Along with a busy beach season in Burgas, at Atanasovsko Lake in the Burgas Saltworks factory is happening another significant seasonal activity – salt harvesting. Everyone can watch the process daily while doing SPA procedures or watching birds at the lake. To understand better the meaning of salt extraction, learn the most remarkable aspects of this ancient and traditional region craft. The original salt-related activities are great options for free things to do in Burgas to experience the culture of the region.

24 centuries of the history of salt extraction in Burgas

The region hosts one of the ancient cities of salt making in the world consisting of the two major spots situated at a distance of about 20 km from each other: Atanasovsko Lake and Pomorie Lake.

Residents of Anhialo (now Pomorie) began salt making in the 3d century b.C., while salt production at Atanasovsko Lake dates back to the 18th century. With the setting up of the Burgas Saltworks factory in 1906, the process was accelerated. The ‘white gold’, the definition of salt in ancient times, was international currency and a sign of power.

The applications of salt

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The recent culinary creation. Chocolate with salt from Burgas
Photo: Tatyana Garkavaya

The only company in Bulgaria for salt production Black Sea Saltworks AD (Burgas) produces about 40,000 tons of salt per year: only 10% of it is cooking, and 90% is for technical use (chemical, textile, transport, engineering and food industries).

The salt content in the Black Sea is 13 grams per liter. These 13 grams contain almost the entire Mendeleev table.
A significant amount of lye, a byproduct of salt, is used for winter road maintenance and medical lye and treatment.

The salt extractor is one of the ancient professions in the world

Due to the preserved technology of salt extraction, many tools and methods that workers apply haven’t changed much. It implies a highly labor-intensive process and many hours of work in the sun. The extraction of sea salt is through solar evaporation of seawater.

Salt extractors may transfer up to 20 tons of salt daily. They built huge beautiful white piramides – the final process of salt production.

There’s a very interesting eyewitness account on this blog that compares the activities and tools of salt harvesting at Atanasovsko Lake recently and several decades ago.

Pink salt and pink lakes

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Along with traditional white salt, there is the production of the most expensive pink salt in the world ‘The flower of the Sun’. Its harvesting at Atanasovsko Lake, Burgas started in 2013. Pink salt has a delicate flavor and fragrant, and contains natural iodine and beta-carotene, formed by unicellular algae and gives the salt crystals their pink color.

The water where pink salt is extracted has a vivid pink color and represents an unforgettable spectacle to enjoy in the following weeks. A one of the best free things to do in Burgas in this season!

Beautiful views as a bonus

Salt harvesting on Atanasovsko Lake, Burgas August 2022. Video: Tatyana Garkavaya

In addition to the exciting interactive activities, there is a beautiful panoramic view of the Atanasovsko Lake Reserve from the “Point” (Tochkata), at the entrance to the north “Black Sea Saltworks” AD Burgas. You will find yourself at the barrier of Black Sea Salt Pans, from where one can enjoy different landscapes and wildlife.

To continue learning of the salt harvesting history in the region, consider visiting the SimBiotic interactive project (Burgas) and the Museum of Salt (Pomorie).

Find more ‘Cultural Insights’ in the sections People and Places of this blog.