Different types of salt: what are the differences?
Salt can be found in every kitchen. But nowadays you can no longer just speak of ‘salt’. There are all kinds of them with the most exotic names. From Hawaiian sea salt to kosher salt. But what should you do with all those different types? Salt is just… salt? In this article, you can read more about the types of salt and the differences.
How is salt made?
Although there are more types, the ways in which salt is made can be divided into two categories. Namely, salts that come out of the ground and water.
Initially, we mainly extracted salt from the sea. To do this, large ponds called basins were filled with a layer of seawater. That water was then allowed to evaporate, leaving only the salt behind. There are also places where saltwater comes to the surface.
Sea salt is mainly extracted in countries with a warm climate. After all, that is where the water evaporates most easily. Rapid evaporation produces small salt grains. Slow evaporation for salt flakes.
Countries, where a lot of sea salt is extracted, are France, Portugal, Hawaii, and Denmark. We don’t produce much in this way in the Netherlands. There is only a small company in Zeeland. This is because extracting them leads to soil subsidence, which is dangerous for the dikes.
Rock salt comes from areas where water used to be. In other words, seas that have dried up. Seawater constitutes 3.5% of salt. That salt was left behind when the water evaporated. But you cannot just get out that salt in the ground, that can also be done in two ways.
Salt mining is one of them. The salt is therefore chopped out of the ground. These salt layers are located deep underground from 100 meters to 5000 meters deep. But they are also thick layers of more than 100 meters.
The other way is to squirt water into the soil and then pump it back up. That water than contains salt and is evaporated. This is called solution mining.
Table salt is not a separate type, but it undergoes a different process. It’s a kind of rock salt. Spraying hot water into the soil dissolves the salt. We call it water with dissolved salt brine. This brine is pumped up and purified.
What types of salt are there?
Now a look at all the different types of salt out there with a number of characteristics.
- Table salt or table salt is purified salt to which iodine is often added.
- Sea salt is similar to table salt but tastes different. More than half of it consists of sodium chloride. And far from magnesium chloride and sodium sulfate.
- The potassium salt is not a separate type of salt. But some of the sodium in the jar has been replaced by potassium. Potassium is good for your blood pressure, unlike sodium. It does taste bitter.
- Kosher salt has a coarser structure. It is mainly used in North America to make meat kosher. Salt on meat pulls out the blood. It tastes the same as sea salt.
- Himalayan salt is obtained by hand from the Himalayas. It can be white, but also pink. It contains small amounts of minerals.
- Black Hawaiian sea salt is black and is therefore also called lava salt. The black color is due to the addition of charcoal from the volcano. This salt contains many minerals.
- Green Hawaiian sea salt is green because the salt is mixed with minerals and green bamboo extract.
- Red Hawaiian sea salt also comes from the volcanic soil and gets a red color due to the iron oxide it contains.
- Fleur de sel, also called Celtic sea salt, is the salt from France. The water from the Atlantic Ocean slowly evaporates in basins. The extraction is then done by hand. Hence the high price.
- La Baleine Essentiel is also from France. It contains less sodium and less potassium. Instead, they use calcium and magnesium salts.
- Vacuum salt is salt that is heated and then crystallizes under vacuum. It starts as brine. Table salt can be made from vacuum salt. But it is also used as road salt because of its fine structure.
- Alpine salt. Rock salt from the Austrian Alps. Brown in color and very rich in minerals.
- Smoke salt is smoked sea salt. With a temperature of below 25 degrees and, for example, beech wood. This process takes a very long time.
- Persian blue salt comes from a salt mine in Iran. The color is created by a unique crystal structure.
You can also buy sea salt with added spices or ingredients, such as sesame seeds, truffles, or chili peppers.
What is the best salt?
Eating too much salt is not healthy. At the same time, we would also need it for a good fluid balance and for the functioning of our muscles. With that in mind, you can consume any type of salt in moderation. One salt is no better than another. Even though they differ.
Every type of salt contains sodium. And that is what is not good for our health in large quantities. There are types of salt for sale that are low in sodium. You could say these are better. But you cannot consume those in large quantities either.
The salts differ in composition. Some varieties contain more minerals than others. That is what distinguishes them in the shops. However, those differences are so small that they have no health benefits. After all, you only eat very little of it!
But you will still have to choose. Preferably go for an unprocessed type of salt. Table salt is the most processed and contains only sodium and chloride. The other types are more often unprocessed. Check the packaging to check this. And you can also opt for a salt that is low in sodium.