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Make Your Own Smoked Salt

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I was standing in the grocery store the other day, sniffing jars of smoked sea salts. They all smelled very good, but I couldn’t get past their prices.

“Why,” I thought to myself, “are these sea salts SOOO expensive?”

Of course, if I didn’t have a recipe already at home telling me how to do it myself. I would naturally assume it took some special processing and special ingredients to get them this way. BUT, IT DOESN’T.

Smoking salts at home is super easy and you can make enough to share with your neighbors. And it won’t cost you an arm, a leg and your first born.

There are four methods to making smoked salt: Stovetop, Wok, Charcoal Grill and Gas Grill (see bottom of post for direction of other methods). I chose the Charcoal Grill method to make Mesquite Smoked Sea Salt. I already had a bag of Mesquite chips on hand, so I said, “why not start here?”

HERE’S ALL IT TAKES TO CREATE SMOKED SALTS

  • 2 cups wood chips, soaked in cold water for 1 hour, then drained
  • 2 cups coarse salt (kosher or sea)

Set up the grill for indirect grilling (putting all your hot coals to one side and leaving a cool side to work from). Toss the wood chips on the coals. Spread the salt in a thin layer in an aluminum foil pie pan and place it on the grate away from the fire. Cover the grill and adjust the vent holes to medium heat (350F deg.).

Smoke the salt for 1 hour. Cool the salt to room temperature, then move it to a jar and cover.

Prepared grill.

Set tin foil pan on the cool side of grill, away from coals.

One hour later.

Allow to cool completely before storing.

$1.29 and one hour of my time for 1/2 pound of smoked sea salt.

HERE’S THOSE OTHER SMOKING METHODS

Stovetop Smoker Method: Place the sawdust in the bottom of the smoker.  Spread the salt in a thin layer in an aluminum foil pie pan and place it in the top of the smoker. Place the smoker over high heat. When you start to see wisps of smoke, reduce the heat to medium, tightly cover the smoker, and smoke the salt for 20 minutes. Cool the salt to room terperature, then transfer it to a jar, cover, and store away from heat and light.

Wok Method: Line the bottom of the wok with aluminum foil (a 6 inch square will do) and place the sawdust on top. Set a round wire cake rack in the wok. Spread the salt in a thin layer in an aluminum foil pie pan and place on the wire rack.  Place the wok over igh heat.  When you start to see wisps of smoke, reduce the salt for 20 minutes.  Cool the salt to room temperature, then transfer it to a jar, cover, and store away from heat and light.

Gas Grill Method: Preheat the grill to medium.  PLace the wood chips in the smoker box and preheat until you see smoke.  Spread the salt in a thin layer in an aluminum foil pan and place it on the grate away from the fire. Cover the grill ans smoke the salt for 1 hour.  Cool the salt to room temperature, then transfer it to a jar, cover, and store away.



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71 comments to Make Your Own Smoked Salt

  • Looks easy enough. I’ve never used smoked salt. I’m looking forward to seeing what you use it with.

  • Wow, this looks quite easy, and those expensive salts form the gourmet section are always on my drool list. I’d love to try experimenting with different kinds of wood-chips to see what flavors come through with the salt.

  • The next batch to I want to try will be oak. I’m also curious about using liquid smokes to flavor the salts. The store bought salts are very strong, much stronger than this home smoked recipe. I’m also wondering if I could find more smoke flavors in liquid form than in real wood chips, for instance apple wood. Where is a Texan suppose to find apple wood?

  • Cool! We smoke meat fairly often and I am always looking for things to throw on while we have the smoker going. This looks great. Thank you!

  • Oat

    Jill, I don’t think I would use oak to smoke salt. Oak doesn’t leave a good flavor on food products, IMO.

    As far as getting stronger smoke flavor, use a smoker with wood chunks rather than a charcoal grill and wood chips. I would also poke several very small holes in the bottom of the pan to allow the smoke to pass through the salt.

    Apple wood chunks and chips can be purchased at any BBQ Galore store or such. Or do a online search.

    http://www.bbqgalore.com/

    Anyway, thanks for the idea. I’m going to try this in my smoker.

