Homemade Sea Salt

Warning: this is a kitchen project I got a little overexcited about. Kind of like rendering our own lard.

We made sea salt.

I’d never have thought of it, but Ashley walked us through the process recently, and the idea stuck. It turned out to be a perfect indoor project when the sideways rain forced us to come in and dry off. I’m on my fourth batch now; fifth if you count our first one, which we forgot about as it neared its final stages and we turned on a movie. You can go about your business as you make salt, but as you get used to how quickly it cooks down, particularly toward the end, you’ll get a sense of when to stick around.

I’ve become preoccupied with bringing my water jar to the beach and have soaked myself a couple times attempting to get the very best sample from an incoming wave. And it has quickly become the norm these past couple mornings to get up and put on the coffee and the salt. As long as we’re puttering around the house, I have a pan of ocean simmering. To save energy and relax my attention, I’ve been bringing it to a boil, then turning off the heat and letting it steam away with the residual heat of the flat stovetop. When I know I’ll be in the kitchen, I finish it off.

To make sea salt: get yourself some seawater, pour it through a sieve lined with a paper coffee filter (Ashely used a few layers of cheesecloth, but I had coffee filters – and I actually like that it for sure gets rid of any iota of grit) and you’ll very easily have a vessel full of crystal clear water. I barely noticed any residue on the filter, even, but it probably depends on your source.

Bring it to a boil and cook it until the water evaporates and you’re left with salt. Lovely, damp, fine-grained sea salt. It’s really that simple. I used a large stainless skillet instead of a pot: more surface area = faster evaporation.

It will start like any other pot of enthusiastically boiling water. After awhile it will be a little less rollicking; the bubbles more clustered together and smaller. When it gets really low, a stir will produce a flurry of fine bubbles.

Toward the end it will look sludgy and opaque, but still you may not be convinced that there is a good quantity of salt in there. I wasn’t. Until the very end, when it turns into a sort of sandy paste, at which point I give it a stir to break up the clumps and take it off the heat to finish drying out with the residual heat of the pan.

A completely awesome science project-slash-culinary experiment-slash-totally spring break thing to do. Except that now W wants us to make our own pepper.

It took an hour or so to cook down about 1 1/2 L of water, which produced about 1/4 cup of salt. Enough to fill a small bowl and plant on your kitchen counter to pinch from, each time taking great joy in the fact that I was eating pure salt from the ocean outside our window. I’m now making extra to bring back home and send to some of my favourite food/Tofino lovers.

Also? It tastes awesome. So far we’ve sprinkled it on poached eggs, asparagus and popcorn. I’m a little distracted by the idea of poaching an egg in filtered sea water, or cooking pasta. I’ll report back.


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37 comments on “Homemade Sea Salt

  1. Beverley M
    March 31, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Intrigued! Except that I live in Victoria and our sewage goes into the ocean, eww. So I would want to go somewhere farther away for my source of water 🙂

    Where are you at? I haven’t been following too much lately, but I’m sure you’re not in Calgary 😉 Back in Ucluelet area?

  2. Jennifer Jo
    March 31, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I wish there was an ocean close by…

  3. Anna
    March 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Oooo, I love your method of making sea salt. I always thought that sea salt would be a time consuming thing to do. This is much faster though too bad we don’t have any salt water near Calgary. 🙁

  4. Jan @ Family Bites
    March 31, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    Brilliant! I totally love this. Now I just need to get myself to an ocean.

  5. Leslie
    March 31, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    This would be a great souvenir from various beach vacations!

  6. Magda | My Little Expat Kitchen
    March 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Wow, I had no idea you can make your own sea salt. I’m very intrigued and I will be definitely trying this.
    Thank you! Your step by step photos will be of great help!

  7. Evelyn
    March 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Well, lucky me. I am moving from the Prairies to the Island before the end of the summer (I hope – anyone want to buy our house?)
    This might be my new Christmas gift project. Thanks Julie!

  8. Sue/the view from great island
    March 31, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    This is so cool, and we leave right by the ocean, yay!

  9. Sue/the view from great island
    March 31, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I mean live…

  10. Cathy N.
    March 31, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Isn’t that fun? I had the fun of using ocean water to cook pasta, veggies, etc. when we sailed from Victoria to New Zealand last year. I got the same sense of satisfaction that I was able to use what was at hand and not have to rely solely on our precious supply of fresh water (90 gallons for everything including washing, cooking and drinking isn’t a lot over a number of months!)… I know our bread tasted ever so much better because of the sea water I used!…

  11. Vicki
    March 31, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    LOVE this. I’m by the ocean in Maui right now and want to try. However, I’m guessing the hotel will frown upon me doing this in my room. Especially because I’d have to build a fire on the balcony to boil the water. So I’m going to buy my red gold, jade green, and black lava sea salt in a bag this time around. Next time I will book a condo so I can try it. Such a great idea. An excellent science experiment too for my 9 y/o.

  12. Teri
    March 31, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Hi, Julie. Just wanted to let you know that I’ve been having problems with your page and pictures loading since Friday. I’m wondering if your pictures are bigger byte-wise than they normally are.

    Anyhow, the salt sounds fascinating. I just wish I could see the pictures, but they won’t load. This is the first time I’ve had this problem on your site.

  13. Sitka
    April 1, 2012 at 2:57 am

    Teri – ahh I’m not the only one! It took a long time to load this post, maybe the photos were extra large?

