Tradition of processing salt lasts for a lot longer than Solana, furthermore, we could say that salt has been produced in Tuzla since the first people living there. Tuzla is founded on salt mines and it developed based on salt production. There are few archeological theories that claim there were some salt usage in the period of neolit, but the oldest historical proof belongs to the end of 6th and beginning of 5th century BC. This means 2500 years ago.
Almost every important event in history of Tuzla is related to salt. During the Middle Ages in early feudalism, salt was mainly produced for the needs of local people. This can be seen from the fact that Bosnian ban Kulin in his treaty with Dubrovnik in 1189 gave the monopoly on salt to Dubrovnik and allowed free trade on all area under his control. With arrival of Ottoman Empire salt production becomes more organised and aimed at trading. The oldest data about organised salt production in Gornja Tuzla and Donja Tuzla goes back to 1478, when 13 tons of salt had been produced. Ottoman Empire organised the system which allowed individuals to exploit salt as long as they sold part of the product to the country, what was clearly stated in Laws regulating Tuzla salt exploitation in 1548.
Production system was based in evporating salty water on a wood-fired pots. Thanks to organised production of salt, Gornja Tuzla and Donja Tuzla developed. The production in Ottoman time thrived from 13 tons to 640 tons, the data from 1875, the year at the very end of Ottoman era in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Arrival of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878 started the process of industrialization. As soon as the new reign was established, in 1880, The Austro-Hungarian rulers established monopoly on salt and started construction of the first salt factory in Simin Han four years later.
Simin Han plant was opened in 1885, when the uninterruptible production of salt in company Solana started. The importance of Solana can be noticed in the fact that the king Franz Joseph named Solana after himself on 16. 2. 1885.
On its beginning, industrial production of salt developed quickly. This was contributed by finding new salt sites, among which Trnovac site, which led to opening Kreka plant on place of today’s Solana in 1891. In 20 years of work in Simin Han and Kreka, 20 industrial pots were built, so in 1905 total production of salt was 20.288 tons.
Industrialization brought new way of life and Tuzla, the town as it is today, was started on industrial tradition at the end of 19th century. The town developed with the development of industry, and this has influenced all the social and political events from 1878 until today. Nowadays, Tuzla is known as the most open city in Bosnia and Herzegovina which probably is the consequence of development based on industrial tradition which in late 19 and early 20 century led to migrations of qualified workers from Habsburgs Monarchy towards Tuzla. Also, Tuzla is the cradle of labour movement in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and first organized labour meeting was held in Solana in 1906. Workers were the main factor of city’s growth and its devotion to new ideas of freedom.
Founding of Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1918 did not significantly influence the life of Solana. Monopoly on salt was held in Belgrade and the increase in production did not take place. One important event during this period occured in 1937 when modernisation happened and new technologies were introduced in the production process.
Solana kept working during the Second World War. The only time the production in Kreka plant was stopped happened in 1943 when Partisans, during their withdrawal, destroyed four pots and mined the other. Even though Solana produced salt for those who were the current authorities (during this time it mainly was NDH – Independent State of Croatia), Solana’s workers gave the immeasurable contribution to war against occupators. 51 of Solana’s workers died as partisans and 3 of them are national heroes.
After liberation in 1945 the production proces was reestablished. Solana’s factory was completely regenerated in 1952 and in this year the record amount of 82.801 tons of salt was produced. Its full expansion happened during the socialist era. In 1970. the new modern factory was built in Kreka and it was based on vacuum technology, the same technology Solana uses today. Its full capacity was reached in 1974., on this new technology 15.273 tons of salt was produced while by using the old technology 15.273 was produced thus reaching the record of 201.890 tons.
During the socialist self governed period, Solana was combined together with salt mines, and since 1970 it was a part of complex called Hemijski kombinat, later known as Holding Soda-so .
Wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina negatively influenced Solana. All of its capacities were invested in helping the population on free teritorry. Most of Solana workers joined the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and eight of them have given their life for freedom.
Even though the factory was completely preserved in war, and production was not stopped, war and demise of Yugoslavia caused the market loss. Long period of absence on markets in ex Yugoslav republics caused financial difficulties for Solana. Fifteen years after war, Solana is at the end of stabilization process and now it is getting in the development phase.