28 February 2012
Maldon is on the east coast of Essex where salt has been harvested for hundreds of years. Salt was being produced from the Iron Age to the Saxon times. The original harvesters, it is believed, placed vessels
in the river bank to trap the sea water at high tide and they were left to partially evaporate and then on to clay pots which were heated to complete the evaporation process leaving behind only the salt. In the middle ages, production became more sophisticated by placing the brine in lead pans to increase the speed of evaporation during boiling.
The Guild of Saltmakers dates back to 1394. In the 19th century in Essex the industry started to decline due to taxes and easier methods of production in Cheshire. Only a single company carries on the tradition - The Maldon Crystal Salt Company.
Why Essex - environmentally, there is low rainfall in this area - with less fresh water the salt concentration is higher than other areas. With the rise and fall of the tides, the sun and wind ease evaporation and leave behind salt deposits.
Salt - Is it the only rock we eat?