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The salt miner understands a "saline" to mean all above-ground factory facilities for the production of salt from brine by boiling in pans (pan or brewhouse) or by evaporation (vacuum or thermocompression systems) up to its dispatch. In terms of process technology, it is a question of separating the common salt from the full-grade brine that was produced by leaching the Haselgebirge (mixed rock formations made up of layers of clay, gypsum, anhydrite, rock salt and secondary salt) with a salt content of just 20 – 70%.

1. Development of boiling technology:

The prehistoric miners in Hallstatt (1,500 - 350 BC) and on the Dürrnberg near Hallein (700 - 150 BC) only mined rich core mountains in underground chambers with bronze picks. A leaching process was therefore not necessary.

Knowledge of underground alpine salt mining was probably lost in Roman times. From the turn of the century, salt was extracted from the natural salt springs that frequently came to light in the Salzkammergut.


1.1. Evaporation of salt solutions in clay crucibles:

The historical starting point for extracting vacuum salt was the method of completely evaporating salt solutions in clay crucibles over an open fire. In this process, which was used in Central Europe from the Bronze Age to the beginning of our era, the solvent water was separated by heat. When the water evaporated, the foreign matter went completely into the "salt cake". Archaeologists refer to the large quantities of remains of the clay devices as "briquetage".


Figure 1: "Briquetage" - clay crucible for evaporating brine, France, Internet


Figure 2: Evaporation of brine in clay crucibles, France, Internet

Salt production proceeded in a precisely defined manner. After the boiling vessels had been sufficiently heated by a vigorous fire between the cylinder columns, a mixture of salt solution and cow dung was poured into each of the 500 ml clay crucibles, which immediately evaporated and closed the pores of the porous clay shells. Only then did the actual boiling of salt begin. A small amount of brine was repeatedly poured into each crucible, whereby the water boiled away and the solid salt remained. The salt workers continued this work until finally a “salt cake” completely filled the inside of the clay crucible. After a day and a night of boiling, "Oven" was destroyed with ax blows and the finished pieces of salt were received by the merchants who were already waiting.

Salt production from spring brines in clay pots has been proven for the Saline Reichenhall as early as 582 AD.

In the first centuries after the beginning of our era, salt production from spring brines with the help of ceramic equipment came to an almost complete standstill in Central Europe. Written references to the production of evaporated salt have only become more numerous since the 8th century, although information about the technology of salt production is sparse. However, it is clear that by the turn of the millennium a new method of evaporating the water had been developed in all salt-mining locations, namely that of open pans.


1.2. Evaporation of salt solutions in medieval small pans:

With this method, the brine was no longer evaporated in small clay crucibles, but in larger metal pans. Exact information on how and when this transition from clay boiling vessels to metal pans took place is missing from most of the salt pans.

For the Saline Nauheim in Hesse, boiling in lead pans measuring 0.6 x 2.0 m has been documented since the middle of the 7th century. Around the turn of the millennium there were around 20 to 30 pan salt pans in Central Europe.

In an attempt to reconstruct it, Franz Stadler describes the structure of a mediaeval salt works in Altaussee.  The natural brine springs were taken as "salt wells" in small spring shafts. Perhaps shafts, trenches, short tunnels and dams were dug in order to collect the highest possible spring brine. Block walls were built in the spring shafts, which were converted into small brine rooms, and sealed with clay on the outside.

The pan house was built in the immediate vicinity of the brine source. The oval pan made of riveted pieces of wrought-iron sheet metal was located above a fireplace lined with clay and inclined towards the middle of the pan. The approximately 12 m² pan was hung on the roof truss of the pan house. On the firing side there was a straight edge of the pan so that the salt that had fallen out could be drawn out with wooden implements. The wet salt was filled into wooden containers and, after a certain pre-drying time, taken to the drying room for further drying. The salt kilns were probably built similar to the peasant kilns. Both pan and salt dryer were fired with wood.


Figure 3: Medieval saline, floor plan, from Stadler "Salt production, saline locations and salt transport", Linz 1988


Figure 4: Medieval salt works, longitudinal section, from Stadler "Salt Production, Salt Works and Salt Transport", Linz 1988

1.3. Old Austrian round pan:

The first larger pan was built under Queen Elisabeth in 1311 in Hallstatt. The circular pan with a slanted pull-out side measured 3 fathoms (5.69 m) in diameter and had a pan area of around 32 m². With the increase in salt sales, it grew more and more and by the time of the 1st Reformation Dragonfly in 1524 it was already 7 ½ fathoms long and 6 fathoms wide, about 140 m² in area. In 1533 a second, smaller pan was installed in Hallstatt. However, both pans were soon significantly enlarged and, according to the 2nd Reformation Dragonfly in 1564, had a floor area of 334 m² and 279 m².

When these were no longer enough, a third pan was to be set up in Hallstatt. However, this did not happen because in the meantime the salt mine in Ischl had been developed, where a new pan house was built in 1571. When the constantly increasing wood consumption for the brewing pans themselves as well as for the production of the salt pans and shipbuilding from the forests around Hallstatt could no longer be fully covered, the brewing hut was built in Ebensee in 1607, after which the second pan in Hallstatt was removed became.

All of the pans built at this time corresponded to the type of the old Austrian round pan, the size of which could vary between 250 m² and 340 m², depending on the location.

The design and mode of operation of the old Austrian round pan can be explained using the example of the brewhouse in Hallstatt.


Figure 5: Hallstatt brewhouse, exterior view, Merian, 1649, archive Salinen Austria

The roof truss of the brewhouse had a span of 31 m and a length of 35 m. It rested on four stone pillars (stove columns) over which two strong supporting beams, the "stove trees", were mounted, which took up the entire weight of the roof. Since the pans were uncovered, the roof truss was exposed without protection to the vapors rising freely from the pan. At the top of the roof truss was an elongated opening (“steam roof”) through which the steam could escape to the outside.

The round shape of the 260 m² Hallstatt pan had the advantage of being the smallest in relation to the floor area, and it was also convenient for the employees to be able to walk around the pan and always have a good view of it, but it was impossible to construct a functional and inexpensive roof over it. Like all the others in the Salzkammergut, the Hallstatt brewhouse was covered with wooden shingles.


Figure 6: Hallstatt brewhouse, brewing pan, Merian, 1649, archive Salinen Austria

The individual sheets of the riveted pan were 21 inches (0.55 m) long and 10 inches (0.26 m) wide, with 1 line (2.6 mm) thick. The pieces of sheet metal were joined together outside of the brewhouse to form larger pieces, and from these the bottom of the pan was assembled in the building. The pieces were numbered and fit exactly in the intended place. The whole floor was composed of the individual fire, center and edge pieces. The sheet iron laid like a shingle lay twice above the fire and three and four times at the corners and joints. To seal the joints, the sheets had to be covered with "lime bread", a mixture of slaked lime, brine and tow, before each brewing campaign.  The pan was then slowly heated before being filled, and then gradually filled with brine.


Figure 7: Ischler brewhouse, pan sheets, description of saline manipulation, 1807-1815, Archive Saline Austria


Figure 8: Ischler brewhouse, round pan, description of saline manipulation, 1807-1815, Archiv Salinen Austria

Until 1770, the Salzamt obtained all the wrought iron for the pan plates from external hammer mills, only in 1771 to 1772 did it set up its own hammer mill in Mitterweißenbach, managed by the Ischl administration office, for processing pig iron in order to make itself independent of foreign producers. According to a report from the Salt Office in 1767, iron prices had risen at the time, but all the hammer mills had offered the same amount. After the construction of the Zerrennhammer in Mitterweißenbach and the start of full operation, the iron supply from Liezen came to an end, since now all the wrought iron for the three administrative offices could be produced themselves. In 1805, the entire iron requirement of the Salzoberamt was 3,730 quintals, of which 2,000 quintals were made from finned iron in Mitterweißenbach and the remaining quantities of bar iron, pan plate and steel were bought from various era and private trades. In 1811 the Salzamt decided to redesign and enlarge the facility.

The hammer mill in Strobl Weißenbach became Austrian property when Salzburg became part of Austria. It was well established and had the right to reserve the forests needed for charcoal production, which were conveniently located for the Kammergut. The latter circumstance was probably decisive for the decision of the Court Chamber to acquire the hammer mill for the Salzoberamt. The hammer mill came into the possession of the Oberamt in Gmunden in October 1818. The hammer works and forests now fell under the administration of the Ischl demolitions office. The Strobler hammer was a valuable help for the one in Mitterweißenbach, which only had plenty of power water in the spring, but suffered from a lack of it the rest of the time and had to limit operations. The situation of the Strobler hammer mill had become untenable since the large iron works and factories were producing rolled plate and bringing it to the market cheaply. By the end of 1833, the last supplies of raw products had been processed and operations were finally closed. The dilapidated hammer building was demolished and a dwelling house was built there for the woodruff from Zinkenbach.  

The originally customary connection of the pan plates by means of stucco work by the blacksmith was very complex and expensive. An important revolution in the construction of brewing kettles was the introduction of riveting. The first impetus for this was given by the Ischl administrator Plentzner in 1840, who had seen this sheet metal connection in the Saline in Rappenau in Baden-Württemberg.

The bottom of the pan became very uneven due to the riveting. This led to problems when extracting the salt ("Ausspehren"). The crutch was, by the numerous, high and closely spaced rivets as well as by the edges of the sheets, which succeed in width every 4 inches (0.11 m) for fire pieces and every 7 inches (0.18 m) otherwise, with special needs.


Figure 9: Hallstatt brewhouse, pan base, around 1910, ÖNB archive

The stove was built to burn fat cords of logs. The firewood consisted partly of fir and partly of spruce in logs 6 feet (1.90 m) long. The grate of the pan firing was so deep that the wood burning on it was lower than the bottom of the hearth. The grate consisted of 6 bricked refractory clay spans, each 9 inches (0.24 m) wide. In between, 10-inch (0.26 m) wide joints remained, which were prevented from deviating to the side by intervening prestressing bricks. This gave the surface of the grate a net-like appearance. Because the prestressing bricks were 6 to 8 inches (0.16-0.21 m) apart, the draft openings of the grate were nearly square, about 11 inches (0.29 m) on a side.

Under the brick grate there was later a second grate made of 8 forged iron bars, which were supported by 2 crossed iron bars, and the purpose of which was to stop falling pieces of firewood, which could then completely burn on this lower grate and their heat in this way could still be used in the pan.

The air ditch, closable by an iron door, was more than 6 feet (1.90 m) high and produced a very lively draft.

The floor of the hearth (“Pannstatt Pavement”) was about 4 feet (1.26 m) below the bottom of the pan when firing and rose on all sides to such an extent that this distance from the edge of the pan was only 2 ½ feet (0.79 m). .

The pan rested on an enclosing wall and was supported internally by 370 pillars made of stone or bricks, the so-called "pan supports". Only above the furnace, where no wall supports could be placed because of the great heat of the furnace, was the pan hung with iron rods and hooks on the roof structure of the pan house. The stays formed radial channels under the bottom of the pan for the smoke to escape.


Around the rim of the pan ran a wall about 6 feet (1.72 m) high, which enclosed the fire. The hearth under the pan was open, the force of the flames was somewhat checked only by the pan holders.  

The combustion gases flowed through the space between the pan supports, which rose towards the edge of the pan and whose floor (“pan hearth”) was paved with refractory bricks. At first there were no vapor chimneys or smoke chimneys.                                                                                  

Beneath the pan on the hearth were coiled copper or cast-iron tubes through which the brine ran, which served to feed the pan and could thus be preheated to a temperature of up to 50 °C. The preheated brine was then introduced into the "Urendpfanne", which was located on the smoke outlet side of the main ("Urend"). In this 36-foot (11.38 m) wide and 15-foot (4.74 m) long side pan, the brine could be further heated to up to 87.5 °C by the flue gases drawn off in the flues before being admitted into the main pan .

