The Atacama desert
Atacama, or Desierto de Atacama, is situated west of the Andes mountains in northern Chile. A desert plateau, the Atacama occupies some 105,000 km2 of sand and felsic lava. A number of weather stations there have never reported a single drop of rain and some of the riverbeds have been dry for a long long time. The Atacama desert is one of Earth´s most sterile areas. High altitude, jet streams, unforgiving sun and bitterly cold nights make life tough for the people who live here, and impossible for anything else. In fact, the Atacama is used by NASA to mimic the harsh environment of Mars while the pollution-free air makes it the best spot on the Globe for space telescopes and observatories.
SALTWELL’s open, blue salines – the ponds where water is evaporated by the sun itself – require no filters or roofs. Although the air is full of oxygen, there are no birds, bees or bugs.
A unique grain
To meet government requirements concerning the salt content of manufactured products, the food industry has struggled for many years to find an artificial solution. Either by altering their recipes, and thereby sacrificing the brand’s values and consumer appreciation, or by compensating with blends that only approximate the taste of the original formula. Unfortunately, these blends often have a harsh and bitter edge to them, not to mention problems with consistency throughout each batch. With only 65% sodium content, SALTWELL’s unique grain radically lowers the sodium content of any product to which it is added. There is rarely any need to change the original recipe of a product when switching from ordinary, high-sodium salt to SALTWELL with its lower sodium content.
All eyes on salt
For many decades, local and regional health authorities throughout the world have been closely monitoring salt consumption among the general public. In recent years, this has led to global attempts to set requirements and standards for the international food industry. As approximately 75% of all the salt we consume comes from processed foods, this is becoming an urgent matter throughout the industry. The pressure from governments and legislation is already palpable and many food manufacturers feel they are on the horns of a dilemma: either they must lower the sodium content of their products and lose brand value, taste and customers or spend time and effort negotiating with public authorities and the media.
The extraction process
30 metres below the Atacama desert crust we pump up the mineral-rich sea water that forms the SALTWELL crystal. The land in this part of the desert consists of solidified salt, mud and lava. Nothing can survive or grow in this environment. Yet beneath the surface are the murmuring waters of an underground lake with a unique composition of earth minerals.
The mineral rich sea water is pumped into large ponds from several pumping stations throughout this great desert.The strong rays of the sun slowly evaporate the water as it is transferred in steps from one pond to the next. Unique SALTWELL crystals form completely naturally in the final pond. Once it has dried in the sun, the salt is gathered into heaps for further drying to take place. SALTWELL is then packed into bags and placed in storage.There are facilities here for further drying of the salt, as well as the addition of anti-caking agents and iodine.