Salt in the pitfire
There’s a container with salt sitting next to my stove top. The last time that Linkie, my celebrity chef daughter visited me, she bought me some large chunks of colored rock salt in a gourmet olive tap.
The little grater that was included in the packet made me try to shave the salt once, but then I decided it is enough that it look pretty on the kitchen counter, partially covered with kosher salt, which I like to cook with. Now I enjoy looking at my “rocks surrounded by white sand” and imagine a perfect life.
Pit fired porcelain pinched bowls by Antoinette made in early 2000's
I don’t know about you, but I use kosher salt all the time, for no other reason than that I like the taste. It is a little harder to put too much salt in one’s food. I add salt in anything; even when I make something sweet, I have to add at least a pinch of salt. I cannot imagine a salt-less life.
As I am standing there, stirring the pot on the stove top, my thoughts trail off. I’m thinking about what Scripture says about salt. Even if you are not a Christian, you have to admit there is beautiful poetry in the Bible.
“For everyone will be salted with fire.”
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Then there are all the different uses of salt that is totally unrelated to food. There are so many medicinal uses for salt….remember how fast a wound heal when vacationing at the sea….
One of my favorite uses is for cleaning red wine and also for fresh blood stains. Pour a heap of dry salt on a red wine spill on a carpet or couch and to let it sit till the next morning. Vacuum the wine saturated salt away and the spot is gone. When blood gets on clothes, let it sit for a while in cold salt water, before rubbing the stain out.
My musing on salt will be totally incomplete if I do not trail my thoughts through my studio and the uses of salt there. As a young potter I could not believe my eyes that common table salt is useful in pottery and I remember the day that I dropped a pinch of salt in a bowl to see what would happen in the kiln fire. I thought I totally misunderstood my pottery books and had to see for myself and there, as sure as the sky is blue, the pot came from the fire with a darker, shinier interior.
That was the day that I realized that clay has many more domestic components to it than I originally thought. I also realized that salt is a very basic, but very diverse material.
As the years went by, I used salt in my pit fire. I arranged the salt and copper around the pots that were nested in sawdust and I put on fire. Once it burned down, the fumes created beautiful reds and oranges on my pots.
What is salt or soda firing? How do these firings differ from each other?