From the Urendpfanne, the flue gases flowed through channels covered with sheet iron into the drying chambers, which were installed next to and behind the pan.

The 12 m long, straight side of the pan was called the "Pehrstatt" because the crystallized salt that had sunk to the bottom of the pan due to the evaporation of the brine was pulled out or lifted out every 2 hours with iron crutches over the sloping pan edge ("pan rim"). This process is known as "scooping out".

Figure 10: Ischler brewhouse, pan stand, description of saline manipulation, 1807-1815, Archive Saline Austria


First, a "Pehrer" examined the Labhöhe, ie the level of the brine in the pan, which was constantly kept at 14 inches (0.37 m); The Pehrer then pulled away the skin of salt from the area above the hearth, where the pan was hanging on iron hooks instead of resting on stands, and thus cleaned the brine level. The workers lined up around the pan and, in two steps, pulled the salt that had fallen to the ground into the "Pehrsack" on the edge of the brewing pan. Helpers grabbed the salt from the sack with the 28-inch (0.74 m) long and 18-inch (0.47 m) wide shovels and threw it into the wooden skids set up in the lower trough, which were about as wide at the top as they were blade width. The “pushers” pushed the still wet salt into the runners. Then the runners were turned inside out, pulled off the conical salt sticks (“Fudern”) and left on the “Fuderstätte” for about 2 hours to drain. The head of the fodder, which, because it was in the runner below, had drawn the most moisture, was cut off, and then the fodder was carried by the porters into the drying chamber ("Dörrpfiesel").

Figure 11: brew pan; Tightening, emptying and throwing fodder, from Huysen "Salzbergbau", Berlin 1854

The Dörrpfiesel were heated directly by the flue gases from the pan or by their own furnaces. In the open pebbles, the smoke gases blackened the salt domes, which made subsequent cleaning necessary. In 1795 closed instead of open pebble firing was introduced. This keeps the fodder cleaner and whiter.   

In the drying pebbles, the salt domes were placed side by side on a kind of iron grid.      1,600 and more fuders could be accommodated in a drying chamber. The residual moisture in the salt domes was almost completely expelled during the drying process, which lasted 6-7 days. The dried salt fodder contained only 0.5 - 1 percent moisture.

The salt dome removed after drying in the pebbles was called "naked fuder". The truncated cone-shaped fuder had a top diameter of 46 cm and a bottom diameter of 25 cm at a height of 1 m. However, his weight varied wildly between 118-123 pounds (66-69 kg) from a target weight of 107 pounds (60 kg).


Figure 12: Boiling pan Dörrpfiesel, Kufen and Fuder, around 1720, Finanz- und Hofkammerarchiv, Vienna


Figure 13: Dried pebbles, closed furnace, description of saline manipulation, 1807-1815, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 14: Ausseer brewhouse, Füderl salt production, around 1910, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 15: Ausseer brewhouse, Füderltrager, around 1910, Archive Salinen Austria

After the end of the brewing week, the mother liquor remaining in the pan had to be drained off in order to free the bottom of the pan from the adhering gypsum-containing salt crust, the "pan core". The brine flowed into a sideways and deeper trough, the "Labstube", from which it was lifted again at the beginning of the next brewing period by means of a scoop wheel operated by an overshot water wheel and returned to the pan. The pan core impeded the transfer of heat from the fire to the brine, leading to increased fuel consumption and damage to the pan plates due to overheating.

The pans were usually in continuous operation for 6 weeks, but a Sunday rest period was observed. 4 shifts were made daily, 3 x salt was extracted per shift and 50 loads pushed each time. If no disturbances occurred, 3,600 barrels could be produced per week (6 days x 4 shifts x 3 x 50 barrels/shift) or 21,600 barrels per 6-week boiling period.

This means that there are 5 ½ - 6 "pan roasts" (boiling periods) per year, which means a theoretical production of 118,800 - 129,600 barrels. In reality, however, these numbers were never reached because of the various disturbances. Business interruptions usually lasted 3 weeks, damaged pan parts were replaced with new pieces and the pan supports were replaced if necessary and the masonry and other damage repaired.

The usual limestone pan supports were particularly susceptible to repairs. Although they were covered with clay, they were burned to lime in a short time and thus lost their load-bearing capacity. As early as 1721, the Ischl administrator Franz Grundner carried out tests for the purpose of erecting kiln stands from fired bricks and even built a brick kiln in Ischl. The much more durable brick uprights proved their worth. However, there was great opposition from the quarry masters and workers to their use, as they feared for their jobs.

For a six-week boiling period, 17 to 18 "pans" of firewood, or 7,000 rm, were required. Each pan produced an average of 415 pounds, or about 100,000 130-pound loads per year. Assuming the weight of 1 m3 of air-dried spruce wood at around 400 kg, around 154 kg of wood were used for 60 kg of salt. 100 kg of wood resulted in around 39 kg of salt.


Figure 16: Hallstatt brewhouse, pan core extraction, around 1935, archive Salinen Austria

Up until around 1750, the salt brew was interrupted at the end of each week in all three Verwesämter to carry out the usual maintenance work ("dressing work"). Attempts to continue simmering beyond Sunday into the second week had to be stopped because the excessively thick pan core prevented the salt from falling due to the poorer heat transfer from the pan to the brine. The Hofkammer decided to try it and in 1783 ordered uninterrupted two-week boiling in all three administrative offices. Due to the good success, the two-week brewing campaign with a short break to clean the pan core attachment only on every second Sunday remained from now on. The longer main dressing of the pan was usually only necessary once a year.

The Austrian round ladles, which were still in operation until the beginning of the 19th century, had the disadvantage of an enormous consumption of firewood with a central, simple grate firing. Around 5.5 cubic meters (rm) of firewood was needed to produce 1 ton of salt.

In 1720, 160,000 cubic meters of wood were used to produce around 30,000 tons of salt in the Upper Austrian Salzkammergut (saline in Ebensee, Ischl and Hallstatt). In addition, 53,000 rm of wood were required for the production of skids (wooden vessels for transporting salt) and shipbuilding, and 60,000 rm of wood for the construction of defenses and deputies. In 1720, the total wood consumption in the Salzkammergut area was 273,000 rm. In addition, there was also the not insignificant need for pit wood for the mines.

The enormous consumption of wood led to the deforestation in the Salzkammergut and as a result to increasing expenses for the transport of the necessary wood from forests further away. Due to the increasing shortage of wood, the firing technology of the brewing pans was forced to be significantly improved.


1.4. Tyrolean pan:

In 1760 the director of the Hall saltworks, Josef v. Menz the development of a new salt production process. Since the Haller pan workers feared a serious loss of jobs, they prevented the introduction of this new technology until 1764.

In this year, Menz in Hall i. T. a new soda plant with a square pan with a new, central and movable oven hearth, a dehydrator immediately adjacent to the pan for better utilization of the heating gases, as well as two preheating pans arranged on the side. Menz had moved the fire to the center of the pan by placing the hearth on a trolley that could be pulled out for stoking. The new drying process made it possible to produce much purer salt, since the salt that had been poured out was spread out in thin layers on iron plates, under which the furnace exhaust gases passed on the way to the forge, and in the process dried up to 4%.

The Urendpfandl, heated with the residual heat of the pan fire, provided a coarse salt that was emptied back into the main pan, extracted again with the other salt and mixed into the Fuder runners.

Menz had to put up with many irrelevant and hateful attacks because of his invention until the Ebensee brewery master Lenoble finally proved the superiority of the Menz pan over the previously used round pans with a small test facility built in Aussee in 1793. In 1795, a whole week's brew was carried out on this pan under the direction of Lenoble in the presence of the smelting officials from Aussee, Hallstatt, Ischl and Ebensee, the results of which were so good that the court chamber immediately approved the construction of a Tyrolean pan in the Upper Austrian Salzkammergut.

The main technical innovations of this new salt production process were:

  • The use of copper tubes to preheat the brine.

  • The narrowing of the furnace grate and the air ditch and the shortening of the fire arcs.

  • The more advantageous system of the stoke for more convenient and even introduction of the firewood.

  • The covering and covering of the pan as well as the construction of vapor chimneys.

  • The enlargement and deepening of the primordial socket.

  • Elevating the smoke chimneys.

Due to the favorable experience in Aussee, the Court Chamber approved the construction of a Tyrolean pan in Ebensee as early as 1795. The pan was to be erected twice as large as that at Aussee, and the furnaces were to be arranged for burning coal and peat with little wood.

Between 1796 and 1798, the "Archduke Karl - Brewery" was built in Ebensee under the direction of the brewery master Lenoble in the Tyrolean style.


Figure 17: Saline Ebensee, model Archduke Karl - Sudwerk, 1798, archive Salinen Austria

The one-storey pan building was 40 m long and 19 m wide. The rectangular brewing pan on the 1st floor was 15.6 m long and 7.8 m wide. The 122 m² pan consisted of 544 whole and 68 half pan sheets, the edges of which were flanged downwards and screwed together so that a smooth surface resulted at the top. On both sides of the brewing pan, there were slightly raised, smaller preheating pans for receiving the brine coming from the salt mine. The decking of the planks, which abutted the sloping edge of the pan on the Pehrstatt, was laid watertight and slightly inclined towards the pan in order to make it easier for the mother liquor carried along with the salt to flow back into the pan.

Opposite the Pehrstatt was a wide vapor trap, through which the vapors escaping the pan were drawn off and led outside. In addition, two smoke stacks connected to the gas ducts were attached to the side of the building. In the pan building, the south and attic rooms were separated from each other by board cladding.

Here, too, the rim of the pan rested on hermetically sealed enclosing walls, while the bottom of the pan was supported by numerous pan supports. Two symmetrically arranged wood-firing stoves with strong grate bars and ash channels on the ground floor below the center of the pan gave off the heat of combustion directly to the bottom of the pan. The combustion gases continued under the preheating pans, were then led down to the ground floor and got under the plan dryers installed there, which they passed through in several turns, in order to finally be led to the food and discharged to the outside.  

The extracted, wet salt stayed on the pit for an hour, was then transferred to the nearby outflow chambers or eaves platforms, where it lost most of the remainder of the mother liquor that was clinging to it, which was collected in channels and fed into the laboratory room. A pump used in this lifted the brine back into the pan. Each draining platform had a wooden duct in the floor, through which the air-dried salt was dropped onto the plan dryers on the ground floor below and spread out in thin layers. The fumes from the brewing pan wafting beneath the tin bottom of these kilns were still warm enough to completely dry the salt. After three hours of drying, it could be shoveled off, taken to the refrigerated magazines and packed in barrels as a good that could be worn out.

The costly production of the fodder, drying it in the pebbles and then breaking up the smoke-blackened salt domes was no longer necessary.

The installation of a vapor trap made it easier to work in the hot brew room, which used to be saturated with steam, and the vertical structure of the work process saved a lot of time and manpower.

Another important innovation of this period was the introduction of "water lead" to protect the iron components of the pan that were directly exposed to the fire. Water lead was lead ore containing molybdenum which, after roasting and crushing, was mixed with iron fines and alumina and processed with brine to form a fire-resistant cement. A mixture of graphite and clay with brine served as a protective coating on the fire side of the ladles .


The additional yield of salt was 14.25% or 55 kg salt/rm firewood for the Tyrolean pan (Tyrolean pan 386 kg salt/rm firewood and Austrian pan 331 kg salt/rm firewood).

