Salt is produced in the Sahara (and has been for
over 2½ thousand years-mentioned by Herodotus) at several
places. It is mined from underground (solid blocks hewn from
around 8 metres below the surface) at Taoudenni and it is made
by evaporation in the region around Fachi and Bilma in the Ténéré
desert. The photographs below illustrate the evaporative pools
of Taggiddan n' Tessoum. The salt industry is a family one for
the Kanuri. It is then traded across Africa by the Tuareg. Camel
caravans of up to 8,000 camels are involved.
Salt (Sodium Chloride, NaCl) is an essential
part of the human metabolism. The body needs salt to replace
that lost through evaporation (sweat) and excretion (in urine)
People whose diet is animal based (meat and milk) can survive
without aditional salt intake. Those who are vegetarians cannot,
and must supplement their diet with added salt.
The bottom photograph shows a salt caravan crossing the Erg
du Ténéré from Bilma to Agadez.