Salt – one of those things that everyone, everywhere is aware of. Even if we’re not consciously aware of it, our body’s certainly are, for they cannot function without it. The history of salt, and it’s importance to human civilisation is so imbued into our cultures that we don’t even think about it anymore. It’s used in ceremonies to symbolise everything from purity to loyalty, and has been symbolic in shaping economies, politics, medicine, religion, folklore, culture and without a doubt, our diets. Many of our common place terms are even derived from it, with their roots in the word ‘sal’, meaning salt in Latin – think ‘salary’, ‘salubrious’, ‘salacious’. The word salubrious is actually derived from ‘salus’, which is latin for health.. need we say more!
Some other interesting salty facts..
- Salzburg in Austria, literally menas ‘salt fortress’
- In the Shinto sumo ceremony, the circle is purified with salt before the wrestlers begin
- A Buddhist monk throws salts to cleanse the start of a fire walking ceremony
- Witches consecrate water and salt at the beginning of Wiccan ceremonies
- At Passover, potatoes are dipped into salt water
- Wild animals wore tracks to salt licks, and humans often ended up building around these
- In one of the worlds oldest working salt mines – Wieliczka in Poland – you’ll find ballrooms, dining rooms, religious relics carved out of salt and even lagoons!
- Hardworking people are known to be “worth their salt” or “the salt of the earth”…
- .. and so many more culturally relevant and important rituals with this one, single substance uniting all of humanity.
All salt comes from the sea. The worlds largest salt flat in Bolivia actually stands 3,500m above sea level, but was once part of a prehistoric lake, a lake which was part of the sea. This is the same with Himalayan salt. Hundreds of millions of years ago, it formed a primordial sea.
Standard old table salt is comprised of around 95% sodium chloride. The remainder is generally made up of things like anti caking agent (so it pours nicely for you), along with other preservatives and iodine (seeing as many of us, and our soils, are depleted in this essential nutrient). This type of salt should not be compared to naturally formed, mineral rich salts – they are very, very different beasts! Naturally made salts naturally contains a plethora of minerals, including magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron and more.. These have generally been stripped away from your standard table salt, which ends up playing havoc in our body – that is not the way nature intended our salt to be. The only thing I am happy for my clients to do with standard old table salt, is to clean with it!
All salts are mainly made up of sodium chloride, and on average, the body contains around 250g of sodium chloride. This needs to be replaced through our diet, as we cannot manufacture these minerals in our body and we lose a considerable amount through daily processes like sweating. We have young kids in our family, and I absolutely make sure they get access to good quality salt every day of their lives. For me, it is a crucial part of our family’s health in providing the many minerals our body’s need.
Sodium is needed for electricity. Think of the electrical wires in your home. These are all sending messages around the house to allow us to turn the kettle on, watch TV, turn lights on etc. Our bodies are exactly the same, but our ‘wires‘ are our ‘nervous system‘ and sodium is what helps them run. Without sodium – they are a faulty electrical circuit and we will not function very well.
Chloride, on the other hand is critical to things like digestion. In order for your digestive tract to work well, you need to have an acidic stomach. The acid there needs to be string enough to kill off any foreign invaders – it is your first line of defence (along with your skin and mucous membranes). Without enough chloride, you will not have sufficient acid, meaning your digestion be suboptimal, and your first line of defence for your immune system will be compromised.
“Salt is so common, so easy to obtain, and so inexpensive that we have forgotten that from the beginning of civilization until about 100 years ago, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities in human history.” – Mark Kurlansky, A World History of Salt.
We are slowly but surely moving the direction of our health food shop into one based on using ‘Food As Medicine’.. One of the newest lines we’ve brought in, are salts – amazing types of salt, from all corners of the world..
Himalayan salt Comes from the mountainous regions of Pakistan, near the Himalayas & contains 84 trace minerals – exactly the number the human body contains!
Fleur de sel The Celtic Queen of Salts. This one is hand harvested according to Celtic tradition. Apparently this salt unravels across your palate in a wave!
Cyprus Black Blended with activated charcoal. Contains sulphur, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and of course sodium and chloride. Charcoal is amazingly detoxifying.
Hawaiian Red Unrefined sea salt mixed with alae clay. Alae is revered as sacred, something used to purify, heal and bless.. aaahhh….
Hawaiian Black Lava Naturally derived Hawaiian sea salt, blended with activated coconut charcoal. Contains magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron, potassium.
African Pearl From the purest deep icy waters of the Antarctic, harvested under the scorching hot sun on the coast of Namibia. This one is made up in rounds beads – it looks like tapioca beads. These ‘pearls’ are formed where the desert ends and the Atlantic begins by the strong winds and sun that meet there – amazing right!
Peruvian Pink Harvested from salt flats high up in the Peruvian Andes, from mineral rich saltwater springs.
Italian Trapani Hand harvested straight from the Mediterranean, along Sicily’s famous ‘salt road’
Bamboo Jade Sea salt with organically grown Bamboo leaf extract. Prized in China as a health aid due to its abundant amino acids, antioxidants and vitamins.
Here’s to salt!… tiina xx