What is salt

What is salt

For us, table salt is the most common, even banal product, but it is extremely important for the normal functioning of our bodies. Humanity understood the value of salt in ancient times, therefore, because of it, riots and real wars occurred, thanks to it, fortunes were made, and in some cases salt was even used as the equivalent of money.

Now it can be bought without any problems at the nearest grocery store, moreover, often the buyer is offered a wide range of different types of salt. Of course, the main composition is sodium chloride, but depending on the method, place of extraction, as well as on additional manipulations during processing, the percentage of NaCl and impurities differs, respectively, the quality characteristics ( taste, color, structure ) also differ from each other. So what kind of food salts is there? Let’s figure it out together!

By the way, in the draft of the new GOST it is proposed to remove the word “cooking”, which is familiar with regard to salt, since this term does not convey the exact characteristics of the product and is currently used only “out of habit”. Also, in the new GOST requirements, edible salts will be more adequately classified.

Surely many readers with an inquisitive mind and natural curiosity will be interested in learning how salt is mined.

 what types of salt are according to the methods of obtaining it .

salt Extracted from water sources :

1. Garden salt

1. Garden salt – water from the seas (ocean) from salts lakes is evaporated in reservoirs ( artificially created pools, cages or natural caverns ) – under the influence of sunlight, the water evaporates, but the salt remains. In our country, you can buy sea food salt produced in the Crimea (it has an unusual pink tint ), but, in general, this method of extraction is more typical for warmer latitudes. Sea salts is almost unanimously considered the most useful among specialists, due to the reduced content of sodium chloride and the presence of various useful impurities.

By the way, it is rare, but there is a way of obtaining sea salts not by evaporation in the sun, but on the contrary, by freezing – for example, this was done in the Russian Far East ( in Okhotsk ) in the 18-19th centuries!

2. Self-precipitated salt

2. Self-precipitated salt – the one that naturally settles at the bottom of salts lakes, it is simply scooped up by special combines, for example, as in the Russian lake Baskunchak. By the way, this is just a gigantic field, according to calculations it is capable of meeting the needs of all inhabitants of the planet for as much as one and a half thousand years! On a smaller scale than in Baskunchak, in Russia, self-precipitated salts is mined in Altai, where near the village of Bursol there is a very beautiful salts Burlinskoye lake, the water of which has a pinkish tint.

Salt Extracted from the earth’s interior

Extracted from the earth’s interior is the so-called “rock” salt or “halite” ( often also called “mineral” ), formed as a result of the drying up of seas and lakes millions of years ago. It, depending on the characteristics of the deposit, is mined by the following methods:

1. The open pit method

1. The open pit method is the cheapest option; it is used in cases when the deposit lies shallow from the surface. But quarry salt cannot be used in food without additional purification, so basically it goes as “technical” ( the same reagent with which roads are sprinkled in winter or it is used in industry ). In our country, for example, this method is used to extract salts in the Tyva Republic at the Dus-Dag quarry .

2. By the mine method

2. By the mine method – just like many other minerals … coal or ore. Huge special machines ( drifting machines or cutting machines; hammer-boring machines; scraper installations; underground electric trolleys and elevators ) are mined in deep mines and bring pieces of rock salt sto the surface, then it is ground to the desired size without additional cleaning. This is how ground edible rock salt is obtained, which has a grayish tint, and also, depending on the place of extraction, it differs in composition. By the way, up to 61% of all salts in the world is extracted in this way. The mines can be very deep, for example, in our country, rock salt is mined from a depth of 330 m at the Iletskoye deposit, and from 580 meters at Tyretskoye!

3. Through wells

3. Through wells – when, due to geological features, the mine method cannot be applied. Then the “leaching” method is used ( or, in other words, the “vacuum” method ): if the salts layers at a depth are washed out by groundwater, then such brine is simply pumped out through the pipe in the well, and if they are in solid form, then first they are pumped through the pipe under water, and then the solution with salts is pumped back out. The brine obtained by the underground leaching method is then purified in special tanks and centrifuges at salts-processing plants. This is how edible salts is obtained.

So, we seem to have figured out this, but the answer to the question “How is salt obtained?” Is just one way to classify it by type, so let’s move on!

Salt varieties

In different countries, the method of classification for this characteristic and the variety names differ. In Russia, “grade of salt” means the degree of its purification, and currently there are:

” Extra “ – almost free of impurities, contains at least 99.7% sodium chloride;
” Higher “ – must contain at least 98.4% sodium chloride;
” First grade “ – sodium chloride is 97.7%;
” Second grade “ – the closest in composition to natural, contains 97% NaCl, and the rest is natural impurities of other minerals.
Many experts advise giving preference to the cheaper, but natural second grade!

Salt types by grind size

Well, everything is simple here, salts can be from very fine to coarse; in everyday life we ​​say; “fine”, “medium”, “coarse”; but for lovers of exact numbers. I will give an excerpt from GOST with the exact characteristics of different grinds:

large crystals salt

In addition, edible salts can be in the form of beautiful large crystals , like the “Fleur de sel”; ( fleur de sel ” , that is,” salt flower ” ); collected by hand after the evaporation of seawater and its variety;” Maldon “( larger flakes ). – these types are distinguished by beautiful crystals and are used only to improve the taste of ready-made dishes; and not during cooking.

Unusual form of grains salt

An interesting and unusual form of grains of African salts “Djibouti Pearl”. ( Pearl of Djibouti ) from Lake Assal; – it is really very similar to pearls; therefore it is not used for cooking at all. but for various culinary experiments in decorating dishes and drinks.

