Have you noticed that in all of our recipes we say “sea salt” and not just “salt?” This is a very important distinction and one that we take seriously. What are the different types of salt and why is it crucial to avoid table salt?
Let’s break down a few types of salt and what their benefits are (or lack thereof):
We will start with regular old table salt, the stuff you see married with rice grains in shakers across America. Table salt is mined from underground deposits and is highly processed. It is refined then ground finely which removes all trace minerals and impurities. As if that wasn’t enough, it is then mixed with an anti-caking agent and iodine. The iodine component was started in Michigan, where, in 1924, goiter rates were at 47 percent. A goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland caused by iodine deficiency. This certainly helped solve the crisis, how often do you see goiters in the US nowadays? Back then, this modification was less harmless because all salt was evaporated sea salt. In modern times we have kept the practice of adding iodine, but also changed the base product by mining the salt and increasing its processing. Table salt now contains synthetic chemicals which make it toxic to the body along with zero trace minerals.
Kosher salt is the next step up because it typically does not contain anti-caking agents (though there are exceptions, be sure to read labels!) It is not certified kosher, but actually earned its name due to its use of removing fluids from meat by desiccation in the kosher tradition, also called “koshering.” Like table salt, it typically does not contain any minerals other than sodium chloride.
Now we come to sea salt. This is a broad term used for evaporated sea water that is unrefined and still contains the minerals from where it was harvested. We are sure you’ve heard of and/or seen pink Himalayan salt due to its recent boom in popularity. It is the purest form of salt in the world and comes from the Himalayan mountains of Pakistan. It contains 84 minerals and elements found in the human body! While it has become harder and harder to get trace minerals from our food due to over-farmed soil, adding a little of this salt will give your health a boost. (Side note… the word “trace minerals” only refers to how much of the mineral is required by the body, not how essential it is to good health. Trace minerals are simply major minerals needed in smaller doses.)
Some other fancy versions of sea salt include:
Celtic sea salt – grey in color and harvested from tidal ponds off the coast of France, contains 60 trace minerals
Fleur de Sel – so named for its flower-shaped crystals that are delicately removed from the surface of water, very pricey and often used as a finishing salt
Black or red lava salt – harvested from different volcanic areas of Hawaii, black is from charcoal and red is from iron-rich volcanic clay
Kala Namak aka Black salt – pink Himalayan salt that has been cooked with charcoal, herbs, and bark and then aged, it is used in vegan dishes to give the illusion of egg due to its sulfuric taste, also used medicinally in Ayurveda
So, if you aren’t getting iodine in your salt, where should you get it? Wild caught fish, seaweed, cranberries, and organic yogurt naturally contain iodine. All in all, the rule for salt always applies… use in moderation! In order to keep those sodium levels in balance, be sure to add a good amount of potassium to your diet.
P.S. What the heck is an Epsom salt? Not actually a salt at all because it contains no sodium, epsom salt is crystallized magnesium sulfate. It looks similar, which is what probably caused it to be called a salt. However, it is nowhere near the same chemical structure nor does it taste good! It is incredibly good for you and most modern humans are in need of magnesium, so buy some and take a long, hot epsom soak anytime you’re feeling achy or stressed.