Sea salt

Sea salt

Sea salt, obtained by evaporating seawater, is used in cooking and cosmetics. Historically called bay salt, [cite web | url= | last= Brownrigg | first= William | year= 1748 | title= "The Art of Making Common Salt, as Now Practised in Most Parts of the World" |publisher= | pages= p. 12 | accessdate= Retrieved 11/2007 from Google Book Search] its mineral content gives it a different taste [ [ Sea salt: Is it better for you than regular salt? - ] ] from table salt, which is pure sodium chloride, usually refined from mined rock salt (halite) or from sea salt. Areas that produce specialized sea salt include the Cayman Islands, Greece, France, Ireland, Colombia, Sicily, Apulia in Italy, Maldon in Essex UK [cite news|author=Tom Dyckhoff |title=Let's move to... Maldon, Essex | url=| work=The Guardian |date=2007-09-08|accessdate=2008-09-16] , and Hawaii, [cite news|author=Gary Kubota |title=Sea-salt farm spices up Molokai’s dull economy |url= |work=Star Bulletin |date=2005-10-03 |accessdate=2008-09-16] Maine, Utah, the San Francisco Bay, and Cape Cod in the United States. Generally more expensive than table salt, it is commonly used in gourmet cooking and specialty potato chips, particularly the Kettle Cooked variety.

Where mineral salt has been readily obtainable it has long been mined. The salt mines of Hallstatt go back at least to the Iron Age. However, it has not been readily obtainable everywhere and the alternative coastal source has also been exploited for thousands of years. The principle of the production is the evaporation of the water from the brine of the sea. In warm and dry climates this may be done entirely by solar energy, but in other climates fuel must be used. For this reason, sea salt production is now almost entirely an industry of Mediterranean and other warm, dry climates.

Such places are today called salt works, instead than the older English word saltern. An ancient or medieval saltern could be established where there was:
# Access to a market for the salt.
# A gently-shelving coast, protected from exposure to the open sea.
# A cheap and easily worked fuel supply; preferably, the sun.
# Preferably, another trade such as pastoral farming and tanning so that it and the salt could each add value to the other in the form of leather or salted meat.

In this way, salt marsh, pasture (salting), and salt works (saltern) enhanced each other economically. This was the economic pattern in the Roman and Medieval periods around The Wash, in eastern England. There, the tide brought the brine, the extensive saltings provided the pasture, the fens and moors provided the peat fuel, and the sun sometimes shone.

The dilute brine of the sea was largely evaporated by the sun, and the concentrated slurry of salt and mud was scraped up. The slurry was washed with clean sea water so that the impurities settled out of the now concentrated brine. This was poured into shallow pans lightly baked from the local marine clay, which were set on fist-sized clay pillars over a peat fire for the final evaporation. The dried salt was then scraped out and sold.

Taste and health

Gourmets often believe sea salt to be better than ordinary table salt in taste and texture, though one cannot always taste the difference when dissolved. In applications where sea salt's coarser texture is retained, it can provide different mouthfeel and changes in flavor due to its different rate of dissolution. The mineral content also affects the taste. It may be difficult to distinguish sea salt from other salts with a high mineral content, such as pink Himalayan salt, or grey colored rock salt.

Because sea salt generally lacks high concentrations of iodine, [ [ Iodine in non-iodized sea salt ] ] an element essential for human health, [Fisher, Peter W. F. and Mary L'Abbe. 1980. Iodine in Iodized Table Salt and in Sea Salt. "Can. Inst. Food Sci. Technolo. J." Vol. 13. No. 2:103–104. April] it is not necessarily a healthful substitute for regular iodized table salt, [ [ Iodized Salt in the United States ] ] which is usually supplemented with the element, unless another source of dietary iodine is available (such as dairy products or regular processed foods). [ [ Sea salt: Is it better for you than regular salt? -] ] Iodized forms of sea salt are now marketed to address this concern. However, unrefined sea salt contains many minerals that regular iodized table salt does not contain, such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, sulfate, and traces of others (including heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and cadmium, as well as strontium)Fact|date=July 2008.

Other uses

Aside from cosmetic and gourmet use, sea salts are also used as a main ingredient in the production of bath salts. These are used as bathing additives and are believed by some to possess therapeutic and healing properties.

Sea salts that are used in the production of bath salts are not just taken from any body of water. Some of the common properties of the location in which they are extracted are age, seclusion from human intervention, and mineral content. Common bodies of water in which these salts are extracted include the waters of the Himalayas, the Dead Sea, Pacific Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Utah's Great Salt Lake.

ee also

*Edible salt
*Sodium chloride
*History of salt
*Salt Pan
*Salt evaporation pond
*Bath salts


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sea salt — Common salt, obtained from sea water by evaporation. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sea salt — n [U] a type of salt made from sea water, used in cooking …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • sea salt — sea ,salt noun uncount large pieces of salt produced when sea water EVAPORATES (=becomes steam) …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • sea salt — n. salt obtained by the evaporation of sea water, used mainly for seasoning food …   English World dictionary

  • sea salt — sea′ salt n. nut chem. table salt produced by the evaporation of seawater …   From formal English to slang

  • sea salt — ► NOUN ▪ salt produced by the evaporation of seawater …   English terms dictionary

  • sea salt — noun : salt resulting from the evaporation of seawater and containing chiefly sodium chloride with small amounts of magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, and calcium sulfate * * * table salt produced through the evaporation of seawater. [1595… …   Useful english dictionary

  • sea salt — jūros druska statusas T sritis chemija apibrėžtis Druskų mišinys, gautas išgarinus jūros vandenį. atitikmenys: angl. sea salt rus. морская соль …   Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • sea salt — jūros druska statusas T sritis ekologija ir aplinkotyra apibrėžtis Druskų mišinys, gaunamas išgarinus jūros vandenį. atitikmenys: angl. sea salt vok. Meersalz, n; Seesalz, n rus. морская соль, f …   Ekologijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • sea-salt — ˈ ̷ ̷ˌ ̷ ̷ adjective : salty with seawater : like sea salt …   Useful english dictionary

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