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The potash hut

Potassium carbonate is known to man ever since immemorial times. Initially, it was used for washing clothes, because, in the alkaline environment it created, fats could more easily be decomposed and any stains disappeared after the first wash. Soap factories use it in their production. In ancient times, the wood was burned, and following the burning, about 500 grams of potassium carbonate were obtained for one cubic meter of wood.


Besides wood burning, there was also another way of producing potash: over the wood ash one would pour boiling water; the resulting concoction was poured into the hearth, over woodfire. This procedure had to be carried out with a lot of skill, for fire not to escape, and then for potash to deposit on the bottom of the hearth.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, hundreds of potash huts could be found all over Europe. In the Șinteu area potash (slov. salajka) was produced ever since the 18th century. Since potash was in great demand in Europe, and forests were plentiful, the local nobles rapidly realized that producing potash could bring additional income. As a result, they founded the first potash huts, called in German Potaschen Hütten, as part of today’sBudoi locality, the first Slovak locality founded in Bihor County. Here, the procedure for obtaining potassium carbonate or potash (K2CO3) by burning wood, leaves and grass, was the following: leaching of crude ash through softening in vats and water washing; evaporation by boiling the lye in large vessels or boilers; re-boiling (calcination) for enriching the potassium carbonate; evaporation of the lye; the subsequent processing of crude potash.

The potash huts were considered to be the first places where Slovaks settled. Such a place was the center of the Făget village (slov. Gemelčička), where the church is located, visible from Belvedere. Once can also find the memory of these times in the place’s toponymy. This way, in Huta Voivozi, in Făget etc, the „salajka" toponym can often be found, where wood was burned and ash was boiled in the old days.

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