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The evolution of salt extraction technologies

Salt extraction is an interesting topic to discuss from a technological point of view, especially now, when the focus falls on the importance of environmentally friendly solutions. As one of the processes that has been used since ancient times, salt extraction has undergone many changes, depending on available tools and machines available at the time. The first to extract salt industrially were the Romans, who used a natural option, which involved making lagoons were the water was left to evaporate. The crystallised salt was then removed and used for a variety of purposes. This natural process is still in use today, because de-icing salt providers such as SantanderSalt focus on eco-friendly technologies. Salt that evaporates from the sea is known as sea salt and it’s considered to be the purest. It has numerous applications, especially in the field of de-icing solutions for roads.

The evolution of salt extraction technologies

As technology evolved and special machines became widely available, the salt extraction industry experienced a massive boom and the process became industrialised. Newer technologies made it possible for people to extract salt directly from underground mines. This process was used for hundreds of years, but, as environmental concerns became a worrying matter, questions started to arise. Salt mining has been linked to landslides, because the process causes erosion. In addition, the process results in considerable amounts of waste, which cause pollution in the long run. These concerns played an important role in the return to traditional extraction methods – the ones used by Romans in ancient times. Evaporation is now known as the most common way of obtaining salt, giving a considerable percentage of the 200 million tons of salt extracted annually. While it preserves the basic principle, the technology makes used of modern machinery as well when the time comes to harvest the salt. However, there are some areas of the world where manual extraction is still performed, whether for economic or environmental concerns.

 

Solar evaporation is preferred not only for environmental reasons, but also because of the superior quality substance it produces. After the harvest, salt obtained through solar extraction goes through several purification processes, resulting in a purity of nearly 100%. This means that the products made from this salt, such as de-icing products for roads, are more effective. Due to the fact that wind and sun play a crucial role in the evaporation process, the countries choses for extraction are the ones with an arid climate, such as Australia and Mediterranean countries. However, other countries, such as the UK and parts of Northern Europe, may also have a well-established salt extraction industry, even if their climate is not ideal on paper. The existence of local solar extraction sites makes it possible for companies in the above mentioned regions to provide high quality solutions to small and large organisations without charging enormous fees. For example, the UK has sites in Tilbury and Edinburgh. Other non-Mediterranean countries that have solar evaporation areas are the Netherlands (because of its wind power), Denmark and Germany.