    • Hey Oat, thanks for the tips. I’ve smelled apple wood smoked sea salt. It’s mild and smells good. Thanks for the BBQ Galore link. I’ll check that out.

      Just for clarity, I don’t use charcoal briquettes. I use all natural Cowboy Charcoal (found at Lowe’s). It’s not made with coal, fillers or chemicals. It’s starts fast, burns hot and creates a clean grilled flavor. I wouldn’t use anything else.

  • Oat

    I hickory smoked some salt yesterday in my Meco smoker and it turned out really good.

    Jill, thanks for letting me know about the Cowboy Charcoal.

  • ralph

    I could not disagree more with Oat’s opinion on using oak. Oak is the worlds most common wood for smoking meats. When I’m going to smoke I buy 2 stacks of logs. (1 of oak and 1 of hickory or mesquite) I use a mixture of the 2 woods at all times. Maybe Oat doesn’t care for the specific flavor of oak and that’s ok. To each his own. But saying that it’s no good for food products is too broad a statement. I’ve also used different fruit tree woods on occasion and they all do a good job. I stick with oak, hickory and mesquite because they’re cheap and readily available in Houston.

    I’m BBQing for my friends wedding rehearsal dinner this Friday and in addition to the meats I’m going to smoke salt for the first time. Thanks for the tips.

  • Well Ralph, how did the rehearsal dinner turn out?

  • ralph

    It went well. I cooked 2 – 12 lb briskets, 1 rack of spareribs, 4 salmon filets, 10 burgers, a pot of baked beans and about 5 lbs of one of my homemade sausages using oak and pecan. (I don’t know why I typed hickory instead of pecan in my previous post. I’ve never used hickory.)

    I forgot to buy coarse salt to smoke, but since the weather here is finally cooling off I’m sure I’ll fire up the smoker again in a few weeks. I’ll post back with the results.

  • Mmm, that all sounds good – wish I had been there.

    Yes, please keep me posted. I’m curious which wood you will use and how it turns out.

    I haven’t smoked anymore salt. I still have plenty leftover from the first attempt.

    About the pecan wood, do you use it alone or add it with other woods?

  • Ahmet

    this is awesome Jill. i need that for a canape. how can i make smoked sea salt on gas gril or stovetop? Please let me know asap. thank you ;)

  • ralph

    I always use either 1/2 oak & 1/2 pecan OR 1/2 oak and 1/2 mesquite.

  • Geoff

    Hi, does anyone know of a online site where I can purchase Applewood liquid smoke? thanks Geoff

  • ron

    I would like to salt (with smoked salt) a brisket, for 2/3 hrs, rinse, and cook. comments??????

  • Good morning Ron!

    I did a little searching around and couldn’t find proof of success on salting a brisket. I’ve never salted meat before cooking it and I’m not about to guess and have you lose a perfectly good cut of meat.

    The idea of smoked salt may not leave enough smoked flavor on the meat as we might think. I use smoked salts, such as Alderwood, Applewood, and my favorite, Chihuaha de Mexico smoked black salt. I’ve learned I can get the most out of their flavor in wet rubs & dry rubs for grilling and adding them at the end of my recipes. The smoked flavor and aroma doesn’t linger when I’ve added it at the beginning.

    I tend to be miserly with my smoked salts. They are pricey. And because I don’t have a money tree in my yard, I wouldn’t think to cover an entire brisket, then rinse it off. And the rinsing process, I would think, would remove what little smoke flavor was absorbed by the meat. I don’t like being negative to new ideas, but these are my first concerns on the topic.

    Keep me posted on what you do. I’m interested in the outcome.

  • mosmoker

    Any thoughts on using smoked salt for brine? I think it might be interesting.

  • Hi Mosmoker,

    I wonder if the smoked salt would really have a difference in a brine. When I’ve cooked with it, it tends to lose its essence in the early cooking stages. But when applied at the end, I get more taste for the buck.

    I would try a liquid smoke first to see if it would penetrate well. Or would that be too much you think?

