The following is an article from Primafoodie written by Stacey A. Lindsay. This was an interview with with my self, Bryon Duty.



Bryon Duty started Pacific Flake Sea Salt nine years ago with a passion. He created his northern California culinary salt harvestry, which specializes in both flake and fine grain sea salt, to operate free of any commercial additives found in most salts on grocery store shelves. As Duty says, the pure, clean flakes Pacific Flake produces are “a true taste of the Pacific Ocean merroir.” His salts come from California's Humboldt Bay, a place he calls “a rare source of water that has a huge tidal rush.”

Duty tells us that the journey to creating his business was “an uphill challenge in the beginning,” but one that has been worth it. He’s since scaled it to become one of the most prominent American-made flake-specific salt works that now supplies spice companies and restaurants with freshly harvested pure sea salt. 

We reached out to Duty to ask about his process and what makes his salt truly pure. A passionate advocate for eating clean and locally, Duty answered our questions about the differences between salts, how to source one that is high-quality, and the importance of knowing the people behind the foods we eat.



Tell us about your company, Pacific Flake Sea Salt, and the process you use to harvest your salt.

Pacific Flake Sea Salt is made at our harvestry in Eureka, California. We specialize in making a finishing flake sea salt using a fire evaporation method. This process starts with raw seawater, which we filter into our holding tanks and leave to rest so the sediment falls to the bottom. Then, the next stage [involves] the main evaporation kettles. At the boiling point, any bacteria are killed off, and then the water is reduced to create a concentrated brine for the next stage. When sea water is heated, the hard calcium becomes particulate, which can be filtered out. Calcium can be a source of bitterness in salts. After removing those solids, it's filtered one last time into the evaporation pans. We then crystallize it over many hours. On the surface of the water, the flakes grow larger and heavier, then fall to the bottom, like snowflakes. We then rake out the flakes, drain them, dry them, and pack them.

  How would you describe your salt?

Our sea salt has a delicate texture that is not too dense or soft. The crisp brine flavor salivates in the mouth without aftertaste. There are no additives in any part of our process—just pure, clean, simple flake sea salt. 

Where does all salt come from?

There are two sources of salt: One is the sea. All the oceans have a 3 to 5 percent salinity range depending on depth, temperature, and location. The other is concentrated deposits underground in areas that were likely once covered by the ocean. This type of salt—mined salt—is almost exclusively used for industrial chemical salt and is used in things such as laundry detergents and makeup. Unfortunately, mined salt is also a cheap source of table salt. 

So that brings us to the differences: How does salt labeled "sea salt" differ from "kosher salt," "fine table salt," and even "Pink Himalayan salt"?

At Pacific Flake, we pride ourselves on making true sea salt. Sea salt is supposed to be made from an active ocean. Some countries have this as law, but in the US, you can call anything sea salt, even a mined source of salt.The argument here is that companies say the salt was from the sea at some point in time. Kosher salt has simply become a way to identify the size and salt type. Historically, kosher salt is simply salt from a salt facility that a rabbi blessed for a price—that can be the packaging warehouse that imports the salt and not even the producers. But the rules here are very loose. [Editor's note: The Kosher salt name also comes from its history of the Jewish process of koshering meat, or prepping it, to eat.] We are not kosher certified. In a restaurant kitchen, kosher salt can also be referred to as a small-grain common salt that's used in many dishes, from soups to french fries. But this has nothing to do with the actual kosher certification. Here’s the big one: Table salt, which is mined salt. But why is it so cheap and on every single table in North America? One big reason is the oil industry. When searching for oil deposits in the ground, the first clues of oil are high-saline water or brine wells. This brine deposit sits on top of the oil and is mixed in as it gets deeper. They pump the oil out, and it comes with all the brine. They then cook out the brine, as it’s a byproduct. The sludge is then further processed by cooking it at 2000 degrees, which removes everything, including 80 plus trace elements other than sodium and calcium. This is NA/CA on the element table, and it is not stable by itself as it is not naturally found, so they add aluminum silicate to help keep it free-flowing so it doesn't clump into a block. This becomes cheap table salt. Another thing to note is that many companies also add iodine to salt for claimed health reasons, though this is becoming less common nowadays. I'll add that sea salt naturally has low levels of iodine. Pink Himalayan salt comes from mine complexes in the Punjab region of Pakistan. This stone is called halite, and it is a sodium rock. The pink color comes from the iron. It is ground up and up-sold around the world. There is also often diesel exhaust left on the rock salt. The conditions of some of these mines are some of the worst in the world, with a low life expectancy for the miners. [Editor's Note: NPR offers an in-depth report on Pakistani rock salt mines.] I generally advise to stay away from rock salt. 

