Salt lexicon



De-icing salt to counteract ice and packed snow, also: road salt. Salt for winter service on roads, paths and public areas.


Bars: sand dunes or spits of land which act as thresholds separating flat land from the open sea (at least temporarily), thereby creating lagoon landscapes.

Bex, Saline de Bex SA (Bévieux): a place in the lower Rhone valley near Aigle in the canton of Vaud. Known for its salt mine and saltworks. Evidence of salt extraction in this region dates back to the 16th century. Current annual production: approx. 20,000 tonnes of salt and brine. The historic section of the mine has been developed as a tourist attraction.


Chlorine: symbol Cl, yellowish-green, gaseous element with atomic number 17. Together with fluorine, bromine, iodine and astatine, this gas is a member of the group of halogens (elements that form salt).

Chloralkali electrolysis: substances obtained through chloralkali electrolysis provide the basis for plastics, disinfectants and water treatment agents, as well as for soap and cellulose (paper).

Chloralkali electrolysis is used to produce chlorine and sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) from salt, which consists of sodium and chloride ions. Sodium and chloride ions dissolved in an aqueous fluid have different electrical charges. In keeping with the principle of “opposites attract”, the ions migrate to the positively or negatively charged electrodes according to their charge, which they release at the respective electrode. Chlorine gas and sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) are formed in this process.



Evaporite, evaporite rock: rocks and minerals that are left behind after the evaporation of water, especially seawater, such as salt, gypsum and lime.


Fluorine (Latin fluor: the act of flowing): symbol F, a toxic and gaseous element that very readily enters into chemical reactions (which may be highly corrosive); its atomic number is 9. Fluorine is a member of the halogen group.


Glenck, Carl Christian Friedrich (1779–1845): German mining expert and founder of saltworks. Glenck spent many years looking for salt in Switzerland, and he discovered it in 1836 in a locality then known as Rothaus am Rhein (commune of Muttenz). Founder of the Schweizerhalle saltworks (1837). The Schweizerhalle saltworks is now the headquarters of the Swiss Saltworks AG.

Graduation works, grading: a plant installed in saltworks to concentrate (saturate) water with a low salt content (brine) by means of natural evaporation.


Halite: mineralogical name for rock salt (sodium chloride, NaCl). Rock salt or halite is part of the cubic crystal system. The crystals are mostly cubic in shape and are entirely cleavable. Rock salt in its pure form is colourless and transparent. Impurities often give rock salt a yellow, brown, blue or purple tinge. It has a hardness of 2.0 and a density of 2.16.

Hallstatt, Hallstatt culture: culture of the early Iron Age in central and western Europe and in the Balkans. It was named after the commune of Hallstatt (Hall means salt) in the Salzkammergut, Upper Austria, about 50 kilometres east of Salzburg. Since 1846, exploration has been under way at a cemetery there containing 2,500 to 3,000 cremated and inhumated cadavers, together with numerous funereal offerings. Salt was already being extracted at Hallstatt towards the end of the Bronze Age. The mine shafts reached depths of some 330 metres.



Iodine, symbol I, chemical element which forms grey-black shiny metal scales at room temperature. Iodine is one of the halogens. Important for the thyroid gland function.

Iodine deficiency: leads to the formation of goitre (pathological enlargement of the thyroid gland) on the neck.

Iodised salt, iodinated salt: salt enriched with iodine – a simple, cheap and efficient healthcare precaution to prevent goitre.


Potassium, symbol K, readily reactive, extremely soft metallic element. One of the alkaline metals.

Potassium chloride, potash, KCl: an important mineral and key raw material for the fertiliser industry. Like rock salt, it is a seawater evaporite rock.

Lime-sulphate-carbonic acid process: known as brine purification or more accurately, brine softening. Precipitation of “stone-forming” minerals such as gypsum, calcium chloride and magnesium chloride from the brine.

Cavern: a space in the rock created by leaching or mining operations; in this case, the space is specifically located in rock salt. Depending on the extraction method, the space may be hollow or filled with water or brine.

Common salt, evaporated salt, rock salt, sea salt, salt, halite: chemical sodium chloride (NaCl).

Concordat agreement on salt dated 22 November 1973: an agreement between the Swiss cantons (excluding Vaud) and the Principality of Liechtenstein regarding the uniform regulation of the salt trade on their territories.


Lickstone, salt lickstone: salt for agricultural animals pressed into cylinders or blocks (5–20 kg). Lickstones are placed in stables or fields.


Merian, Peter: Alderman of Basel and Professor of Chemistry. In one of his works on geology dating from 1821, he surmised that salt deposits could be present in north-western Switzerland.

