Mainit Village Folk Make Salt on Stones

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MAINIT VILLAGE FOLK MAKE SALT ON STONES

by Augustus Ulat Saboy

The Manila Times, 23 February 1966

BONTOC, Mt. Province, Feb. 22 (PNS) – Have you seen salt growing on stones?

It seems fantastic, but Bontoc natives in the village of Mainit, the region where most hot springs in this province are found, have been engaged in this industry.

This unique salt making is as primitive as the natives’ culture and traditions.

How They Do It

Here’s how they do it:

A suitable hot spring is selected from among the hundreds of thermal springs spurting all over the village. Moderately warm mineral springs usually are chosen.

The surrounding area is cleared of grass, rocks and dirt, and the hot spring is impounded into a small puddle by ringing it with small rocks. The floor of impounded mineral water is leveled to allow the water to rise about six inches from the floor of the puddle.

Stones‘Planted’

Stones as big as man’s fist are gathered and “planted” at even distances on the water pool. An outlet is opened with a small stone used as value. This serves to regulate the flow of water so that the top of each stone on the floor of the puddle is left dry.

A conical shelter is then constructed over the puddle, with its caves reaching the ground edge of the hot spring pool. The sides of the ground are left open to let the air in.

Condensation

Thorugh the natural process of condensation, which takes place in the sheltered pool, salt in the water vapor settles on the planted stones. In one week, the stones are thick with encrusted snow-white salt particles.

The salt is scraped off after it thickens to about an inch on top of the stones. The work, exclusively a woman’s job, is done with a bladed bamboo stick. Then the salt is winnowed into a vat on fresh water where it is dissolved.

Boiling

The vat, now full of salt solution, is boiled to extract the salt. Before it cools off, the salt in the vat is ladled into prepared base for wrapping into cakes.

The wrapped salt is “toasted” over charcoal fire until it hardens. The salt is now ready for long storage.

This kind of salt making is a major occupation of the Mainit folk. Each family owns a salt puddle.

This is the reason for the existence of several small conical shelters all over their village.

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