The Salt of Fuerteventura.

Fuerteventura has about 340 kilometres of coastline. This large extension not only allows you to enjoy incredible beaches, to sunbathe or practice water sports, but it also plays a fundamental role in the life of its inhabitants. 

This coast is a great source of natural resources, which has been exploited since the first settlers until today: fishing, harvesting different molluscs, and for the extraction of sea salt.

Today we approach the fascinating history of salt on Fuerteventura.

The Salt of Fuerteventura. 

Salt is one of the most important elements in sustaining life, and has played a fundamental role in the history of mankind. If there is one thing we can be proud of, in Fuerteventura, it is the excellent quality of its salt. Among the most common uses is to supplement the diet of livestock, self-consumption, food preservation, and drying of fish, what we here call “jarear“.

In Fuerteventura we have two types of salt flats, some man-made, such as the Salinas del Carmen, and others natural.

The natural salt flats are unique, beautiful and singular places. These are mainly located on the west coast of Fuerteventura. The rugged terrain, the strong waves, and the almost constant wind that whips the west coast, is responsible for the fact that many of the natural salt flats are found in this part of the island.

In summary, we can say that the natural salt mines have originated in small pools, far from the intertidal zone. The strong wind causes the splashes of the waves to go a few meters inland, creating small puddles. The action of the sun causes the water to evaporate and the salt to “curdle” in the cookers, leaving us with spectacular white carpets that contrast with the blackness of the volcanic rock.

Touring around the island doing geotourism, in search of natural salt mines can become a life-giving experience. It’s our own little treasure hunt.

History of salt extraction on Fuerteventura

 The Mahos (Aborigines of Fuerteventura coming from Africa) used to come to the coast to collect molluscs, as well as to fish, and collect salt. There are very few documented references to the production and use of salt in Aboriginal culture. However, we know that they obtained the salt, directly from the puddles formed by the high tide, and that they also salted the fish. The large number of natural “pilas”, or troughs, were the only saltworks known to exist until the 15th century. The Mahos even lowered the bottom of some of these cooking pots to obtain a greater amount of salt.

After the Franco-Norman Conquest, at the beginning of the 15th century, the natural cocederos became part of the properties of the manor

However, salt was considered a “common good” and the right to use it belonged to its inhabitants.

The neighbours could freely collect the salt needed for their supply. However, there were people responsible for the surveillance of the salt mines, so that no one would monopolize more than necessary, and that no neighbour would spend more than one day collecting salt. It was also totally forbidden to sell it or export it to other islands.

 Despite being natural landscapes, these spaces had their names. The best known were the Salinas de La Imagen, La Vieja Pescadora, and Aguas Verdes, among others.

If more salt was required, the piles were artificially filled, and the brine was transferred to smaller piles. Small stone dikes were also made. Finally, the flower of salt was scraped off, and the serums were filled for transport. But that wasn’t the end of the job. The salt had to be dried, for which purpose the salt was spread out on large canvases for a few days, sheltered from the sea and the damp. This work was done mainly in summer, there were even people specialized in these tasks, they were “Los Raspadores”.

Fuerteventura did not have real salt flats until the end of the 18th century, when the Salinas del Carmen were created. But these weren’t the only ones. Salt mines were also built in Morro Jable, Gran Tarajal, Puerto del Rosario and Isla de Lobos. There were probably other salt flats at the mouth of Muley Ravine in the scrubland. But of the latter, there are no traces left. The survival of the Salinas del Carmen, as well as the cultural legacy they have left, make up an environment worth knowing.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Salt of Fuerteventura: 

Can you visit the natural salt flats of Fuerteventura? 

Yes and it’s a different way to get to know the island.

Is this a recommended visit to go with children? 

Most of the natural salt flats are located on the west coast, which is very rugged. Take extreme precautions if you’re with minors.

Do natural salt flats have signs?

No, the natural salt flats are not marked by the Cabildo. If you want to visit them you will have to ask the neighbours in the area, especially the older people.

How many natural salt mines are there on Fuerteventura? 
  • In Fuerteventura there are 8 natural salt mines:
  • Baja del Cotillo.
  • Women’s Beach .
  • Salinas de La Pescadora.
  • Salinas del Paso del Diablo.
  • Salinas del Gavioto.
  • Salinas de Aguas Verdes.
  • Salinas del Vigocho.
  • Punta Pesebre.
Can you get salt from the natural ponds on Fuerteventura? 

No, this practice is totally forbidden and illegal.

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