The siblings replaced the old well on the family property in May of 2013. If one of them didn’t point it out to you, you’d hardly notice the capped, 10-inch PVC pipe sticking out of the ground. It’s hard to imagine that 350 feet below the surface, a pump is pulling brine from the unseen depths. The brine is placed into a large tank, where it is allowed to sit as iron oxides and settles out. After settling, the liquid is poured into shallow beds in evaporation sun houses, where with time the salt crystalizes from the brine. Once the crystals get to the right size, the salt is hand-harvested with a wooden scoop, tied in bags, and left to allow any remaining liquid, at this point referred to as nigari, to drip away.
Nancy and Louis then hand package the salt in jars, which are sold in stores across the country as well as on their website, alongside wooden salt cellars and miniature versions of their cherry wood scoop. Along with their original chunky-textured finishing salt, they are now offering a popcorn salt with the same bright flavor but with a finer grain that clings perfectly to each kernel. And with J.Q. Dickinson, the byproducts of salt production are not wasted. “We’re working toward having no waste from our brine,” Nancy says. They bottle and sell the nigari, a mineral liquid that is traditionally used to make tofu and can be used to make cheese, on their website. They’re even working with a company in Alabama to use their iron oxide as a natural dye.