What is salt?
The simplest definition of salt is naturally occurring crystalline compound, NaCl, sodium chloride existing as a mineral and important constituent of seawater. Salt is used for seasoning food and also as a preservative. Studies show that there are around 1400 uses of salt.
Salt is vital for living. Human beings and animals need it for maintaining fluid balance and muscle and nerve functioning of the body. Too much or too little salt can cause serious malfunctioning of the body organs which can result in serious issues. Too much salt can cause high blood pressure, kidney stones, and cardiovascular diseases. Too little can result in symptoms of dizziness, muscle twitches, seizures, and hyponatremia.
Different types of salts:
Generally speaking, the salt can be divided into two categories; naturally occurring and man-made. The naturally occurring salts are extracted from the seawater or salt mines. The ones that are man-made are obtained by neutralization; a chemical reaction between acids and bases that result in salt and water.
This piece will focus on naturally occurring salts.
It is amazing to know that there are so many types of salts.
1. Table salt: harvested from underground salt reservoirs. Highly processed with additives like bleaching and anti-caking agents
2. Kosher salt: coarser with slightly bigger grains than the table salt.
3. Sea salt: harvested by evaporating seawater. Its composition depends upon the water of the sea it has been extracted from.
4. Celtic sea salt: also called sel gris; grey salt in French. It is extracted from the bottom of the tidal ponds off the coasts of France.
5. Fluer de sel: known as the flower of salt, this is the most expensive salt and has a unique blue-grey tint. It is extracted from the surface of the tidal pools of Brittany, France. The salt grains are delicate and flaky.
6. Flake salt: harvested through evaporation of seawater, this salt has bright salty flavor, flaky grains, and low mineral content.
7. Black Hawaiian salt: this salt is extracted from the volcanic islands of Hawaii. It has a deep black color which is obtained by mixing activated charcoal in it.
8. Red Hawaiian salt: it is also called alae salt. It is harvested from the iron-rich, reddish, volcanic alae clay.
9. Smoked salt: slow-smoked over a wood fire for up to two weeks, this salt gives a smoky dimension to the dishes when added. The smoky flavor depends upon the salt used and the wood it has been smoked at.
10. The pink Himalayan salt: Since everyone around the world is adopting ways to eat healthily, Himalayan salt is becoming top pick as a food additive. There is no denying to the fact that the pink Himalayan salt is full of health benefits and this is the very reason a larger number of people are replacing it with the table salt.
Himalayan salt is extracted from the Himalayan salt mines located at the foothills of the Himalayan mountains in the Punjab region of Pakistan. This salt is a result of mass evaporation of seawater which was landlocked by mountains due to tectonic shifts of plates millions of years ago. This salt has since been protected by the layers of mountains and is known to be the purest salt on planet Earth.
11. Black salt: Enough of the pink talk, let us discuss another salt that is widely used in vegan recipes. It is the black salt often referred to as the Indian black salt or ‘Kala Namak’ locally.
The black salt is often called the Himalayan black salt as it is a jar full of the Himalayan salt mixed with charcoal, herbs, bark, and seeds and then fired in a furnace for 24 hours. This salt has a reddish-black color, salty tastes with a hint of pungency and faint, sulfurous aroma of eggs.
Let us talk about the Pink salt and the Black salt a little more in detail.
Difference between the pink Himalayan salt and the Black salt:
The pink Himalayan salt, as the name suggests, occurs in the shades of pink and subtle hues of orange. In very rare cases, this salt also comes in white color. As mentioned above, the Himalayan salt is extracted from the Himalayan salt mines, therefore the salt originally comes in big chunks. These huge chunks are then cut and given desired shapes and sizes. For use in the kitchen, this salt is ground into coarse grains.
The black salt doesn’t occur naturally. It is obtained after heating and mixing of charcoal, herbs, and spices to the Himalayan salt. The black salt is not always black. It is more of reddish-brown or purple in color. The black color is attained by mixing activated charcoal in it.
Since this salt is majorly used in cooking, the process is carried out with the grains of Himalayan salt. This makes the blending of other ingredients easier and results in a homogenous blend of salt.
The pink Himalayan salt is the purest salt on this planet. It contains as many as 84 trace minerals which are extremely important and beneficial for the functioning of our bodies. This is what makes this salt a common favorite of masses around the world.
On the other hand, the black salt composition is similar to the pink salt as it is obtained after processing the Himalayan salt. It is quite possible that during the prolonged high heating process, many of the trace minerals naturally present in the Himalayan salt are lost.
3. State of existence:
The Pink Himalayan salt exists in its purest and natural form and this has been proven after prolonged studies and researches.
A caveat about black salt is that it is not always made from the natural salt. The commercially available salt is often man-made through neutralization and then process to obtain the black salt. Another caveat states that the market is full of Mediterranean salt mixed with activated charcoal to give it a look similar to that of the black salt. This information has resulted because of a case ruling regarding the tax that should be charged on the black salt that is not made from the natural salt.
4. Taste and smell:
The pink Himalayan salt is almost odorless. It is less salty in taste as compared to other salts available commercially. This is probably because of the low sodium content and the presence of many trace minerals.
The black salt is processed to achieve a flavorful salt which is widely used as a condiment. It tastes of the spices and herbs added to it and smells like hard-boiled eggs. This flavor and smell result because of the intense heat which chemically changes a substance. The egg-flavor makes this salt a favorable condiment in the vegan dishes that cannot use real eggs.
Uses and benefits of the pink salt:
The pink Himalayan salt is a miracle salt with a wide variety of uses. Pink salt benefits make it so good for consumption.
The pink salt is excellent for health when taken orally. It contains many trace minerals which make the body functioning smoothly.
The pink salt lamps are excellent pieces of decoration. The light emitted from these lamps gives out a chic look and a soothing effect.
Himalayan salt is hygroscopic in nature. It cleanses the environment of pollutants and positive ions.
Himalayan salt is used in therapies for curing respiratory ailments.
The salt is also beneficial when used for skin treatments as bath soaks and scrubs.
Himalayan pink salt benefits are not just limited to humans only. It is widely used as salt licks for animals. It helps them in strengthening and growing.
Pink salt slabs are used in cooking as cooking slabs, cooling slabs and serving platters.
Uses and benefits of the black salt:
The black salt or Kala Namak is widely used in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisines. Black salt nutrition and its benefits make it an important part of Indian cuisine and Ayurveda.
It is a condiment used in chaats, salads, and chutneys. Chaat masala, a commonly used blend of spices would never be the same without black salt.
Black salt is less processed and less iodized which makes it an excellent replacement for the table salt.
The alkaline properties help in reducing acidity and the minerals present in it help to lessen the damage done by acid reflux. It is a very good laxative which helps in regulating the bowel movements.
Black salt benefits are due to its rich potassium content which helps in relaxing muscles and reducing muscle cramps. Potassium also helps in improving the absorption of many other minerals.
Black salt has comparatively less sodium content. Excess sodium causes water retention which is improved with black salt.
Black salt helps in curing cracked heels and broken skin because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It is a very good scrub ingredient because of its coarse grain and cleansing properties.
Black salt is also used widely in practicing black magic.
Pink salt and black salt are equally useful and beneficial. It is upon one’s personal preference which salt should be adopted in daily life.