The Sečovlje and Strunjan salt-pans are the only ones in this part of the Adriatic, where salt is still being produced and where the traditional procedure of its production has survived till this very day.
In the abundance of different kinds of high-quality salts, Piran salt is one of the most prominent as it is cultivated according to the method of more than 700 years ago. The Sečovlje salt pans are the northernmost still functioning salt pans in the Mediterranean area and one of the few salt pans in the world where salt is produced after several centuries-old processes originating from at least the 14th century. Their speciality is that the salt pan workers cultivate petola at the bottom of the crystallization ponds. This is a biosediment which prevents the sea mud merging with the salt and gives the salt numerous microelements and minerals necessary for the human organism. It is cultivated completely through natural crystallization using their bare hands, and the tools and procedures of their ancestors.
Salt panning distinctively shaped the cultural landscape, i.e. areas that are the work of human hands.
Today, the economic role of the pans is subjected to its nature conservationist and cultural roles: the produced salt is a delicacy to gourmets; preservation of the salt-pan customs and habits has been aided by the cultural heritage awareness; the salt-pan area is giving shelter to the rare or special plant and animal species and is at the same time a reserve of man's ecologically precious residential environment and recollection of once rich Mediterranean cultural heritage and currently disappearing landscape.
Salt is produced in salt-fields incorporating evaporating and crystallisation basins. Seawater is led from the evaporating to crystallisation basins in accordance with the gravitation principle or is aided by pumps. At Fontanigge, they used to be propelled by wind wheels, while at Lera the Austrians introduced, a century ago, a modernised procedure with the use of pumps.
Crystallisation basins cover about a fifth of all basins. In them, salt is finally made, once seawater has travelled there through the evaporation basins, evaporating gradually. The crystallisation basins' levees are sustained with the coating that increases the longevity of the levees and provides for top quality salt. In crystallisation basins, salters cultivate petola (up to 2 cm thick layer of algae, gypsum and minerals), which prevents sea mud from mixing with salt.
During salt-making, traditional tools are used. The produced salt is raked with wooden scrapers into heaps on slopes with natural inclination for the surplus water to trickle away. Dry salt is then gathered manually, transported with little wagons and stored in special depots.