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SALT MAKING IN AMED BALI

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salt making fields-Amed-Bali
baskets of finished salt awaiting pick up

SALT MAKING IN AMED BALI

Making salt from sea water is a traditional livelihood in the Amed area. Nowadays only a couple small communities, namely at Amed village and Jemeluk, still make salt. There, out on the beach, you can see large open areas full of rows and rows of wooden trays filled with slowly evaporating sea water transforming into salt, as well as strange large conical structures and plots of square ‘fields’ of dark soil, all resting under the lovely gaze of Mt. Agung, Bali’s sacred mountain.

salt making fields-Amed-Bali
salt-making fields under the gaze of Mt. Agung from Amed

Several generations ago the beaches at Lipah, Tulamben and other villages were also filled with these salt making structures. Nowadays those beachside properties sport low-key boutique resorts. Many local families have given up the tedious, low-income salt making profession.

salt making fields-Amed-Bali
salt-making trays at Amed beach with Mt. Agung in background

But a few poor families continue with their salt-making tradition. For outsiders it’s quite an interesting sight- the rows and rows of wooden trays lining the beach. Whenever I pass them, I always think, “Wow, look at that unusual sight! I wonder how they go about making salt?!” And so, one day I stopped by to find out. Turned out the process is considerably more complicated and time-consuming than I’d guessed. In all, it takes about 8-10 days to turn sea water into salt here in Amed. This is how it goes:

man making salt- Amed- Bali
carrying sea water to the salt-making fields

Step 1: Take sea water from the sea and pour it into prepared soil fields. Workers carry the water in double-bucket shoulder poles.

Step 2: Smooth the soil in fields to allow even drying. Allow salt water to dry/ evaporate for three days.

Step 4: Rake the dried, salty soil paddies to break them up.

woman making salt- Amed- Bali

Step 5: Put broken up soil into the cones.

Step 6: Stamp down soil inside the cones.

Step 7: Collect more sea water and pour it over soil in the cones.

Step 8: Allow sea water to seep down through the soil.

Step 9: Gather the filtered salty water from below the cones. Step 10: Pour this water into the drying trays.

Step 11: Allow to dry and evaporate for 3-4 days. Now they have salt!

Step 12: Collect fresh salt in baskets for sale.
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man making salt- Amed- Bali
preparing the cones for salt-making

Quite unfortunately for salt makers, they have no outside market for their salt. Not even cities in Bali like nearby Amlapura or the capital, Denpassar, let alone to Jakarta. Their salt is all sold locally to Amed area families. It only fetches 1000- 1500 rp/ kilo. (about 10- 15 cents/ kilo). A salt maker can make about 70-100 kilos/ week. If all sold, he can make 70,000- 100,000 rp/ week. (about $8- $11) Half of that goes to land rental. With the remaining profit he can feed his family for about a week. So it seems he can just about make ends meet for his labor.

woman making salt- Amed- Bali
breaking up the salt-laden earth

On a bright note, according to an article I read recently on the Amed salt, some restaurants and even big resorts in south Bali have begun to order and use Amed salt for cooking. Let’s hope its popularity with big-scale restaurants continues to grow. Perhaps the local salt-makers could get a better price for their efforts?

salt making fields-Amed-Bali
salt fields, cone and the Bali Sea at Amed

In the meantime, a local man has opened Cafe Garam (‘garam’ means ‘salt’ ) with the hope of promoting Amed’s salt-making. To this end, the Cafe has a display desk with pictures and step by step descriptions of the salt making process. Any of the staff will eagerly explain the process in more detail to any curious visitors.  One of the large cones and a row of the drying tray also stand in the center of the cafe. Cafe Garam sells Amed salt in various decorative boxes and bags, of course at prices much higher than the 1000rp/kg local rate. The cafe itself is an open-aired circular restaurant made of wood. It’s very relaxing and cosy. Beyond the cafe, out towards the beach sit salt-making trays, cones and fields. It’s just a stroll outside to take a look firsthand at all the curious structures. And, if you get up super early, or luck out midday, you’ll also get to watch salt-makers in action. It’s a cool place to stop by for a visit while staying in Amed.

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If you’re heading to Amed, check out my hiking guidebook:

 

Hiking in Bali – Lash - LashWorldTour

Hiking in Bali  20 Hikes in Amed: Bali’s Remote Northeast Coast

My Hiking in Bali guidebook includes detailed information for staying in  Amed plus hiking preparations such as what to take hiking, getting to/from hike entry points, maps and photos. The book begins with a thorough introduction to visiting Bali,  including all the essential information tourists need for arrival and settling in.

READ MORE        Buy Print Version

 

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You  might also like:

Life of Mackerel Fisherman in Amed

Amed, Bali’s Remote Northeast Coast

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  1. Suzy

    It is a real shame the Amed salt is not sold outside of town. It sounds like such a laborious process.

  2. LASH

    It really is! The salt is excellent quality, of course, and they really could use the income!

  3. Bibi

    Hi! Informative article. Besok kita mau ke cafe Garam by bike. Hope we will see some action. What is the best time to visit?

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