Quantities: salt, ocean, firewood
- It takes about 2-3 standard campground bundles of wood to boil off one 5-gallon bucket of water.
- The ocean is about 3% salt, so 5 gallons of water contains about a pound of salt.
- A quick internet search and a bit of math tells me that, nutritionally speaking, you need definitely less than two pounds of salt, but maybe a bit more than a pound of salt per person per year. So the salt from 10 gallons of ocean (which we harvested in a day, but didn’t time it well, and were hot in the midday and done before the mosquitoes came out at night) should be quite enough for one person for a year.
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Where we went
We biked from Portland down to the Whalen Island County Campground via Champoeg Campground and the Nestucca River National Back Country Byway. We were going to stay at Cape Lookout, but there was one more hill in that direction, and it was late. So we went south instead of north. At the time, we didn't realize Jacobsen Salt does this just down the road from where we harvested. They tested the ocean in 25 places and chose to harvest from the Netarts Bay Shellfish Preserve. A local told us that they heard the oysters purify the water extra, but the water we got was pretty amazingly clear, too. We figure the stuff not much more than 10 miles away is probably pretty ok.
Next year, we will stay at Cape Lookout, harvest 20 gallons from Netarts Bay (after confirming that it's really actually ok to harvest ocean from a shellfish preserve?!), and take a couple late nights to boil the water down. FYI, potatoes boiled over a campfire are delicious. Next year, we're making a batch of nettle salt.
Recipe for Salt
We used Oregon ocean water from between Whalen Island and Pacific City, but water from a bay already carefully selected by a salt company might be even more ideal. Netarts Bay, for example.
We used about 2-3 bundles of wood for 5 gallons of ocean, but less may be needed. Please note: We’re amateurs. We’ve done this one time. This recipe is a distillation of our single experience.
Makes about one pound Takes one afternoon to one day
- 5 gallons ocean water (cleanest available source)
- Food-grade 5-gallon bucket with lid (commonly found free & lightly-used at delicatessens)
- Campfire pit
- Lighter or matches
- 2-3 bundles of wood, possibly less
- Large pot
- Metal screen lid & tongs or similar to remove it when it’s hot optional
- Skimmer optional
- 2-3 Glass jars
- Flat tray
Go to the ocean. We harvested ocean water when the tide was coming in. Fill the bucket with ocean water. Return any jellyfish to their preferred, non-boiling environment. Put the lid on the bucket. Head back to camp.
Wait until maybe half an hour before the mosquitoes come out for the evening.
Put the large pot over the fire, and ladle a couple gallons of the ocean from the bucket into the pot. The reason to ladle the ocean instead of pouring is so that the sand stays in the bottom of the bucket. If you don’t want a few ashes from the fire in your salt, cover the pot with a metal screen lid. We haven’t tested this, but expect it would work.
Boil. Add wood to the fire as needed to keep the pot boiling. Boil some more. Keep on boiling! It will look like water for a long time. We kept the pot about 1/3 full until we ran out of ocean water.
Eventually, the salt water will develop a crust. At this stage, use the skimmer to transfer the salt to the glass jar. Continue skimming. When you feel done, pour any excess water into another glass jar. Make sure you keep ALL the water. If you don’t have enough space in your jars to keep all the processed ocean water, keep boiling. That stuff is salty! Taste it and see!
Take the full glass jars home and pour/spread their contents into a tray. Put the tray in the sun. Let dry.
Nettle Salt (untested variation)
Harvest nettle similar prior to or en route to the coast. Boil the nettle in the ocean water. Leave the nettle in until it is thoroughly coated in salt crystals. Store with the rest of the salt/salt water. Sun-dry separately. Shatter or grind using a mortar & pestle.
Maps we packed included
- Hillsboro to Carlton & Carlton to Highway 101 via
- Google maps printout for Beaver to 18242-18866 Sandlake Rd, Cloverdale
- Oregon Coast Bicycle Route Map & Oregon State Bicycle Map by ODOT
- A copy of the Washington/Oregon map by Rand/McNally
- Tillamook Coast Area Map
- 2019 Tide Tables
- Bike There! We have a print copy
- Nestucca River Recreation Area Map via
- Oregon’s Washington County Bike Map via