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  • Pam

    I have smoked salt in our Little Chief smoker for years. It makes great gifts for my Foodie friends. We recently upgraded our smoker and I have made salt smoking trays out of screen door screen so that the smoke can pass through the salt. It has worked great.

    • Great idea with the door screen!
      I have been hanging on to some window screen that I bet will do the same job. THANK YOU for the tip!

      Last year, a good friend brought me a bag of green applewood branches. It’s time I got that bag out and started smokin’again. ;D

      Thank you, Pam!

      • Seana

        Thanks for the tips on timing for the different methods! I am going to try out smoking in my stovetop smoker today using pecan and oak woods (‘dust’). I’m hoping that it will turn that pretty color too and what a great idea to do it as gifts for your foodie friends! LOVE that! I think I will use Pam’s idea of the screen material too.

        I’ve never had smoked salt before, I’m so excited to use my stovetop smoker for something new!

  • wendy

    Prior to visiting this great site i tried to smoke salt on a cookie sheet using my little chief smoker. I used mesquite as well as various other wood chips. Smoking time about 2 hours on average. In the end the salt comes out as white as it always was. How do you get that wonderful golden smokey color in your salt?. What am i missing?, coals perhaps?. Can you help me out on this one?, i really want the smoked ‘golden look’ as well as the flavor.
    Thank you very much and nice work with the salt.

    • Hi Wendy!
      I’m guessing the outdoor grill has a lot to do with the color. Try a charcoal grill as I did and see what you get.

      I want to find out how to make black smoked salt. The tasty stuff I have now comes from Central Market. It’s incredible in dry rubs for pork chops, steaks, hamburgers and chicken.

  • Blaine

    Hi All,

    Interesting reading through all the comments here. I’m going to try smoking some salt tonight on my weber charcoal grill.

    A thought about the question of salting meat for a few hours…

    keep in mind that salt works to draw moisture out of meat, and the longer it’s on, the more moisture it will draw out.

    Keep in mind some basic grilling rules for meat, especially red meats: Let meat rest 20-30 minutes before grilling to come to room temperature. Don’t put wet meat on the grill. Pat dry so that the outside will sear. if it’s wet, it will steam the surface= no good. High heat for direct grilling, low heat for indirect grilling. Don’t overcook, as you’ll lose moisture in your meat the moment it starts cooking. take it off and let it rest to retain as much moisture as possible.
    I’m thinking that salting a brisket may dry it out slightly, but I’m willing to be wrong.

    Any success on getting that dark color in the salt? I’m going to try smoking mine pretty heavily and will probably alternate closing off the grill vents now and again to close in some smoke, and then open it so the grill doesn’t cool off too much.

    • Good points to remember, Blaine. BE SURE to let us know how your smoked salt turns out.. SEND ME A PHOTO and I’ll post it here.
      I wonder if there are any smoking salts cookbooks out there?

  • Blaine

    Well I smoked my salt last night, hickory smoke, vents half open on charcoal for 30 minutes.

    I’ve never actually smelled commercial smoked salt, but I think mine turned out well. It has a weird smoky smell, that I think only smells weird because it’s mixing with the fishy smell of sea salt.

    I set my grill up indirectly, coals on two sides, salt in the middle, with the vent over the middle, so the smoke cycles over the salt. Hickory chunks soaked for 2 hours on the coals.

    I tasted some of the lava rock salt (let it cool first haha) at about 15 minutes and I found it had a nice subtle smoky flavor and was a nice tannish brown, with some of the larger pieces darker than the rest (larger surface area? maybe a colder rock makes the smoke stick more, might try freezing the salt next time first just to see). At about 23 minutes, the wood chunks dried out and started burning. I wondered whether I should take them off but I opted to leave them on as burning wood creates smoke too. I closed the vents and the wood went out, then opened them back. I found that after the seven minutes or so with the burning wood smoke, it seemed to add a lot darker color to the salt, and a much stronger smoke smell. Not sure I like it quite as well and next time i’ll probably replace the dried burny pieces with new wet ones when that happens. I think the softer subtle, smoldering smoke is better. I’m sure anyone who smokes meat a lot knows this, but i’m a griller, not yet a smoker.

