Cooking Basics

Where does salt come from?

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Ordinary table salt has an interesting history
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Salt has been around since the beginning of time

Salt comes from the sea. When water is separated from the ocean and is, for example, put in a jar, the water evaporates and salt forms and settles at the bottom. When 75 percent of the water evaporates, salt will form. This first salt to form is called calcite or calcium carbonate (CaCO3.)

The evaporation process continues and gypsum, or CA SO4-2H20, is the next salt to appear. When 90 percent of the water evaporates, NcC1 or sodium chloride forms and continues to form until 96 to 97 percent of the water has evaporated. Sodium chloride makes up the bulk of the formed salts.

The salt that is in the ocean originally came from the land. Salt consists of chlorine and sodium, which were rocks to begin with. Acids and water erode the rocks and rivers carry the rock remains into the ocean, which contains approximately 35 parts of salt for every 1,000 parts of sea water.

In some parts of the ocean, there is less salt because there is a large quantity of fresh water flowing into the ocean. In areas where the sun is strong, the level of salt is higher and the salt evaporates more of the water. When the water evaporates entirely, white crystals are left behind and that is salt.

At one time, oceans covered most of the earth. When the oceans diminished in breadth, copious underground salt deposits and salt beds were left behind.

Early on, salt was hard to obtain so it became very valuable. Historical records indicate that salt existed as far back as the 20th century BC in China. The reason salt was so coveted is because it was used as a preservative, which eliminated the necessity of eating seasonal food all the times. Salt has retained one of the top places as a seasoning used in preserving, cooking and flavoring all types of food.

Rock salt is derived from beds of sedimentary evaporated minerals found in dried up lakes. Underground salt beds are found in the Appalachian basin in western New York state and Ontario and under the Michigan Basin and in the United Kingdom. Salt is derived from these beds by solution mining or mining. Solution mining is the extraction of soluble minerals by injection of fluids and the controlled removal of mineral laden solutions from subsurface strata.

Table salt contains almost 100 percent sodium chloride in granular form. Table salt, the common variety, is stripped of its natural color, processed at high temperatures and then supplied with an anti-caking agent that results in an easily poured substance.

When the anti-caking component is added this changes the salt to purple. A bleaching process is undertaken to get rid of the purple. Aluminum silicate and glucose are added.

Actual sea salt, which may be difficult to find but can be purchased from online gourmet food suppliers, is evaporated seawater that is unmodified. Sea salt, which is often ground with salt grinder, is harvested by salt farmers whose business depends on the tides as well as the wind and the sun. Good sea salt is not chemical or bitter tasting. It should be sweet, complex in flavor and soft. Unrefined sea salt replenishes our body fluids.

Iodine is a very important ingredient in salt. Iodine is lost when the salt goes through the purification procedure, so iodine is added to most table salt. Iodine prevents iodine deficiency and the development of goiter in humans. Humans need iodine for mental and physical development, but too much iodine can disrupt the thyroid. Iodine fortified salt meets the needs of most of the population.


Nutrilogix: All about salt


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