Salt has long been understood as a necessity for survival. Our bodies use salt, primarily in the bloodstream, as a means of attracting and transporting water. The amount of salt in our bodies affects our blood pressure, which can have a wide range of effects. It is a necessity for nerve and muscle function.
Yet salt, good old sodium-chloride won’t be all that easy to come by, when the grocery store is closed. Our ancestors, the pioneers who founded this country, were able to get salt from salt licks, places where underground salt would be brought to the surface by springs and solidify there. Animals used those licks to get the salt they needed and our ancestors would harvest salt from them as well.
But surface salt is pretty much non-existent today. Salt is mined underground, then purified for sale in the grocery store. Most animals receive their salt from salt licks that people put out, either ranchers putting them out for their livestock or hunters who use it to attract animals.
Because of the difficulty in obtaining salt, it will become a valuable commodity and trade item in a TEOTWAWKI scenario. As merchant caravans once again become part of the landscape, salt will be one of the things they carry.
But where will that salt come from?
I imagine that there who currently work in salt mines, who will recognize the value of the product they produce. Either the mines will remain open to some extent, or if they close, some of the previous employees will reenter the mine, working together to dig up salt that they can trade for other necessities.
That’s one source of salt, but there really aren’t all that many operating salt mines in the US. Of those which are operating, many are over 1,000 feet underground and are massive enough that they have their own trains to move the salt. This indicates they would be difficult to impossible to operate without modern equipment.
However, there’s another ready source of salt available to us, the oceans. Sea salt is considered a luxury novelty right now, but mankind has used sea salt for millennia. It is much easier to “mine” sea salt on a small basis, than it is to operate the massive mines that commercially produced salt comes from.
Sea salt is produced by evaporating seawater and then collecting the salt and minerals left behind. I’ve seen this done in the Laguna Madre islands off the coast of Mexico. Those islands and the water channels in between them are shallow enough that it is possible to dam off a half-acre area with dirt at high tide, capturing the water within. It is left there, allowing the sunlight and heat to evaporate the water, leaving the salt behind on the sand.
That only works where the right terrain exists, allowing sea water to be captured in that way. But the same thing can be done pretty much anywhere that there’s a supply of seawater, or brackish water from a shallow well for that matter.
The first thing to do is filter the water to get rid of sediment and plankton and other marine life. Then it’s a good idea to get rid of as much water as possible through distillation. That will also provide the purest fresh water you can find for drinking. The concentrated salt water from that is what should be used to make sea salt.
All that’s needed at that point is to pour the water into a big flat container, such as a bathtub. Leave it out in the sun for a few days, so that the remaining water can evaporate, and the salt will be left in the bottom of the tub. Break it up and grind it a bit and it will be ready to use.