Almost a decade ago Cornish Sea Salt Co. started harvesting the mineral riches of the Atlantic ocean from the rocky shores of the Lizard Peninsula. Here’s how the Salt House team matches a 3,000-year-old artisan process with modern techniques while protecting the oceans.
Salt production at Coverack, on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, dates back to the Iron Age. Today, the Cornish Sea Salt Co. harvests sea minerals just a stone’s throw away. Back then, seawater was dammed in rock pools, and allowed to dry out, prior to being boiled in clay pots over gorse fires. It was vital for preservation of meats, as well as in the Cornish pilchards industry. With the resurgence of rock salt mining in Cheshire in the late 19th Century, the production of sea salt in coastal towns died out.
Fortunately, a decade ago, Tony Fraser, a conservation enthusiast, walked past the Iron Age salt works at Trebarveth, near Coverack and had the idea to rekindle local sea salt production. By 2008, Cornish Sea Salt Co. had begun trading and creatively bridged the gap between ancient, artisan methods and innovative, modern technology. Cornish Sea Salt Co. had developed a technique to sustainably harvest ultra-rich sea minerals by hand, at source, from the pure waters off the Lizard Peninsula.
Natural minerals, unique technology
Now, using a highly scientific but zero-impact process, Cornish Sea Salt Co. filters, crystallises and hand-harvests 15,000 tonnes of sea water each day, producing the world-famous sea salt, used by chefs, restaurants and food producers the world over.
At the Salt House in Porthkerris on the Lizard, just a few metres from the translucent Atlantic waters, sea water is purified then passed by positively and negatively charged electrolytic plates, agitating the charged ions and forming relatively higher concentrations of sodium chloride through reverse osmosis. At the crystallisation stage, gone are the gorse fires and clay pots. In their place are huge vats and ultraviolet lights. The pioneering process results in beautiful crystals, formed at the surface. In common with ancient techniques, the salt crystals are carefully hand harvested and dried.
“The result is a very clean, efficient, sustainable process,” says Philip Tanswell, Managing Director of CSS. “We extract the seawater, then put it straight back, removing only 0.5% of the salt from the water. We have a benign, truly ecologically friendly process.”
Cornish Sea Salt is pure and fresh, as nature intended, which means it that it retains more of the health-giving benefits, whereas these are stripped out of mined salts and sold off separately. It is a key reason why we use it in our unique Living Sea Therapy formulations, including lotions, creams, salt scrubs and washes. It makes perfect sense, to put it on your skin says Philip: “If you look at the mineral profile of our bodies, they exactly match the minerals and salts in the ocean."
There are more than 60 minerals in the sea around the Lizard, that's three times more minerals by type than are reportedly found in Dead Sea salt (21) and they are all unique to these waters, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Marine Conservation Zone. We are able to extract these minerals consistently with the same purity levels in every single batch. These 60 minerals coat and fill all the crevices of the sodium chloride crystals our team harvests. They create a rich coating of goodness, mirroring the contents of the ocean. In the culinary sense, this translates into unique flavour and nutrition; while in skincare, it affords health and beauty benefits galore.
The better known minerals in our sea salt are calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and sulphur. These five minerals alone increase blood circulation, reduce inflammation and help to cure acne, combat ageing and itchy skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Philip adds: “That’s why being in the sea gets your blood pumping, sharpens your senses and leaves your skin hydrated and tighter.”