How to Repair Your Peugeot Wet Salt Grinder

logoPeugeot makes just about the best pepper and salt mills in the world. The pepper grinders have a lifetime warranty and do a superb job cracking and then shaving the pepper to volatilize all the aromatic and flavor elements of the pepper. Peugeot’s salt mills are likewise sturdy and reliable, and do a great job at delivering a consistent grind.

That said, Peugeot’s Guérande salt mill, which is especially designed to grind wet sea salts such as Sel Gris (aka gray salt, grey salt, gros sel, Celtic salt, Brittany salt, etc.) can cause people trouble from time to time. For the sake of helping anyone who has had trouble with Peugeot wet salt mills, I offer up the following exchange with a customer from The Meadow.

JD writes:
“Last year we purchased several product from you, including a Peugeot salt and pepper grinder — the one specifically for grey salt. While the salt grinder never worked extremely well, it was adequate. But in the last
couple months it stopped working entirely. We have tried emptying it and starting with fresh salt, and we’ve tried different kinds of grey salt. This a.m. I even tried coarse Kosher salt. That didn’t work either.

Do you have any suggestions or remedies?

Thanks, JD

++++

Dear JD,

pepper mill, salt mill, guerande millThere are a number of solutions I would suggest. To get started, we need to know a few things:

First, are you sure it is a salt mill? Some Peugeot mills do not mark the mill with a P for pepper or an S for salt. The way to tell for sure is to look at the bottom of the mill. If the grinding mechanism in the bottom is indented, and looks to be made of polishedpepper grinding element, rock salt grinding element, wet salt grinding element stainless steel or nickel, and has Peugeot Freres stamped on the bottom, it is a regular, rock salt mill.  (To the right, I have photographed pepper, dry salt, and wet salt from left to right.  Click an image to enlarge.)

If the mechanism is made of off-white ceramic, it is a wet salt (Guerande-style) salt mill.  Mechanism for wet sea salt: This mechanism was specifically developed for Guérande salt (meaning grey salts from the ancient Celtic saltmaking region just south of Britany, France);  it enables the sea salt to be ground despite his high degree of humidity.  The spiral shaft prevents the salt from becoming compressed and guides the salt crystals towards the mechanism made of a composite material which is not liable to saline corrosion.

Obviously there is trouble if you have a pepper mill and are using salt in it.  Peugeot pepper mill mechanism:  The shape with a double row of helicoid teeth guides the pepper grains blocks them while they are being crushed.  This unique system enables the fineness of the grind to be varied simply by turning the button on the mill:  from ground pepper to powdered pepper.  The pepper mechanism has the advantage of a patented process which protects the steel from corrosion while keeping its sharpness and its resistance to wear.

If you have a regular, rock salt mill, you will have trouble using Sel Gris in it due to the residual moisture in the salt, which gums up the works. You would need to by the correct type of rock salt, such as Tidman’s Rock Sea Salt, Alaea Volcanic, Jurassic Salt, or Himalayan Pink Salt.

So…  Assuming you do have a Guerande style mill, the problem is likely that you have excess moisture in the salt.  This is perfectly normal.

While Peugeot makes among the best mills available, there are limitations to their Guerande wet mills in that they cannot handle some of the very wet sel gris. The moisture in Sel Gris is one of the chief attractions of the salt, especially when using it as a finishing salt–and you never want to buy it from a store where they allow it to dry out.

That said, if the mill is giving you trouble you can take a quantity that you wish to put in you mill and leave it out on a plate or bowl overnight, or longer if necessary, to allow some of that excess moisture to evaporate off.
Last, your mill may be totally gummed up and unable to function properly no matter what you put in it right now. If that is the case, you can just open it up and rinse it with warm water for a minute or two. Then, leave it open and allow it to dry very thoroughly — at least two days.

Then fill the mill with your slightly dried out salt, be sure that when you screw the top back on you don’t tighten it down too much, and give it a go. This should solve your problems.

Pepper mechanism
The shape with a double row of helicoid teeth guides the pepper grains blocks them while they are being crushed.  This unique system enables the fineness of the grind to be varied simply by turning the button on the mill:  from ground pepper to powdered pepper.  The pepper mechanism has the advantage of a patented process which protects the steel from corrosion while keeping its sharpness and its resistance to wear.