Blocks form salt

Also, the salts may not be ground at all, but be in blocks. for example, for feeding animals or arranging medicinal salts saunas.

Salt types by color

Of course, the most common is snow-white salt; gray ( low-purity varieties ) is also familiar. but the color scheme does not end there.

Reddish shades salt

Reddish shades . I think that many have seen pink salt. For example, the already mentioned product from Crimea or Peruvian mountain pink salt; and the most famous representative with this color is Himalayan pink salt, although, nevertheless, it has more coral color. Hawaiian sea red salt ( Alaea ) got this color due to the fact that it has clay interspersed with iron contained in it. Pink Australian ( rather even pinkish-yellow ).  it is extracted from the salty groundwater of the Murray River basin (the largest on the continent ); algae in underground lakes are rich in carotene, which colors the salt.

Black color salt

Black – there are many options why it has such a color. For example; black Himalayan salts ( aka Indian, Kala Namak or Sanchal ). became so due to the presence of iron sulfite in the composition. Black sea salt from the island of Cyprus. It is enriched with ordinary charcoal, thus; it receives not only its color and flavor notes; but also the properties of an absorbent ( like pharmaceutical activated carbon tablets); according to the same principle, a similar product is obtained in Hawaii. Hiwa Kai Hawaiian Sea Salt; and in Iceland they claim that they add coal directly from lava stones to soybeans …

Often these species use the same name “Black Lava”. Black Thursday. Ordinary salt is mixed with soaked rye bread or leavened bread and the resulting “mash” is baked in the oven or in a pan, as a result of which the dough burns out and one lump of black color is obtained, which is then grinded and sifted through a sieve – that’s what remains, then and there is Thursday salt. Cuttlefish ink is also used to color salt black, resulting in; “Salt of black velvet with sepia”. And according to the manufacturer it has “Intense aroma with a sweet taste of cuttlefish and sea aftertaste.”

Yellow color salt

Yellow – for example; the “Smoked Anglesey salt” or “Halen Mon Gold”. smoked on oak chips, is produced with soft flakes of a delicate champagne color; often with various additives ( pepper, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili, cloves ). They do the same in neighboring Denmark, only the choice of material for smoking is wider here – in addition to oak, they use elm, juniper, cherry, beech, and the output is a finished fragrant product with a yellowish ( from smoke ) tint. A much more expensive option for dyeing salt yellow is adding saffron.

Green color salt

Green ( Bamboo Jade ) – Sea salt in Hawaii is enriched with bamboo leaf extract, which gives it an unusual color and pleasant taste.

Violet color salt

The expensive Korean bamboo salt Juk-yom (Jook Yeom) has purple color . In the English version, the name “Amethyst Bamboo 9x” is found, which reflects the essence of the product: sea salt is fried in bamboo stalks nine times, resulting in an amethyst color. The process is time consuming, therefore the price is high! ( And the cheaper option, which is not intended for consumption, but as a scrub, is black .)

Lilac or light purple color salt

Lilac ( or light purple, whichever you prefer ) Japanese – put the fruits of ume ( local plum ) in salt , the whole thing is put under oppression, as a result, the fruit gives juice, pickling in it and in salt. Then this salted juice is evaporated, as a result, an interesting finished product is obtained. Other manufacturers have a similar color, and they are experimenting with different additives, such as black currant.

Blue color salt

Blue Iranian ( aka “blue Persian”, “Iranian blue” ). It is clear from the name that it is mined in Iran, but it gets an unusual color due to the content of the sylvinite mineral in it, which is yellow in itself, but the light, refracting in its crystals, gives the salts a blue tint.

Since we have begun to mention various additives and methods of flavoring in the context of the variety of colors of edible salts, we will continue this topic. There are as many types of salt for this parameter as you can imagine! What is not added to NaCl in order to give new taste, aroma and visual properties. Here are just a few of what is used for flavoring: smoke, truffles, garlic, ginger, lemon, saffron, rhubarb, cinnamon, currants, vanilla, chocolate, pepper, turmeric; flowers, various herbs, seaweed, ground corals. … in general, the whole point is only in the richness of imagination among manufacturers, so it is simply unrealistic to list the possible options in one article!

The addition of iodine to edible salt

The addition of iodine to edible salt practically does not affect its taste in any way, but pursues a completely different goal – to compensate for the iodine deficiency experienced by most of the inhabitants of regions remote from the sea; when buying such a salt, pay attention that it contains potassium iodate ( during the entire shelf life it retains the specified iodine concentration ), and not potassium iodite (it quickly evaporates from the salt ).

If you read with interest about some specific types of edible salts, but were not very surprised, then here is a real exotic for you: saltsfrom human tears ! In any case, the British company “Haxton Street Monster Supplies” assures that such a product can be purchased from them, and it is called “Salt Made From Tears”. Their strange assortment contains salts from tears: from anger, from sadness, from laughter, from boredom and from envy!

The company’s website says that for their manufacture; “ The centuries-old craft of collecting fresh human tears is used; which are then gently boiled and sent to crystallization tanks, then collected by hand and finally washed in saline solution.”. Theoretically, such a product can be obtained, since human tears contain approximately 1% NaCl. This very peculiar marketing ploy, to my surprise, is popular. On the seller’s website this product is often marked as ” Sold Out “; that is, sold out! In general, the guys approached their crazy idea very creatively. I made a translation of the description of each type of salt for you.

As you can see, table salt is not such a simple spice; but a rather large assortment of different shapes, tastes and colors. There is room for culinary experiments, ideas and small discoveries!

Leave a Reply