I’ve used salt my whole life. In many ways, I just take it for granted, but I began to wonder what is kitchen salt, what are all the different uses of salt, and the differences between sea salt, iodized salt, table salt and other types of salt.
I began to research it and here’s what I learned:
Kitchen salt is just iodized or table salt. They, along with sea salt & Kosher salt are widely used across the globe. They can be used in everything from cooking, to curing, brining, and bathing. Sea salts are created by the evaporation of seawater, Himalayan Pink Sea salt is one of the better-known varieties.
But that only just scratches the surface of all there is to know about salt, including some really surprising facts about pink Himalayan sea salt, so let’s keep reading!
Like salt, no self-respecting chef’s kitchen is without a great chef’s knife.
So if you enjoy this ultimate guide to salt, and want to make sure all aspects of your kitchen are covered, you won’t want to miss our ultimate guide to chef’s knives.
We go into different types, how to sharpen them and what makes 1 under $40 and some cost hundreds.
We also explain which types of chef knives you don’t really need to waste your money on. So just click the link to read it on our site.
What are the main uses of salt?
Salt plays a key role in healing and detoxifying the body, preserving foods, but more notably, it is used in enhancing and developing flavors in food.
It became a staple in trades amongst the Egyptians dating back as far as 6065 BC.
Some of the top uses of salt include:
- Salt Water Cleanse – to assist in clearing out the colon prior to juice cleanses or the legendary Master Cleanse used by celebrities such as; Beyoncé and Demi Moore.
- Epsom Salt Baths – My dear friend Jennifer, a licensed esthetician, recommends weekly baths in Epsom salt which have been noted in helping with magnesium levels, which is a mineral that helps promote calming effects throughout the body, treats constipation and relieves muscles aches and cramps.
- Salt Curing – Growing up in East Tennessee it wasn’t uncommon for the women in the family to spend their summers and autumns preserving the produce from the gardens. Canning has been a practice used for many generations, especially in lower-income areas, where access to supermarkets or monetary means of having fresh produce isn’t a viable option. When preserving foods salts key role is to prevent bacteria, fungus, and pathogenic organisms from infecting the foods you are drying or preserving.
- Brining Meats and Fish – You can use salting (brining) on meats to preserve and flavor your favorite proteins like corned beef or fish. Salt is also important to the success of preserving your own pickles, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Often this salt is called Pickling salt or Canning salt.
- Baking Uses – Lastly, salt is a key component for cooking and baking. For many years my husband suffered at my inexperience of using salt. When baking bread, salt is used to control the fermentation of yeast. In cakes, muffins, and other sweeter baked goods, it is used to bring out the sweetness and reduces the bitterness of dark and semi-sweet chocolates. I find using darker chocolates with a heavier hand in salt satisfies those late-night cravings and is great for those whose sweet tooth is not as strong as others. In savory dishes, salt is used to “bring out” the flavor, such as butter, which often seems creamer and stronger in flavor when salt is added.
Salt plays a much larger role in our lives than just in the kitchen; it plays a key role in helping manage self-care, detoxifying, and healing.
On this week’s episode of The Joycast, you’re going to discover the difference between various salts, how to pick a true, high-quality salt for your table, and even when the best time to add salt is when you’re cooking! Listen now! https://t.co/0WrAfLuHlv pic.twitter.com/0F5RPq3srq
— Margaret Feinberg (@mafeinberg) July 6, 2019
What is the best salt to use in cooking?
This is a loaded question for sure.
Ask any granny in the South and she’ll swear by iodized salt (table salt). On the flip side, most chefs prefer some form of sea salt, not only for flavor, but it also has the most minerals than other salts. Finally, there are amateur kitchen lovers, like me, who prefer kosher salt.
So, which salt is the best to cook with?
Well, I’ll open that can of worms! But first let’s quickly review the top contenders:
This is also called iodized salt, which can be found on most restaurant tables and in tiny packets at the bottom of any fast food bag.
It was introduced to Americans in 1924. Unlike other salts, it has been heavily processed, which loses many nutrients that way, but does have the added iodine that our bodies need. It is a small granule salt which helps it dissolve quicker.
We all have that one papaw that prefers a little food with his salt, and this is that salt. It’s perfect for those last-minute additions to food, but not the best for pinching and tossing.
