At the beginning of our Bahamas safari our guide Henry drove us past the Morton salt company’s salt ponds. They stretched as far as the eye could see and looked more like an inland sea than any “pond” I’ve ever seen.
He told us that our loop would bring us back past the salt ponds later on and we could see how the operation works. As we approached the salt factory towards the end of our loop we could see how the ponds were connected together.
The process starts with a pumping station located near the lighthouse. Here there is a huge pump that lifts seawater up into a canal.
The canal runs to the middle of Great Inagua and deposits the fresh seawater into a HUGE reservoir. Once here the saltwater is heated gradually by the sun. From this reservoir the salt water is a allowed to flow into the initial salt ponds. These ponds are very shallow and allow the sun to really start evaporating water. Using a series of gates the water is channelled from pond to pond. Since the water keeps evaporating each pond has a higher concentration of brine. Long before the final ponds the salt starts to crystallize out on rocks, sticks or anything else in the pond.
There are markers in the pond to show how deep the salt has accumulated in the later ponds.
Henry told us that in the final harvesting ponds the salt will be at least 6 inches thick when they allow the pond to finally dry out. This enormous amount of salt is then scooped out using heavy machinery and piled high near the loading dock.
We weren’t fortunate enough to see a ship being loaded, but we were told that a ship comes every 8 days and takes away 6000 tons of salt! The loading dock certainly looked capable of moving a lot of salt into a ship very quickly.