Sea Salt – What Is Its Source And What Sets It Apart From Other Salt Types?
There is much debate on which the finest salt of the world is. It has been referred to as four different varieties. Fine sea salt, fine Himalayan sea salt, coarse sea salt, and sea salt all have their advantages and disadvantages. Each of these has its own specialty and use. The four types are:
Natural sea salts. This type of salt is harvested straight from natural sea waters. These sea salts were harvested millions of years ago, when the sea was still covered with water. Today, harvesting them is done to make them usable for human consumption. Some natural sea salts also contain minerals found in seawater such as copper, zinc, and magnesium.
Refined Salt. Refined sea salt was created by treating sea salt with high temperatures and pressure. High temperatures cause the minerals contained in the rock to become sodium ions, while reducing the weight and causing crystals to form. This method of creating refined salt also creates an excess of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide, making it a less than ideal way to create fine sea salt. Some sea salts, such as pink sea salt, are completely refined and stripped of any trace minerals, resulting in the name itself “refined.”
Varied Salt textures and mineral content. There are many different types of salts available, with the mineral content ranging from sodium to magnesium depending on where the salt was mined. Some salts have very subtle differences from one another, while others can be almost identical, but vary greatly in texture and mineral content.
Coarse Grain. Most sea salt has a coarse grain pattern, which makes it excellent for cooking. However, this coarse grain can also be bad for your health. Foods that are prepared on salt have a higher concentration of sodium than foods that are not prepared on salt. This includes dairy products, such as cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, and yogurt, and canned fish such as tuna, cod, and salmon.
Fine Grain. Salt has a fine texture and varying mineral content. As a result, it varies from very salty to very sweet depending on the way it’s prepared. Foods prepared on salt tend to have a rich taste, but one that lacks the flavor of other ingredients. For example, sea salt is very sweet and can even taste bitter if it’s not seasoned properly, whereas foods like black pepper, granola, and yogurt contain more neutral flavors that mask the flavor of the salt.
Medium Grain. Salt with a medium grain tends to have a balanced flavor. It has a medium amount of both sodium and minerals, but it doesn’t have too much or too little. This makes it ideal for use in a wide variety of cuisines.
Granular. Sea salt can come in granular, fine grain, and granular textured forms. The former are more fine grained because salt granules have larger crystals than grain size sea salts, and these crystals add to the salt’s taste. The latter have smaller crystals, but they do not affect the taste.
Clarity and Color. There are two different criteria that determine how clear sea salt is. The first is the amount of light that seep into the crystal structure, and the second is the presence of visible impurities. Most sea salts have a light color, which some people find desirable because it evokes the feeling of cooling sea water.
Trace minerals. Most sea salt contains a variety of trace minerals, which improve the flavor of sea salt and make it more appealing to eat. These minerals can be in trace amounts in table salt, or you may need to buy concentrated varieties. As a rule, the more minerals sea salt has, the softer and less intense its taste.
Himalayan Pink Salt. This type of sea salt contains a variety of trace minerals like potassium and magnesium, which makes it a popular addition to alternative therapies and even cosmetics because of its pleasant taste. It also contains high amounts of sodium chloride, which makes it a typical table salt but with a distinctive flavor.
As you can see, the differences between regular table salt and sea salts are relatively small. As a side note, Himalayan Pink Salt is used as a natural beauty product and as an alternative medicine by some cultures. You can see why it is so popular in Asia.