As early as 1794 to 1801, master brewer Lenoble ordered the experimental firing of lignite from Geboldskirchen and peat from Altmünster and Laudachsee. 

Figure 18: Ischler brewhouse, Archduke Franz Carl – factory with Tyrolean pan, around 1912, archive Salinen Austria


1.5. Development of firing technology:

Each firing system consisted of the combustion chamber (grate area) and the heating chamber, or the chamber in which the flame was confined between the walls of the furnace and those of the pan so that it could not spread uselessly in all directions. The more or less horizontal surface through which the boiler room was limited downwards, i.e. facing the bottom of the pan, was called the hearth or hearth floor.

With pans of great length, it was customary to move the grate surface as far into the combustion chamber as possible so that the flame was closer to the center of the pan. The grate surface was always lower than the bottom of the hearth in order to be able to hold the fuel together so that the flame could rise from the grate through the so-called fire bridge into the boiler room.

Figure 19: Ischler brewhouse, grate firing, description of saline manipulation, 1807-1815, Archive Saline Austria

It was not until the 19th century that people began to limit the flame upwards, too, with a vault over the grate surface, and at the same time to protect the bottom of the pan against the direct effects of the flames rising from the grate.

The base of the pan would have caved in under its own weight even if the pans were completely empty, but it would have lost all stability if the pans were full. The bottom of the pan was therefore supported by cast-iron, masonry or cast stone pan supports, which stood up with their lower end on the hearth and supported the pan with their upper end.

In the case of very large ladles, which required large grating spaces, the part of the pan base lying above the grating surface could no longer have been supported by pan supports. This part of the pan was supported by a kind of hanging system, namely iron rods which connected to the entablature of the panhouse at the top and engaged the bottom of the pan at the bottom.

A very small distance between the bottom of the stove and the bottom of the pan always had the disadvantage that the flue gases flowed at too high a speed, so that the flames only touched the bottom of the pan for a very short time and only poor heat transfer was possible.

Significant steps to improve the ordinary grate firing were:

  • The arrangement of two grates one below the other (burning and glowing grate).

  • The introduction of an inclined grating with horizontal surfaces (stair grating).

  • The preheating of the combustion air (air preheating).

  • The inflow of the preheated combustion air onto the fuel surface (desk firing).

  • The introduction of gas firing.


ember rust:

The ember grate made it possible for the fuel that fell through the grate and had not yet been completely burned to be burned further and thus used.


Figure 20: Ember grate, upper grate made of brick arches and lower grate made of wrought iron bars, from Huysen "Salzbergbau", 1854

stair grate:

The step-shaped grate was an effective device for all fuels forming a dense bed, especially for crushed hard coal and lignite, because it facilitated the access of combustion air and thus the combustion process. The inclination of these grates could be slightly altered depending on the nature of the fuel. The combustion process on the grate was easy to observe and any blockages could be rectified quickly.


air preheating:

When using preheated combustion air, the space under the grate ("ash fall") was sealed so that cold air could not get under the grate surface. To heat up, the cold ambient air was guided through cast-iron pipes laid just above the hearth floor, which opened out in the ash fall. This allowed the hot combustion air to flow from below through the grate into the fuel bed, significantly improving combustion.


desk firing:

Desk firing was introduced at the salt pans for wood burning, but also for lignite and peat. With this type of firing, the combustion air does not flow through the fuel from the bottom up, but from the top down, so it always touches the freshly placed fuel first. If wood was the fuel, this also formed the grate, because iron grate bars under the fuel were not necessary with wood firing. In this way, more complete combustion was achieved than with grate firing.


Figure 21: Desk firing, from Huysen "Salzbergbau", 1854

From a brick platform a with a railing (see Figure 21) the worker threw logs over the bench v onto the brick grate z into the lectern room y, which was always kept full to the brim. The necessary pre-heated combustion air entered the furnace room d through the openings h and l from above onto the material to be burned.

The fuel first reached the coolest part of the fuel layer and gradually moved into the hotter layers, so it was gradually prepared for combustion, ie it was dried and degassed before it burned completely. The distillation residues penetrated the bottom layer of embers, had to go through the flames and were burned up completely. In the case of grate firing, the fresh fuel thrown up cooled the embers, there was not enough combustion heat for the gases, and the combustion took place with smoke formation and losses. The penetration of cold air into the embers when loading fresh fuel could be avoided. For firing lignite or peat, only a grate had to be inserted in the console shaft.

The preheated combustion air met the fuel from the side and led the combustion gases into the hearth. This type of firing was used with good success for wood in Ischl and Ebensee, for lignite in Ebensee and for peat in Aussee.

With desk firing, the pans were heated more evenly and, as a result, the grain of salt was more even. The higher costs of the plant were amply offset by lower fuel consumption and reduced repair work due to protection of the ladle. The flame was not led directly under the pan, but first under the vault so that it was distributed more evenly under the pan. The furnace was located under the pan in such a way that only about 2/3 of the bottom of the pan was directly hit by the flame, 1/3 was heated by the radiant heat of the heavily heated remaining hearth area. The fire vault served to protect the pan from the jet of flame. The gases leaving the hearth were used to heat drying chambers for drying the fodder before they were discharged into the forge.

The main advantages of desk firing were the fuel savings and the achievement of smoke-free combustion, so that the exhausting gases could be fed directly into the Füderldörren without fear of the Füderldörren becoming black. Almost all of the extracted salt could be dried using the waste heat at an exhaust temperature of the gases of 250 to 280°C. Smoke-free combustion in the desk ovens resulted in fuel savings of 16%.

gas firing:

Boiling devices whose grates were provided with air supply below and above the grate were referred to as gas furnaces. In these furnaces, the fuel was incompletely burned with a lack of oxygen. The complete combustion of the combustion products escaping from the kiln mouths only took place later through the targeted supply of heated combustion air. Gas furnaces had the advantage over grate furnaces that refilling the fuel did not disrupt the regular combustion process and that fuels could be used in the furnaces that, with the exception of the stepped grates, could not be burned well on the grate because they could get through the grate joints would have fallen through or would have prevented the draft entirely by heaping it up.

Fine-grained fuels could only be used in the gas furnaces with the use of a blower because the necessary combustion air could not flow through the dense fuel bed on its own.

However, since gas firing caused constant repairs to the pans and increased pan core formation due to the high temperatures at the hearth, the costs for ongoing maintenance were very high.  Therefore, from 1890 onwards, the gas firing was replaced by the half-gas firing, which was inferior in terms of energy but was gentler on the ladles.


1.6. Plenzner' double pan:

Another improvement was the introduction of Plenzner's double pans, as installed in Ischl in 1834 and in Ebensee in 1836. They are called double pans because two pans could be served simultaneously by the same team.

Each of the twin pans erected at Ebensee was rectangular, 73 feet (20.88 m) long, 36 feet (10.30 m) wide, and filled 11 inches (0.29 m) high with brine. Each pan held around 2890 cubic feet (67.6 m³) of brine.

The pans were made of strong, riveted sheet metal. Above the fire, the pieces of sheet metal were small, about 8 inches (0.21 m) long, 5 inches (0.13 m) wide, and assembled so that they were stacked in fours over the fire and doubles further back.


Figure 22: Ischler brewhouse, Graf Kolowrat double pan, around 1900, Archive Salinen Austria

Iron stiffening bars were riveted to the ladle above the grates, parallel to the grate bars, 1 shoe (0.286 m) apart to prevent bowing of the pan bottom.

Each pan had a fire on 2 cross grates of wrought iron bars spaced about 1 foot (0.286 m) apart so that the small coals of the upper one could fall onto the lower one. The top grate was 6 2/3 feet (1.91 m) from the bottom of the pan, while the hearth rose 1 foot (0.286 m) from here to the edges of the pan. The grate itself was 9 feet (2.57 m) long and 6 ½ feet (1.86 m) wide.

The hearth has no guided circulation of combustion gases, the pan was only supported by refractory clay pan supports and closed by the perimeter wall. The combustion air flowed through the hearth from behind, and through ducts through the ash falls towards the fire.

The usual pipe strings for preheating the inflowing brine were no longer attached because, as tests had shown, their efficiency was too low.

Two pans each were covered by a tight-fitting jacket made of whipping shutters.

From the pans, the combustion gases passed through a channel into the lower drying room, from there into the upper drying room and finally into the chimney, in which a slide was installed to regulate the heat.

The salt was drawn out into the 6 inch (0.16 m) recess riveted to one of the wide sides of the pan.

About 800 centners (44.8 tons) of salt were produced daily in such a pair of pans.

Salt production was increased from approx. 412,000 q (23,072 t) in 1821 to 747,000 q (41,832 t) in 1841 thanks to the new production methods in the Tyrolean and double pans. However, the number of people employed in the Salzkammergut saltworks only rose from 5,616 to 6,684 in the same period.


1.7. Introduction of coal firing:

For years, Hofrat Plenzner had coal from the former Aryan lignite deposits in Wolfsegg, which had been sold in the 1820s, used on an experimental basis in Ebensee without being able to achieve any significant success. In addition, due to the lack of railway connections, transporting the lignite to the Salzkammergut was complex and expensive. The coal was delivered from Wolfsegg by horse-drawn carriage to Stadl Paura and from there transported up the river Traun to Gmunden and Ebensee by horse-drawn ships.

Only the horse-drawn railway from Linz to Gmunden, opened on May 1, 1836, and horse-drawn railways to Thomasroith and Kohlgrube, which went into operation in 1849, made it possible to quickly and easily deliver the lignite from the Hausruck mining area. 


Figure 23: Thomasroith coal mine, transporting coal with a mine horse, around 1880, Thomasroith miners’ association archive


Figure 24: Wolfsegg coal mine, miners with mine horse, 1915, Wolfsegg miners’ association archive

As early as 1849, the railway company sent a request to the Ministry for Regional Culture and Mining to set up a pan and dryer for lignite heating in Ebensee and to carry out corresponding tests. In 1850 the first order of 2000 quintals of Wolfsegger coal came with the horse-drawn railway to the lake shore in Gmunden and from here with shiploads to Ebensee. The administration of the saltworks converted the existing desk ovens, which were unusable for burning lignite, and erected six small ovens with movable grates that were closer to the bottom of the pan. After many difficulties, the first attempts could be completed with satisfactory results. Nevertheless, the coal firing still failed due to the resistance of the saltworks administration, since it was feared that many jobs would be lost in forestry.

In 1864 the Treasury put massive pressure on the administration of the salt works, since the Saline Hall had been using coal successfully since 1824.

Now success was not long in coming in the Salzkammergut either. In 1865, under the direction of the Ebensee brewing master Posch, the ladle furnaces were again adapted so that the Wolfsegger lignite burned out completely on the step grates without a blower with a suitable gas supply. From now on, lignite could almost compete with wood prices, despite the still high supply costs.

Another significant advantage of the complete lignite combustion was the possibility, which had never been hoped for before, of being able to direct the combustion gases directly onto the drying salt for drying. This made it possible to save on the time-consuming and expensive salt drying process in the drying pebbles.

From the end of 1865, the firing of lignite was finally introduced in the Saline Ebensee.

Ischl only got its railway connection with the opening of the Stainach-Irdning to Attnang-Puchheim line in 1877 ("Kronprinz-Rudolf-Bahn"). The north-south development of the Salzkammergut had multiple economic implications: coal could be brought to the salt pans and the railway took care of transporting the salt products away.

Now, in 1881, the Saline Ischl and in 1887 the Saline Hallstatt could be converted to cost-saving lignite firing.


