallon of seawater makes about one cup of salt. Wander into the sea, scoop that liquid gold, and off you go. If you are able to carry extra water (for a second batch or in case of any screw ups, hehe) go for it! 

filtering ocean water to make sea salt

2. Filter it.

No need for a fancy filter here, just run the water through a fine sieve or even a simple piece of cloth. A charcoal filter will really purify things, but isn’t strictly necessary.

3. Add Flavoring, If You Want.

I did a few batches with flavors added during the cooking process just to mix it up. I tried putting garlic into the boiling water (add big cloves so you can pull them out later), orange peel and thyme, and loved the results. The sky is the limit here, feel free to add spices to your heart’s content. (Note: you can also do this at the end when the salt is done). You could even add essential oils like lavender if you’re making a sea salt scrub for the bath.

boiling ocean water to make salt
sea water boiling into salt becomes more dense
homemade sea salt recipe salt boils down hard

4. Boil That Sucker Down.

This is the main part of your creative work, aka, the part you can screw up. You need to boil the saltwater until it’s almost evaporated, but be SUPER careful not to burn it, or all your gathering was for naught. It’s preferable to use glass or ceramic cookware for cooking your seawater, but we are stuck on an island and not able to get any at the moment, so I made mine in our regular pots.

Fill your pot, then bring the water to a boil. Once it’s at a hard boil, lower the temperature to a simmer; you don’t want to burn it. When the water is reduced down until most of it has evaporated into steam and you’re left with a goopy salt-like substance the consistency of wet sand, you’re ready for the next step. Depending on your stove, this could take all day, so be ready to make an activity of it.

During the boiling process when bits of salt start sticking to the side of your pot, scrape them back down into the liquid. I loved having a silicone spatula for this to avoid too much scraping and fighting. 

Honestly, it was like an alchemy for me the first time I saw the water boil up and turn into salt before my eyes, heckin’ magical!

As the water volume shrinks down, increase the amount of stirring you do.  I’ll say it one more time since I made this mistake a few times myself: be really careful not to scorch your salt as its boiling.

Note: If you prefer not to run your stove all day, you can set the water out in the hot sun for a few days to evaporate that way, but, aint nobody got time for that around here.

5. Cure It

Once your salt is boiled down to a goopy sludge, scrap it out into a big pan and finish it to dry (cure it) in dry heat. There are a few ways you can do this. 

The first way is to spread the salt out and either leave it to bake in the sun on a big flat pan for anywhere from hours to days depending on your climate. 

The second way, which is quicker, is to spread it on a pan and bake it at a low temp (200) in the oven for 30 minutes.

And the third way, which is turbo fast is to  put it in the BBQ to cure—spread it in a pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet – sea salt is sticky as heck as it cooks down. Put the pan in a medium hot BBQ, and cook it on very low heat for a few minutes until it is dry. Be super careful not to burn it, it cooks quickly, within 5 minutes on the BBQ mine was ready, so be standing at the ready and check it continuously.

And as a final salt curing method, if you happen to have a food dehydrator, you can also put it on parchment paper in there and it should be cured in less than an hour.

6. Package It

Package your homemade sea salt goodness up! Either jar it up, put it in a salt grinder or collect it in any way that is pretty and pleasing to you. Makes an amazing gift, too.

Sea salt is quite flavorful, and is traditionally used more as a finishing flavour than thrown into dishes with abandon, but experiment and find out what works for you.

Good luck you salty studs!

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