Salt mechanism
The Peugeot mechanism is designed to grind coarse dry sea salt.  Made of stainless steel, it is protected from salt corrosion.

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36 Responses to “How to Repair Your Peugeot Wet Salt Grinder”

  1. on 03 Sep 2008 at 2:38 amTalar Sarafian

    Hello,

    Thank you for this article. I have a Peugeot dry salt grinder and am completely at a loss for how to assemble it and refill. Can you please advise?

    Kind regards,
    Talar

  2. on 03 Sep 2008 at 8:30 amMark Bitterman

    What model of Peugeot mill do you have? If you don’t know, just describe its basic shape, etc. Is it a manual mill or an electric one?

  3. on 17 Sep 2008 at 5:26 pmDiana Warr

    I have a Peugeot Pepper Mill, a short squat style that is no longer made. Nothing is wrong with the grinder but the wooden insert that contains the grinder has come unglued, so that the entire mechanism turns, and doesn’t grind the pepper. Do you know where I could send this to be repaired?

  4. on 04 Oct 2008 at 2:15 pmTony Webster

    Hi I’ve just found your article as we are also having problems with our Peugeot salt grinder. Having read what you have to say, I suspect that we are using the wrong salt, but am not experienced enough to be sure. We have what you describe as a dry salt machine and have tried Maldon Sea salt. Now one from Mauritius called Pavion and referred to on the packet as Gros sel – Sea salt (a present from a neighbour so probably not readily available here). Our intention when this packet is finished is to support a new company here in Cornwall, UK which is now producing local sea salt – are all these types of what you call Sel gris? We’ve certainly enjoyed them and don’t want to switch to anything inferior, but the grinder is proving pretty useless on them. Would drying out the salt more help it to work with the dry salt machine?
    Thanks in anticipation of your help, TW

  5. on 06 Oct 2008 at 8:49 amMark Bitterman

    TW, you are indeed using the incorrect salts for your mill. The Pavion Gros Sel from Mauritius (?) you are using is a sel gris, which contains residual moisture. The Maldon sea salt is a flake salt, which is a fine flake that does not need grinding, and which also can absorb moisture from out of the air and become too moist, gumming up the works of your mill in that way. You will have similarly bad results with the Cornish sea salt you refer to, as that is also a fine flake. For a salt from your neck of the woods that will work splendidly in a traditional salt grinder, I recommend Tidman’s Rock salt. It’s made by the Maldon salt company. Very mild, buttery, and slightly sweet.

  6. on 03 Dec 2008 at 6:04 amKathy O'Brien

    Hello,

    I am hoping someone can help me. I have a Peugot Pepper Mill that I purchased 2 years ago and I have never been able to get it to work. I have tried wet salt, grey salt and most recently dry large crystal sea salt and this is the salt that the store instructed me to use. It still will not work at all. By your description I do have the dry salt type. Any suggestions at this point?

    Kathy

  7. on 03 Dec 2008 at 8:41 amMark Bitterman

    Kathy, the first thing we need to do is figure out the kind of mill you have. You say above that you bought a pepper mill, but then you talk about putting salt in it. Just to be sure, check what type of mechanism you have, as Peugeot pepper mills won’t grind salt, and Peugeot salt grinders won’t mill pepper! Click on this link and determine which of the three grinding mechanism you have: http://www.saltnews.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/peugeot4.jpg

    Your Peugeot mill should look like the one in the middle. If that is the case, then the problem is likely that the mechanism has been gummed up by using the wrong salts in the past. You should dismantle it completely, then wash it in cold water for 1 minute, and then dry everything thoroughly with a paper towel and leave to dry overnight in a warm, dry place. Then replace it with an approved salt, such as the Tidman’s Rock sea salt, Andes Mountain Rose salt, Himalayan Pink salt, or Aleae Volcanic Hawaiian sea salt, or others, which we sell at http://www.atthemeadow.com