Figure 25: Hallstatt brewhouse, manual coal firing on half-gas furnaces, around 1932, Salinen Austria archive

1.8. Invention of the heat pump:

The aim of the basic knowledge of heat theory was the development of a process to reduce the heat requirement for the energy-intensive salt production from brine. When extracting 1 t of salt, around 3 t of water have to be evaporated.

It was therefore necessary to look for a process that would enable the heat content of the water evaporated from the brine to be used again for the salt extraction and not released unused into the environment, as has been the case for centuries with the extraction of pan salt.

The Austrian engineer Peter von Rittinger (1811-1872) first attempted to produce evaporated salt in the Ebensee saltworks using a closed "evaporator" he had designed. The basic idea was to create a negative pressure over the boiling brine by constantly sucking off the water vapors and thus being able to work at boiling temperatures well below 100 °C. At the same time, the extracted steam was compressed using hydropower, causing its temperature to rise. This superheated steam served as a heat source for the boiling process. Fuel was only needed to compensate for the unavoidable heat losses.


Figure 26: Peter von Rittinger, design of the salt boiling apparatus, 1855, archive Salinen Austria

However, the plant only worked in 1856 and 1857. The attempts in the Saline Ebensee failed due to the incrustations occurring in the evaporation apparatus, because a process for removing the hardening substances from the brine was not yet known.

The main problems arose from the fact that when the brine boiled, a fine sludge of gypsum precipitated out, which burned to all heating surfaces and inhibited further heat transfer. In addition, common salt crystals settled on the boiler walls and could not be removed through the discharge opening provided for this purpose. Finally, there were difficulties with the overheating of the steam, which was very difficult to avoid at the time.


The experiments were discontinued, but Prof. Piccard and the mechanical engineer Weibl from Geneva worked in Switzerland between 1870/80 on an improved apparatus based on Rittinger's findings. After the Ischl brewery master Balzberg studied the steaming apparatus on site in 1879, he set up and tried out such an apparatus in Ebensee between 1881 and 1885. The attempts were again unsuccessful due to the lack of brine cleaning.

Figure 27: Piccard - Weibl'scher apparatus, 1882, from Matl "Chronik der Saline Ebensee", Ebensee 1986

1.9. vacuum process

The first process developed to operational maturity after the successful introduction of raw brine softening in 1901, which made heat recovery possible, was the vacuum - multiple effect - process from the Swiss company "Triplex".

The principle of vacuum evaporation was to lower the boiling point of the liquid to be evaporated by reducing the pressure on it. For brine evaporation, the so-called "triple effect" had proven to be the most favorable. There was a group of 3 enclosed evaporators; A closed heating system consisting of heating tubes or heating rings was located in each evaporator. The first evaporator was heated by the exhaust steam from a steam engine or steam turbine, the second evaporator by the vapors from the first, the third by the vapors from the second evaporator, while the vapors from the third evaporator were condensed in a barometric condenser.

The boiling temperatures of the brine were about 90° C in the first evaporator, 70° C in the second and 50° C in the third, corresponding to a vacuum of about 20 cm, 50 cm and 70 cm Hg column (0.027 bar, 0.067 bar and 0.093 bar negative pressure ).

A major advantage of vacuum salt production was also the possibility of coupling the power and heat economy. Steam as high as possible was generated in a boiler plant. The tension energy of this steam was used in an upstream steam turbine up to about 0.5 atm (about 0.5 bar) and thus generated very cheap power with a small additional expenditure of coal. The largely expanded exhaust steam from the turbine, whose heat content was still significant, went into the vacuum steam system and served as heating steam for the first evaporator. The brine evaporation plant actually served as a condenser for the steam turbine.


As early as 1904, the first three-stage vacuum system, including the necessary brine cleaning, was put into operation in Ebensee by Triplex, a company for brine evaporation in vacuum Ges.mbH in Lüneburg. The vacuum plant was designed for an annual production of 9,000 - 10,000 t/a of dry fine salt. In the steam chamber of the first vacuum stage (93 °C boiling point) with 192 pipes and approx. 90 m² of heating surface, approx. 700 kg of salt were produced from 1,000 kg of heating steam. The other two stages, heated with the vapors from the previous stages, had temperatures of 72 °C and 52 °C. Compared to the ladle operation, the saving in thermal energy was around 40%.

The salt produced in this plant ("table salt") was almost chemically pure sodium chloride (99.5% NaCl) as a result of the previous chemical brine cleaning and the fact that most of the adhering mother liquor was removed by centrifugation. The chemical industry, especially soda production and alkali chloride electrolysis, increasingly required vacuum salt of very high purity for its new technologies, which could only be produced inexpensively using the vacuum process.

The operating crew in the actual salt production plant was five men (one man operating the vacuum apparatus as a foreman, one man for salt production, three men for the salt drying and transport system) and a certified boiler and machine attendant, i.e. six men per shift .

The triplex system was switched off due to obsolescence on October 24, 1931.


Figure 28: Three-stage vacuum system, schematic, from Hattinger "Salt Production Technology", Vienna 1986

1909 - 1910 a second vacuum system, the so-called Dr. Meyer plant built. The daily production of the three-stage plant with four large and one small evaporator should be 36 t/d or 8,000 t/a (assuming 220 operating days). the dr After 2 modernizations (1926 - 1928, 1932, output increase to 120 t/d) the Meyer plant was in operation until 1967.

In 1928 a third evaporator group, System Aders, with a capacity of 28 t/d and of a new design, with separate evaporators and heaters, to facilitate cleaning, was installed. Since the new design did not meet expectations, it was removed again in 1931.


1.10. thermocompression process

The thermocompression process consists in the evaporation process taking place in a closed evaporator vessel ("evaporator"). The vapor produced during the boiling process, known as vapors, is extracted and compressed by a turbo compressor so that its temperature is increased from the initial 110°C to 140°C in order to be pressed back into the heating chamber of the evaporator and to do the heating work there. The condensate produced during the expansion of the compression steam in the heating chamber is sent towards the incoming fresh brine in heat exchangers and preheats it to almost boiling temperature so that it can be fed directly into the evaporator. The evaporators are connected in parallel several times and are in operation at the same time. The salt extraction from the evaporator, the centrifuging of the mother liquor down to a moisture content of 2%, the thermal drying in the steam-heated apparatus and the storage in the central warehouse are fully mechanized today. 


Figure 29: Thermocompression system, scheme, from Hattinger "Salt Production Technology", Vienna 1986

The prerequisite for using the large heat-economical effect is, above all, clean heat transfer surfaces in the heating chambers of the evaporators. This presupposes a purification of the raw brine that is to be evaporated. The aim of brine cleaning is to remove the hardness components dissolved in the raw brine, above all the sulfates of calcium, magnesium and strontium. Basically, the brine cleaning process is a simple precipitation and salting-out process, which takes place in two consecutive processes. In relation to 1 t of salt, around 50 kg of sludge accumulates during brine cleaning.


In 1951, the first thermocompression system in the salt pans and in Austria was put into operation in the Saline Hall in Tyrol. With the good operating experience of the first plant in Hall, the comparatively low electricity costs compared to the steam costs of the vacuum plant and the lower personnel costs, the path for thermocompression was also set in Ebensee (1953) and in Hallein (1955).

Figure 30: Haller brewhouse, thermocompression plant, laying of the foundation stone, 1950, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 31: Haller brewhouse, thermocompression system, compressor room, 1951, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 32: Haller brewhouse, thermocompression system, evaporator system, 1951, Archiv Salinen Austria

With the first stage of expansion of the thermocompression plant in Ebensee, which began in January 1952 and was financed with the help of ERP loans, it was intended to replace the uneconomical ladle system and after the realization of the second stage of expansion, which was tackled in 1963, it was possible to continue the outdated Dr. Meyer vacuum plant to be shut down.

The new plant was designed for a capacity of 24,000 t/a or 70 t/d. The plant was initially realized with 2 evaporators and 1 vapor compressor, which were supplied by the companies Wayss - Freytag/Linz, Escher - Wyss/Zurich and BBC/Linz - Vienna. 2 forced circulation mixers made of normal steel without inner lining with normal steel boiling pipes, as well as a steam turbine group with back pressure - steam engine (the exhaust steam was necessary for the operation of the vacuum system), steam compressor and motor - generator were used. The excess electricity generated was fed into the OKA network. The brine cleaning system was designed according to the procedure used by the Swiss Rheinsalinen. A hydration plant was built to produce the necessary hydrated lime. Soda could be obtained from the Ebenseer Solvay works in 50 kg sacks.

The new facility was opened by the then finance minister, Kamitz, on September 4, 1954.

1956 - 1957 the system was expanded by 2 evaporators and a turbo set. The plant capacity was now 91,000 t/a or 260 t/d.

The second stage of expansion was tackled as planned in the years 1963-1964. The commissioning took place in January 1964.

This initially included the installation of 2 additional evaporators and a larger EWZ steam compressor. The conveying capacity could be brought to the full capacity of 36 t/h. At the request of the management, heating pipes with a diameter of 57 mm were installed in the new evaporators V and VI instead of the previously used pipes with a diameter of 76 mm, whereby the heating surface could be increased by 28% from 325 m² to 416 m² and the performance of the system was increased became.

The equipment of the brine cleaning plant did not have to be expanded, since the performance of the plant could be increased accordingly through the use of improved clarifying agents. The plant capacity was now 143,500 t/a or 420 t/d.

The thermocompression plant was shut down on December 20, 1979 due to the start of operations at the Saline Steinkogel on June 6, 1979.


1.11. Saline Ebensee - Steinkogel:

After 1945, the increasing demand for industrial salt and the stagnating sales of table salt led to long-term financial problems. The price sovereignty was withdrawn from the salt pans; the main committee of the National Council determined the sales prices. Prices remained unchanged for 25 years from 1951 to 1974; the chemical, salt-processing industry, Solvay - works in Ebensee and Hallein as well as Donauchemie in Brückl, pushed through brine and salt prices that were up to 50% below the actual production costs.

In November 1964, the then employee of the Austrian Institute for Economic Research, Dr. Stephan Koren, his report "Structural problems of the Austrian salt pans". This report states the following:

"The Austrian Salt pans have more than doubled labor productivity in recent years. The production costs are nevertheless several times higher than in most Western European countries.

The production costs are only partly natural. They are mainly caused by fragmented production and outdated production methods. The cost range between the best and the worst companies is 1:6 for brine production and 1:2.5 for salt production. Pensions account for one fifth of production costs. The pension burden is increasing due to the aging of the workforce.

Previous attempts at rationalization failed due to regional political resistance. The importance of the saltworks as an employer is apparently overestimated. In the salt works, only 5.4% of all jobs are in salt works.

So far, the monopoly has been able to more than cover the high production costs with correspondingly high end consumer prices. It sells salt and brine to industry at more than 50% below cost. The losses are covered by the income from the sale of table salt. This practice is in danger of becoming inapplicable. Since sales of table salt have stagnated for decades, but sales to industry are growing rapidly, the losses are getting bigger and bigger. This trend continues. Austria's participation in the EEC integration would further reduce the scope for the subsidy-type pricing policy.

The problems of the salt flats should be solved by a long-term concentration program. The unprofitable smelters that cannot be rationalized are to be shut down step by step, while the capacity of the remaining operations is to be increased accordingly. The capacity expansion at this plant must also take into account the growing demand for salt. The average increase in demand up to 1970 will be around 10,000 tons of salt per year.

Only the companies in Bad Aussee and Hallstatt have long-term prospects in mining. There, tests with the new underground works should be accelerated and a large-scale test for the extraction of borehole brine should be undertaken.

The sequence of plant closures should be adjusted to the existing cost differential. It runs parallel to the size of the company. The concentration program can only be managed by agile management. The transformation of the salt pans into a corporation was intended to initiate the reorganization.