    I am moving to Haida Gwaii next week and I am so excited to try this! Sea Salt from Agate Beach. Thanks Julie!

  14. KellyH
    April 1, 2012 at 6:47 am

    Living by the Atlantic, lots of sea water! I think this will be a cool thing to do with the kids at the cottage this spring! You never cease to amaze me with your clever ideas Julie!
    Who knew you didnt just have to buy it from a store or an overpriced boutique? Homemade, all the way!

  15. Yes, well, I am no where near the sea! Perhaps I can distill some Saskatchewan salt from the flats near here.

  16. JulieVR
    April 1, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Hey guys! thanks for letting me know the photos are struggling to upload – must be the program I’m using on my laptop. Sitting in a parking lot now trying to fix!

  17. JulieVR
    April 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I resized and uploaded all the photos – did it help?

  18. akajb
    April 2, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Nope. The photo’s are still huge. 🙁 For example, the last photo in this post is ~881 kb. The photo on the ravioli post is ~337kb, and the last photo on the hungarian goulash is ~41kb. So 14 pics around 900kb each is ~12.3mb to load the single post. If you access this post on the main page, then you need to add in all the images from the recent posts as well.

    • JulieVR
      April 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      Sigh. I really need some lessons in how all the innards of my blog work!

  19. akajb
    April 2, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    What are you using to post the photos? I might be able to help you sort it out. You should have my email address from the comments.

  20. Vivian
    April 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Same problem of uploading right now but I got the first few and the mixture looks just like Panko. I could be in trouble!(Just kidding!)

  21. Carol S-B
    April 3, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Love the Sea Salt post, and I’m looking forward to the updates on cooking spaghetti etc. with filtered seawater. Tofino would be the best place to try this. The water could hardly be cleaner! (plus cooking @ sea level is totally different than in YYC at 3500′)
    I am glad akajb and Teri and Sitka mentioned the photo size… I have had a chronic problem of your webpage taking a looong time to load (I sometimes click on it, then leave for a while). Don’t have that trouble with other webpages I visit, but nonetheless I assumed it was me.

  22. Lana
    April 4, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Me too on the length of time loading 🙁
    This is so cool. Last time I was in Tofino, we steamed crabs in seawater so why not use it for pasta, etc, too? Filtering and boiling must get the nasties out, non?
    What a great project. I, too, am far from the ocean but will remember this for another time.

  23. SamiJoe
    April 5, 2012 at 8:04 am


  24. Vivian
    April 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    One question: is it possible to “burn” the salt? What results if the slurry is left for too long on the heat?

  25. Elaine
    April 5, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Well, it’s been a week and this sea salt idea has remained stuck in my head. Chicago’s painfully far from anything oceanic, but next trip out to the East Coast I make, you can be sure this’ll be one of the first things I do!

  26. Ruth
    April 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Being a true prairie girl (I think I’ve dipped a toe in the ocean exactly 3 times) this is very interesting (but not entirly useful) stuff. I would love to have homemade salt though. Not enough to have to leave the prairies to get it though. However there are a number of salt mines in Saskatchewan so at least there is “local” salt to be had!

  27. Stephanie
    April 12, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    This is so cool!! I had no idea it was that straight forward to make it yourself

  28. Carlyn
    April 14, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    This is such a great idea! I moved to the Sunshine Coast last year so I have a great source close by. I’m totally sending homemade salt home for Christmas!

  29. Robyn
    May 8, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Copy the commercial operators and use the sun as your energy source, that’s the way I do it, no need to worry about burning your pot at the same time as being sustainable. You are right, a large surface area speeds things up. Cover with muslin to keep free of bugs & dust etc. Give it a stir every couple of days/when you remember.

  30. Elsa
    September 26, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    I am in the process of making my own salt. Started out with 25 litres of seawater. I’m evaporating the water naturally so hoping salt will appear in two or three days. Huge difference between refined, commercial salt and naturally produced salt.

  31. Sonny
    June 15, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Letting the water evaporate naturally in the sun will also give you larger crystals. Boiling water and rapidly evaporating forces salt crystals out of solution quickly and before they can form larger crystals. More time = larger crystals. If you like kosher or medium crystal size, this may be a good option.

  32. change
    January 9, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    I visited several web pages except the audio feature for audio songs existing at this web site is genuinely excellent.

  33. karl
    June 15, 2014 at 8:27 am

    i made some by simply pouring ocean water in a baking pan and letting it evaporate on a hot summer day….no work and no energy cost!!

  34. Farhan Siddik
    May 19, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    I will near the Sea., Karachi (Pakistan). I have Land and interested to setup a Salt Making Plant and Export to USA.

    Can any one interested to be in this filed can work to Develop this Salt Business.

  35. Christy
    July 28, 2015 at 4:30 am

    I am pleased to find your simple method for making sea salt, here where we have a lot of sun and heat, I am going to try evaporating the seawater on our roof. I sail 6 months of the year so I have the possibility of collecting good clean sea water from out away from land.
    I cook pasta regularly on board using 1/5th of the total pasta water as sea water, if you add much more than that to the pot, the pasta will taste bitter. (I know from many trials and crossing the Atlantic using only sea water…) I also boil my potatoes for potato salad in 100% sea water, but I do a final rinse with fresh water. The potatoes are so good you could eat them without adding anything but good Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Happy Healthy Cooking!

  36. Colleen
    August 4, 2015 at 11:01 am

    I live in white rock B.C. How do I find out if our water is clean enough to make salt from the water? I really want to!

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