  8. on 23 Jan 2009 at 6:36 pmFrank

    Good info…we have a Peugeot dry salt grinder per your picture and description, and we have tried a few salts, lastly the Spice Islands, Mediterranean Sea Salt that comes in a plastic adjustable grinder (that works well by the way), and it all comes out very fine and powdery. Is this the usual result you get when the salt is too wet or the workings are gummed up? I have read the posts on this site and nobody really describes what the salt looks like when it does come out poorly, and I am trying to figure out if I have the same problem as so many others have mentioned (seems like wet salt), or do I really have a bum grinder ?? Does not matter what coarseness setting I use, it all comes out as fine, almost not even crystal looking “salt dust” is how I would describe it. Any comments or replies welcomed. Frank

  9. on 23 Jan 2009 at 6:46 pmFrank

    By the way, we live in the US and our grinder is appears to be a wooden one, about 8 inches tall and painted maroon or red. Is it still OK to wash it in water and what brand of salt do you suggest for us here please ? Thanks again.

    Frank

  10. on 13 Apr 2009 at 2:40 amPenny Isemonger

    I was given a supposedly brilliant Peugeot electric set of pepper and salt mills by my daughter iwho bought it in Sydney. I was thrilled because I have other Peugeot pepper grinders which are the best. But I was bitterly disappointed to discover that the salt mill does not work. I have tried different rock salts, including Khoi San salt which is supposed to among the best in the world, and nothing works. I live in South Africa and visited my daughter in Sydney. I went to the shop where she bought it and they said I was using the wrong salt and sold me a packet of the “correct” salt. It was no better. It looks so good and yet is useless. In addition, the exterior rubber or composit material covering the outside of the mill has gone all tacky and I cannot remove this as it says “don’t use detergent”. What should I do? Can you give me the e-mail address of Peugeot so that I can send a message to the managing director.
    Thank you,
    Penny

  11. on 13 Apr 2009 at 6:15 amMark Bitterman

    Penny, I’m very sorry you are having such troubles with your salt mill. I have some ideas about how to remedy the problems you are having, but it sounds to me like you are very frustrated with your experience, and so I will work first at finding the best authority at Peugeot toward whom you can address your issues. I’m traveling right now for the next 3 weeks, but I will try to help along the way. The primary problem you are having is, as others have already suggested, likely due to 1 or any combination of problems: wrong salt (Koi San salt is moist, and will gum up your mill, and once gummed up, it will need to be cleaned before using again); wrong mill (be absolutely sure this is a salt mill, not a pepper mill); and very likely, the mill is adjusted too fine (Peugeot allows the mill coarseness settings to go VERY fine, when medium would provide best results for most salts. As a result, even OKAY salts still gum up the works). If you were in the U.S., I would love to repair your mill myself! Regardless, I will get on the task of finding you an authoritative contact.

  12. on 20 Jun 2009 at 8:31 amPaula

    Hi Mark, i have 2 Peugeot salt grinder with mechanisms like the one on the left of the picture. I have been using ordinary rock salt purchased in our local supermarket (Johannesburg) and after some usage time, it is now not working! What salt should i be using? Please help!

  13. on 30 Jun 2009 at 6:32 pmK Koecher

    I purchased from Williams Sonoma an 2-8″ electric acrylic/stainless steel salt & pepper mills. I am so impressed with the high tech grinders, but disappointed that the salt mill is restricted to processed dry white salt. Not knowing I would need a special mill for moist mineral salt, such as Celtic sea salt. Does the Peugeot Freres company make a product for grinding moist salt. I actually do not even use processed dry white salt, so my present product is virtually useless to me – and it cost a pretty penny! Is there a way that I could put a suggestion in with the complany? It’s very disappointing.

  14. on 03 Jul 2009 at 11:20 amMark Bitterman

    Hello K,
    Unfortunately, there is little you can do with your Williams Sonoma mill in terms of wet salts. The solution for wet salts is here: http://www.atthemeadow.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=69_62_66&products_id=138

    Alternately, we could set you up with a nice, hard, dry sea salt that will taste very nice, work great with your Wiliams Sonoma salt grinder and definitely upgrade the quality of your table salt. My three favorites are:

    http://www.atthemeadow.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=8

    http://www.atthemeadow.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=364

    and http://www.atthemeadow.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=323

  15. on 01 Oct 2009 at 8:15 pmjennifer berk

    i have an approx 3″ wooden pepper mill that says peugeot france on the bottom. the mechanism has come off center and it does not grind properly. if peugeot has a lifetime warrenty. where do i send it to be repaired or replaced? thanks.

