THE SALT OF LAS SALINAS
Salt is vital to man and in past times salt was as valuable as gold. In approx. 700 B.C. the Phoenicians arrived in Ibiza. These clever merchants not only discovered a new market to trade their luxury goods from the near east, they also found the ideal place to produce salt, which was then a highly valued raw material. It was not perishable, was easily transported and had multiple uses.
Salt was also needed to produce “Salazón”, a dried fish that was considered a delicacy. This is why the Phoenicians built large plants to produce salt. They diverted water from the sea using canals, into seperated basins where the water could evaporate. Once most of the water had evaporated the rest of the water was put into shallower basins where the evaporation process was completed. With only the salt left, great physical effort was put into collecting it for manufacturing and eventual later use.
The production of salt in Ibiza also flourished in the Roman period. The Romans also realized the importance of this product. The word salary comes from the word sal, and in those times the workers were paid with salt.
For centuries Las Salinas salt mines was a communal property. This changed when the Catalans conquered Ibiza in the thirteenth century. The conquerors never reached an agreement about the ownership of the property.
In 1715 due to the war of succession, the salt mines became war booty. Finally in 1817 they were sold to a private concern that is still the actual owner. Today the anual salt production is approximately 50.000 tonnes, which is sold mainly in northern Europe. A smaller part remains in Ibiza and is converted into table salt.
Today it is possible to visit the salt production plant in Las Salinas.