Wycke Hill industrial park, just off Spital Road, is home to an ancient thriving industry of international renown, currently owned by ‘The Maldon Sea Salt Company’. It is believed that sea salt was first produced in Maldon in the 3rd century AD by the Anglo-Saxons and it is recorded in the Domesday Book that 45 lead pans were used to manufacture salt in 1086. The Maldon Salt Company, as we know it today, was established in 1882 by a local wine merchant and has been owned, since 1922, by four generations of the Osborne family.
Maldon Sea Salt is made by evaporating brine in salt pans over fires mounted on an elaborate network of brick flues, resulting in soft white, flaky pyramid-shaped, crystals. The crystals prevent the salt from caking and it is used as a finishing salt in fine cuisine. Did you know that Maldon Sea Salt is the top sea salt brand in the United Kingdom and is sold in 40 countries around the world, including the United States. Table salt, however, is mined and processed, stripped of minerals and infused with anti-caking substances, whilst other salts and salt substitutes often contain additives that can create a bitter aftertaste. As testament to the purity of its product, Maldon Sea Salt Company was awarded Kosher Status in April 2013, due to meeting the highest standard for an additive-free, flaky, coarsely refined salt!
Salt is mentioned over 40 times in the bible! Speaking to His followers by the Sea of Galilee (known as the sermon on the mount) Jesus said, “you are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under peoples’ feet” (Matthew 5:13). This sounds quite straight forward but what exactly did Jesus mean? Well, salt was and continues to be used to preserve food and enhance flavour as an essential part of our survival diet: It is also a symbol of purity and permanence. Jesus calls us to be like salt, pure, preserving from corruption (not spoiling), enhancing, unchanging and remaining wholesome. Through the ages Christ’s words have become a world-wide saying in everyday usage, to mean a good, honest, dependable person who others can rely on.
Impurities in salt can lessen its apparent saltiness or make it taste bitter and in the same way we can lose our saltiness for Christ by tainting our lives with worldly impurities: The truth is that sadly we all do because we are not and can never be perfect and sin free, so what can we do about it? In his letter to the Colossians, Paul urges the church to lay aside the earthly nature, put on the character of God and to live under His grace. He encourages the Church to “Bear with each other and forgive one another. . . let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Colossians 3:13-15). He could have said you insiders are the ‘salt of the earth, so do these things and don’t lose your saltiness! Paul then goes on to say “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6).
In his letter to the early Christian churches, James builds on Paul’s message, he says that “the tongue is a small part of the body but it makes great boasts” (James 3:5) and “out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt-water flow from the same spring?” (James 3:11-13). Here James’ refers to salt, not as good seasoning, but as saltwater that is not usable, warning us that our tongues can either yield bitter and destructive words like seawater that will also make us spiritually sick, or praises like a freshwater spring that will edify and refresh – its our choice!
So the next time that you reach for the salt pot, remember that the more time we spend with God and the more that we forgive, the more we put on the character of God, so that our conversation will become seasoned with salt, to encourage one another, to build the church and to encourage unbelievers to also taste His goodness!