  16. on 23 Oct 2009 at 2:39 pmLezli

    I have a peugeot salt and pepper shaker. Lately when I go to grind the salt and huge amount comes out uncontrollably-Please help

  17. on 23 Oct 2009 at 4:10 pmMark Bitterman

    Peugeot salt and pepper mills warranty and contact information is located here: http://www.psp-peugeot-usa.com/support/overview.htm

    Peugeot’s list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) is here: http://www.psp-peugeot-usa.com/support/faq.htm

    Peugeot Salt and Pepper Mills Customer Service department.
    Toll Free: 1-877-777-5914.
    Email: info@psp-peugeot-usa.com

  18. on 02 Nov 2009 at 1:17 pmMark Bitterman

    Lezli,

    I can think of 3 three possible problems:

    1. if you are using the wrong kind of salt, like a flakey salt such as Maldon, or alternately any fine sea salt or (dare I say it, Kosher salt), then the problem could be the salt. Only coarse, dry traditional salts or rock salt should be used in a salt mill. I recommend Tidman’s or Andes Mountain rose, both of which are available on our website here:
    http://www.atthemeadow.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_93&products_id=323
    and here:
    http://www.atthemeadow.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=364

    2. the problem could be that you have the mill adjusted too coarsely. You should be able to tighten the salt mill by twisting the know on the top or the adjuster on the bottom, depending on the model you have.

    3. your mill could be broken. If you can send me a picture of the mill and of the grinding mechanism at the bottom I could advise…

    Keep plugging away, it will work!

  19. on 17 Nov 2009 at 6:23 pmLezli

    Mark,
    You were right on the money ! I let my salt shaker dry out for at least a week. I then purchased Tidman’s rock salt. It is grinding as if I just purchased the salt shaker-Thanks so much ,
    Lezli

  20. on 20 Nov 2009 at 6:24 pmLezli

    Mark,
    Thanks so much for your advice. I let the mill dry out for about a week. Then I purchase Tidman’s rock salt. It works ! Thanks so much-
    Lezli

  21. on 05 Dec 2010 at 5:35 pmKunal

    Thanks for all this helpful info. I recently cleaned my Peugot Fidji salt mill because it was not grinding and noticed that the metal rod in the center has some rust on it. It won’t clean off easily. Is this an issue? Should I have it replaced. Thanks for your insights.

  22. on 06 Dec 2010 at 9:35 amMark Bitterman

    First, be sure you have a salt mill, and not a peppermill that you’ve filled with salt (sorry, but always gotta start with the obvious). If it is indeed rusting and not just some discoloration, i think you should contact Peugeot (or the store you bought it from) about a replacement as you WILL taste some of that rust in your salt.

  23. on 13 Feb 2011 at 8:11 pmal

    Mark
    I have a Williams-Sonoma dry salt mill. I cannot remove the battery mechanism from the upper cylinder in order to replace the batteries. it appears to be about 1/8 inch farther into the cylinder than the pepper mill. i hesitate to use any tool for fear I may damage it. What to do?
    [It is possible we used a sea salt and not a dry salt]
    Al

  24. on 10 Mar 2011 at 5:03 pmMark Bitterman

    Al – I’m not familiar with the salt mill you are talking about. I’d definitely suggest getting in touch with Williams-Sonoma about it. That said, if you can get your salt grinder clean (you could try opening it and drying it out for a few days, then tapping/brushing away all the salt you can), try using only a rock salt like Andes Mountain Rose or Himalayan Pink. Good luck!

  25. on 17 Aug 2011 at 10:03 pmgweipo

    Hi, I have the standard Peugeot salt and pepper mills. yes the salt is in the salt mill, it’s the one with Frere at the bottom, and I know I should only put dry salt in. The problem is we’ve been living in Hong Kong with its high humidity for 5 years and now, while it still grinds salt, the salt is almost finished, and I want to open it up to put new salt in, but I can’t as the opening mechanism seems to be stuck. I’m pretty sure it’s a humidity problem. We’ve tried a little olive oil to lubricate it, but no luck.
    Any suggestions?

