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(65) Salt Manufacture [[447-448]]

[[447]] The whole coast, from Balasore to Chittagong, has at times been occupied by a class of natives called Molungies, who manufacture salt from sea-water. The produce of the several chokies, or manufactories, is immensely valuable, as already shown, and suffices for the consumption of the whole population of all the Company's dominions, besides what is exported into those of the Nabob Vizier, &c. About fifty years ago, salt used to be sold at a rupee, or a rupee and a half, per factory maund of seventy-two pounds; averaging about one halfpenny per pound; but since the Company monopolized the manufacture, and imposed a heavy duty, the price of salt has gradually advanced.

The importation of salt by sea is prohibited, except under partial or temporary licences; but it is brought from the mines to the northward of Delhi in large quantities; though not of so good a quality, it being generally very bitter, especially the Salumbah, or more opaque rock-salt, which is far less serviceable for curing meat than the Samber. Both kinds are brought in small prismatic masses, and though in common use among the natives of the upper provinces, are never, except from necessity, allowed to appear at the tables of Europeans, though employed in their culinary preparations.

Salt is also obtained, but not of a prime quality, by piling up large quantities of the sand forming the beds [[448]] of rivers, after the waters have subsided into very narrow channels. On these heaps, water is poured in abundance; which being afterwards drained into reservoirs, the salt either crystallizes by solar heat, or by being boiled in large iron pans, like those used for crystallizing sugar from the expressed juice of the cane.


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