The Balearic island of Ibiza was originally colonised by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC. The salt-works there date back to this period. The first official reference to Ibiza’s salt-works originates from the time of Punic rule, which began in 540 BC when the Carthaginians conquered the island. Under the influence of the Roman Empire, the saltworks were run from 122 BC until the empire fell in 476 AD. After that the island of Ibiza was descended upon by the Vandals and Byzantines. For almost half a millennium the island constantly suffered changing occupation until it was ultimately conquered by the Moors in 902 AD. These took over the existing facilities and salt-production techniques, most of which were left as a legacy from Punic times.
After the Spanish won back the island during the “Reconquista” in 1235, important technical advances were made at the salt-works, which not only improved the quality of the salt and raised the yield but also promoted its commercialisation. Even at that early stage, 25,000 (!) tons of “Sal de Ibiza” – adjusted to today’s circumstances – were being sold per year. At that time salt was considered a “strategic” product as it was practically the only means of preserving food. For a long time Ibiza’s salt made the island a highly regarded and prosperous partner of the most powerful republics of the Middle Ages, such as Genoa, Florence, and Venice. After the Spanish succession war in 1715, the salt works were put under the administration of the crown. Although salt continued to be extracted until the 19th century, the facilities increasingly fell into decay and output dropped to just 7,000 tons per year.
In 1871 the salt-works were sold to two Majorcan businessmen for a price of 1.1 million pesetas (approx. ? 9.15 million). In 1878 they founded the “Fábrica de la Sal de Ibiza” – the nutshell of today’s operating company “Salinera Española S.A.”. In this new, entrepreneurial age, large investments were made. In addition to creating more than 1,000 new jobs, by 1886 output was re-raised to 32,000 tons of salt. Two years later the harvest already yielded 50,000 tons, which even by today’s standards, would be considered a successful year.