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Are You Worth Your Salt?

Now that spring has finally arrived in the Finger Lakes, I suddenly find that my ambition has dropped to its annual all-time low and I would rather be outside taking pictures or warming myself in the bright sunlight rather than raking the yard or repairing the damage that was done by the snow plow during the winter. Perhaps I am not worth my salt any more meaning that I am worthless and don’t deserve my wages or a ration of salt for pay as was the practice in Roman times.

Lest we forget, salt is an essential ingredient in the diet any living animal. Yes, we are constantly reminded that we eat too much salt today because it has been added to all of our processed foods that we buy. Nevertheless, we need salt to live and salt has been used as a currency or pay in the Roman times, a preservative for the meat that we eat, and also a preservative for dead humans prior to burial.

Underneath the Finger Lakes in New York State are enormous reserves of salt which were left there some 300 million years ago as the entire Finger Lakes Region used to be huge sea (click here). As the sea water evaporated, huge deposits of salt were left behind at various depths from 200 feet in Syracuse NY to 1500 – 2000 feet in the Watkins Glen area of New York State to 6500 feet deep at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

There are two large salt refiners in Watkins Glen, NY; Cargill Salt which is located right along route 414 and US Salt (click here) which is located on the west shore of Seneca Lake just a little north of the village of Watkins Glen. Both of these locations “mine” the salt by pumping down heated water into a well and letting the water dissolve the salt and then pumping up the brine which is then heated once more to evaporate the water.

We take salt for food purposes granted these days. But come the first snow next fall in the Finger Lakes, all of the towns and municipalities had better have their supplies of rock salt in place ready to melt the snow and ice on our roads!

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