Did you know that salt varies from place to place and that we use different salt types from all over the world?
Salt is one of the oldest and most essential minerals in your home.
You use it for seasoning your food, which is only one among a long list of other applications.
But what are the different types of salt out there?
What is salt?
Salt is the general term for sodium chloride, a chemical compound of two of the most abundant minerals in nature—sodium and chlorine.
Sodium and chlorine are both highly reactive elements and are, therefore, not found freely in nature.
Each comes attached with other elements in compounds, and they are commonly found together as salts.
Salt is harvested in salt pans along seawater coastlines and collected from halite mines around the world.
10 Different Types of Salt
The chemical composition of naturally available salts includes mineral rich compounds and trace elements.
In addition to this, makers of salts employ different production processes to create unique types of salts.
Let’s go over 10 main types and popular examples.
Ever tried boiling seawater in a metal pot until all the liquid evaporates?
The white or grey powder that will remain in the pot is a combination of sodium chloride and other minerals mixed up in the seawater.
Sea salt is a generic term for all salts produced from the reduction of evaporated seawater.
Seawater, ocean water, and saline lake water are all called saltwater.
Fleur de Sel
Directly translated to English, fleur de sel means “flower of salt.” Its method of production originated from the coast of Brittany in France.
Fleur de sel comes from the crystallization of the top layer of salt in a salt pan.
It has a light, briny flavor that makes it best as a finishing salt or condiment.
Celtic Grey Sea Salt
Celtic salt is also called sel gris, which is a French term that means “gray salt.”
Where fleur de sel comes from the top layer of salt in a salt pan, sel gris is raked from the bottom.
It gets its color from the tidal floor and the bottom of the salt pans.
You can buy it as large, moist crystals that have a strong briny flavor.
Dead Sea Salt
Cosmetics companies harvest salt and other minerals from the Dead Sea to create therapeutic products.
The Dead Sea has a very different composition than ocean water, and salt gathered from this area is not typically used for culinary applications.
Red Hawaiian Salt
Also called alaea salt, Hawaiian red salt is unrefined sea salt combined with alaea volcanic clay, noted for its high iron content.
You will taste red Hawaiian salt in many Hawaiian dishes.
Also, you can still find its use in various religious and cultural ceremonies.
Black Hawaiian Salt
Another Hawaiian salt is the black salt harvested from hardened lava salt pans and combined with activated charcoal.
Also known as black lava salt, black Hawaiian salt is known for its detoxifying properties.
During sea salt crystallization, salt can form dry, plate-like crystals. This is called flake salt.
It is usually light, thin, and irregularly shaped and has a crispy texture that makes it great for finishing touches.
Flake salt has minimal mineral content and a very bright flavor.
Examples include Murray River salt flakes, Anglesey sea salt, and Cyprus pyramid salt.
Any coarse salt has more concentrations of minerals than finer salts.
This density makes coarse salt dissolve longer when used in cooking.
That is why its recommended use is for finishing or for prolonged salt immersion applications.
Basic table salt is a combination of refined sodium chloride and anti caking agents.
It is what you will find in most salt shakers.
Refined sodium chloride usually comes from mined salt added to water, purified, and dried for more uniform consistency.
Pickling salt is a type of salt that is purely sodium chloride. It does not contain anti caking agents, iodine, or any other additives.
Also called canning salt or preserving salt, pickling salt should easily dissolve into a brine.
Anything kosher should comply with production, processing, and preparation guidelines set by Jewish law.
Also called koshering salt, you use it as curing salts to prepare and preserve kosher meats.
To make sure you have kosher salt, look for kosher certification markings on the packaging.
Salt loses trace minerals during purification, and one of the elements lost in the process is iodine.
Iodine plays a vital role in thyroid health, baby brain improvement during pregnancy, and infection treatment.
As iodine is removed from sea salt to produce refined salt, iodine is added to make iodized salt.
Flavored or Seasoned Salt
Makers of culinary seasonings mix herbs and spices with salt to create ready-to-use flavored or seasoned salt.
You can buy flavored salt from brands like McCormick and San Francisco Salt Company.
Some examples include black truffle salt, herbs de Provence salt, sriracha salt, and chipotle salt.
With the mineral name halite, rock salt is any form of salt that is mined and broken down into coarse particles.
The most famous types of rock salt are the Himalayan salts.
Himalayan Pink Salt
Himalayan pink salt is famous for its antioxidant properties and pink tint caused by its iron oxide content.
Himalayan pink salt is harvested from the Khewra salt mines in the Himalayan mountains of Pakistan.
This salt contains all the minerals present in the human body, which means it is a very healthy salt type.
Himalayan Black Salt
Also known as Kala Namak, Nepalese for “black salt,” Himalayan black salt is rock salt cooked with charcoal, bark, herbs, and seeds in a furnace for 24 hours.
Himalayan black salt has a very distinctive soft-boiled-egg-like taste.
Other examples of rock salt are Egyptian frost salt, Yellowstone salt, Utah salt, and Persian blue salt.
Although smoked salt is a seasoned salt, it does not require a combination of salt and other herbs or spices.
Smoked salt is cold-smoked by burning different wood types near the salt, sometimes lasting as long as two weeks.
The color and flavor of smoked salt depend on the type of wood burned and on the duration for which it is smoked.
Smoked salt is excellent for adding a smoky flavor to your savory dishes.
Which salt is best?
Although they vary in texture, color, and granule size, most salt types provide the same trace minerals.
The best salt type is one that has gone through minimal refinement, processing, and additive formulations.
You can benefit from the higher quantity of naturally occurring trace minerals present in unrefined salt.
If you have gone through all the types of salts listed here, you now have a general idea of which kinds of salt to choose.
Some salts, like the Dead Sea salt, are unique for specific applications.
Salts such as the Himalayan pink salt cost more than ordinary mined salts, and you might want to use them sparingly if you have other options available.
Seasoned and smoked salts provide specific flavors, which you can take advantage of for particular recipes.