The Low-Down on Salt
Updated: Jun 25
Iodized Salt. Sea Salt. Himalayan Pink Salt. Celtic Sea Salt. Real Salt. Dead Sea Salt. I could throw in a few more, but for lack of space and time I think I’ll stop there, but you get the point. So many kinds of salt; isn’t salt just salt?
In a word, no. Not all salt is the same, and it is very important that we understand a few basics so that we can make a well informed choice when purchasing our next bag, box, or bottle of this most necessary nutrient.
The body requires sodium to function, which is why salt trade has always played a vital role throughout human history! Virtually every known civilization has records of salt commerce; salt taxes; salt for food preservation, healing and seasoning; even salt held hostage during times of war!
Salt regulates the flow of fluids between every cell in our bodies. From it hydrochloric acid is produced, a powerful and necessary digestive agent in the stomach. It also fuels the adrenal glands and aids the central nervous and immune systems. Also, while this may surprise you, it is of utmost importance to the proper functioning of the heart. But not just any salt, only unrefined salt! Salt with all of its associated minerals intact.
Modern Salt Production
So let’s talk about salt processing. Modern salt is processed in about 7 steps in a factory. It starts as a brine containing as many as 88 minerals but is refined to a single, solitary mineral-sodium chloride. To this is added anti-caking and flow agents such as corn starch (a common allergen). While natural sea salt contains trace amounts of iodine, this is removed in processing but added to common table salt.
The main beneficiaries of modern salt processing are chemical plants, which require pure sodium. Only about 7% of refined salt makes it into the food chain.
Don't trust the label
It needs to be stated that you can not trust the label when it comes to “Sea Salt”. This is an intentional mislead by companies that want to sell you a cheap product for big bucks. After all, isn’t all salt technically “Sea Salt”, whether it comes from deep within the earth, a dried up (salt) lake bed, or the ocean? Mineral content and color will differ, but all salt deposits originate from the sea, so don’t be fooled by the label!
With it understood that we can not trust the label, how do we know what kind of salt to buy? As usual, it begins with looking for key words on the label, most important is the word, “unrefined”, but also “hand harvested” and “solar dried”.
There are several salts on the market which come from inland, such as Redmond Real Salt and Himalayan Pink Salt. These salts come from ancient deposits of sea water which thousands of years ago dried with the help of sun and wind. Because such deposits were laid millennia before man-made pollutants, they are amongst the purest on earth.
But there are also several good salts available that come from the ocean of today. My preferred salt is Celtic Sea Salt from the north of France. This salt, available in fine and course grinds, has a characteristic grey speckled color which makes it easy to recognize. My family enjoys the fine salty flavor, and we use it liberally.
If you are wishing to purchase truly unrefined, beneficial salt while shopping at your favorite health or gourmet food store, look for the key words mentioned above. You can also purchase any of these salts on line. A few of my favorite sources are Redmond Real Salt, Selina Naturally, Radiant Life Catalog, and Mountain Rose Herbs.