In Newark, California, toward the southern edge of San Francisco Bay, 500,000 tons of salt is harvested each year by Cowgill Incorporated.
That seems like a large amount until you realise that there’s an estimated 55 trillion metric tons of salt in the United States alone, according to Saltinstitute.org.
This giant salt facility in California is where what you see in the ocean ultimately becomes what you see on your table or in your favourite dish.
In a process that could take as long as five years, the salty brine from the ocean is evaporated out, filtered, further purified and processed to become what you put on your food.
California public television station KVIE has the video of how they harvest the salt, as featured on the PBS show America’s Heartland.
This may look like a gigantic blizzard, but this is actually one of the largest salt facilities in the country.
Cargill Incorporated is now the only mass salt manufacturer in northern California, only harvesting salt during the summer time.
To begin the process, Cargill brings in water from the Pacific Ocean, concentrated and pumped into these huge subdivided ponds.
The sun and wind begins to evaporate the water over time, leaving behind a salty brine in these concentrated ponds.
An organism that lives in the brine actually turns it into a pinkish-red colour that does not look too aesthetically pleasing.
After being drained of a lot of the liquid, the brine returns to its white colour. Then it sits for between three and five years to gain just the right amount of salinity.
Once that process is complete, the salt is well crystallized and sits in a section of the pond that is ready for harvesting.
The salt then goes through several washes in some pretty advanced looking machinery for purification.
Once the salt if purified, it's emptied into those monstrously large mountains you may have seen. They're huge!
The salt is then processed at various grain levels to satisfy the need of every client, from food makers to textile companies that use salt as a dye.
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