Salt is Not Just for the Kitchen
Sea salt is a very broad term which generally refers to salt obtained directly from an ocean or sea. It’s harvested by channeling salty water from the sea to large open clay pots and letting the sun and wind come through. As it evaporates, it leaves behind the minerals it had on the seawater. There are many varieties of sea salts. Fine sea salt, known as “clay sea salt” by industry, is one of the lowest priced types of salt available.
This type of sea salt contains the minerals found in seawater, such as calcium and magnesium. Many of these minerals are insoluble, meaning they can’t dissolve in water and need to be added to liquid form to be able to be used. Adding table salt to sea water is a slow and expensive process. The rich mineral content of sea salt allows it to be highly refined, thus removing most of its value. Clay sea salt is also versatile and can be added to a wide range of foods, from boiled eggs to candied fruit.
The texture and flavor of sea salts vary depending on where they were mined. Generally, fine sea salt has a smooth grain texture and a light pink color. It’s mostly magnesium and calcium with trace amounts of sodium and potassium. It has a low salt taste, and its color goes from pale yellow to gray as it oxidizes. Clay sea salts have a rich sandy taste and are often added to tomato sauce to improve flavor. Each mineral in the salt changes its chemical and physical properties, resulting in a unique taste.
Salt can be classified into two groups: coarse sea salt and fine sea salt. Cools sea salt contains larger crystals and is higher in magnesium and calcium, while coarse sea salt contains smaller crystal sizes and is lower in magnesium and calcium. High quality sea salts have been processed carefully to maintain their mineral composition, and their cost depends on the milligrams of each mineral contained. Each type of sea salt has different recommended daily uses.
Table salt consists of a collection of minerals that is finely ground into a fine powder and then combined with some other elements such as sodium chloride or potassium chloride. This creates a sodium-free alternative to table salt. However, sodium chloride itself is not considered a salt, because it is man-made. Because of its lack of saltiness, coarse sea salt does not react with many foods, but its natural color allows it to be added to a wide range of foods and to improve their flavor.
When salt is added to water, it ionizes, which changes its electrical charge. The higher the concentration of ions, the more negatively charged it will be. This makes salt a good conductor of electricity and is why it is often added to electrical appliances. Another important property of salt is its electrical conductivity. Electrical charges are found in all substances that have a negative charge. Chefs find that when salt is mixed with certain other ingredients, particularly sugar, it enhances the flavors of soups and sauces, as well as helping to improve the elasticity of certain foods.
Salt crystals vary in density. One of the rarest salt types is kosher salt, which is created by passing pure salt and water over a non-kosher object, such as an egg. In this way, the salt doesn’t create a void in the substance and becomes opaque. Each type of salt crystal has a unique, patterned color that varies from light green to dark grey. As a result of their individual crystallization, each salt variety has a unique taste. The traditional flavor of kosher salt is light and rich, with no real hint of salt.
Sea salt and table salt are similar, yet completely different. Their primary difference lies in the way they are used. Sea salt is fine salt, while table salt is an industrial-grade product that may contain many harmful chemicals and additives.