My friend and best kitchen companion is cost-effective and retains a lot of the minerals table salt lost.
It’s easy to find in any grocery store or corner market.
When cooking it is a bigger granule, so pinching and tossing are less messy and easier to use, however, it requires being cooked into your meal.
You do not want to just sprinkle this on your mashed potatoes unless you like your taters crunchy, I do not, but I am not here to judge your potato skills.
Sea salts are created by the evaporation of seawater. There are many forms of this delicious salt, but one of the most commonly known and used is Himalayan Pink Sea salt, which gets its color from calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and iron.
Sea salt also contains 84 minerals, making it the healthiest option of the salts. Depending on where the salt is mined will affect its color and mineral content.
So, as you can tell, it’s a matter of where you were raised, how you like to cook, and what your pocketbook can afford that really determines the best salt to cook with.
What is kitchen salt?
Kitchen salt, also known as, table salt and in the south often referred by as the Holy Grail, is just iodized salt.
Iodized salt was introduced to American diets in 1924, so not even 100-year-old food additive, but well known and used.
This type of salt was created to help combat goiter (an enlargement of the thyroid gland). Honestly, that never even occurred to me was a legit issue, but they didn’t call it the Roarin’ 20’s for nothing.
Iodine, which is something our bodies do not make on its own, is also important in mental development.
Iodine deficiency is one of the leading causes of mental disabilities, so it’s not surprising that it is added to one of the most important ingredients in the kitchen.
However, with every good deed, there is a dark side.
Kitchen salt tends to be higher in sodium content, I know it’s salt and that is its purpose, but too much of a good thing is always bad.
Due to it being heavily processed, and ground to a fine granulate, it does lose a lot of its minerals that the human body benefits from.
Most kitchen salts also contain an anti-caking agent 554, sodium aluminosilicate, which according to food ingredient experts Noshly, is linked to Alzheimer’s, nerve damage, kidney damage, and neurotoxicity.
Kitchen salt is obviously an important part of many kitchens, just be picky about the brands you purchase. Our greatest wealth is knowledge.
— The Food TV Channel (@FoodTVChannel) December 5, 2017
What is table salt?
Table salt, also called iodized salt, can be found on most restaurant tables and in tiny packets at the bottom of any fast food bag.
It was introduced to Americans in 1924. Unlike other salts, it has been heavily processed, which loses many nutrients that way, but does have the added iodine that our bodies need.
It is a small granule salt which helps it dissolve quicker. We all have that one papaw that prefers a little food with his salt, and this is that salt.
It’s perfect for those last-minute additions to food, but not the best for pinching and tossing.
Like salt, no “real” kitchen is complete without olive oil.
But like salt, the world of olive oil can be very confusing too. After all, there are a lot of “fake” extra virgin olives oils out there, and a wide range of prices. So if you’ve ever wanted to learn more about olive oil, make sure to check out our ultimate guide to olive oil.
We break everything down simply and answer every question you’ve ever had about olive oil.
Just click the link to read it on our site.
What is Kosher salt?
Kosher salt, my personal favorite in the kitchen, is salt that is larger in granule size, does not contain iodine nor anti-caking agents, and contains more minerals than table salt, but not as many as sea salt.
Kosher salt gets its name by how it is used in preparing meats and other foods according to Jewish traditions.
It’s the best salt for tossing onto foods, due to its size, making it funfetti in the kitchen! This is the perfect salt for beginning home chefs because it is cost-effective and requires the chef to develop their palate to what they believe salt perfection is.
Its sodium content is the same as table salt, however, because of its size, you do need to use more. In this case, size does matter.
After many years in the kitchen, I have finally overcome my fear of too much salt and it’s all thanks to Kosher salt. Now, if it could just help me conquer the crockpot and pot roast, I’ll consider myself a pro.
Another fun and overlooked fact are that Kosher salt is ideal for drawing out the blood of red meats because of its size. Again, the size of the salt matters!
The Achilles heel of Kosher salt and its size is that it’s not as compatible with baking as table salt.
There have been a few times my chocolate cake had a little salty crunch to it, luckily for me, I am a huge fan of salty and sweet, and my family’s desperation for baked goods means they forgive easily.