Concentration should almost certainly cut current production costs in half.”

The pending financial problems could only be solved by concentrating the companies in the Salzkammergut. One of the first measures to concentrate the operations of the federal Austrian salt works was the closure of Hallstatt and Ischl, the smallest in terms of production, in the summer of 1965. The annual average production of these two salt works over the last 10 years of operation (1955 - 1966) was only 10, 9% of the total salt production of the Austrian salt pans at that time. In 1967, the salt mines and the Saline Hall in Tirol were also closed.

In the mid-1970s, planning began for a new, central salt production facility in Ebensee. The main data for the planned salt works in Ebensee were:

  • Planned plant capacity 400,000 t/a with 307 operating days

  • Evaporation capacity 160 t/h

  • Installed electrical power 15.2 MW

  • Normal shipping capacity 2,500 t/d

  • Salt storage hall 60 000 t

  • Total factory area 130 000 m²

  • Of this, built-up area including streets, squares and railway system 45,000 m²

  • Total expenses 750 million S


The ground-breaking ceremony took place on August 15, 1976. On June 6th, 1979, the first salt could be produced in the Saline Ebensee – Steinkogel.

Figure 33: Saline Ebensee, laying of the foundation stone, 1976, from Thomanek "Salzkörner", Leoben 2007


Figure 34: Saline Ebensee, construction work, 1978, archive Salinen Austria

Figure 35: Saline Ebensee, around 1980, archive Salinen Austria

In the years 1977 to 1979, the production capacity of all salt pans in Austria was below the country's requirements for the first time, so that salt imports of over 50,000 t/a became necessary. With the Saline Ebensee - Steinkogel, which went into operation in mid-1979 and was designed for an annual production of 400,000 t of evaporated salt, Austria was able to become completely independent of salt imports again.

After the expansion of the Ebensee saltworks from 400,000 to almost 500,000 tons per year through the installation of a second evaporator in 1987, mining and the Hallein saltworks were also discontinued in 1989.

Due to the increased use in the chemical industry and since about 1960 for the first time also in road winter service ("de-icing salt"), the demand for salt rose steadily and steeply. The need for brine and salt increased from 1951 to 1997 from 800,000 m³ to 2.3 million m³ or from 80,000 t to 500,000 t salt per year. Therefore, in June 1999, the third evaporator could be put into operation in the Saline Ebensee.

After installing the fourth evaporator in 2007, the production capacity of the Saline Ebensee increased to around 1.15 million t/a.


Figure 36: Saline Ebensee, diagram of thermocompression process, Archive Salinen Austria

Currently, around 1.2 million tons of evaporated salt can be produced annually from almost 4.0 million m³ of brine in the Saline Ebensee, of which around 550,000 tons are packaged goods, the rest in loose form. Daily production now includes more than 3,000 tons of evaporated salt.


Figure 37: Saline Ebensee, 2015, Archive Salinen Austria


Figure 38: Saline Ebensee, vapor scrubber and evaporator, 2010, Archiv Salinen Austria

2. History of the Ischler Sudhütte:

In his book "Die Maut zu Gmunden" Franz Hufnagl deals in detail with the medieval salt production in today's Salzkammergut.


2.1. Pan in the "Yschllandt":

Franz Hufnagl deals in detail with the beginning of medieval salt production in the Salzkammergut in his book “Die Maut zu Gmunden”, published in 2008.

There is no documentary evidence of salt production in Hallstatt (or) and Ischl for the early Middle Ages (period between the departure of the Romans (488) and the dissolution of the Carolingian Mark (907)). After the salt industry in Hallstatt (around the 5th century AD) came to an end, the population there and in the Goiserer and Ischler basins probably fell sharply. Only in the course of the Bavarian conquest and land expansion as well as the Slavic settlement does more light come into the early medieval period.

Documentary references to salt production in today's Upper Austria in the early Middle Ages can only be found in a letter of foundation for the Benedictine monastery in Kremsmünster from the year 777.

However, this text is not sufficient for a clear localization. It cannot be completely ruled out that one of the two salt pans mentioned is located in the village of Sulzbach (or Pfandl?) near Bad Ischl.

Duke Tassilo donated two salt works to the monastery, a "salina minor" and a "salina maior". Experts have different opinions as to where the two salt flats are to be located. One says that the "salina minor" in Sulzbach is most likely to be located in today's Bad Hall, while the attribution of the "salina maior" remains unclear. According to the current state of research, it cannot be determined without a doubt whether one of the two salt pans mentioned in the foundation letter can be located in the inner Salzkammergut.


The Raffelstettner Customs Code of 903/906 can be used as a second source that mentions salt pans near Kremsmünster Abbey. With regard to this source, too, it should be noted that it cannot be completely ruled out that ships that came from the inner Salzkammergut could not be meant. Several scientists are of the opinion that in Ischlland (whether in Hallstatt and/or Ischl, Sulzbach or Pfandl is probably of secondary importance) at least limited salt production from spring brine took place during the early Middle Ages. It is therefore possible that ships transported salt on the Traun as early as the 10th century.

The most important event at the beginning of the 11th century for the historical development in "Yschellandt" was undoubtedly the founding of the women's monastery in Traunkirchen by the Benedictine nuns around 1020/1040. Originally, the monastery had both the lordship rights as a landlord and as a lord of the shelf in relation to the mineral resources.

We do not know whether the nuns were already boiling salt in Ischl (or in Hallstatt) in the 11th or 12th century. The documentary evidence of the years 1305 and 1312 about the redemption of the salt rights says nothing about this. It is proven that the nuns of Traunkirchen owned salt rights before 1305, because they were compensated by Queen Elisabeth for their redemption.

On the left bank of the bay at the northern end of Lake Traun, where the Traun flows out of the lake, the "Gemünde", there was already a transhipment point in the 11th century, especially for salt traffic from the inner Salzkammergut.

For 1150 the existence of a settlement "Throneawe" (= Traunau, the current village "Au" in the municipality of Bad Goisern?) is assumed to be certain. It lies north of Lake Hallstatt. One of the "Counts of Seeau" who lived there is said to have dug up the Ausseer Salzberg from its western side, von Goisern, as early as 1150 and operated a brewing plant in the "Seeau", which seems to have passed into their possession after the Habsburgs took over the country.

Salt production in Aussee from 1147 is documented; it is likely that it was recorded a little earlier. Exactly when the salt extracted there came to Gmunden via the Pötschen in the Trauntal must remain open; the same applies to the question of when exactly and to what extent before the middle of the 13th century salt production in Ischlland increased significantly beyond personal use. The high toll income from Gmunden around 1280 justifies the conclusion that long before 1280 more salt came through Gmunden than could be produced in Ischlland at that time.

A confirmation of ownership by the Babenberg Duke Leopold VI reports for the first time on the salt springs in Ischl (Sulzbach, Pfandl). from 1192, which, however, turned out to be a later forgery.

The oldest preserved document about the salt springs in Ischl is that from around 1262/63. This speaks of a salt brew near Ischl and of princely saltworks officials ("Salzmeier"). However, the conclusion that salt boiling cannot be assumed for Ischlland before 1262 because no documents have been published so far does not exclude the possibility that this may have been the case.

The remark "the salt works in Ischl was definitely only mentioned in 1262 and 1263 and it was probably a predominantly princely business because in 1263 a "salt master" was named as the duke's administrator in Ischl" ... is also not entirely correct to convince. This view must be countered by the fact that at that time "Ischel" ("Yschel" or "Yschellandt") was not usually meant for the "village of Ischel", but for "Yschellandt", the area between the Dachstein and the Traunsee, identical to that District Court of Wildenstein.

There is documentary evidence that salt was being boiled in Hallstatt and/or Ischl for a long time before 1311, at least from 1262, but there is hardly any reliable evidence of the organization and structure of the administration of the salt industry in Ischlland from this early period.

The oldest market in the "Yschellandt", Lauffen, received its privileges and freedoms from King Rudolf I of Habsburg around 1275. Furthermore, the existence and the high yield of the Gmundner toll around 1280 and the mention of the salt barns near Stadl - Lambach in 1289 are unmistakable signs of an already considerable salt production in the Salzkammergut.

For a long time, before Queen Elisabeth reorganized the salt trade in Hallstatt in 1311, Gmunden was a salt transfer point and a toll booth, from which the settlement developed into a market and town.

The salt coming from the Ischlland came from Hallstatt, Ischl, Gosau or Michl Hallbach. In addition, there were salt deliveries from the neighboring area of Styria, at most from Hall near Admont, at least from Aussee.

When Rudolf I married his eldest son Albrecht I to Elisabeth in 1276 and Elisabeth received Ischlland as a dowry after 1280, her father had already had positive experiences with the salt industry in Hall in Tirol, where he had started salt mining in 1236.


Before Queen Elisabeth began to reorganize the salt industry in Hallstatt in 1311, she concluded an agreement with the Traunkirchen monastery, whose bailiwick she also held, in 1305, which was followed by a second seven years later.

Accordingly, she incorporated Hallstatt into the sovereign's property in two steps, completely as planned.

With the document dated February 10, 1305, the abbess of the monastery signed an agreement between her and the queen and her son Rudolf III. approved. Accordingly, of the 100 pounds of pfennigs awarded to the convent from salt boiling, 28 were to be given to the convent to be used by the Benedictine nuns to supplement their benefices. From this it follows that the monastery has been cleared and the sovereign has now acquired the sole right to the Saline Hallstatt, which had previously been exercised by the monastery.

A year after the Queen reorganized the salt industry in Hallstatt in 1311, she and her son took the second step by acquiring sovereign rights from the monastery in 1312. The monastery had thus renounced its mining rights, the sovereign was now the sole lord of the salt stores, also in future, including everything that belongs to the boiling operation, such as court, forest, path, etc. The mining of the monastery was shut down in accordance with the contract, the boiling operation ended.

Based on the research results, it can be considered proven that the historically very important measures taken by Queen Elisabeth in 1311 were a "reorganization" of the Hallstatt salt industry, but not a new beginning in the Middle Ages, since it can be proven that Hallstatt had been there for a long time before that and Ischl salt was boiled.

Albert II  On March 14, 1335, the abbess of the Traunkirchen monastery allowed the "Pfännlein im Yschllande", which had completely fallen into disrepair due to a lack of operation and other unknown causes, to be rebuilt. Although the pan yielded only mediocre yields, the monastery probably boiled salt up to the year 1412, because in that year Albrecht V gave the monastery an annual quantity of 30 barrels of salt from the Hallstatt brewery.

In a privilege from the year 1434, only a formerly existing "pan in Ischelland" is spoken of.


Figure 39: Overview map of the "Salzkammergut Region", based on A. Hoffmann and Franz C. Lipp (1981)


Figure 40: Map of Upper Austria, Vischer, 1667, Internet


Figure 40: Wildenstein Castle, Hager'sches Schlössebuch, 1661, from "Ischler Heimatbuch", Bad Ischl 2004

2.2. Discovery of the Ischler Salzberg:

In the 16th century, the incorporation of the crowns of Hungary and Bohemia into the Habsburg Empire and the successful suppression of foreign salt imports led to an enormous increase in the demand for salt. After the salt mine on Michelhallberg at the foot of the Sandling was buried by massive mudflows in 1562, a suitable replacement had to be found quickly.

The first idea was to build a third pan in Hallstatt. A separate commission was set up for planning. The commission pointed out that the forests around Hallstatt were not always sufficient for the salt boiling there and that one therefore had to look for salt mountains elsewhere.  It was remembered that salt deposits had been found near Ischl in ancient times and some of them had even been built on.

