Bittern (salt)

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Bittern (pl. bitterns) is a bitter-tasting solution that remains after precipitation of halite (common salt) from brines and/or seawater. It is rich in magnesium chlorides, sulfates, bromides, iodides, and other chemicals present in the original waters.[1]


Bittern has been extracted for a long time, at least several centuries. The Dutch chemist Petrus Jacobus Kipp experimented with saturated solutions of bittern. The term for the solution is a modification of "bitter".[1]


Bittern is used to culture Haloquadratum archaea.[why?] It is also used for extraction of Epsom salt and other mineral salts.[1]

The solution can furthermore be used in the production of potash and potassium salts.[2]

Bittern is used as a coagulant added to soy milk for the production of tofu.[3][4]

Environmental impact[edit]

Bittern, when the product of salt production, appears to have no adverse effects on the environment. It comes from seawater and can safely be returned to the sea, although bitterns are sometimes used instead to produce fertilizer.[5]


  1. ^ a b c "Bittern - Chemistry". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Production of pure potassium salts directly from sea bittern employing tartaric acid as a benign and recyclable K+ precipitant". RSC Advances (65). 12 August 2014. doi:10.1039/C4RA04360J. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  3. ^ Japan Tofu Association - Different production techniques result in Cotton (Momen) tofu and Silken (Kinugoshi) tofu
  4. ^ What is nigari?
  5. ^ "The Salt Recovery Process" (PDF). New Zealand Institute of Chemistry.