Bulls Bay Saltworks

Mountains to Sea Skin Care is very excited to tell you about Bulls Bay Saltworks, our newest supplier, and a very cool company whose story we are super excited to tell.

Bulls Bay Saltworks was founded four years by husband and wife team Rustin & Teresa Gooden, like many great companies, by accident.  After spending years as a vegetarian and running a vegetable CSA, Teresa had decided she was ready to eat meat again, but only if she could feel good about its sustainable production. So Rustin and Teresa decided they would raise and slaughter a few pigs and chickens themselves to see how they felt about it.

They did so, and after their first pig slaughter they held a pig roast for their community, and Rustin decided to use saltwater to brine the hog overnight. Rustin boiled the leftover saltwater on the stove in an attempt to get salt to season the hog with and produced a few pounds of natural salt, which they proceeded to smoke when the hog was roasted. People attending the hog roast were so excited by the salt they had created, they asked them if they could make some more, and they realized they might be on to something, and Bulls Bay Saltworks was born.

Four years later, Teresa and Rustin no longer run a market garden farm, but rather are now growing a sustainable, artisanal salt company that employs themselves and two additional employees. They are on the path towards producing nearly 800 pounds of salt per month. Production takes place in two large greenhouses where they use solar energy to evaporate the water from the salt. Because salt is regulated as a food service product, packaging must be done in a certified commercial kitchen.  Originally they packaged at a restaurant while it was closed for business, but they outgrew that location after a year and decided it was time to build their own, dedicated salt packaging plant.  Working with a local food building inspector they designed and built a dedicated packaging plant for their local sea salt, complete with washable counters, multiple sinks, and according to other guidelines the inspector required.

When you make salt from seawater, you want to know that you are starting with a very pure, clean source, and this is one reason why Bull’s Bay is so special. There are no streams or rivers running into Bull’s Bay, so impure freshwater can’t enter into the bay. It is surrounded by the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge to the north, and the Francis Marion National Forest just inland. Cape Romain is a Class One Federal Wilderness Area (the only one in South Carolina) and home to one of the healthiest saltwater ecosystems on the east coast. It is known for its acclaimed oyster clusters, clams and other seafood. In other words, this is pristine water, filtered by a healthy and vibrant bi-valve ecosystem that produces some of the cleanest sea water (and sea salt) in the southeastern United States.

The Saltworks team collects seawater directly from Bull’s Bay by pumping the water into 275 IBC totes on a trailer and bringing it back to their evaporation greenhouses, about five miles away. The pristine seawater is allowed to settle and is then distributed into black restaurant bus bins placed in rows in the greenhouse, and the water is allowed to evaporate until the salts begin to come out of solution. One of the keys to making great salt is knowing when to stop the evaporation process. Some of the first salts to come out of solution are calcium sulphate. You don’t want to let all of the water evaporate, or you will get bitter salts like magnesium sulphate, also known as epsom salts.  The saltworks team targets only those salts with the right flavor profile, collects and sorts, and makes different salt flavors with additional ingredients and smoking techniques.

The very first product made was Charleston Sea Salt -- they took those large crystals and smoked them at the first hog roast creating the Smoked Sea Salt. These days they smoke it with oak wood, resulting in a deep, hearty smoky flavor. The Carolina Flakes is a best seller among chefs and home cooks and was a winner in the Garden and Gun Made in the South Food Awards in 2014. This finishing salt has become their flagship product. They have found a use for the tiniest flakes by sifting them out of the Carolina Flake batches and packaging them up as Carolina Margarita Salt, this powdery salt rims a glass perfectly and dissolves easily when used as an ingredient. 

Bulls Bay Saltworks has great collaborations with other like-minded companies. They use bourbon barrels from Bittermilk to make a Bourbon Barrel Smoked Flake salt, and the Red Mash Sea Salt is a result of their partnership with Red Clay Hot Sauce.  Mountains to Sea Skin Care is super excited to be their newest partner! 

Check 'em out! - Bulls Bay Saltworks



The evaporation process. Photo courtesy of Bulls Bay Saltworks.

The evaporation process. Photo courtesy of Bulls Bay Saltworks.

Bull's Bay, the salt water source. Photo courtesy of Bulls Bay Saltworks.

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