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How to obtain your own salt

 
pioneer
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Here's a culinary self-sufficiency question that maybe belongs in a few different forums, but cooking seems most relevant:

How does one obtain salt if Peak Energy hits and we have a sudden, dramatic collapse of civilization and its systems of production and distribution? I imagine if you live near the ocean, you're in luck because you can make your own with a solar evaporator. But what if you're a poor land-locked schlub like most of us? Does salt occur in veins in the earth with any level of frequency? Is there a way to create it from ground rocks and chemistry? Can you extract it from something in nature?

For the record, I'm looking specifically for vegan solutions.

My understanding is that primates need a certain level of salt (albeit rather small) in their diets for proper neurological function. I like my neurons just fine, so I'm keen to keep 'em working. I gather that there is a certain level of salt within plant foods because they aggregate abiotic matter from the soil. But is that enough to ensure dietary sufficiency? Anybody have their finger on the pulse of this sort of thing?

Many thanks!
 
pollinator
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What an interesting question!  I'll be watching.
 
master steward
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If you live close to the ocean, it is full of salt.

There are also places in the US where there are salt deposits.

Here are some threads about getting it from seawater:

https://permies.com/t/85170/Waynes-solar-salt-factory

https://permies.com/t/40112/kitchen/harvesting-salt-ocean-tips

 
pollinator
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Salt is fairly common as a deposit but it is normally very deep, shallow deposits get washed away. Brine springs are one option if any exist near you but basically your option if you do not live near a salt mine or the sea is trade. For us we are 10 miles from the sea, solar evaporation would not work here, but boiling it would, it's on my list of things to do, but I would want to get a cheap sacrificial pot before I ruin any of my kitchen ones!

However if you are worried about some crisis or other, just buy 100kg or so and keep it somewhere dry. it doesn't go off and that amount would last you a lifetime of staying alive. triple that if you want to use it for preservation or cleaning.
 
pollinator
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Salt, meaning sodium, occurs naturally to some degree in most natural foods. Even apples and bananas have some sodium in them. The amount we need is minimal, about 115 mg/day for an adult to thrive, and we can easily obtain that by eating a whole foods natural diet without adding any salt. Added salt, whether sea salt, himalayan salt, kosher salt, etc., is not only unnecessary, but also unhealthy. So no worries, should everything be completely disrupted and no salt can be found anywhere, as long as a whole foods diet is had, no extra sodium will be necessary. In fact, you will likely be healthier than you've ever been without the added salt! :-)
 
pollinator
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I use a bit of salt in my food nowadays, but I lived for years eating raw vegan and didn't salt anything. I got anywhere from 400-700mg of sodium just from the food I was eating. I worked hard out in the sun, sweat a lot, and drank lots of water. Never had a problem despite many people telling me I needed to be taking salt pills.

I often get more like 1000mg of sodium a day now. Still sweating and drinking as much as 10L of water on a hot day working outside. Still no problems.
 
D.W. Stratton
pioneer
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Some fair answers. I don't live near the ocean as indicated in my post by describing myself as land locked. I'm in Northampton Massachusetts outlying area in the mountains. Our growing season is short, so to be able to survive I'll have to preserve things which makes salt a bigger issue. The solution of buying hundreds of pounds is viable I suppose, though lacking finesse. I will look and see how much that would cost and what it would take to keep critters out of it.
 
pollinator
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Look at Native American methods of food preservation.  Many cultures from the interior of the continent did not use salt at all. Foods were dried, smoked, frozen, or packed in fat.
 
master gardener
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Get hold of your local historical society. Ask them where the pioneers in your area found salt.
 
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D.W. Stratton wrote:Our growing season is short, so to be able to survive I'll have to preserve things which makes salt a bigger issue. The solution of buying hundreds of pounds is viable I suppose, though lacking finesse. I will look and see how much that would cost and what it would take to keep critters out of it.



The historical solution, as someone pointed out above, is to trade for it.  Salt was, for most people in most places not near an ocean or a salt lick, an expensive luxury trade item.  Salting as a means of preservation is for people who have lots of salt.  As close to the ocean (in trade terms) as you are, it may always be available cheaply enough to preserve with.  

That said, culinary salt is dirt cheap and easy to store.  They sell it in four pound boxes where I am for about fifty cents a pound -- marked for pickling and preservation but perfectly fine for flavoring food.  Ten boxes is twenty bucks -- forty pounds -- and would fit in a few gallon jars or one five gallon plastic bucket.  Buy a few big sacks at Costco and you're set for a long time.  Just keep it dry.  Yes, you'll need more than that for salting foods as a main preservation method, but you'll go a long way making brine pickles and salting your meals.  

In the end, I don't worry about storing "enough" because it's not essential to anything except in tiny amounts.  I do store quite a bit just for convenience, comfort, and luxury; and I've been ramping up the supply since the pandemic by sneaking another box into my curbside pickup grocery orders.  I'm middle aged and I could ration out what I've got to last the rest of my life, although I wouldn't have enough for more than a few years of preservation.  Plenty of time to learn other preservation methods.  

 
pollinator
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D.W. Stratton wrote:

How does one obtain salt if Peak Energy hits and we have a sudden, dramatic collapse of civilization and its systems of production and distribution?

Many thanks!



'we' as in humanity or 'we' as in you and me as individuals?

'We' as in individuals can preposition a life time of salt for ourselves and our families.   Depending on your source, depending on what you are doing with it and if it can be reused / cleaned up.  I figure a tablespoon / day.  ( mostly for food preservation, a tablespoon / salt per day is a bit much for consumption, but a few table spoons will go into a brine for that turkey.  and it's probably way high. ).   Call it 20 g a day,   About 16 lbs a year. 160 lbs / decade.   1600 lbs per lifetime.  that 1600 lbs of salt might take up about 3x 3x 4 ft in space. Depending on things.  Packed into 55 gallon drums it'll last for your lifetime.  One would probably pay more for the packaging than the salt it's self if one buys in bulk.  ( rock salt is $250 / 2000 lbs )   Maybe get a nice old refer container ( air tight , water tight, with insulation) and keep a whole mess of long term storage stuff there, a lifetime of garden fertilizers, honey,  animal salt licks and mineral supplements,  grit for the chickens,  maybe a few cans of various fasteners for building stuff later, salt.... diatomaceous earths... that's all I can think of at the moment. ) .


'We' as in humanity.  Utah.   the Utah salt mines and solar electric mining equipment.   Mining a ton of salt doesn't take to long with the right diggers.  There's no reason they need to be running diesel.  Sure it might cost 3 times as much in power costs... 3 times basically 0 is still basically 0.  The south has brine wells, and salt domes that are mined out as well.  Solar panels or hydro power electric can work for a long time with low maintenance.  Distribution by electrified rail.   Salt doesn't go bad, so it can be slow and efficiently moved.


'We' personally have a few years supply of salt around, well... because it seems like a reasonable thing to do and I like corned beef.... probably like it too much.  



 
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