Getting Salt in the Wild

We all realize that we need salt to survive. If you are survivalist you need to ensure that you have easy access to salt either by carrying it or scavenging it yourself.   There are certain health consequences due to the lack of salt, such as muscle cramps, dizziness, and fatigue.  These ailments should be a cause for concern especially if you’re on the move.

If you are traveling as a survivalist and you’re not close to seawater, it’s going to take some time for you to gather enough salt to survive.  Nevertheless, you can hunt animals that would provide the salt content that you will need, but you need to hunt animals that are the best to hunt as a source of sodium.  Another option is to carry the salt along with you,  although salt has some weight to it and it’s going to slow you down.   For this article, I’m going to assume that you were traveling in the wilderness and that you wish to reduce your weight load.

How do you get salt in the wild?  To get salt in the wilderness, start by consuming animals that contain a lot of sodium in their blood such as deer.   Deer are plentiful in North America so it will not be a problem for you to locate and to hunt enough deer to survive.  The blood of such animals will provide enough sodium to help you to survive.

Where do you find salt in the forest?

The quickest way of getting the sodium that you need in the wild is to consume animals that contain a lot of sodium in their blood. For this reason, I suggest that you hunt deer versus moose because moose does not have a lot of sodium content stored in their blood cells.  

Nevertheless, in general, animals that are herbivores consume a lot of plants in order to have enough salt in their diets. As humans, it would be very hard to consume enough plant material to get an adequate level of sodium.   Herbivores are your best bet.  By consuming animals that digest plants, you will be getting the sodium that you acquire.

Not all meats have a lot of sodium, although venison does.  The best cuts are tenderloin, shoulder cuts that provide about 50 mg of salt per serving.   If you are lucky enough to have access to a grinder, the panties that you will be able to create will actually have a level of 65 mg of sodium per burger.

Besides just ingesting the blood of animals that consume a lot of plants, you could also access the salt in the hickory tree.   There are 15 species of hickory trees that are native to the North American continent.  Make sure at least that you are aware of how to recognize this tree based on its distinctive bark.   For the process to obtain salt from this tress, I will outline the steps that you will need to take in order to extract the salt from the roots of the hickory tree.

How to get salt out of a Hickory Tree

After you have located hickory trees in the forest,  you have to determine which tree is the youngest since it’ll be easier for you to access its roots.  Older trees will have thicker roots that will be next to impossible to dig up, especially if you have limited time. Here are the steps involved in order to obtain the salt from the hickory tree:

  1. After locating a young hickory tree,  dig around the tree in order to access and then cut to saw off a few of the roots.  Try to dig to the ends of roots so that the roots as close as possible to one inch to half an inch in diameter. 
  2. Wash off the roots in a nearby stream.
  3. With a sharp knife, chop the roots into 1/2 inch discs. Click to see a Corona pruning hand saw that is available on Amazon. 
  4. Place the discs in a large pot of water and boil down the water until the liquid starts to thicken.
  5. Now remove the roots from the pot and continue to boil the water that remains until black paste forms.
  6. This black paste is actually salt, so now you have accomplished the extraction of salt from a hickory tree.

How to make Salt from Plants

There are numerous plants in the wild that contain a lot of sodium. I will explain how to get the salt out of the rosemary plant which is a herb that can be grown in the wild (click to view the herb grow kit by Geo Box on Amazon).

  1. Start with 5 kg of rosemary leaves.
  2. Allow the leaves to dry in the sun for a total of 5 days.
  3. Place the dried out leaves onto an iron sheet and light the leaves on fire(click to see pricing on a cooking sheet that is metallic – made by Chicago Metallic, which is available on Amazon).  Make sure that the iron sheet has a rim on it since you would like to gather the ashes that will remain.  Gather all of the ashes and place them into a frying pan on high heat.
  4. Do not add any liquids yet, but cook the contents of the frying pan preferably on a gas stove which is usually a better source of energy since it is not dependant on electricity.
  5. Calcine one hour.   Make sure that you stir the ashes from time to time. Continue to cook them until the ashes turn the color of grey.
  6. Now is the time to add liquid to the mixture.
  7. Gather about  1 liter of rainwater and slowly add it a few drops at a time into the mixture of ashes.  Click here to see a 50-gallon rainwater bucket on Amazon by Vingli.
  8. Make sure that there are at least 6 inches of water above the mass of ashes.
  9. Set aside the liquid mixture of Ashes for about one hour.  It should now be the color of tea.
  10. Filter the solution using cheesecloth (click for pricing on cheesecloth on Amazon).
  11. Boil down the filtered liquid that remains until most of the water has been evaporated.
  12. A paste will be left that you can remove and spread out on a cookie sheet.
  13. Allow this material to dry out until it forms into a crust.
  14. Now break up this crust into tiny pieces.
  15. These chunks are the salt from the Rosemary leaves.
  16. The same process can be performed on other plants that contain a lot of sodium that you may find in the wilderness.

