Fresh out of school, three Icelandic pioneers have embarked on eco-friendly salt-making in a rural community deep in the heart of the West Fjords. Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir went to pay them a visit.
Published in the 2012 August-September issue of Iceland Review – IR 03.12. By Eygló Svala Árnarsdóttir. Photos by Páll Stefánsson.View of the Arctic Ocean from Reykjanes, where the sea salt originates.“Welcome,” smiles salt maker Garðar Stefánsson, as the photographer and I come to a stop on a narrow gravel road leading along the seashore to a small, unsightly grey building. Tall and slim, he is wearing a light blue jersey with a picture of Mickey Mouse, in stark contrast to his fashionable haircut and trimmed beard, which give away his other identity, that of a smooth businessman. His face reddened, Garðar comments that the relentless sunny weather does the sensitive skin of a redhead no favors. “But the weather is always good on Reykjanes,” he states.
Garðar is eager to show us his kingdom, Saltverk Reykjaness, an innovative saltworks inspired by history. In 2010, Garðar and two other young pioneers, Björn Steinar Jónsson and Yngvi Eiríksson, decided to revisit a 240-year-old method of using geothermal heat for processing sea salt. After a year of research, they were ready to open the saltworks in a defunct salmon farming station on Reykjanes in the innermost part of Ísafjarðardjúp, the long and deep fjord that almost cuts the West Fjords in half. “The location was my father-in-law’s idea. He is a historian from Ísafjörður, and we are here because they used to make salt here in the 17th century. Originally we wanted to base our saltworks in the vicinity of Reykjavík, but after visiting Reykjanes, I knew it was the best location for salt-making in all of Iceland, if not the world—it’s no coincidence that it was picked originally,” says Garðar of the proximity to the Arctic Ocean and natural hot springs.
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