Salt Production at Ban Non Wat

Last year when I was working on the excavations at Ban Non Wat in Thailand, the squares I was working in had a lot of very very deep holes. There were so many of them we were kind of baffled about what they were used for. One suggestion was that they were used for salt production as this is a fairly common practice in this region today. While I was at Ban Non Wat this year, we were fortunate enough to see a local village woman making salt. One of the Thai archaeologists asked her about the process and she said this was only her 4th or 5th time making salt, as each time she had done it she produced enough salt to last her 10-15 years. This was a technique she had learned from her mother (although it is not exclusively done by women). I documented the process in photos below.

Salt production

This is the area where she was doing he salt production. On the very right-hand side you can see the very edge of a big pile of soil she was extracting salt from. The large contraption on the left is a new technique for making salt she was trying out. The traditional method for extracting salt is in the center.

Salty Water

This is a small hole she had dug where she put the salty soil and some water together to make a nice salinated mixture.


This is a funky angle but to the left is the corner of the same little pit above. Next to it she dug a deep hole where she put a ceramic jar. She dug a small hole between the two areas and stuck a bamboo tube between them that acts as a conduit for the salty water to drip from the small pit into the jug.


The salty water from the small jug above is then placed into these larger ceramic jars where it is stored until just the right moment.


This is the new contraption the woman was trying out to filter out the salt into the salt water solution. She’d never tried it before but it does the same thing without all that hole-digging.


Here’s another view of the operation a few days later. The storage tanks are on the right, the big mound of salty soil in the middle, and on the left is a little rectangular pan on a fire.


A closer view of the pan. After a few days in the jugs she has now moved the salinated water to this pan and is boiling off the water to get the salt.


The final product after the boiling process-salt! Looks kinda like couscous.

6 responses to “Salt Production at Ban Non Wat

  1. Gives one a real appreciation for the facility of getting salt we enjoy without thinking. Because it’s necessary to sustain life, we’re told – you’ve given me a project: we know the native people in this area had no salt. Flavored with the maple &c. I have to look into how that is!

  2. your cousin jen

    hi, we are glad you have this!
    Question, does all soil have enough salt in it to be extracted, or is the soil in Thailand very salty?

    I also thought you would enjoy knowing that Maeve is running around the livingroom buck-naked right now. She is two, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised!
    Jen, Mark & Maeve

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  4. holy crap is that a process. I like to think that it could be done with several families together to make it less work, if she wanted.

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