This decision found significant support from the Hallstatt administrator Hans Adam Praunfalk. Praunfalk had discovered earlier that in the Gaigen valley "down the black wall" not far from Ischl there were many "salted lakes" and that such "lakes" also occurred above the Reinfalz - Angers. Since the area around Ischl had a significant forest stock and favorable places for the construction of a pan house and for workers' housing, Praunfalk made the proposal to build the projected third salt pan not in Hallstatt, but in Ischl.

After an order quickly placed by the Gmundner Salzamtmann Georg Neuhauser, a local inspection ("Beschau") was carried out on September 25, 1562 under the direction of Hans Adam Praunfalk. The experts present found the salt storage to be salvageable ("usable"). A jointly written report was sent to Emperor Ferdinand I in Vienna on October 25, 1562. The Emperor received the report that was made and issued the following supreme decree in early 1563:

"This newly discovered salt mine is to be immediately assigned to workers, to visit the real salt store, to diligently cut through the woods on the Reinfalz, Mitterberg and in these surroundings, to stop all melting and boiling of the vitriol (in the ore mining on the Rainfalz) completely there and no more wasting of the forest to tolerate."

In accordance with this highest order, on July 25, 1563, the Mitterberg tunnel was struck as the first salt tunnel on the Ischler Salzberg.

On October 15, 1567, the Mittergberg tunnel was visited as part of an inspection. The inspectors found a shaft with 2 sink works, which had been sunk in the well-salted mountains, and had good hopes of having found a salt store worth building in order to be able to start salt boiling at Ischl.


Figure 41: Ischler Salzberg, Steinberg mountain building, around 1600, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 42: Ischl, Merian, 1649, Archive Salinen Austria

2.3. Construction of the Ischler Sudhütte:

As early as September 26, 1567, the inspectors on the Ischl and on the Rettenbach ordered suitable places to be found for the construction of the pan house and for the delivery of wood. They unanimously recognized that the herb garden located in the so-called "Niederfeld" between the Traun and the Ischl near the market Ischl would be the best place to build the panhouse, where the Pfiesel would then grow between the panhouse and the market and on the nearby hill ("Wolfsbühel ") the office building could be built.

The inspectors estimated the costs for the construction of the buildings necessary for this new salt industry, such as the pan house, peat, office building, rennet and jelly parlour, rakes, hermitage, channels and water pipes, excluding the necessary devices on the salt mine, at 10,000 guilders.

On March 23, 1569, Sr. Kaiserl issued the highest order. Majesty Maximilian II to build the pan house in Ischl. The emperor had all sorts of reasons for promoting this new salt creature. Therefore, all diligence should be expended in order to be able to start boiling the salt on a pan in Ischl as soon as possible, which is why, in order not to waste any time during construction, the increase in staff was allowed. Because an impending lack of money prevented the rapid implementation, the court chamber decree of September 24, 1569 instructed the Salzamtmann in Gmunden to raise the necessary sum of money against "cheap interest".

Salt was boiled for the first time in 1571 in the Ischler Pfannhaus, built under the direction of Hans Kalß and Wolf Seeauer. After that, the new Ischl administration office was organized and Hieronimus Härder was employed as the first administrator, Abraham Huemer as counter clerk, Hans Kalß, who had previously worked as a mountain worker on the newly opened Salzberg, as mountain master and Wolfgang Kalß as mountain worker.

The Ischl Round Pan, erected in 1571, was 21.7 m long, 19.5 m wide and 64.4 m in circumference. The pan area was 326 m². The Ischler pan was 1,200 Ctn. (67 200 kg) weight heavier than that of Ebensee. It held 2,000 buckets (113,000 l) of brine. The pan was partly forged in the company's own workshops, the so-called stucco works, from pieces of iron that were thicker in the middle. Each of these pan sheets was 18 inches (0.47 m) long, 9 inches (0.24 m) wide and weighed 9 pounds (5.04 kg).


Figure 43: Ischler brewhouse, model, Archive Museum of the City of Bad Ischl

Figure 44: Ischl brewhouse (right) with Pfiesel building (left), votive plaque, late 18th century, Salinen Austria archive

The Ischler Pfanne required around 38,500 cubic meters of wood per year to produce an average of 6,000 tonnes of salt. With a density of 400 kg/m³ for air-dried spruce wood, this resulted in an annual consumption of 15,400 t of wood. 100 kg of fuel thus provided only 39 kg of salt. The enormous consumption of wood and the resulting high costs for the often long-distance transport of firewood led to rationalization measures in salt boiling in the 18th century.


In 1766 the Kammergutphysician Dr. Lebzelter presented a plan for the thorough redesign of the Ischl pan. The firing was to be moved to the middle of the pan, and 2 places for extracting the salt and a cover for the pan were to be erected.

Figure 45: Ischler brewhouse, conversion proposal by Dr. Lebzelter, 1766, from Schraml “The oö. Salinenwesen”, Vol. 2, Vienna 1934

Empress Maria Theresia approved the 3,000 guilders for the renovation of the Ischler pan, which ended in the summer of 1768 when the Ischler Verwesamt ended. The first week-long brew yielded 36 pounds more salt per cord of firewood than usual, but it was very fine-grained. The advantages were bought far too expensively due to the increased need for manpower. Purging at two locations required one more man per shift, stoking the high heat of the furnace located in the middle under the pan was almost unbearable throughout the shift without a helper and more laborious because the wood had to be lifted onto the grate. Since the tests, which were extended until March 1769, did not produce any better results, they were discontinued and the ladle firing was restored to the old form. Only the 2 resting places and the cover of the brewing pan remained.

The oldest plan of the Ischl brewhouse that has been preserved is from around 1720.


Figure 46: Ischler brewhouse, plan around 1720, Finanz- und Hofkammerarchiv, Vienna

The pan was circular and had a circumference of 64.5 m, an area of 341 m² and 1.2 m² holding and 15 m high dishes on all quadrants on the periphery. The Brewfire Dryers were still missing. The Dörrpfiesl consisted of 19 m long, 4.6 m wide and 10.3 m high rooms, which were divided into 2 equal floors, on the upper one the salt drying and on the lower one the firing from large ordinary ovens with free smoke emission took place. The fumes and heat just seem to have escaped from the first floor windows. Production records from 1778 show 275 kg of salt produced per cubic meter of wood burned.


Figure 47: Ischler brewhouse, plan 1819, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 48: Ischl brewhouse, view of Ischl, around 1810, ÖNB archive


Figure 49: Ischl brewhouse, view of Ischl, around 1820, Archiv Salinen Austria

The salt drying of the large fuders took place in the Ischler brewhouse in our own pebbles using large tiled stoves. As early as 1815, an application was made in Ischl to produce small Füderl of 16 to 18 kg instead of the old large Fuder (56 - 64.4 kg), which was finally implemented in 1833. In the same year, instead of the old drying pebbles, new brew kilns were built, heated with the exhaust gases from the furnaces. The combustion gases moved under an iron tin floor of the two-storey kilns. The fumes from the kilns escaped to the outside through small square chimneys in a common chimney between the rows of kilns.

In 1833, the old Ischl round pan had an area of 362 m², a rennet depth of 32 cm, a capacity of 1,188 hl, a weight of 98,609 kg and the total weight of the pan including the brine filling was 161,564 kg. 20 men were required to empty out 3,528 kg of salt every 2 hours.


Figure 50: Ischler brewhouse (right) and Pfiesel building (left), around 1828, from Köberl "Bad Ischl", Vienna 2003

2.4. Installation of the Tyrolean pans:

The great success with the rectangular Tyrolean pans built by master brewer Lenoble in Ebensee persuaded the Court Chamber in 1823 to have a similar brewhouse built in Ischl and to entrust Lenoble with the construction management. After the purchase of the property in 1826, construction work progressed slowly, and the shell was only completed in 1829. In 1831, the original construction project was modified in view of technical improvements to the Sudan facility. Finally, the new brewhouse, the so-called Tiroler Werk, was put into operation in 1833. To facilitate the delivery of firewood, a separate railway was laid from the club hut on the Traun to the brewhouse.


The Tyrolean Pan of the Ischl Saline had an area of 1755 square feet (175.3 m²) and was 8 fathoms (15.17 m) long and 6½ fathoms (12.32 m) wide.  

The two pan firings were located on one of the two long pan sides. They consisted of grates built up with brick belt arches, which spanned the length of the cinder. Wood was used as the sole fuel.

The mantle was 7 1/2 feet (2.21 m) above the bottom of the pan and was positioned horizontally. The fumes spread unhindered throughout the room around the pan, only the bottom side was somewhat protected by the canvas curtains hanging from the mantle.

Opposite the bottom side, above the fire side, next to the pan was a 20 foot (6.32 m) long and 2 foot (0.63 m) wide vapor trap that rose slightly above the roof of the brewhouse. This meant that the steam from this pan could be used for the steam bath connected to the Ischl brine bath.

A brew from the Tyrolean pan took 3 to 4 weeks. Every 3 hours was poured out, this lasted about 1 hour.

A total of 3 men were employed at the firing, of which 2 had to be present at all times. Shift change was every 6 hours. The pan itself was operated by 16 men, 8 of whom were always active and were relieved after 6 hours.

Figure 51: Ischler brewhouse, Franz Carl - factory with steam bath, around 1912, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 52: Archduke Franz Carl - brewhouse, around 1900, Savel archive

The Tyrolean pan, later also known as the "Archduke Franz Carl - Works", was operational just in time when the old Austrian round pan stopped working. It was dilapidated in all parts and the roof structure in particular was so rotten and bad that it threatened to collapse every day.

Since restoring the old round pan was out of the question, the salt pans decided to build another, state-of-the-art, Tyrolean pan in the form of an efficient double pan.

The saltworks line scheduled the start of construction in the late autumn of 1834. In 1833, the 262-year-old brewhouse was demolished. According to the plans of the Ischl administrator Karl von Plentzner, a new Tyrolean double pan was created, including a new brew fire dryer and a salt magazine.

The test brew carried out in June 1835 turned out to be very satisfactory, and only 21 men were employed on the shift. The new double pan was baptized with the name "Graf Kolowrat - Werk".  

The Kolowrat factory had 2 atriums, in the middle, larger part of the building 2 Plentznersche pans (1 "double pan"), and on both sides, separated by the atriums, on the right the desk fire - Dörrpfiesel and on the left the brine rooms. The 7 brine rooms, which together held 10,150 cubic feet (320.74 m³), were next to each other in a large hall that formed a wing of the Kolowrat brewhouse.


Figure 53: Ischler brewhouse, Graf Kolowrat - brewhouse, around 1910, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 54: Ischler brewhouse, Graf Kolowrat - brewhouse, Gtundriss, around 1910, archive Salinen Austria

The two pans were each 62 ½ feet (19.75 m) long and 29 1/3 feet (9.27 m) wide, and 22 inches (0.58 m) deep and 3 feet (0.95 m) high. provided with wide bags. The brine level in the pan averaged 12 inches (0.32 m); a swimmer served to observe them.

The pan bottoms were riveted together from sheet metal 42 inches (1.11 m) long and 16 inches (0.42 m) wide and overlapped 2 inches (0.05 m). Homemade rivets were used, which were heated before riveting. There were 54 rivets on each panel.

The pan area of the double pan totaled 3687 square feet (368.2 square meters).

The pan shells consisted of horizontal board boarding. Vertical board cladding as protection against the brine vapors were only present on the peher sides.

The furnaces consisted of 4 ovens next to each other, which lay on the short sides of the pans and were pushed forward under the latter for about ¼ of the length. Logs 3 feet (0.95 m) long were burned on it. The wooden support consisted of bricks, an additional, deeper ember grate was not yet available. The hot gases flowed from the Urende, the smoke outlet side of the pans, via smoke ducts directly into the brew fires - drying rooms that no longer had to be heated separately.

