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Once a thriving industry and a major source of income for Lanzarote the island's salt production has hit hard times, leaving the once prolific salt pans empty and derelict.
Before the days of being able to freeze your fish catch at sea, the trawlers relied on salt to help preserve the caught fish while away from port for weeks at a time.
More than Just Salt Flats
Following the Second World War refrigeration became more readily available and the demand for salt declined, forcing many of Lanzarote's small mines to shut down for good.
As you drive around the island today, you will see the remnants of the past, with scores of abandoned salt pans and rotting wooden windmills abandoned to the ravages of nature and time, a testament to what became of an industry that was once a major employer on Lanzarote.
Despite the widespread demise of the salt industry, one salt mine has been able to keep working by turning into an artisan Sea Salt producer, come tourist attraction that produces a natural salt adorned by gourmets.
First opened in 1894 the Janubio salt flats mine on the south-west coast of Lanzarote still produce 15,000 tonnes of salt a year using wooden planks called palancas de madera, where sea water is allowed to pass through channels before being collected in pools.
The seawater is then allowed to naturally evaporate, leaving behind sparkling course crystals of salt.
Having found a niche market in the restaurant industry the salt flats of Janubio sell a pure form of pure sea salt known as Flor de Sal. Collected manually the salt is void of any industrial process, resting in containers for up to a year to ensure the sun and the wind naturally remove all moisture leaving just pure salt flake crystals.
Once the drying process is over the pure salt crystals are packaged in 200-gram containers and sold around the world as a natural product. During a visit to the salt museum and warehouse, you will be able to purchase Flor de Sal along with other salt products.
Besides being a thriving salt factory the salt flats of Janubio provide a refuge for migratory birds that include plovers, sandpipers and Flamingos. In total over 70 different species of birdlife visits the salt flats during the year, where thanks to an abundance of microorganisms to feed on. As well as the bird life Janubio is also home to 93 types of fauna.
The Janubio salt flats and museum is located near the village of La Hoya, where the LZ 703 meets the LZ 2, in between Yaiza and Playa Blanca. The optimum time for taking photos is to visit the salt flats as the sun sets ,where you will be afforded a kaleidoscope of colours created by the sun reflecting off the water in the salt ponds.
Salinas de Janubio is open from 7 am until 2.30pm Monday – Friday.