Traditional Hawaiian Red Salt gets its name and color from the native volcanic clay with which many Hawaiians lined their salt ponds.
Native Hawaiians used salt as a food preservative for fish, beef, and pork. It was also employed for religious purification rituals and healing practices. This coarse salt, termed pa’akai, was originally white in color. It later adopted a rust-colored hue due to the clay that was absorbed during the production process, as salt was harvested in the natural evaporation occurring within the ponds.
To this day descendants in Hanapepe, Kauai, continue to produce salt mixed with alaea clay. Frequently integrated into traditional Hawaiian dishes, such as poke, pipikaula (Hawaiian jerky), and kalua pig, unrefined red salt remains an integral part of Hawaiian culture.