From the Pehrstatt, the salt was collected in salt troughs and tipped onto the bottom floor, where the wooden runners stood for filling in the moist salt. The salt troughs were 10 1/2 feet (3.32 m) high and opened at the bottom with 3 1/2 foot (1.11 m) high flaps when emptying.


Figure 55: Ischler brewhouse, Graf Kolowrat - brewhouse, model, Archive Museum of the City of Bad Ischl

The desk firing built into the new ladles led to a significant reduction in wood consumption. In 1851, 1 pound of firewood produced 1.25 pounds of salt in the Kolowrat brewhouse and 1.24 pounds of salt in the Tyrolean pan.

Another significant saving in firewood was the introduction of brine preheating through the vapors escaping from the pan. The preheaters used in the Kolowrat plant were installed in the extractor chimneys positioned outside the ladles.

The preheating devices consisted of large pairs of iron plates, in the spaces between which brine and exhaust steam were alternately located. The construction permitted a very compact design that could be easily installed in the existing extractor chimneys. In this way, the brine could be preheated to 40 – 50° C before it entered the pans.


Figure 56: Ischler brewhouse, Kolowrat - and Franz Carl brewhouse, 1870, ÖNB archive

2.5. New construction of the Ischl office building:

A feat of Hofrat Schiller was the construction of the new office building in Ischl. Around 1835 the old Ischl office building was so dilapidated that its restoration could not be considered. The head of the office, Hofrat Schiller, provided convincing evidence that it was urgently necessary to create apartments for officials and that these could be conveniently and advantageously relocated to the new office building. An extremely good opportunity to acquire a suitable building site was given in 1837 when Dr. Wirer had bought two houses in Markt together with the associated garden plot. In the one with Dr. Wirer-led negotiations resulted in a purchase and barter agreement. The plan and cost estimate of the academic council and Professor Paul Sprenger came to the construction. The construction, which was accelerated in 1840 with the exertion of all forces, temporarily employed more than 200 workers, could be completed by March 1841 and was ready for occupation at the time. However, the construction, which was luxurious at the time, cost far more than the approved total cost.

On the ground floor there were 3 rooms for the office cash register, stables and a shed for the fire engine and extinguishing equipment. On the 1st floor there were 5 rooms available for administration. In addition, 10 service apartments were built in the new office building.


Figure 57: Old Ischler Amtshaus, before 1841, from Erb "Ischls Chronik", reprint Bad Ischl 1982


Figure 58: Ischl, Wirer Straße, new office building in the background, around 1870, ÖNB archive


Figure 59: New Ischl office building – General Directorate ÖSAG, 2008, Nussbaumer archive

2.6. Products of the Ischler Sudwerke around 1850:

With the smaller Tyrolean brewing plant, which went into operation in 1823, and the larger Kolowrat brewing plant, built in 1834, around 900 hundredweight (50,400 kg) of brewed salt could be produced in Ischl within 24 hours.

In Ischl, two types of salt were made in the new pans, namely Halbfuderl in the Tyrolean factory, which were later chopped up for sale and packed in barrels, so they were only loosely stuck in the runners and only superficially cleaned, and Fuderl in the Kolowrat - Sudwerk, which Destined to be sent without packaging, they had to be bumped very hard and cleaned carefully. The latter were a bit lower and lighter, because more water was squeezed out by the harder pounding, and more salt waste resulted from the careful cleaning.

Half packs typically weighed 31 pounds (17.36 kg) (dry) and packs 30 pounds (16.80 kg). In the drying pebbles, the former received less heat than the latter.

The Kolowrat brewing plant was equipped with both brew fire and desk fire driers for drying the salt domes.

The brew kilns were heated by the stream of hot gases drawn from both pans via circulating trains under the bottom of the Pfiesel, which was made of sheet iron. Each of the 12 pebbles held 500 half packs, which were dried in 8 to 10 days. For good drying, the gases had to leave the pan at an average temperature of at least 250°C.

In addition, 5 heatable desk fire driers were installed, each of which held 1,900 fuderls. Since the heat in these dumplings could be increased at will, they were preferably used to dry the dumplings, which required more heat than the half dumplings, for which the brew pots were available.


2.7.  Ladle workers in the Ischl brewing works around 1850:

Each brewhouse had its own staff, 88 were employed in the Kolowrat plant and 20 in the Tyrolean plant. The greater need for manpower in the Fuderlsalz production resulted from the many rework, the beating, drying and cleaning of the Fuderl, their entry in the magazine, weighing and numbering.  

The following activities were carried out in the Kolowrat plant:

Oberpehrer (1 man/shift):                                                             

Observed the filling of the pan and regulated it, began with the medium-length crutch to pull out the salt from the Urend side to the middle furnace column, took the short crutch and pulled the salt into the Pehrgraben.

Unterpehrer (1 man/shift):                                                            

Did the same work as the Oberpehrer, on the second half of the pans from the hearth to the middle column of the stove, instead of regulating the filling of the pans, it was up to him to count the pieces of salt produced.

Puller (2 men/shift):                                                                   

These 2 men started 15 minutes earlier than the Ober- and Unterpehrer, using long crutches to pull the salt through 2 courses from the side to be coated to the middle of the pan.

Salt extractor (3 men/shift):                                                              

They grabbed the salt from the Pehrgraben in the wooden skids with large tin shovels.

Stosser (4 men/shift):                                                                   

Pushed the salt firmly into the skids with wooden pestles.

Stoker (3 men/shift):                                                                   

They alternated in 12-hour shifts, took care of the careful and even heating of the ladle furnaces and the drawing of the embers.

Brine pumper (1 man/shift):                                                              

Had to pump up the dripping brine from the troughs and the inflowing core brine (ie the salt stone from the pan dissolved in fresh water in a special container) using the suction machine into the pan.

Fuderlputzer and helper 1st class (5 men/shift):                                               

Had to clean 24 to 26 pieces of litter every 2 hours and after cleaning was complete, they had to carry the litter to the drying station together with the helpers.

Fuderlputzer 2nd class (4 men/shift):                                                      

Had to clean 24 to 26 pieces of fudge, but didn't help with the tolerance of the wet salt.

Second class helper (4 men/shift):                                                           

Had to take turns cleaning the feed troughs, adjusting the empty runners and digging up the waste salt in the feed trough and on the dump. Furthermore, to carry the wet salt to the Urenddörren or Kanalpfiesel together with the first class cleaners. In addition, to bring the washed runners together with the mud cleaners from the fountain trough to the mud troughs and to adjust them properly.

Setter (1 man/shift):                                                                   

Rotated in 12-hour shifts, because the usual rotation is insufficient because of the great heat in the drying-places; used the salt in the drying places with care and had to remove the dirt when cleaning the growths that developed on the foxes during the drying process.

Dehydrator (1 man/shift):                                                                 

Cleaned the Urenddörren and Kanalpfiesel with as much care as possible.

Drier (2 men/shift):                                                                      

Had to watch the driers constantly and often let off steam from the driers.

Pipe heater (1 man/shift):                                                               

In addition to their actual job, namely treating the core brine (ie stirring the salt core to be dissolved in water to form the core brine), they helped out with washing the runners and cutting off and chopping the pebble salt.

Log carrier (4 men/day shift):                                                              

Only had day shifts. The train drivers brought the wood from the various attachment points, which the single carriers then carried into the lintel.

In total, a total of 72 men were employed on both shifts in the Kolowrat plant without supervisory personnel.

The weekly brew ended at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday in both brewhouses and began at the same time on Monday. The Sunday preparation work was limited to repairing the ovens and pan supports and placing braces to strengthen the pan base.


2.8. Introduction of coal firing in the Ischler Sudwerke:

In 1848, the smelting administration decided to set up the pan furnaces in the Kolowrat brewhouse for panel firing.  The desk firing was a firing with inclined grate bars, in which the combustion air hit the fuel from above and the smokeless flame shot down. This made it possible to burn lignite in the Ischl salt works. However, the quantities of coal used remained small, since transporting the coal by means of a counter-drive on the Traun was very expensive.

The opening of the "Kronprinz Rudolf Bahn" from Stainach/Irdning to Schärding in 1877 brought about a complete change in the economic situation in the Salzkammergut. This enabled a cost-effective supply of lignite from the Wolfsegg coalfields to the inner Salzkammergut.

Since 1881, the Ischl brewery has worked partly with coal and since 1888 exclusively with coal. The favorable results that the Saline Aussee had previously achieved with the gasification of Wolfsegger coal and peat meant that direct firing was avoided from the outset and gasification was resorted to. Originally, exactly the same construction, the so-called "Heupel'sche generators", was carried out in the Ischler Sudhütte. However, the generators had to be adapted to local conditions. In 1882, an average of 117 kg of salt could be obtained from the gasification of 1 t of Wolfsegger coal. The fuel saving compared to pure wood firing was around 12.8%.

The difficulty that arose with the production of Füderlsalz was that it was not enough to carry out what is generally referred to as "smoke-free" incineration.  The gases emanating from the pan were brought into direct contact with the salt in the kiln for a period of often over three days. The slightest amount of smoke was enough to blacken all the salt in the kilns and make them unsalable. The goal of smoke-free exhaust gases could only be achieved through a significant excess of air during firing. Although this contradicted the first principle of gas firing, namely only allowing the amount of air absolutely necessary for combustion, it was essential for salt drying. In addition, this was the only way to reach the temperature of 250° C required for drying.

In the Ischl brewhouse, loose, coarse-grained salt (“ clear salt"). Part of the latter was converted to 1 to 5 kg pieces of salt using a hydraulic salt briquette press installed in 1895.


Figure 60: Ebensee brewhouse, pouring out of the pan, around 1905, from Brandstätter "Salzkammergut", Vienna 2009

2.9. Production of salt briquettes in the Ischl brewhouse:


The desire to give consumers who are used to using shaped salt a product that meets hygienic requirements, which also guarantees the right weight and is suitable for household use, prompted the tax authorities to pack table salt in the form of cubes (briquettes) in bring wear and tear.

The new briquette salt was formed from the dried, loose salt, the blank salt, which was weighed in portions, using hydraulic presses under high pressure and provided with a separating joint for easier division into pieces of 0.5 and 0.25 kg. The pressed pieces of salt were then dried in hot air and packaged.

Many tests showed that pieces of salt could only be produced by briquetting dry salt and weighing the individual portions. However, high pressure was required to press the salt. In order to give the briquettes the necessary strength, there were two options: either lower pressure with longer drying and high temperature or pressing with high pressure but only low drying. Numerous tests led to the necessary pressure of 80 - 100 at, at which a drying temperature of 90 to 100° C was completely sufficient for the production of transportable briquettes.

After determining the briquette size of 7.5 x 7.5 x 15 cm, engineer Mayer designed a press for the Ischler brewhouse. The press, designed for 94 at, was actuated with the necessary pressure water from a hydraulic transmission, which transmitted the power of a Jonval turbine about 1 km away with 26 hp by means of two powerful differential pumps and a pressure line made of welded wrought iron pipes with a diameter of 100 mm to the boiling houses . The pressure loss in the pipeline was only 1/1 at, so that the water pressure in the brewhouse was still 25 ½ at. With the amount of pressurized water, it was possible to operate a total of 3 presses. A total of 4 men were required as an operating crew.

