Fleur de sels are a salty salt which forms as a white, thin crust on the exposed surface of salty water as it evaporated. Fleur de sels has been gathered from waters around France since medieval times, and has historically been used as both a salve and a purifying agent. Because it is highly concentrated and salty, it has a distinctive flavor. It has an earthy taste, reminiscent of the sea or chalk, but with a less offensive nature than many salts. Today, fleur de sel is used to flavor food, but also to prepare medicinal treatments for such things as wounds, sunburns and flatulence.
Fleur de sels are obtained in several forms, including table salt, and they can be separated into two distinctive categories according to how they undergo evaporation. High-quality salts which are more pure will result in a more crystal clear crystal structure, which will become translucent when light is shone upon it. A lower grade of fleur de sel salt may retain some of the crystalline structure which does not change when light is shone upon it, but the amount of crystalization will be reduced. The crystalization is, however, always less obvious than in higher quality salts. The crystalline structure will simply be softened to the point of being more rubbery.
There is considerable debate between those who believe that fleur de sel is tasteless and those who believe that it is delicious. Some people claim that its flavor is close to that of maple syrup, while others have said that it has a taste which is closer to that of chocolate. Many people who do not eat sea salt say that it has an awful taste, while others find it to be delicious. What flavor it has, however, will depend on where it was harvested and the environmental conditions surrounding it. Sea salt harvested near the shore and exposed to seawater will often have a salty taste on its surface. But sea salt harvested from further inland and exposed to dry air tends to taste better (and is also usually free of other contaminants).
Fleur de sels are made by melting the natural sea salt, then precipitating the salt from the mixture using high heat. Because it is so concentrated, the crystals take a very long time to evaporate and settle out. In order to hasten the process, high pressure is used to force the crystals through a cooling process at very high temperatures. After the crystals have been forced out of the liquid, they are beaten vigorously and poured into a mould, from which they will soon begin to crystallize. As the crystals reach their predetermined crystallization temperature, they fill the mould to the brim and are removed, leaving the high-quality fleur de sel crystals behind.
While the fleur de sel crystals are still relatively soft and long-lasting, the process by which they are produced is completely different. The salt crystals are cracked open, the crystal walls crumble to expose the salt inside, which hardens into a solid. This is because sea salt is much denser than regular table salt, which means that the salt crystal’s internal brittleness is greatly reduced compared to regular salt. This makes the salt much more seaworthy, able to withstand high pressures and temperatures which would otherwise cause the salt to decompose and lose its crystals. Once this process has finished, the crystals can be further processed into jewellery settings and, with some work, even into works of art.
Although fleur de sel comes in a variety of styles, from simple crystal beads set in silver metal to ornate gold designs, all of the crystals are set into ornate metal moulds that make for lovely decorative pieces. Each of the crystal’s different hues adds something special to the piece, so that what starts out as one might as fleur de sel designs can quickly become an intricate work of art that is wholly unique to its decorative qualities. There is no doubt that the price of the Fleur de Siel crystal will vary between retailers. In fact, it is probably a good idea to purchase several units at one time to ensure that you receive them at varying rates. A bargain is always a bargain when it comes to jewelery, as there are few pieces which have gained such a reputation as fleur de sel and the vast majority of customers agree that the price reflects this reputation.
A relatively recent development in the fleur de sel industry has been the development of a new method which involves allowing the salty air to evaporate into the air surrounding the floral design, ensuring that each strand maintains its particular beauty. This evaporation process is not entirely new, however. Certain types of gemstones have been in use for centuries for the purpose of evaporation and the salts in these stones have long proven beneficial to their users. Today, a variety of different gemstones are available for this purpose and they include amethyst, coral, quartz and selenite.
Evaporating sea water into the air and then leaving the water to dry is a very natural process which should not be overlooked when discussing fleur de sel. As the process is natural, evaporation offers the advantage of providing the wearer with a garment which is not only beautiful but also allows them to keep the body in a natural state of health. Those who wish to keep their skin from becoming covered in fine salt deposits should consider all options before deciding on the one which suits them best.