Fleur de Sel is unique among sea salts because it consists of only the youngest, smallest salt crystals harvested from evaporation ponds in Guérande, France. Harvesters use special wooden skimmers to remove these crystals as they form on the surface of the water.
Fleur de Sel is extremely expensive due to its labor-intensive harvesting process, which requires specific weather conditions and only happens once a year. Its delicate flavor and crunch make this salt a popular finishing salt, best sprinkled on dishes at serving time.
There are many other types of sea salt. Coarse sea salt consists of chunks or large granules of unrefined salt. This type of salt has a long shelf life because it is more resilient to moisture than many other salts. It must be ground before use.
Italian sea salt, also called Sel de Mer, comes from seawater poured into large evaporating pans. After evaporation, harvesters crush and package the salt. Italian sea salt contains high levels of magnesium, potassium, iodine and fluorine.
Hawaiian sea salt comes in red and black varieties. The red salt gets its color from volcanic red clay, which is added to the salt after harvesting. The dark color of Hawaiian black sea salt comes from charcoal, which gives it a distinctive smoky flavor. Both types of Hawaiian sea salt are popular table salts.