Coltsfoot Plant Used by Indigenous people as a Source of Salt

One plant that has a high sodium content is called coltsfoot. What is great about this wild plant is that it easy to find.  Its leaves are rather large.  They are about the size and shape of a person’s hand. They resemble a colt’s foot and they are located in boggy soil in areas that have not been disturbed.  The leaves of a coltsfoot also have a jagged edge that look like teeth.

Here is how to prepare this plant so that you can obtain salt from it:

  1. Roll the leaves up so that they look like skinny cigars.
  2. Place them on a flat rocky surface and allow them to dry out during a few days when rain is not forecasted.
  3. Now burn them on this rocky surface.  The remaining ashes can now be added to items that you are cooking as a seasoning since they will be salty in touch.

How to find Natural Salt Licks

If you were to locate a natural salt lick area, you’ll have more than enough salt to meet your sodium requirements on a daily basis.   There are certain ways that you can locate a salt lick area.  Here is a list of these methods:

  1. Follow animals that are herbivores since they supplement their diet by licking salt from cliffs.   For instance. there are certain breeds of parrots that flock together to consume salt from cliffs in areas that are quite hidden.
  2. Try following herbivores to learn their eating habits.  It is possible that they have found a place that contains salt along a dried-out riverbed.
  3. Plus, some valley bottom flats have cliffs where salt will gather because of the minerals that are being washed away from the rocky surface.   
  4. Another way to discover cliffs that are promising for sodium content is to find cliffs that have sparse vegetation. This can be an indication that the sodium level is high.

Another benefit a following herds of animals that are trying to consume sodium is that it provides you with a great hunting venue since they will be distracted while licking salt from river beds and natural salt licks.   As I have mentioned, herbivores,  in most cases,  have high sodium content in their blood. 

I was assuming that you were not close to seawater.  If you are relatively close to an ocean or to a sea, this is actually a very good source of salt and now and I will explain how to extract the salt.

Can you get salt from boiling seawater?

We all have noticed that is possible to buy sea salt local grocery stores.   You’re probably wondering how they extract salt from seawater.  Here are steps that you can use in order to extract salt from seawater on your own.

  1. The first step is to filter out the debris and dirt from the saltwater by using cheesecloth.
  2. Boil down this remaining seawater until 90% of the liquid has been evaporated.
  3. What will be left is a sandy material that is actually just wet salt.   I just wanted to mention that it will be syrupy in nature after it has been boiled down enough.
  4. Add this thick liquid to a shallow baking pan.
  5. Allow the liquid to dry for a total of 5 days stirring it a couple of times a day with a large wooden spoon.
  6. You will have a lot of salt leftover after this process. You could actually gather a cup of salt per gallon of seawater if you were to do it correctly,

Where did settlers get salt?

The early settlers had in some cases, searched out salt licks.  They were found by following trails that were forged by buffalo.  The settlers would then create roads that would lead to the licks.  There so many roads made that the paths created by these settlers looked like spokes on a bike with the salt lick in the center.

Sometimes these salt licks were discovered because pioneers that had been captured by Indians were taken to them.  One such captor was Daniel Boone.

These pioneers needed the salt in their diets but they also extracted the salt to preserve food since refrigeration did not exist yet.

How did they extract the salt from these salt licks?

  1. The pioneers started to use the one kettle method which only produced small quantities of salt.
  2. Then they set up furnaces that could contain over 50 kettles at the same time.  They could produce as much as 400 pounds of salt per day using this furnace method.
  3. More and more furnaces were manufactured to increase the salt production because money could easily be made by selling the salt across the continent.
  4. At first, the large salt lick called Scioto Salt Licks in the area that is now called Ohio was used.
  5. Later on, another larger salt lick in the Kanawha River was the primary gathering place for salt.  This river is located in West Virginia.

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