What is Organic Salt?

Unfortunately, there isn’t an organic certification for salt in the United States. The USDA classifies salt as a mineral—not a living thing with carbon compounds. As a result, we do not have this official recognition for our salts here in the United States. Many other countries have certifications for organic sea salts, such as Nature et Progrés in France, BIO-GRO in New Zealand and the Soil Association in the United Kingdom. Sadly, the USDA does not currently recognize these certifications.

The good news is that every SaltWorks salt is all-natural, which complies with organic standards, so they can be deemed “organic compliant.” In other words, they can be used as an ingredient in organic products without changing the organic status of the end product, as they contain no anti-caking agents or other additives. This is the highest and most natural guarantee possible for salts in the United States.

The international certifications are very stringent and guarantee the highest quality salts, which is why SaltWorks accepts nothing less than certified sea salts where available. For example, Nature et Progrés mandates that only wooden tools are used in salt harvesting, a process completed entirely by hand. The taste remains pure because no metal instruments are used to gather or package the sea salt. The ponds are located in a nature reserve and are required to be a safe distance from roads and industry to help guarantee that they remain free of pollution. Only exceptionally clean seawater is used. No purification or processing of the harvested salt is tolerated, and the salt, when analyzed before distribution, must fulfill very high standards in chemical analysis.

At SaltWorks, we work hard to source the best specialty salts from all over the world. We ensure that the salts we offer are organic certified by their origin countries, where available. SaltWorks is proud to offer only premium, all-natural and organic-compliant specialty salts.

How are the organic sea salt certifications defined?

Bio-Gro Certification – New Zealand

One of the biggest differences between conventional and organic food production is the requirement for certification. Organic certifiers represent the consumer and provide the guarantee that the food is grown to an acceptable organic production standard. Organic certification focuses on guaranteeing the quality of the production of that food by setting and verifying the standard for all farm inputs and the management of the operation. Consumers pay significant premiums for certified organic food because they trust the integrity of recognized organic trademarks. The two internationally recognized certification standards in New Zealand are BIO-GRO for organic farming and Demeter for bio-dynamic farming. Organic standards are benchmarked internationally by the IFOAM Basic Standards, the Codex Alimentarius Organic Guideline, and the EU Organic Regulation. Japan MAFF is currently implementing the Japan National Standard, and the USA National Organic Standard was released last December. There is increasing commonality and harmonization between these various international organic standards on such things as a definite no to GMOs, while still allowing for regional differences, e.g. livestock management. There are two aspects of organic certification: standards—the production rules, or what producers can and can’t do, and verification—the audit systems which verify that the producers are complying with the standards. The verification process requires the producers to document a full management plan, and record all inputs. Producers are audited twice in their first year with BIO-GRO, then at least annually after that. There is a three-year conversion period from the start of organic practices until the first certified organic harvest. Products from the property can be labeled as “Conversion” during the second and third year of verification, and labeled as “Certified Organic” from three years on.

Nature et Progrés Certification – France

France’s certification is awarded to harvested and processed salt according to Organic methods and standards. Nature et Progrés is the highest and most stringent level of certification allowed. The quality chart guarantees full traceability, including the origin. The producer is identified and regularly controlled by the independent certifying body. The salt is unrefined and all natural, and is harvested in a protected, non-polluted environment. The ponds are located a minimum of 500 meters away from main roads and are free from pesticides, chemical residue, industrial fumes or air pollution. Respect of product quality from harvest to final packaging is of utmost importance. The salt harvesters use only untreated wooden or polyethylene tools. It is mandatory that there is protection between the ground and the salt, and the salt must be harvested with non-polluting equipment.

Artisan® Sel Gris, Fleur De Sel and Breton™ French Grey Bath Salts are made exclusively with Nature et Progrés inspected and approved sea salts.

Nature et Progrès Specifications for unrefined sea salt:

A1 Geographic Origin and Environments
A1.1 Origin
Atlantic Ocean

A1.2 Environment
Salt ponds situated in nature reserve or nature park;
Without influence of big industrial plants (prevailing winds);
Minimal distance from main traffic lines: 500 meters;
Without risk of contamination through chemical fertilizers and
pesticides;

A1.3 Water circulation
Exclusively Atlantic waters;
Circulation depending only on gravity;
Circuit independent of fishponds;

A1.4 Maintenance of the salt ponds
Manual, mechanical and thermal maintenance out of production
period and out of breeding time of water birds

A2 Production Standards
A2.1 Working techniques
Traditional crafting & manual harvesting in salt ponds with
clay floors;
Natural water circulation and evaporation through sun and wind;
Washing and artificial drying are not allowed.

A2.2 Tools and materials
Wooden tools without chemical treatment;
No asbestos cement is allowed.
Light tools in stainless steel;
Aluminum shovels may be used temporarily.
Poly-ethylene (PE) is allowed for utensils.
Maintenance products for wooden and metal tools have to match
N&P organic environment standards.

A2.3 Transportation and stockholding
Open-air mounting within the working area;
Covering with PE or Ethyl-vinyl-acetate foil;
Separation between floor and salt;
Permanent cleansing of the stockholding premises,
especially before and after handling;
Use of low-emission transport machinery (gas or electric motor).

A3 Processing and Packaging
A3.1 Coarse Salt
Washing is not allowed.
Any processing that alters the product is forbidden.
Drying only through sun and wind;
Packing in big-bags, of PE or poly-propylene (PP);
Additives like iodine, magnesium, fluoride are not allowed.

A3.2 Fine Salt
Same as 3.1, additionally:
Grinding method may not alter the product’s quality.

A3.3 Aromatic Salt
Only allowed when certified organic herbs and vegetables are used.

A3.4 Other salt (e.g. for animals …)
Admissible share of unsolvable substances: 10% max.

A3.5 Packaging material
Allowed are:
Glass containers;
Parafined cardboard (boxes);
PE-bags;
Containers made of high-pressure-PE and PP;
Packs containing aluminum:
This may not be in direct touch with the salt.

A3.6 Humidity absorbers
Allowed are capsuled mineral or natural organic substances.