Unique features of Salt
Salt, or sodium chloride, comes from sea water or rock salt (halite). Halite deposits formed when enclosed lakes, seas or basins dry up.
Salt is normally available as crystals or as a white powder. It is soluble in water and somewhat soluble in alcohol. Salt will melt at 801°C and start vaporising at temperatures above 1,413°C, but is non-flammable. Being hygroscopic, salt readily absorbs moisture.
Salt is also one of the basic five human tastes, and one of the oldest seasonings – dating back to 6,000 BC in Romania and China. Historically, salt has been a valuable trade/barter and payment commodity.
What is salt used for in products?
- Flavouring and preserving foods.
- In fermentation processes like making pickles, sauerkraut and kefir (a fermented milk drink).
- Curing of hides, and bleaching and dyeing of skins, wool, and fabrics.
- In industrial processes making paper, pottery, dyes, glass, plastic, fabrics, rubber, chlorine, bleach, soaps, and detergents.
- In intravenous fluids in hospitals.
Products that contain salt
Salt is a very common ingredient in many foods, including:
- Bread and rolls
- Burritos, fajitas and tacos
- Canned vegetables
- Cheeses – cottage cheese, cheddar, edam, halloumi, blue cheese, feta
- Chicken (frozen and prepared dishes like chicken nuggets, coated or battered chicken)
- Cold cuts and processed meats like ham, corned beef, roast beef slices, chicken slices, salami
- Corn snacks
- Dried meats and dry-cured meat and fish
- Dry roasted nuts
- Egg dishes like eggs benedict, scrambled eggs, omelettes
- Gravy mixes and powders
- Instant puddings and desserts
- Most so-called ‘take-away’ or ‘take-out’ foods
- Pork rinds
- Prawn chips, crisps or crackers
- Salad dressings
- Sauces, bottled or powdered
- Salted fish products
- Savoury snacks, like pork pies, sausage rolls, scotch eggs.
- Smoked meat and fish
- Snacks like popcorn, pretzels, crackers
- Soup mixes, powdered, canned or sachets
- Soy sauce
- Stock cubes, prepared stock and broths
- Tomato sauce or paste, canned, sachets or bottled
- Vegetable juices
- Yeast extract products such as Marmite and Vegemite
Types of salt
- Fine grained table salt which is also marketed as iodized salt.
- Sea salt – processed from evaporated sea water; rich in minerals.
- Kosher salt has a light but coarser texture, ideal for cooking.
- Coarse pickling salt – specifically for pickling
- Celtic grey sea salt – harvested from tidal ponds off the coast of France.
- Fleur de sel, the ‘flower of salt’ – processed from evaporated sea water off Brittany.
- Flake salt comes from evaporated sea water and in irregularly shaped flakes.
- Smoked salt is manufactured by smoking the salt with either mesquite, alder, hickory or apple wood for about two weeks.
- Himalayan pink salt comes from the Punjab region. Pinkish in colour, it contains 84 natural minerals.
- Himalayan black rock salt, or Kala Namak (black salt in Nepalese) is cooked for 24 hours in a furnace with seeds, herbs, bark, and charcoal.
- Red Hawaiian salt gets its red colour from oxide-rich volcanic clay.
- Strong-flavoured Black Hawaiian sea salt has activated charcoal added to it.