Fairytales tell us houses can be made from straw and gingerbread but Andrew Blasi has taken on a real-life challenge of building rooms of salt.
He used 10 tonnes of pure mined salt to replicate the therapeutic salt caves of ancient times to build what will be a salt therapy clinic at Fairy Meadow.
‘‘My grandfather [Joe Tassone], who suffers from asthma and an acute lung condition, underwent salt therapy in Sydney last year and it made a dramatic difference to his health, so I wanted to offer that therapy in the Illawarra,’’ Mr Blasi said.
The young carpenter is taking care of the construction work after handing the design challenge to Jason Godfrey, from Recreative.
‘‘Like Andrew, I had to do months of research but I always like the idea of natural materials for any sort of design whether it be commercial or residential,’’ Mr Godfrey said.
‘‘We had to consider that material at every level of design and find the right fittings and flooring because of the corrosive properties of salt.’’
Both men agree that getting the required 55 millimetres of salt to adhere to plywood for the walls was a big challenge.
‘‘You try picking up a handful of salt and getting it to stick to a material with any sort of thickness, it’s not easy,’’ Mr Godfrey said.
Mr Blasi said after weeks of trial and error he found a non-toxic fluid that could be mixed with the salt and rendered successfully on the walls.
Another 150 millimetres of salt will be scattered over the floor and replaced every three months for hygiene reasons.
The clinic will be completed and staffed by early February.
‘‘I’m pretty excited to see it get this far,’’ Mr Blasi said.
Salt therapy, also known as halotherapy, is the use of salt mines, caves or other forms of exposure to salt air in the belief that this confers a health benefit.
There are records of improvements in the breathing of salt miners in Roman and medieval times. Modern use of this therapy started in Germany when Dr Karl Hermann Spannagel noticed improvement in the health of his patients after they hid in the Kluterthöhle karst cave to escape heavy bombing.
It is a practice now used worldwide.