Milligramme: one thousandth of a gramme or 0.001 of a gramme.


Sodium, symbol Na, a very readily reactive soft metallic element, silver-white in colour. It is one of the alkaline metals.

Sodium hydroxide, NaOH: an important basic chemical product. Produced on a large scale using the chloralkali electrolysis process:

  • 2 NaCl + 2H2O= 2 NaOH + Cl2 + H2.
  • Hydroxide ions (OH–) and hydrogen (H2) are given off at the cathode (+ pole)
  • Chlorine forms at the anode (- pole).



pH, pH value: simplified chemical abbreviation for the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution, better known as the values for acid (pH 0–7), neutral (pH 7) and alkaline (pH 7–14) for aqueous solutions.

Physiological, isotonic solution of common salt: the 0.9% aqueous solution of common salt (sodium chloride) that corresponds to blood serum.

Salted (cured) meat, to salt or cure: meat preserved by salting (with brine).



Royalty: tax levied on salt (salt tax).


Saldome: Saldome 1 and Saldome 2 are dome-shaped storage halls for de-icing salt at the Riburg saltworks. The two spectacular wooden structures hold around 80,000 and 100,000 tonnes of salt respectively. When first built, they were the largest wooden dome structures in Europe.

Saltworks: name for facilities that extract salt from brine (salt solution) or seawater by boiling (common salt) or simmering (evaporated salt, also known as vacuum salt) or evaporation in saltmarshes near the sea (sea salt).

Salinity: salt content of a solution or of bodies of water.

Salt dome, diapir, diapire: thick rock salt structure which has buckled under the pressure from the mountains, and which penetrates suprajacent rock layers in the shape of a cone or plug until it reaches the earth’s surface in some cases. Diapirs may measure several kilometres in diameter and height. They are also regarded as “oil traps” and are therefore important indicators of oil deposits (Iran, North Sea).

Saltmarshes: name for artificially created marine ponds used for salt extraction (marine saltworks).

Salzkammergut: region of pre-Alpine and Alpine landscape in Austria, east of Salzburg. The Salzkammergut is the main salt extraction area in Austria.

Salt-tolerant plants, halophytes: the name for plants that tolerate salt. Their occurrence is limited to regions characterised by a relatively high content of salt (especially common salt), i.e. over 0.5 percent. Typical locations include sea coasts, salt and mangrove swamps.

Pickling brine: brine (curing brine), very salty aqueous solution.

Hydrochloric acid, HCl solution: aqueous solution of hydrogen chloride, important basic chemical substance, obtained from the reaction between common salt (sodium chloride) and sulphuric acid.

Salt tax: salt monopoly, royalty.

Salt route, salt road: preferred route for the salt trade on which salt has been transported since prehistoric times from production centres to the areas where it is sold. The Roman Empire maintained a network of salt roads (viae salariae) along which salt traders (salarii) organised the trade. In the Middle Ages, salt roads radiated out to all regions of Europe. Caravan routes are still operating today in Africa (Sahara, Niger) and Asia (Tibet).

Schweizerhalle: a district and industrial zone of the commune of Pratteln, Canton of Basel-Landschaft, to the east of Basel, location of the first saltworks on the Rhine (1837), identified according to the custom at that time by the word “Hall(e)” which is Greek for salt; cf. Hallstatt, Hallein, Hall, Halle, Bad Reichenhall, Friedrichshall, Luisenhall, etc.

Evaporated salt, pan salt, salt obtained by evaporation, vacuum salt: technical term for salt obtained from simmering brine, cf. sea salt (from saltmarshes), rock salt (from mining).

Soda, sodium carbonate, Na2CO3: white powder with alkaline properties, often occurs naturally together with sodium hydrogen carbonate (sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3) (dissolved in soda lakes). Important basic chemical substance. Manufactured industrially using the Solvay process (sodium chloride solution, gaseous ammonia and carbon dioxide).

Soda production: salt and lime are the two raw materials used in a technically complex industrial process to obtain soda and sodium bicarbonate. Soda is used as a base material for many different products including glass, dyes, detergents and cleaning agents. Baking powder, medicines and mineral feed for animals, etc., are also produced with sodium bicarbonate as the basis.

Brine, saturated brine: aqueous solution of common salt; it is saturated when no more salt can be dissolved.

Brine source: natural spring or source with a high content of common salt.

Rock salt, halite: salt (sodium chloride) extracted in dry form from a geological salt deposit.


Thermocompression evaporator: a modern plant used to obtain evaporated salt. After the boiling process, the vapour (waste steam) is washed, mechanically compacted so as to reheat it, and then fed back into the evaporators again for use as heating steam.