Salt Uses & Benefits

Sodium chloride, NaCl, comes to us in many guises with table salt being the most common and the most readily recognized. It is mined underground, highly refined to remove all minerals, milled into small grains and usually has sodium aluminosilicate or calcium silicate added as an anti-caking agent. Therefore, there no such claim that can be reliably made that a container is 100% salt. But it is immensely popular in home and restaurant cooking and is inexpensive.

Kosher salt is somewhat flaky and courser than the first. So named because it is used in the koshering process of meats, rather than varieties specified as certified by a religious body. It is the preferred salt by cooks and chefs as it more readily dissolves and some attest to a better taste in foods.

Mined in the Punjab region of Pakistan in the like named mountains, Himalayan pink salt is very coarse but dissolves fairly well in both cooking and spa baths. From barely there to deeply pink, it contains 84 of the 163 natural elements and minerals found in our bodies, is the purest of all salts, and undergoes the least processing of salts making it the healthiest of choices. Its uses, in addition to cooking, include headaches, arthritis, rheumatism, osteoporosis, gout, kidney and gall bladder stones, skin diseases, psoriasis, and for toxin elimination. The mineral rich water thus provided is excellent with religious Phase Bathing, done in accordance with phases of the moon and just spiritual cleansing in general. A cousin to Himalayan salt is called Real salt, mined in Utah. Dosage is one teaspoon in a glass of water half an hour before breakfast.

Black salt, or sanchal, or kala namak in Napal, starts out as reddish brown Himalayan which is packed into a clay container with herbs, bark, seeds, and charcoal then fired all day; aged before use, however. It boasts a faint Sulphur aroma from the heat, giving vegan dishes a distinct flavor of eggs. It is also used in Ayurvedic medicine for anemia, to regulate electrolytes, or to regulate gastrointestinal function. It is also used in spa baths to simulate therapy in Sulphur hot springs.

Unspecified sea salt contains minerals from the sea water of its origin like iron, potassium and zinc, giving it a complex flavor profile.  It’s texture will be different as will be the taste it brings to food. Typically not refined, it will be processed to various levels of coarseness. Its health benefits run two dozen strong ranging from acne to weight loss; calling for a webpage all its own.

There is the French grey salt or sel gris which comes from the western coast of France in the famed Guérande region. It originally begins as fleur de sel that falls back into the salting clay-lined ponds and settles towards the bottom. It is then raked out and becomes grey in that process. It comes in many shades of grey and retains about 13% of its moisture as sea water. Also known as Celtic sea salt,

Whereas fleur de sel, translated as the “flower of salt,” comes from the same region of France and is drawn from the surface of the sea much the way milk gives up its cream. Delicately drawn from the water, its chards are very thin and crumbles easily into your fare. Due to its intensely hands-on harvesting, expect to pay upwards of twenty U.S. dollars a pound. Blue-grey in color from its mineral content, use it lavishly in your prepared dishes, both savory and sweet.

Flake salt is both thin and oddly shaped with low minerals and a vivid, salty taste. Fabricated by removing the liquid from a bath of sea water, it yields a crispy flake which dissolves quickly, making it especially popular in meat preparation.

Black Hawaiian salt, also called black lava salt, comes from seaside volcanoes in the Hawaiian Island; so much more completely black from processing with activate charcoal. Coarse and crisp, it is best for completing dishes of pork and seafood.

Alaea salt, or red Hawaiian, is so colored from the volcanic clay alaea which is rich in iron, adding a robust, strong flavor and color to meats and seafood as well as more traditional Hawaiian favorites.

Smoked salts may be smoker processed as long as two weeks from wood varieties typical for smoking foods so the final taste can vary. Potatoes, beef, pork or fish are the usual fare for this salt which, other than stimulating the appetite, has no known health benefits.

Pickling salt has no additives, neither natural nor man-made, so as to not discolor the delicate foods being preserved. All salts have the natural ability to save foods over long periods of time. The brine inhibits the growth of bacteria and discourages insects, although in most cases it must be washed away before consumption, except namely for pickles.

Iodine used to be added to some salts in America, warding off diseases stemming from iodine deficiency like hypothyroidism, intellectual disabilities, goiters, and others. But, Morton salt, for one, has stopped adding it. However, to get enough iodine from just salt, you would have to consume two-thirds of your daily allowance of sodium. Perhaps a better way to ensure iodine levels, and those of other nutrients, is to make the switch to Himalayan.

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