The new press was put into operation at the end of November 1895 in the Ischl brewhouse. With the briquette machine, which was based on the principle of the hydraulic press, at least 25,000 pieces of 1 kg or 5 kg briquettes could be produced daily. The clear salt, which had been pre-dried on the plan driers, was weighed out on a calibrated balance scale in batches of 12 kg, for example, divided into 12 equal parts by the dividing apparatus, filled into the press moulds, pressed under a pressure of 45 kg/m², then placed on small trolleys and stored in Dried with hot air obtained from the combustion gases flowing out of the pan.

After drying, the salt briquettes, packed in strong paper, were sold directly.  The solid salt briquettes only benefited the salt intermediaries, since their transport was more convenient, but they were disadvantageous for the consumers, since the salt had to be crushed before it could be used.


Figure 61: Ebensee brewhouse, salt briquette press, around 1905, from Brandstätter "Salzkammergut", Vienna 2009

Figure 62: Ebensee brewhouse, packing the salt briquettes, around 1905, from Brandstätter "Salzkammergut", Vienna 2009


Figure 63: Ischler brewhouse, salt briquette press, around 1920, archive Salinen Austria

Figure 64: Ebensee brewhouse, sack filling of blank salt, around 1905, from Brandstätter "Salzkammergut", Vienna 2009

2.10. Production dates of the salt mine and Saline Ischl in 1897:

The operating data of the Ischler Salzberg and the Ischler Saline are available from the year 1897:


Operating data Ischler Salzberg 1897:      natural brine  1,165,610 hl


Operating data Ischler Sudhütte 1897:

salt               126,386q                                                          

side salts                4,783q                                               

total salt production   131,169q                                                             

Of which form salt          76,043 q,  Blank salt 48,648 q, factory salt 1,903 q, manure salt 2,664 q               

brine demand              416,412 hl                                                                  

coal demand            100,963q                                                                     

operating time of a pan  278.7 days


2.11. Situation of the Ischl brewhouse around 1900:

In 1900, a total of 13,117 t of salt were produced in the Ischler Pfannhaus in 2 brewhouses and 3 pans with 547 m² of floor space, in 13 brew fire kilns with 446 m³ of volume and in 2 heatable plan kilns with 128 m² of surface area, as well as on 1 salt briquette press. This required 10,100 t of Wolfsegger lignite. A total of 9 master craftsmen and 203 ironworkers were employed in the Ischler Sudhütte around 1900.

In the course of the main dressing in 1912, the two pans of the Kolowrat plant were removed and renewed.


2.12. Ischler brewhouse after founding the Austrian salt works:

Of course, the Ischler Saline was also badly affected by the developments after the First World War. The brewing operation could only be continued with one pan, and many saltworks workers lost their jobs.

There may have been several reasons why the Ischler Saline was not completely abandoned: one of them was certainly that the brine pipelines from Altaussee, Hallstatt and the Ischler Salzberg converged, through which the Solvay plant in Ebensee had also been supplied since 1900. In addition, just before the start of the First World War, the facilities of the Ischler Sudbetrieb were brought up to the latest state of the art (installation of brine heating furnaces, replacement of the coal gas firing with step grate firing, construction of sewer dryers, etc.). Another important point was that the wood drift system of the Rettenbach was still intact and that in the event of a crisis it was possible to switch from coal to wood firing at short notice.

After the end of the sales markets in Bohemia after the First World War, only about 10,000 t of salt were produced in the Ischler Pfannhaus on the 2 remaining pans per year. From 1926 only one pan was in operation. In the same year, the Ischler Salzberg pumped around 80,000 cubic meters of brine with 150 employees.

In 1932 the former kk. Smithy and the kk. sawmill in Götzstrasse. The blacksmith and carpenter workshops were moved to the east wing of the Kolowrat brewery.


Figure 65: Ischler brewhouse, kk Salinen Schmiede, around 1910, archive Salinen Austria

Export deliveries to Hungary and Yugoslavia enabled the second pan to be fired again in the fall of 1933. In the same year, the demolition of the outdated Franz Carl brewhouse began. From 1935 only loose salt was produced on the double pan in the Kolowrat brewhouse.


Figure 66: Ischler brewhouse, Kolowrat - and Franz Carl - brewhouse, around 1930, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 67: Ischler brewhouse, demolition work by Franz Karl brewery, 1933, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 68: Ischler brewhouse, pouring out of the pan, 1930, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 69: Ischler brewhouse, sack filling of blank salt, 1930, archive Salinen Austria

2.13. Situation of the Ischl brewhouse in World War II:

The union with the Third Reich, which was welcomed by many Austrians, brought a sudden disillusionment, especially to those employed in the salt industry, because the Austrian salt monopoly that had existed for centuries was suddenly a thing of the past. The Alpine salt pans, with their high production costs due to the complex extraction of brine from the poor Haselgebirge mountains and boiling in outdated braziers, were not up to the competition of German salt pans. The Saline Bad Ischl was also outdated in terms of its facilities, which is why operations were restricted. In April 1944 the brewing operation was shut down. The suitable rooms of the brewhouse were used as a backup camp by the Wehrmacht. It is not clear whether, in addition to the smelter, the salt mines should also be shut down.


Figure 70: Ischler brewhouse, Kolowrat - brewhouse, autumn 1945, archive Salinen Austria

2.14. Conversion of the Kolowrat brewhouse:

It was political and social reasons that led to the reopening of the brewing works in Hall in Tirol, Hallstatt and Bad Ischl, which were closed during the Nazi era. As early as autumn 1945, the Ischler brewing works were reactivated, although those responsible were well aware that it would not be possible to operate these three small, outdated saltworks in an economically justifiable manner in the long term.


Figure 71: Ischler brewhouse, Kolowrat - brewhouse, autumn 1945, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 72: Ischler brewhouse, pan riveting, 1950, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 73: Ischler brewhouse, pan riveting, 1950, archive Salinen Austria

Productivity that was too low and the constantly increasing costs for energy and wages led to rationalization measures that could not be carried out without converting the brewery. In 1951, the brewing operation at Pan 1 was discontinued, eight months later the outdated Pan 2 was shut down and the demolition of the entire wing began. State-of-the-art firing and partial mechanization of the brewing operation were implemented when the ladles were rebuilt. The extraction of salt from the rectangular pans, the transport of salt in the brewhouse and the charging of coal to the furnaces were largely mechanized with scrapers, centrifugal belts and lifting devices.


Figure 74: Ischler brewhouse, demolition work Kolowrat - brewhouse north side, 1952, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 75: Ischler brewhouse, view after removal Kolowrat – brewhouse, 1953, Nussbaumer archive


Figure 76: Ischler brewhouse, conversion work, 1953, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 77: Ischler brewhouse, walling up the forge, 1953, archive Salinen Austria

The 1952 - 1954 converted central wing of the Kolowrat brewhouse was handed over by Minister of Finance Dr. Kamitz on September 4, 1954.

Although the well-known evaporator systems with closed devices based on the vacuum principle or that of the heat pump worked thermally and thus economically much cheaper, open braziers were deliberately set up again in Ischl. Because only this evaporation process allowed the production of coarse salt with a grain size of up to 3 mm. The crystal-clear coarse salt was particularly popular and in demand as table salt.


Figure 78: Ischler brewhouse, pan heater, 1960, from "Heimatbuch Bad Ischl", 2004


Figure 79: Ischler brewhouse, salt extraction with scraper, around 1965, Feichtinger archive


Figure 81: Ischler brewhouse, sack filling, around 1965, Feichtinger archive


Figure 80: Ischler brewhouse, Plandörre emptying, around 1965, Feichtinger archive

In 1964, the Ischler Salzberg with 87 employees produced 108,100 m³ of brine and the Ischler Sudhütte with 76 employees produced 7,303 t of salt.


2.15. Closure of the Ischl brewhouse:

Despite the welded ladle, the use of mechanical salt discharge devices and centrifuges, the Ischler pan had to be shut down only 11 years after the conversion. The main reasons for this were the low thermal efficiency and a relatively high wage burden for the product units.

The new corporate strategy of the saline line provided for the concentration of salt production in a new large saline to be built in Ebensee. Therefore, the two smaller salt pans in Hallstatt and Bad Ischl were closed in 1965. On April 2, 1965, after 394 years, the fire under the two pans of the Ischl brewing works finally went out.


Both pans and the other brewing facilities were dismantled in the same year. The salt magazine in the west wing had already been sold three years earlier to the parish of Bad Ischl, which built the new parish hall on this site.

Figure 82: Ischler brewhouse, west wing demolished, 1967. Feichtinger archive

Today, the buildings of the former Ischl brewhouse are leased to various commercial companies. Nevertheless, the ensemble of the last saltworks buildings still existing in the inner Salzkammergut is impressive and therefore particularly worthy of protection. 


Figure 83: Ischler brewhouse, Kolowrat brewhouse, southern front, around 1950, archive Salinen Austria


Figure 84: Former Ischler brewhouse, southern front, 2008, Bartos archive


Figure 85: Former Ischler brewhouse, south front, parish hall on the left, 2020, Nussbaumer archive


Figure 86: Former Ischler brewhouse, south front, post office in the background, 2010, archive Salinen Austria

Sources used:

August Aigner "The salt pans of the Alps in their historical development", miners and hut men. Weekly Magazines, 1888

Frederick v. Alberti "The Saline Industry in Germany", Stuttgart 1839

Anton Dicklberger "Systematic history of the salt pans in Upper Austria", Volume I, Ischl 1817, transcription by Thomas Nussbaumer, 2017

Franz Karl von Erb "Ischl's chronicle", Ischl 1856, reprint Bad Ischl 1982

Günter Hattinger "Technology of Salt Production", Mitt. Austrian. miners Ges., Vol. 131, Vienna 1986

Karl Hauer "Salt works in the Austrian and Styrian Salzkammergut in chemical terms", Jb. geolg. Reichsanstalt, Vienna 1864

Franz Hufnagl "The toll to Gmunden", Böhlau Verlag, Vienna 2008

August Huysen "Salt Mining and Saline Operation in Austria, Styria and Salzburg", Berlin 1854

Ischl home club "Bad Ischl home book 2004", Bad Ischl 2004                                                                   

Carl Karsten "Textbook of Saline Science", Berlin 1847

R. Katzlinger, E. Gaisbauer "Saline Ebensee - 100 years of salt production", processing in Austria, Leoben 2011

A. Klein "Die Salzsudwerke in Ebensee", works newspaper Österreichische Salinen, 4th JG, 11th H, Vienna 1931

FX Mannert "Of Ischl and the people of Ischl...", Bad Ischl 2012

Gottfried Matl "Chronicle of the Saline Ebensee 1595 - 1985", Ebensee 1986

Michael Mayr, Thomas Leitner "Salinen Austria AG and the geology of their salt deposits in the Salzkammergut", Vienna 2017

Maria Mittendorfer "The liquidation of the Saline Hall", contributions to alpine economic and social research, episode 92, Innsbruck 1970

Gustav Otruba "Development of Industry and Mining in Upper Austria 1841-1873", Upper Austria Heimatblatt, Linz 1971

Carl Schraml "The Upper Austrian salt works from the beginning of the 16th to the middle of the 18th century", Vienna 1932

Carl Schraml "The Upper Austrian Salt Works from 1750 to the time after the French Wars", Vienna 1934

Carl Schraml "The Upper Austrian Salt Works from 1818 to the end of the Salt Office in 1850", Vienna 1936

Carl Schraml "Old brewhouses in the Salzkammergut", Heimatgaue, 9th year, Linz 1928

Franz Schwind "History of progress in the Austrian salt industry", Berg- u. Hüttenmänn. Yearbook, Vienna 1877

Franz Stadler "Salt production, salt flats and salt transport in Styria", Linz 1988

Kurt Thomanek "Grains of Salt", Leoben 2007

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