The evaporation of saltwater results in the production of sea salt. It is used in cosmetics, cooking, flavoring, and food preservation. Other names for it include bay salt, sun salt, and plain old salt. Sea salt production dates back to prehistoric times, just like mined rock salt.
Historical Production of Sea Salt
The Vinaya Pitaka, a Buddhist text written in the middle of the fifth century BC, makes reference to sea salt. The evaporation of water from sea brine provides the basis for production. This can be done totally with solar energy in warm, dry climates, but in other climates, fuel sources have been required. The Mediterranean and other warm, dry areas account for practically all of today’s sea salt output. The economic benefits of salt marsh, pasture, and salt works were thus mutually reinforced. Around The Wash in eastern England, this was the pattern during the Roman and medieval eras. There, the sun occasionally shone, the fens and moors provided the peat fuel, the tide delivered the brine, and the enormous saltings offered the pasture.
Taste of Sea Salt
Some connoisseurs think sea salt tastes and feels better than regular table salt. Due to its varied rate of dissolving, sea salt can produce a different mouthfeel and may affect flavor in applications that maintain its coarser texture. The taste is also impacted by the mineral content. Local clays and algae present in the waters the salt is obtained from are responsible for the hues and range of flavors. As an illustration, certain upscale salts from France and Korea are pinkish gray, whereas others from India are black. Hawaiian salts that are black and crimson may even contain baked red clay and black lava powder. Sulfates are present in some sea salt. It could be challenging to discern rock salt, pink Himalayan salt, or maras salt from the historic Inca hot springs from sea salt (halite).
Sea salt that has been combined and dyed with activated charcoal and obtained from various locations throughout the world is referred to as “black lava salt” in marketing terminology. As a tabletop garnish, salt is utilized as a decorative accent.
Sea Salt vs. Table Salt
With little to no processing, sea salt is made by evaporating water from salt lakes or oceans. Sea salt may contain a variety of trace minerals, including trace levels of calcium, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, and iron, depending on the source of the water. The different minerals give sea salt its flavor and color, although this also depends on whether it has been refined or not. You can buy unrefined sea salt, which is unclean, frequently grey in color, and still includes trace minerals, as well as refined sea salt, which has been processed so that the colors and trace minerals have been removed.
Contrarily, common table salt is thoroughly treated after being harvested from subsurface salt deposits. There is some evidence that suggests sea salt does indeed contain higher levels of trace minerals, though research on this is still inconclusive. Table salt, usually referred to as iodized salt, is a less than ideal alternative because it frequently includes unfavorable chemicals including anti-caking agents like sodium silicoaluminate or sodium ferrocyanide, and occasionally even additional sugars. Therefore, wherever possible, I advise choosing unrefined sea salt when using salt.
Types of Sea Salt
It might be confusing to determine which brand of sea salt to buy because they come in so many various sizes and hues. Here is a brief description of some of the most popular sea salts on the market:
1. Sea Salt
Unrefined salt that is obtained directly from seawater is often referred to as sea salt, which is a general word. It is obtained by directing ocean water into huge clay trays and allowing the sun and wind to naturally evaporate it. There are many different sources of sea salt, which is available in coarse or fine-grained forms and can be used as an all-purpose salt.
2. Grey Salt
Grey salt is an unrefined, “wet” sea salt that is typically found along the Atlantic coast of France in the Brittany region. It is manually harvested using traditional Celtic techniques and wooden equipment, and it has a natural, light-grey tint that results from minerals absorbed from the clay bordering the salt ponds.
3. Fleur de Sel
Fleur de Sel, which means “Flower of Salt” in French, is a finishing salt renowned for its delicate flavor and distinctive texture. Only young crystals that naturally grow on the surface of salt evaporation ponds are used to make true fleur de sel, which is hand-harvested from parts of France.
4. Pink Salt
The most well-known colored salt is pink salt, commonly referred to as Himalayan pink salt, and it is frequently extracted from salt mines in Pakistani regions. Other colored salts can be found in Peru and Australia. It offers food a somewhat crunchy texture and can be used in place of table salt or sea salt. Trace minerals are also frequently present in pink salt. Also, Himalayan Pink Salt lamp is used in spas and studios.
5. Flake Salt
Flake salt is a type of sea salt, and what sets it apart from other types is its texture. The most well-known brand of flake salt is produced by Maldon, a British company, and is prepared by boiling and filtering saltwater to remove contaminants before being heated until salt crystals form. Flake salt works well as a finishing salt and may be used everywhere sea salt can.
6. Kosher Salt
Kosher salt may or may not be regarded as a sea salt because it is obtained either through evaporation or by mining the ground. Aside from this guide for sea salt, there is also a guide for kosher salt to know about it more. Originally known as kosher because it was used to prepare meat in accordance with Jewish dietary laws, the term is now frequently used to describe coarse-grained salt formed from salt crystals. Although it doesn’t contain iodine, it occasionally contains anti-caking chemicals. Although it is more processed than sea salt, it tastes cleaner, more even, and less salty than regular table salt.
Health Effects of Sea Salt
Since sodium chloride is the main component of both table salt and sea salt, their nutritional value is similar. Table salt has greater processing than sea salt to remove minerals, and it frequently has a clump-preventing ingredient like silicon dioxide. Sea salt only contains trace levels of iodine, a mineral crucial for human health. Table salt is combined with a trace amount of various iodine salts to create iodised salt. According to studies, sea salt from the US, Europe, and China contains some microplastic pollution. It has also been demonstrated that sea salt contains fungi that may be mycotoxigenic as well as fungi that can cause food to spoil.
Jugyeom, literally “bamboo salt,” is made in traditional Korean cooking by roasting salt at temperatures between 800 and 2000 °C in a bamboo container with mud plugs on both sides. It is said that this substance increases the anticlastogenic and antimutagenic effects of the fermented soybean paste known in Korea as doenjang by absorbing minerals from the mud and bamboo. High-quality research, however, do not support these statements.