What Is Salt?
Salt is a mineral largely consisting of the compound sodium chloride. Salt contains so much sodium chloride — around 98% by weight — that most people use the words “salt” and “sodium” interchangeably. Salt can be produced by evaporating salt water or extracting solid salt from underground salt mines. Before it reaches your grocery store, table salt also goes through a refining process to remove impurities and any other minerals besides sodium chloride. Then anti-caking agents are sometimes added to help absorb moisture, and iodine is often included to help consumers prevent iodine deficiency. Humans have used salt to flavor and preserve foods for thousands of years. Interestingly, sodium also plays an important role in several biological functions, including fluid balance, nerve conduction and muscle contraction. However, many claim that too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease, although recent research has called this long-held belief into question.
What Is Pink Himalayan Salt?
Pink Himalayan salt is extracted from the Khewra Salt Mine, one of the oldest and largest salt mines in the world and believed to have been formed millions of years ago from the evaporation of ancient bodies of water. The salt is hand-extracted and minimally processed to yield an unrefined product that’s free of additives and therefore more natural than table salt. Like table salt, pink Himalayan salt is mostly comprised of sodium chloride. However, the natural harvesting process allows pink Himalayan salt to possess many other minerals and trace elements that are not found in regular table salt. Some people estimate it may contain up to 84 different minerals and trace elements. In fact, it’s these very minerals, especially iron, that give it its characteristic pink color.
These include common minerals like potassium and calcium, as well as lesser-known minerals like strontium and molybdenum. Table salt may have more sodium, but pink Himalayan salt contains more calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron.
How Is Pink Himalayan Salt Used?
In general, you can cook with pink Himalayan salt just like you would with regular table salt or add it to your food at the dinner table. Some people even use pink Himalayan salt as a cooking surface. Large blocks of the salt can be purchased and used to grill, sear and impart a salty flavor to meats and other foods. Pink Himalayan salt can be purchased finely ground just like regular table salt, but it is not uncommon to also find coarse varieties sold in larger crystal sizes.
Pink Himalayan salt is used in some bath salts, which claim to improve skin conditions and soothe sore muscles. Salt lamps are also often made out of pink Himalayan salt and claimed to remove air pollutants. These lamps consist of large blocks of salt with an inner light source that heats the salt. Additionally, spending time in man-made salt caves formed out of pink Himalayan salt is popular among people seeking to improve skin and respiratory problems. But more studies are needed to confirm these claims.
Ref: Written by Keith Pearson, PhD, RD