    Overall I think it was good. I’ll probably try more soon as sea salt is only 99cents/lb at my local natural bulk store. Anyone used REAL salt? They have that there as well. It’s a reddish brown color, and apparently comes from Utah and had not additives. Might give that a try, it cost a little more but $2/lb is still cheap.

    I’ll also comment on how this salt works when I actually use it on something, which I noticed hasn’t been mentioned here.

  • Dana B.

    Since seeing several rubs containing smoked sea salt, smoked paprika, etc., and then checking their prices I decided to make my own. I used a Brinkman charcoal grill with a separate firebox and some left over pecan chunks. I smoked the salt and even some black peppercorns as I was smoking some chicken. The total time ended up being about 10 hours (stirring every hour or so) and the results are outstanding. I gave some to my neighbor and she raved about both the salt and the pepper. My wife even enjoyed and she’s picky about her salt and pepper!
    Oh, I also used a couple of disposable jelly-roll pans I had in the kitchen. Next time I’ll use a larger, flatter pan like the one in the picture. Great website by the way! I’ll be back often!

    • Hi Dana!
      10 Hours? I bet your salt & pepper taste GrrrEAT!
      I’ve acquired a used smoker and I have a bag of apple-wood branches- enough to last 10 hours. I’m thinking of trying my hand at cold smoking salt, bacon, and cheese overnight.

      Can you think of anything else I should throw in there?

      • Dana B.

        Hello Jill
        I have not tried cold-smoking as of yet. However, it’s interesting that you mentioned smoking cheese. There is a good article on the topic at
        Smoking-Meat.com. I subscribe to the newsletter and smoking cheese was in the last issue. I’m going to have to give it a try for sure.
        Before I stumbled upon your website, most of the what I found about smoking salt, pepper, etc, recommended cold smoking; minimum of 6 hours with the best time being about 10. I kept my smoker between 225° and 240°; not exactly cold smoking temps!
        Next time, I’ll try mesquite or hickory!
        Have you thought about paprika? Never done it but it’s on my list!

      • Blaine

        Hi All,

        I’d like to record some more of my experiences. So last night, while also making home-made root beer, cranberry orange bread, and prepping a steak, I smoked some more salt and tried some peppercorns as well.
        Unfortunately, unlike the first time, i only had a gas grill available and had to set one side on low with my hickory chunks sitting on the flame guard. Because of the low smoke output and the air flow of the gas grill, It barely smoked the salt at all. Also Because of the heat, I accidentally turned my peppercorns into charcoal. I didn’t realize this until I popped a peppercorn in my mouth only to have it fall apart into ashes…gross!

        So I think i’ll stick to my weber smokey joe for smoking and try a lower heat.

        Also, I smoked some slices of cheddar the last time and they were delicious. I wish I had access to some apple wood, as I bought some apple smoked gruyere that was incredible.

        Anyways..happy smoking. I’ll be turning down the heat and upping the smoke. Also, any tips on getting the smoke to stick more in the salt? longer smoking time? The smokiness on mine seemed to die somewhat, but it’s still dark. maybe it’s still smoky inside??

        I used some in a rub last night on a steak and I recommend it as a rub with some paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, and other… Delicious. but a little too salty. I’ll use less salt next time or grind it smaller.

        • Thank you, Blaine!
          Smoking salt with y’all is so much more fun that learning it alone. I’m getting quite a bit from our discussion.

          I’m trying Dana’s way of smoking the salt for 10 hours and see what I get. Right now, I’m wishing I had cooler weather to work in, so I could set up a cold smoke method and throw in cheese, too. (We’re at 95ºF days already here in Texas.)

          OH! I have a steak rub recipe, well actually it’s a rib rub, but it works with all our favorite meats. It can be used as a dry rub or sprinkle on burgers and steaks right before going on the grill. My husband loves it. Well, I do too.

          Let me go find the recipe for you and post it.

