Earning their salt: Seriously good product sets Oriel apart
A highly energy-efficient evaporation system - and some seriously good salt - is setting the Oriel Sea Salt Company apart from the competition
A COUNTY Louth company can boast that it produces the finest sea salt in the world, with some of the country's top chefs adding it to their menus. Ross Lewis from Chapter One and Ed Cooney from the Pearl at the Merrion Hotel are among the chefs who are replacing table salt with Oriel's sea salt offering.
The Oriel Sea Salt Company was founded in 2010 to identify and develop an eco-friendly and energy-efficient means of extracting and harvesting salt and deep sea minerals directly from sea water.
The company first piloted its closed pressurised system for extracting salt and other minerals on a small scale before embarking on a €1 million investment programme in specialist equipment that saw it begin full production in August 2013.
Most sea salt producers use open-air evaporation pools to produce their salt crystals, but Oriel uses a gas-fired evaporator. The result is a much finer crystal, with an intense, smooth sea flavour.
"It is a game changer in the world of flavour, which we did not expect," says company founder Brian Fitzpatrick. "It is now being used by chefs in more than 100 restaurants who find that they need to use much less than with normal salt, so it means that their customers are consuming up to 30pc less sodium in their meals."
Oriel Sea Salt is certified as kosher, but in the world of cookery kosher salt is synonymous with large-grained salt, whereas Oriel's kiln-roasted product is small grained and free-flowing. The company recently signed a deal with O'Donnell Crisps, which will now start producing an Oriel Sea Salt version of its snack for sale in the UK. The London-based cosmetics company Neal's Yard is also going to stock its mineral products.
Port Oriel in Clogherhead was chosen as the ideal location for sea salt production because the coastal waters there have 20pc more brine than elsewhere on the coast of Ireland. The evaporation system used is extremely energy efficient, says Fitzpatrick.
"We recycle the steam from the evaporation process to generate electricity and to heat our building and we also use it to heat the water that enters the evaporator from the sea. The system gives us real economies of scale; if we were to double production, our relative energy consumption costs would only increase by 50pc."
As well as salt and mineral products, the company produces EO Water, an electrolysed and oxidised sterilised water that has had sodium added to it and been given a finite charge of electricity. EO Water can be used to clean and sterilise surfaces without using another cleaning agent.
It's been a busy few months for the firm, which has just secured a deal with a major Irish water and bottling company to launch Tektonic, the first deep sea mineral water, which is fortified with Oriel deep sea minerals. Oriel also launches its sea mineral supplements on Amazon this month.