The White Salt Story

Have you ever wondered about the journey your white de-icing salt has to take get to your paths and driveways? Although salt is a natural product there is still a lot of work involved so here at Online Rock Salt we thought we’d let you in on the process that takes place to get the de-icing salt to your door.

Our white de-icing salt starts its life as part of the Mediterranean Sea. The hot Egyptian sun is used to separate the salt from the seawater. The seawater is fed into large lakes, known as salt pans, where it evaporates. The salt is the moved to the crystallization bays where it becomes purer and eventually turns into raw salt. This process can take up to five years to complete as small amounts of sea water is continually added until the salt reaches a depth 80cm, it is then ready for the next stage in the process.

However, even after five years it is still not ready for industrial use. The raw salt is then washed to make sure it is pure sodium chloride. The salt is then put through a screener to ensure that it is no bigger than 6mm and the anti-caking agent is then added to ensure it can be used in salt spreaders for de-icing the UK’s roads and motorways.

The salt is then put through a screener to ensure that it is no bigger than 6mm.

However, even after five years it is still not ready for industrial use. The raw salt is then washed to make sure it is pure sodium chloride. The salt is then put through a screener to ensure that it is no bigger than 6mm and the anti-caking agent is then added to ensure it can be used in salt spreaders for de-icing the UK’s roads and motorways.

For its final journey in Egypt the salt travels up the road from the salt bays to the dockyard at Alexandria. Large ships wait to take the salt across the Mediterranean, through the Gibraltar Strait and into the dockyard at Ellesmere Port, which is a short distance from Online Rock Salt’s base in West Lancashire. The ships can be loaded at a rate of 350 tonnes an hour and the biggest shipment Online Rock Salt ever brought over was 12,000 tonnes of de-icing salt in the winter of 2010.

Once the salt has made it onto the dockside at Ellesmere Port it is all down to Online Rock Salt to make sure the salt is packed and bagged ready for delivery to your door. Right next to the pile of salt is our dedicated bagging plant that packs the salt into various bag sizes, including our large packs, 10kg and 5kg packs.

Salt is filled into the hopper and then begins to work its way through each stage of the machine. The bagging machine is programmed to one of our bag sizes and then is able to weigh out the correct amount of salt needed.

This is poured into the machine where the bag is formed into a tube and then sealed once the salt is inside. A conveyor belt then moves the pack up the bagging line where another machine lifts it onto a pallet.

The bagging plant can pack 12 bags a minute, meaning that in a single day the plant can make over 400 pallets. At Online Rock Salt we have two dedicated bagging plants, so that’s over 800 pallets per day. The machine requires just two people to be on site. One person makes sure that everything runs smoothly as blockages can occur and settings need to be changed. The other is needed to remove the full pallets of salt of the line, shrink wrap them and then stack everything neatly on the dockside. Online Rock Salt’s MD took a trip down to Ellesmere Port to help out.

From the dockside the salt can be taken into one of our many stores where it patiently waits to be delivered to our customers. So from the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt to your own doorstep Online Rock Salt’s white de-icing salt goes on quite a journey.

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