salt in bowl

“Salt is born of the purest of parents: The sun and the sea” – Pythagoras

 

Salt (Sodium chloride) is a mineral which crystallizes in small transparent cubes, melts at 803 degrees centigrade, is soluble in both hot and cold water, and conducts a current of electricity. It was one of the first minerals to be discovered by man.

Salt is found almost everywhere in nature: The sea, and on the land. Even in the urine and perspiration of animals – man included. Sea water is evaporated, and rock salt is mined.

So important is salt for the flavor of food, the needs of the diet, and even digestion (by increasing the hydrochloric acid content of digestive fluids), animals have worn out ineradicable trails in their quest for salt licks. Men of primitive tribes have reportedly sold their wives and children into slavery for it.

“Salt is the only rock directly consumed by man. It corrodes but preserves, dessicates but is wrested from the water. It has fascinated man for thousands of years not only as a substance he prized and was willing to labour to obtain, but also as a generator of poetic and mythic meaning. The contradictions it embodies only intensify its power and its links with experience of the sacred”. –Margaret Visser

 Arab traders carved great salt trading routes around the known world from earliest times. It’s trans-Saharan trade, for example, began on the Mediterranean coast, where salt was dried in salt pans, and went by caravan, oasis to oasis, along the Sahara desert to southern forests – returning with gold dust, ivory, goat skins, and slaves.

Roman soldiers received a quota of salt in addition to their wages. (hence, the word “Salary”, from the Latin for salt “Salarium,” meaning Salt).

African Chiefs received royalties, levies and tributes in salt and gold.The two kinds of salt consumed by man are sea salt and rock salt.

Sea salt is the only mineral condiment that man adds to food (and vegetarians need more of it than carnivores.

This is true of animals as well as man: herbivores crave salt, while carnivores largely ignore it).

Complete abstinence from salt has, apparently, not been found possible, even in the most austere monastic orders.

What is Sea Salt?

All salt originally came from the sea. The salt you use every day was either mined underground, where an ancient ocean may have evaporated or sourced directly from the ocean or a salt lagoon. Mined sea salt has lost much of its original quality. Modern processing has washed the salt of dirt, which also removes much of the trace minerals.

Sea salt is derived directly from the ocean or a marine lagoon and no other source.

Natural sea salt is more flavorful and enhances the flavor of foods much better than table salt.

Natural sea salt does not contain additives and retains 2-8% naturally occurring trace minerals by volume. 

A natural sea salt has irregular shapes, is moist, clumps in your hand, and sometimes has an off-white appearance. 

When buying sea salt, you must be sure that you are choosing a natural, unprocessed sea salt.

Some sea salt is processed just like table salt to look more “perfect” in the store. As a rule, if the salt being offered looks perfect, it has probably been processed.

Benefits of sea salt

People on a salt-restricted diet should know that there is sodium in sea salt, but slightly less than an equal portion of table salt. Many people find that they use less sea salt as compared to table salt, because it is more flavorful, with trace minerals that represent 2-8% less sodium in every pinch.