You mentioned that there are no additives in your salt. What common additives are added to salt sold on grocery store shelves?

The main ones are aluminum silicate, magnesium carbonate, and sodium silicoaluminate. These are also found in most premade baking mixes. For us, there's no need to add these because of the way we crystalize and dry our salt. Our salt stays free-flowing in a natural state. We don't doctor it up when nature has provided the perfect product. We just coax it out of the sea.

What are some basic things about salt purity and quality and the salt industry that you would like consumers to know?

I use the same adage other farmers use: Know your farmer. From growing vegetables to farming the ocean for sea salt, being able to know the source and practices used can help people decide. It becomes self-evident pretty fast when asking basic questions such as: Where does your ingredient come from? I have asked all the name-brand importers at trade shows over the years where their salt comes from and who makes their sea salt. Literally, they can't answer me. It goes through so many hands that customers can't learn; all we get is a general statement on their website that it's salt "from Europe." I wish the salt producers from other regions had the chance to be as clear and open as we can. Most salt from Europe gets mixed up and regraded, rebranded into 100 different brands before it hits the shelves. Most of our salt as a food ingredient comes from Europe this way.

What are some good rules for sourcing quality pure salt?

I would recommend seeking a salt that was naturally formed and is a sea salt, not a mined salt. Depending on many variables, sea salt will crystallize as a square or cubicle. Make sure it comes from a pure source, far from big city ports. When seeking flake salt, make sure it was not cheap industrial salt watered down and recrystallized. You can do this by looking up the brand to see if it's an actual harvestry or just a brand with limited source information. There are only about 30 true flake salt producers in the world that I know of, with half in England, half here, and a handful in Iceland and Canada. These are seawater-to-finished-product producers. Price is another big indicator. Industrial salt is around $1 to $3 dollars per pound. High-quality craft salt can be $.50 to $1.50 per ounce—and yes, per ounce.

What drew you to start Pacific Flake nearly a decade ago?

It all started when my mom was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune condition. Her doctor said it's the additives in salt that can cause this, and so she began a search for real salt. My mom has been in remission for almost 10 years now. We eat clean, and what I mean by this is we source everything locally. I was living only an hour from the wine country at the time, so it was easy to eat clean because it is the food capital of the western hemisphere—with the exception of clean salt. That's when a light bulb went off for me: I had an opportunity to make and sell the highest quality salt. The trial and error took around a full year and many trips to the ocean, primarily Bodega Bay. We are now located in Humboldt Bay, a rare water source with a huge tidal rush and a full cycle of the bay every 24 hours. It’s also the oyster nursery of the West Coast. Having high quality and the cleanest sea water available in California, according to the California Coastal Commission, has allowed us to make some of the finest sea salt locally for everyone. 

What do you love about what you do?

Food is life. The better we eat, the more alive we are and the healthier we are. I still harvest almost every batch myself, and it never ceases to get old, raking out perfectly white, flakey, brilliant diamonds of salt from the clear, thick brine. Seeing it emerge and putting it on the drying racks is very satisfying, knowing that someone out there will have a great meal or help get healthy because of our work, even if they don't know who we are or how we do it. It's important work that's being done. We definitely take pride in our craft.

You can learn more about Bryon Duty and Pacific Flake Sea Salt here.

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