Salt


Salt -

Common Salt is simply chloride of sodium - a compound containing about 35 parts of chlorine and 23 of sodium. It is obtained principally in three ways - by evaporation of the brine from brine wells or springs, from Salt mines and by evaporation of sea water.

The greater part of the Salt used in the United States today is obtained from domestic brine wells or springs. The chief producing states are New York, Michigan, Ohio and Kansas.

There is still some Salt imported, but it consists almost entirely of a few fancy table varieties.

brine wells are of two kinds - the natural brine springs (natural springs flowing through Salt deposits) and the springs or wells made by man to change the Salt deposits) and the springs or wells made by man to change the Salt deposits to brine, to be pumped out, instead of digging out the Salt itself. The latter are the more numerous and the more important commercially. The method is more economical than mining when the deposits lie at a considerable depth below the surface of the ground.

In operation, the well is dug to the necessary depth and water is forced through pipes into the Salt beds. In deep beds, the general method is to use a 3-inch pipe inside a 6-inch pipe, the 3-inch pipe going to the bottom of the Salt layer and the 6-inch pipe stopping at its upper surface. The fresh water is pumped down the small pipe and dissolves the Salt with which it comes in contact, being pumped back as brine through the large pipe.

The brine, in the up-to-date plant, passes through a succession of heaters, each with higher temperature, the last at about 280° Fahr. In this process, the lime, found in all brines, and other impurities are precipitated. It is next filtered and finally passes into the evaporator, where the water passes off and the Salt forms. The first quick evaporation produces the fine Table Salt. The second, slower evaporation, produces the thin Salt flakes known as Dairy Salt, for butter, cheese, meat curing, etc.

The product is finally dried, sifted and separated into various grades and packed in boxes, bags and barrels.

Solar Salt is produced by sun-evaporation. In manufacture from the Onondaga salines of New York State, the brine is placed in vats to which lime is added to precipitate the magnesia, and thence it flows into wooden trays, where it is slowly evaporated by the sun's rays, forming into large cubic-shaped crystals. There is always a demand for this Salt at good prices for large packers.

Rock Salt is ground in crushers and sifted and refined to the numerous grades found on the market.

The water of the ocean contains on an average nearly 3% of Salt by weight. The Mediterranean Sea contains a higher percentage, and the Dead Sea is famous for its still larger proportion, the water being so dense as to render it impossible for a person to sink in its depth.

Salt is the one item of food which every nation and every race demands - and has apparently always demanded. Savage races have lived without it, but wherever it has been obtainable, even at great expense and much trouble, human beings have sought and fought for it. The New York Indians obtained Salt at Onondaga long before the settlers commenced its manufacture, and the Indians of the West from the vicinity of the Arkansas River.

There is good scientific reason for its popularity - the sodium it contains forms part of the soda which is needed in the bile to digest food, and the chlorine furnishes a necessary acid gastric fluid. It is less important where raw meat is an article of diet, as raw meat itself contains Salt, but it is essential where vegetables and vegetable products constitute a considerable proportion of the food consumed.

Salt is frequently mentioned in the Bible - the expression "Ye are the Salt of the earth" is familiar to all readers. Its history is indeed practically that of civilization. It was the chief commodity of the early caravans, at that time being a very valuable article, and a street in Rome was named the Salarian Way because the Salt dealers dwelt there.

The first recorded legislation is probably that enacted in the early days of ancient Rome. Soon after the foundation of the city, the Salt works of Ostia were established at the mouth of the Tiber, but the price demanded was so extortionately high that about a hundred years later the right of vending was transferred to the government, and private individuals were forbidden to engage in its preparation. The revenue derived was very great and contributed materially to the support of Rome.

Venice also was noted for her Salt works, and to them is traced much of her maritime power.

The first American factory was that started in Virginia in 1633. Eight years later, Massachusetts gave the exclusive right to manufacture Salt in that state to Samuel Winslow - though, despite this grant, works were set up all along the coast, the product being in great demand to supply the fisheries then beginning to assume considerable magnitude.

Many attempts were made to obtain Salt from springs - in Pennsylvania in 1784, in New York in 1788, in Louisiana in 1791, in what is now West Virginia in 1797, and in Ohio in 1798, but the first efforts met with only small success and up to 1812 most of our domestic Salt was drawn from ocean water. Since that date, conditions have been entirely revolutionized.

The Onondaga salines in New York State, situated near the towns of Syracuse, Salina and Geddes, were first worked in 1790, but were discovered as early as 1654 by French Jesuits who were prosecuting their perilous mission in the countries of the Onondagas and Iroquois. During the 19th century, they constituted an important source of supply, a total of about 430 million bushels being extracted. They belonged to the state up to 1909, manufacturers paying a royalty of one cent per bushel. The competition of other centers has rendered them commercially unprofitable for general production, but a considerable quantity of Solar Salt is still manufactured there.

California began her harvest in 1852 with sea water, and Utah in 1847 on the shores of Great Salt Lake. Kansas made its first Salt from the marshes, but in 1887 a body of rock Salt was found by prospectors for petroleum and extensive mines were developed. On Avery Island, La., a similar rock vein has been known and worked for more than a hundred years - the Confederates got twenty-two million pounds of Salt from it in eleven months during the war. Michigan bored her first well in 1859, at East Saginaw.

There is no danger of the race ever having to do without Salt. Even if the ocean were not on every side, various parts of the world - including this continent - offer practically inexhaustible land deposits and supplies of it.

Salt has always been the synonym for wit and piquancy, hence the term "Attic Salt." Shakespeare says: "Though we are justices and doctors and churchmen, we have some Salt of our youth in us." It was formerly considered a very unlucky omen to upset the Salt-cellar at the table, and to sit at the table "above the Salt" was a position of honor, the old custom being to place a Salt-cellar in the middle of the table, the places above which were assigned to the guests of distinction, while those "below the Salt" were dependants and servants. Hence the expression of Ben Jonson, "His fashion is not to take knowledge of him that is beneath him in clothes. He never drinks below the Salt."

Salt should always be kept in a cool dry place.


Arround Salt in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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