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Salt Mining History in Caka Salt Lake

Caka Salt Lake is the first salt lake in Qaidam Basin, which has been exploited for more than 3000 years. Caka Salt is very easy to mine. People only need to break more than 10cm of salt cover to get natural crystal salt from below.

As early as the Xi Han Dynasty, the local Chiangs Nationality knew how to use the salt from Caka Salt Lake. According to the history of Geography in Hanshu, "Jincheng County is close to the northwest of Chiangs. It has the stone room of Queen Mother of West, Fairy Sea and Salt Pool. "Fairy Sea is the present Qinghai Lake, and the Salt Pool is the Caka Salt Lake. This record also shows that the discovery of Caka Salt Lake is as old as Qinghai Lake. In 4 A.D, the Chinese emperor Wang Mang set up West Sea County (now Haiyan), which had "the benefit of fishing and salt", but the utilization of salt lake was limited at that time.

At the end of the Xi Han Dynasty, the emperor Wang Mang  renamed the LinChiangs County was renamed "Salt Chiangs  County" by the emperor Wang Mang. As the "West Sea" and "Salt Lake" are well-known, in 1032 A.D, after Li Yuanhao became emperor of Daxia(formerly Xixia). He once rode a horse to visit Caka Salt Lake, and was the only emperor who had ever visited Caka Salt Lake in ancient times. After the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, Caka Salt Lake was called "Wuhai Salt Lake", which became the geographical word of the source of salt for the nearby ethnic minorities and the Western Qinghai.

Since the 1763, the Qing’s government has organized large-scale exploitation of salt lakes and established the law of salt development. In May of 1907, the salt bureau of Dangar Hall was established, which indicated that Caka Salt had been brought into the orderly management.

In the early years of the Republic of China, the benefits of salt in Qinghai were always controlled by local warlords. Ma Lin and his family, the garrison of Ninghai in the border of Gansu became the largest salt merchant in Northwest China. Later, it was controlled by Ma Bufang (Ma Lin’s son). In 1937, the government of the Republic of China organized the British salt industry experts to investigate the Caka Salt Lake on the spot, and confirmed that the quality of Caka Salt was better than other salt lake, and the content of Caka Salt’s salt sodium chloride was 95%.

From the ancient times to 1949, the mining of Caka Salt Lake always used old four big pieces (spade, rake, drill, iron spoon) by manual excavation, which were carried out by hand, and then transported to Huangyuan and Gansu counties through the "ancient tea horse road" by cattle and camels, and sold well in Hanzhong and Xi'an areas of Shaanxi Province. On September 5, 1949, Xining, Qinghai Province liberated and established the salt administration bureau. After continuous construction and development, the Caka Salt Lake was built into a Caka Salt factory. Up to now, the double blade ship's shipping technology and mechanized modern process have experienced historical changes, making Caka Salt Lake the first and only healthy food (edible salt) production base certified by the state.