As you can tell Kosher salt is great for beginners, but also heavily used by many chefs around the world. It is the love language of food.
What is sea salt?
Sea salt has the greatest creation story with a flare of scientific genius. Or at least that’s what I tell my kiddos when I want to teach them something new.
It is the salt left behind once the seawater or saltwater is evaporated and all that is left are the salts and minerals.
It varies in color and mineral content due to how it is gathered. The most notable minerals being sodium and chloride, both are important for muscle and nerve function.
There can be up to 84 different minerals found in sea salts, such as:
And although most of these are only found in trace amounts, our bodies do benefit from them.
Like Kosher salt, it is bigger in size and you can be more generous in adding it to recipes. Sea salt is a broad term comprised of many types of salts from around the world.
Depending on which saltwater it is derived from will affect its color, size, mineral content, and price.
Some of the more commonly known sea salts are Pink Himalayan Sea Salt, Celtic Sea Salt, Fleur de sel, and Black and Red Hawaiian salt.
Here are some other types of sea salt:
Celtic Sea Salt – harvested from tidal pools off the coast of France and is typically gray in color.
Fleur de sel – the king of salts, not necessarily meaning the best, just the most challenging to harvest and the most expensive salt in the world. It can only be found off the coast of Brittany, France and can only be amassed on sunny days with a slight breeze. It is a demanding salt, but worth every blood, sweat, and tear.
Red and Black Hawaiian Sea Salt – they get their color from volcanic clay (Red) and activated charcoal (Black).
Sea salt is the ideal salt; however, the cost often deters most people from purchasing it. If you find yourself with a few extra dollars to splurge on kitchen essentials, you cannot go wrong with these salts!
Pink Himalayan sea salt contains over 84minerals and trace elements, includingcalcium, magnesium, potassium, copper andiron, so it does more than just make your food taste better. Let’s look at why you may want to make the switch to pink Himalayan salt.#TeamPakPinkSalt pic.twitter.com/YAc51i8YoR
— Shahid iqbal (@imshahidi) May 21, 2019
What is pink Himalayan sea salt?
When I began researching Himalayan Sea Salt; I had no idea the rabbit hole I would be going into.
Who knew salt could go so deep? When I think of the Himalayan mountains, I always envision them in India and Nepal.
However, these salts come from the outer boundaries of the Himalayan mountains, The Khewra Salt Mines, in Pakistan.
There’s a lot of great folklore regarding the salts. These include a story of Alexander the Great on his way to invade India, but that’s for another post!
The salts obtain their color from calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and iron.
But those are just a few of the 84 trace minerals found in Pink Himalayan Salt. With the growing popularity around the world, I was eager to find out if this particular salt is as healing as proclaimed, or is it just a “better” salt.
From purifying the air to the health benefits of digesting the salt, millions of people around the world believe in the magic of the pink salt.
Is Himalayan salt better than table salt?
Maybe, is the short answer.
Himalayan salt has been making waves in our supermarkets, department stores, tv shows, holistic shops, and just about everywhere else imaginable.
While table salt is often found in diners, on grandma’s kitchen table, or in convenient little packets at the bottom of the fries bag, basically in the most comforting places.
Both types of salt are loved and a part of every person’s life. But which one is better?
Pink Himalayan salt is a Foodies BFF they usually keep it in the everyday section of their spices. They swear by its ability to draw the best flavors in proteins.
The 84 trace minerals found in the Himalayan salt are beneficial to our health. However, these amounts are literally just trace amounts.
Only 2% of the Himalayan salt is comprised of these 84 minerals.
So the amount consumed is very small. But, if you’re like me, some is always better than none! As for improving the mood and air in a room, it all comes down to a little science and choosing to believe.
Those who promote the salt lamps state that the negative ions released from the lamp charge the water particles in the air creating a clean and fresh environment. That’s a lot like the air after a really good rain, charged and simple.
But what about table salt?
You’re probably wondering how it can compete with such an enigma. But everything has its place in the world, including iodized salt.
In 1924 health and government officials in the U.S. encouraged salt distributors to add iodine to their salts because iodine deficiencies contribute to intellectual delays.
According to Professor John H. Lazarus of Cardiff University, approximately 2 Billion people worldwide have an iodine deficiency.
This salt is cost-effective and can be found anywhere, making it a valuable commodity for everyone.
However, table salt can also contain anti-caking agents, such as sodium aluminate or magnesium carbonate.
There is some concern with digesting too much magnesium carbonate since it can cause side effects like:
And in extreme cases of overdose;
- Rapid heartbeat
- Heart attack
- Difficulty breathing
It’s important to monitor intake when using ingredients that have magnesium carbonate.
There are some benefits both these salts provide. I believe it comes to personal preference and fully educating oneself when committing to salt, clearly it’s a relationship to put thought into.
#DYK that iodized salt is an essential mineral and vital for optimal growth and development? 🧂🧂
In #Sudan, WFP and partners have been supporting the Government to ban the sale of non-iodized salt. We also purchase iodized salt locally as part of our monthly food assistance 💡 pic.twitter.com/CHI2cNrwCM
— World Food Programme (@WFP) September 22, 2019
Why do some salts say iodized?
Before I can venture into the relationship between salt and iodine, It’s important to know the role iodine plays in medical history.
I know what you’re thinking, why am I getting a history report of Iodine. But like the wise ones say, “you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.”
Plus, it’s a fun tale of the French, Swiss, China, and the United States!
Iodine was discovered as a mineral in 1811 by the French chemist, Barnard Courtois. He did this by adding seaweed ashes and too much sulfuric acid together.
The flames turned purple and BAM! Iodine is an official pure element!
In 1825, another French chemist, Boussingault, was able to identify iodine deficiency in people. Approximately 25 years later, another French chemist, Chatin, advocated for the consumption of iodine to prevent goiter.
In 1922, Switzerland introduced iodine into salt after studies showed decreases in goiter from the iodized salt. The US did a similar study, but the focus was on intelligence.
After it was concluded to eliminate goiter and raise IQ, Morton Salt began adding iodine to salt in 1924.
On the other side of our great blue planet, Chinese medicine has been using seaweed to treat thyroid issues, goiter, and other ailments for thousands of years. Seaweed can contain anywhere from 11%-1989% of daily recommended iodine intake, according to the National Institutes of Health.
To sum it up, iodine has been added to salts to improve IQ levels and combat goiter and other thyroid issues.
Is salt healthy?
The million-dollar question with a disappointing answer.
Salt is in fact, not our friend and poses a serious threat to our:
- Increases our cancer risk
Yes, our bodies need sodium, but too much can be deadly.
According to Heart.org adults should only take in 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (1/2 a teaspoon), with our bodies really only needing 500 milligrams of sodium a day (1/10 teaspoon).
I almost died reading the statistics. I know for a fact I eat much more than that in my potatoes, so what’s a southern girl like me to do?
The truth is, hold back on the salt, and substitute when possible.
These substitutes would actually include bacon, even though it is cured with salt. Each slice only contains about 138 milligrams of salt. So using only 2-3 slices in your dish would actually be less than the teaspoon or more used in a recipe.
So bacon to the rescue!
If you make a vegetarian or vegan dish, try using nutritional yeast as a healthy salt substitute with 2 tablespoons only amounting to 5 milligrams of sodium.
Even with the minerals and nutrients found in the purest of salts, it’s important to be cautious of the amount digested.
Heavily processed foods, eating out, and sodas are easily avoidable, but realistically, it’s almost impossible to completely eliminate salt intake. It just makes everything taste better, so the struggle is very real.
Did I cover everything you wanted to know about all the types of salt, the uses of salt, and how kitchen, table, and Himalayan salts compare to each other?
In this article, we took a very in-depth look at the world of salt.
Who knew something so basic could get so . . . complicated! We examined the different kinds of salt and how they differ from each other. Then we looked at all the different uses for salts, and why you might prefer one over the other.
We even examined the origins and benefits of pink Himalayan salt and whether it’s better or healthier than regular salt.
What’s your favorite type of salt?
If you’re looking to buy any small kitchen appliance, don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which breaks down all my best picks by category.
I always hand-select items that are either in our kitchen, we have used, or have researched well to make sure they are great items. I also typically recommend not only top of the line as well as inexpensive choices, so they can work with any budget.