Watch this Japanese man harvest salt from the sea using a traditional method

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/10/17/watch-this-japanese-man-harves.html

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That better be some extra tasty salt. It’s neat to study traditional processes, but I feel like I could improve this process, even just using some low-tech solutions. For example, lugging buckets up to the field is for suckers. How about a hand-pump or something to get the water up to an elevated trough, let it course over right next to the field into a tank. Dip into the tank to distribute over the sand. And so on.

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Didn’t get how the sand was removed from the salt/sand mixture once water was boiled off. Maybe I’m missing something.

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¥400 / 50 grams -> that’s $74/kilogram or $36/lb

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Well. No I know what my retirement career will be.

Small scale of course.

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The sand settles out I think. There was a screen there. So sand falls through into the fire. The water boils off. Salt left behind.

I think anyway.

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From what I can see, they pour seawater through the salty sand to re-dissolve the salt in the sand, and filter the concentrated runoff (1:45 in the video), which is what’s boiled. What I don’t understand is why they don’t just boil seawater directly. Is it just tradition, or are they getting much higher energy efficiency using that first concentration procedure with the sand?

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That does not make sense to me - but what do I know?
Sand falling on fire would extinguish it. Any screen that lets sand through would surely also let a lot of salt through?

ETA @spetrovits - makes sense that they just boil the now concentrated run-off, so the effect is there is no sand in the vat when they boil it

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Yeah. I was not entirely clear I’m where the sand goes I was thinking that based on how the material was boiled off. I’m not 100% sure either.

I think spetrovits may be correct

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Right, the sand stays in the box. Seeing salt precipitating out of hot liquid is uncommon, we expect salt to dissolve, so scooping crystallized salt out of liquid looks weird.

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x3.5 tonnes -> $259,000/year
That’s retail price sales, so his income would be less. Sounds like it is partly a tourist business.

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Sometimes the traditional method isn’t the most effective, but in this case it is one of the most lovely.

I really hope he continues to be able to practice this craft; and I hope some day to stand in front of him with my camera.

There is an honor, a truth, and a beauty in traditional methods like this. I would gladly pay $40 for a pound of salt from his fields to help keep this going.

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Well, you’re getting a bunch of free energy from the sun for the primary drying process. Boiling water all the way down takes a LOT of fuel.

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Getting trace industrial lubricants into the salt? No, thanks.

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This.

Bon Appetit did a nice video on two or three artisan salt-making operations in the US. What was cool was watching how the salt crystals formed on the surface of the hot brine, not on the bottom. The surface is where all the action is - that’s where the salt concentration is temporarily higher, due to evaporation, while the salt preferentially precipitates there, where the brine is coolest and it’s solubility is lowest.

Looking at the column of brine, the salt crystals fall like snow from top to bottom.

ETA: It wasn’t Bon Appetit. It was Zagat’s:

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My wife’s family is from a town in the Mekong delta that’s famous for salt making. It’s ‘traditional,’ meaning they work their asses off in steaming hot weather, and are subject to the ups and downs of the market for their commodity. Still quite picturesque and attractive for tourists and others who are not doing the actual work.

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He’s already using sea water, so on top of all the industrial lubricants from shipping, there’s also a whole bunch of heavy metals etc.
I’ll stick to regular old NaCl thanks.

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He can use a wooden Archimedes screw lubricated by linseed oil or something.

That’s traditional! (Albeit not the same tradition he’s following.)

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energy efficiency I guess. Considering they are boiling water with wood and coal, it would need a lot of resources to boil through 1.2 tones of sea water. letting the Sun do half the job makes some sense.