  • Dana B.

    Hello All!

    Jill..glad to know you are a fellow Texan. I’m about 20 miles sw of Austin. Can’t wait to try your steak rub.

    Since today if Father’s Day, I’m grillin’ and chillin’. I grilled some blue cheese stuffed hamburgers for lunch and now I’m smoking another batch of salt and paprika; using mesquite chunks from HEB this time. I’ll let y’all know how they turn out. Still have another five hours from now for the results.

    • Happy Father’s Day, Dana!

      Another Texan! I love it! and I love blue cheese stuffed burgers, oh heavenly.

      Yesterday, I slow grilled a brisket using the Coffee-Cardamon Rub, and cooked up a batch of spicy hot wings. Served with a side of broccoli slaw and a pitcher of homemade Sangria. It was a great day.
      I can’t wait to post the wings and creamy feta dressing recipes. The three other adults I had help me eat the wings hardly spoke until the wings were gone.

      And you know you’ve made something great when you’re dinner guests are too busy eating to talk.

  • Dana B.

    Good Morning!
    Yesterday’s second 10-hour attempt at smoking salt was fun and successful. Smoking with mesquite this time, the aroma and taste are distinctly different from the previous batch using pecan. The verdict on the paprika is still out. My wife took some salt and paprika to work with her today to share with co-workers. Hopefully I’ll get some good reports!
    Jill..do you put fresh jalapenos in your broccoli coleslaw? My wife’s recipe calls for jalapenos and ranch dressing. YUM!

    • Good morning Dana!

      I like the taste of Mesquite; I’m going to try that next and for 10 hours, just like you did.
      As for the broccoli slaw, this was my first time to make it and no it didn’t call for jalapenos.

      Broccoli Slaw
      Makes about 5 healthy servings

      1 head of broccoli
      1/2 cup natural sunflower seeds
      1/3 cup dried cranberries & golden raisins (blended to make 1/3 cup)
      1/3 cup purple onion, finely chopped

      Creamy Dressing
      1/2 cup plain yogurt
      1/3 cup mayonnaise
      2 tablespoons cider vinegar
      1/2 tablespoon sugar

      I came up with this version of the slaw to have a zesty cream base.

      • Dana B.

        Hey Jill and others

        Thanks for the recipe! Sounds awesome!
        One thing I have failed to mention in my posts about smoking salt, etc. is that I soak the chunks in water about an hour prior to starting the smoking process. I use plain charcoal to to get the fire going and add the chunks throughout the process. I use the generic HEB brand charcoal in the blue 9lb bag because they typically have a 2 for 1 coupon. Kingsford would be my next choice if it were a little less expensive. I prefer the chunks over the chips because they last longer.

  • Steve in Arizona

    Hi,
    Greetings from Arizona. I was looking for tips on smoking salt when I found your site here. Thanks for all the tips. I was smoking 2 salt brined Salmon fillets rubbed with black pepper smoked with Apple Wood for the 4th of july ( that were fantastic ).When they were done I tried out the salt but switched to mesquite coals and some H2O soaked Oak. Kosher Salt falls thru the holes in screen FYI. So I put it on aluminum foil and smoked it about 6 hrs. running my hand thur it every hour to turn the salt over. Turned out great. Now looking for ways to use it that will make the smoked salt stand out. So far just had it on sliced home grown tomato’s.

    Steve with a Brinkman Oklahoma Joe smoker with side fire box

    • Hi Steve in Arizona!

      I wish I had been at your 4th of July party. Applewood smoked salmon- my stomach is growling.

      I liked using my homemade smoked salt on oven-baked potatoes, not on the outside but to season the inside. I agree that if the salt isn’t strongly flavored enough, it’s challenging to find ways to use it so it can stand out.

  • Holy Smoke! Glad to find your blog… I was hunting for a soup recipe and one of its ingredient is Sel Fumé! After much googling, I’m glad your technique is easy to follow with choices of ways :-D Thank you for sharing. Have great Christmas and holidays!