  26. on 30 Aug 2011 at 3:23 pmMark Bitterman

    I’m not sure if I understand. To refill a Peugeot mill, you need to turn the metal screw at the top until it comes off, then lift off the top part of the mill. Is the screw not turning?

  27. on 10 Mar 2012 at 9:17 amLisa

    I have a Peeugot which I have nothing buy problems with. I go thru batteries every month and it’s just two of us. Sometimes it works for a few days then stops, I take the batteries out and reinstall and we are good to good but not always. Where can I send it to get repaired. I one I have is brushed stainless and the bottom section is see thru and the last section is the courseness regulator

  28. on 13 Mar 2012 at 3:19 pmMark Bitterman

    @Lisa – Peugeot offers a life-time warranty on the grinding mechanisms on their mills, though I am not sure if this extends to the electronics. I would get in touch with the vendor who sold you the mill (whether that was us at The Meadow or someone else) and ask them for assistance. If you need to get in touch with Meadow customer service, please call us at 503-288-4633.

  29. on 29 Mar 2012 at 10:17 amSusan

    I unfortunately used wet salt in a Peugeot dry salt grinder and just realized that’s why it never worked, and I removed the salt but it caused rusting/corrosion to the metal parts of the grinder, especially the rod. How can I clean/remove the rust/corrosion off before assembling it again?

  30. on 29 Apr 2012 at 3:46 pmMark Bitterman

    @ Susan – Your best bet is going to be to coat the metal with canola oil and then scrape it with a wire brush. Then wash thoroughly with warm soapy water, dry thoroughly, and let it rest overnight before refilling with salt.

  31. on 02 Sep 2012 at 2:16 pmsomoht

    Hello, we use Maldon sea salt all the time, and would like to grind it occasionally when serving it at the table, as the flakes are too large on a single plate. Can you recommend which salt mill would work best? (and in particular if we need a wet salt mill like the Vendome from Peugeot, or not?). Thanks very much

  32. on 06 Sep 2012 at 11:14 amMark Bitterman

    @Somoht – We don’t recommend putting a flake salt like Maldon in a grinder. Grinders are designed for coarse, dry salts like Himalayan Coarse or Andres Mountain. Maldon has a tiny bit of residual moister in it, which would also threaten to rust a regular grinder. Peugeot’s Vendome may be a solution if you really want to us a grinder. However, I would really recommend pinching the salt between your fingers as you serve it to break up the larger chunks. Even though flakes of Maldon look large, they are so thin and salt is so well balanced that it will taste much less salty than tiny grains of table salt. If you want it even finer, grind it with a mortar and pestle before serving.

  33. on 26 Jan 2013 at 5:29 amMarc007

    Hi,
    For many years I’m using a Peugeot mill to grind (dry) salt gros. This salt I buy in France. Now the mill likes to be bone. I put the grinder into warm water for a few hours en leave it to dry during the night.
    The grinder lookes like the one in the middle (see pictures above).
    On the grinder is stamped: “peugeot” and “freres” .
    Also I made some pictures but can’t sent it via this page.
    Is it possible to buy the inside-stuff as a replacement?
    Kind regards,
    Marc (The Netherlands)

  34. on 25 Jan 2014 at 8:23 pmCrispin Gibbs

    Hi, I have a few problems with our salt mills clogging i think and as in the tropics presume this is a humidity problem. Any clues to avoid this? Is rice mixed with the salt only option to keep it dry enough not to clog?

    Thx
    Crispin

  35. on 10 Feb 2014 at 10:33 amKathy

    I returned my broken Peugeot Sel De Gue’ranfe to Peugeot at their Quingey, France address. I sent a note in English and French asking for help. It took 6 months, but my salt grinder has been returned in working condition. In addition they sent out more explicit instructions which I had to translate. I am very pleased.

  36. on 18 May 2014 at 12:33 pmGayle Griffiths

    I need to send my clear glass salt grinder for repairs. As these were expensive & have a life time warranty I would like an address to send in for repairs. It has always had minor problems grinding but just stopped. I tried to repair myself & now it is in pieces & I cannot figure out how to reassemble. I will pay shipping, I just want it repaired.
    Thank you, Gayle

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