Fleur de sels have been harvested from seawater since ancient times, when they were thought to promote healing and were used by healers in the Mediterranean and Middle East. They are still widely used today for various medicinal purposes. Fleur de sels contain magnesium sulfate and calcium carbonate, which are key ingredients in the healing properties of the salt. As a soft, thin crust, fleur de sel is harvested from the top of the ocean water where it forms on the exposed marine surface as it evaporates into the atmosphere.
The fleur de sel harvesting takes place at different depths along the ocean floor, with the deepest areas of the sea floor fetching the most precious gems. The harvesting technique depends on how the fleur de sel is harvested. When large masses of the crystal rock are exposed for prolonged periods, the magnesium sulfate is stripped off the rock and deposited on the bottom of the ocean. This is a slow and labor-intensive process that involves pumping the water deep into the ocean floor through wells, then scouring the bottom of the ocean using powerful pumps and removing the sediment.
The next step in the harvesting process is evaporation. This method removes large quantities of rock and salt from the ocean floor in a short period of time, resulting in less effort and costs. The evaporation method is also used to extract fleur de sel from the upper portions of coastal waters. The salt extracted from the ocean bottom is recondensed into a salt crystal and stored at sea. This salt is highly effective in moisturizing skin and hair, as well as in the treatment of sunburn, cuts and scrapes, as well as wrinkles.
Because of the large amount of minerals in the fleur de sel, it is important that the minerals are not lost during the extraction process. A special unit is designed to reduce the loss of minerals during the evaporation process. The minerals are returned to the ocean at a later time, usually after the fine salt is depleted.
At the evaporation site, water evaporates from the surface of the fleur de sel. The surface material will absorb moisture from the air and the liquid evaporating from the water evaporates into the ocean. This process of transpiration leaves the ocean floor with a smooth texture.
In addition to the texture of the fleur de sel, the color of the ocean water also varies. Most sea salts have gray, brown or black colors. The salts that are concentrated in the deep ocean waters have shades of blue, green and white. The concentrated salts leave the fleur de sel with a light gray, or brown appearance.
Marshes often contain clay. Clay inhibits the growth of algae. It slows down the evaporation process and maintains the same moisture level in the seawater. Clays are also a natural mosquito repellent. The clay taste of the fleur de sel makes it an excellent mosquito repellent.
During the transportation of the fleur de sel from one location to another, the container is typically placed in an upright position. This allows for the salt particles to fall out on the ground, which provides for a natural texture to the product. When these fine particles fall out of the container, they mix with airborne particles and settle on the ground or other surfaces, creating an attractive texture. While table salt does not have the texture of this product, it is still considered a fleur de sel product. Many manufacturers have begun to use this term in labeling their products, and it is likely that it will become an accepted term in the field of fleur de lis products.