  • Bry Hamp

    If you put some water into the salt mixture it will gather more flavor from the smoke, Should be like a slush ball, Use a stainless pan for the smoking and stir at least 2 or 3 times .Add more water,if it looks light after it drys for more flavor. Use the color as a guide. Takes a few times to get it right. But that is a personal taste thing.You can always cut the taste by mixing un smoked salt in.

  • maria

    Hello,
    My grill is put away for the winter time. So, I was wondering if one can make smoked salt in the oven? I was thinking on putting some sea salt wrapped in aluminum foil. Does it make any sense? Do you think I could achieve smoked salt?
    I really love the idea of making sea salt at home, because it shouldn’t be so pricey.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Maria!
      I know how anxious you feel, but wait until you can pull the grill out. I’m not certain how much control and safety you could have with the wood chips in the oven.

  • lesley Muter

    for some lovely subtle flavour you can use chinese teas and jasmine teain the smoking process it adds something a bit different.

  • colton

    i was wondering why do you have to let it cool off before storing??

  • I purchased some smoked salt from a supermarket, it must have been produced by the store by the way it was sold. It is wonderful. I don’t normally use salt, but I am allergic to pepper. I use smoked salt as a substitute for the black pepper. You just use a bit of it. It is excellent on meats and to use in sauces that need to taste more savory.

  • Ron S

    Smoked salts go well with dehydrated herbs and spices in a grinder. Try some roasted garlic, diced sun dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers. you can mix in some dried lemon or lime zest with that, too. Then use it in a grinder to top all sorts of foods.
    The different types of woods give different flavors to salt, just like for meats. Mesquite is over powering if you smoke it for more that 20 minutes. My favorites are hickory, pecan, alder, cherry, and walnut. Walnut give the strongest flavor, alder the least. Alder is good for seafoods.

  • Dennis

    A simple grill method (charcoal or gas) is to place your wood shavings, or saw dust, in a cast iron pan am place it over the heat on the gill. Then put a fine mesh oil splatter guard over the pan and spread out kosher salt and close the lid. It doesn’t take long to start to impart flavor and take on some color. Of course the longer the stronger. Test it as you go and pull it off the heat when it pleases your pallet and eye.

  • Jean Tarbell Cotton

    Make Your Own Smoked Salt.

  • Arlene Arnold

    How cool! I don't think I would do this in the apartment but on the charcoal grill or if you had a gas grill it would be great!

  • Jack Thompson

    wow I am 10 and I love cooking so I am happy here :)

  • for the most part the store stuff is a 5-10 day smoke or chemicly added. I like homemade better as you can use it like normal salt. the other stuff is intended as a garnish a pinch to "kick it up a notch" oak is a good smoke. real charcoal is mainly oak lump and that's the original smoke flavor. it's pine sawdust charcoal that has the lighterfluid flavor. or you can go with hardwood logs not charcoal. the good flavors are invisable so seeing smoke is not always good and can bitter the flavor a bit. if it's burning its makin flavor. what's fun if you have time is to layer the flavor on kosher salt. 1-2 hours of a wood the add others over it. I like cherry covered in apple coverd in hickory toped with jack daniels white oak barrel chips. over a oak charcoal fire. but it takes time.

  • Thank you, David! Thank you for sharing. This is very good information to keep in mind when shopping.

  • How much and what kind of sawdust for the Wok method. Can it be done in an electric wok?

  • Jack

    can you use a electric smoker

  • Sharalyn Ayers

    I bought some smoked salt at Whole Foods 2 years ago. I bought extra since I didn’t have one close to home. When I returned to Whole Foods to get more… they didn’t have it, and they looked at me like I was crazy! I will try your method, it seems pretty easy and I have everything but the salt. By the way, I first used hickory smoked salt combined with original Mrs. Dash as a rub on a Christmas Prime Rib, now I don’t want to cook it any other way. I also put the mix in a grinder and use it on steaks and chicken too, and it is so good!

  • Sharalyn Ayers

    OK, my salt has been out there two hours and has not turned golden… I have added more wood, and still, it is nice and white. Any suggestions. I’m using hickory.

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