Huelva and Cadiz are surrounded by national parks. These parks which are not only set in the mountains and woodlands also take up land along the coastline. It is in these parks that many of the traditional salt flats are located. I am excluding all the salt flats where salt is harvested using machinery. It is great to see the centuries old methods of harvesting salt still surviving today and they will survive for years to come simply down to the superior quality of their products.
Of course I am no expert in this matter but Rosario Gómez Santana and Francisco Castillo Rodriguez owner of “Flor de Sal” traditional salt flats in Isla Cristina to steer me in the right direction and bring me into this world of salt. The whole system of the salt flats has it own language and methods and Francisco who has spent nearly all his life harvesting salt from the salt flats is going to explain how it all works.
All of you have taken a dip in the Atlantic Ocean know that it is a good bit colder than the adjoining Mediterranean but at the same time it is a lot cleaner.
Francisco explains that the water that flows in from the sea is normally four or five degrees Celsius, this water flows into a pool called Estero, (marsh). Here the water warms up to approximately seven degrees and then is let flow into areas called (sifones) , funnels. The water warms up to about 10 degrees Celsius and from here is passed on to the (calentadores) heating pools where the sun takes the water up to 15-16 degrees Celsius. The water then passes into the (corridor or tajo) corridor or stream around the evaporation pools where it reaches the ideal temperature of 25 degrees Celsius before the Ojal (a hole in the evaporation pool wall) is opened with a stick to fill the evaporation pool. When the water reaches 27 degrees Celsius in the evaporation pools salt crystal form and the harvest of salt can begin.
There are five different types of salt that can be harvested here and Francisco and his hardy workers that harvest the salt, Rosario who explained the how they are harvested and the different qualities each of these different salts offer: