Sea salt is a naturally salty material that is formed by the evaporation process of seawater. It's commonly used as a seasoning in cooking, baking, cosmetics, and even for preserving food. Also known as solar salt, prehistoric sea salt was mined from fossilized shells taken from ancient oceans. Today, it is still mined from these same shells.
Salt was valued for its delectable taste long before the discovery of its mineral content. Even in prehistoric times, salt was considered a luxury item because its value was associated with other minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium. The salt was used for making soda, as well as the development of saltpans, a type of drying machine.
A high-quality natural sea salt harvested from the sea has a crystalline structure that closely resembles a diamond. This property explains why sea salt is so valuable. Because it has a higher concentration of minerals like sodium chloride, it takes much longer to evaporate than other salts. Thus, it maintains its higher value in the market.
Salt crystal evaporation uses heat to transform sea salt into a gas, which is then used for drying and filtering. This high-pressure development of salt allows it to remove the negative properties and minerals that were left behind during the mining process. Many processed salt products are made from this high-quality salt.
Evaporated sea salt undergoes a slow chemical transformation that transforms it from a solid to a gaseous state. During this transformation, the salt minerals take up most of the available energy in the gaseous form of a liquid. One type of pink Himalayan salt called Pink Himalayan Crystal is harvested in the foothills of the Himalayas. Since pink Himalayan salt contains a high amount of minerals, it is processed into a concentrated salt solution which can be used for many applications.
Refined table salt, on the other hand, consists of all of the elements that have been removed from minerals during the harvesting process. These include potassium and magnesium, both of which are necessary for the bodies of humans and animals. Most table salt is made from unrefined sea salt and should not be confused with evaporated sea salt. In fact, the two kinds of salt can be mixed together and used in cooking.
There are two types of sea salt evaporation techniques available to industries and companies. These techniques involve wet or dry extraction, which is the more familiar method. The methods also differ based upon the type of product being processed. Dry extraction sea salt evaporation involves mechanical means, whereas wet sea salt evaporation involves chemical means. When dry extraction is used, the seawater is desalinated using electricity, and then salt is mechanically separated from the seawater using the mechanical siphon.
Companies that produce all-natural sea salt will also have information about the mineral content and concentration of the salt. The concentration of these elements is important, as too little salt and the wrong concentration of minerals can result in an all-natural salt that has no taste or scent. All-natural sea salt information will usually tell consumers what grade of rock and other elements they can expect to find in their product. Many all-natural salts vary slightly in density and weight, so knowing the density and weight of the salt is important before purchasing. Some of the densest and most expensive salts are organic; however, the more common synthetic varieties tend to be more refined and cheaper.
Another piece of all-natural sea salt information that many people believe is the fact that table salt does not contain any trace minerals. This may be true for a large percentage of salt varieties, but it is not the case for all of them. The trace minerals found in table salt come from seawater, and the minerals do make their way into the product. The trace minerals that you find in table salt can actually act as preservatives. This preservative component can actually help to extend the shelf life of foods and prevent them from going bad.
There are other types of natural sea salt that are used as table salt. One example of this is Himalayan Pink Salt, which is also processed. While it has not gone through any type of evaporation process, processing does take place in order to make it usable as table salt. Evaporation is often used to remove excess moisture and dry out products, which leaves behind an even softer substance.
Although sea salt is commonly used for its de-mineralizing and moisture-retaining properties, there is a type of sea salt that is becoming more popular. It is called Himalayan Pink Salt and is harvested from the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. Harvesting this salt from the mountains is thought to have been first done by the ancient Indians, although modern-day evaporation techniques have brought it to our attention. It is harvested in much the same way that sea salt is, by using the seawater and collecting the moisture that is extracted.