- Salt is a dietary mineral essential for animal life, composed primarily of sodium chloride.
- Salt flavor is one of the basic tastes, and salt is the most popular food seasoning. Salt is also an important preservative.
- Salt for human consumption is produced in different forms: unrefined salt (such as sea salt), refined salt (table salt), and iodized salt.
- It is a crystalline solid, white, pale pink or light gray in color, normally obtained from sea water or rock deposits. Edible rock salts may be slightly grayish in color due to this mineral content.
- Chloride and sodium ions, the two major components of salt, are necessary for the survival of all known living creatures, including humans.
- Salt is involved in regulating the water content (fluid balance) of the body.
- Over consumption of salt increases the risk of health problems, including high blood pressure.
Here are some of the common types of salt:
Table salt: It is a fine-ground, refined rock salt with some additives to keep it free-flowing. This is the common salt normally found on every table.
Coarse salt: It has large crystals with jagged edges which make this a good choice for sprinkling on pretzels or corn on the cob because the edges tend to cling and the salt does not readily melt.
Iodized salt: Salt which has iodine (sodium iodide), added. Iodine is a mineral necessary to the body to prevent hypothyroidism and some countries actually require iodine added by law. For those who live in areas away from oceans, iodized salt is an easy way to get this necessary nutrient into the diet. Surprisingly, iodized salt contains a small amount of sugar (usually indicated as dextrose in the ingredients listing), without which the salt would turn yellow due to oxidation of the iodine.
Kosher salt: This is a coarser grind of salt with large, irregular crystals. It contains no additives. It is a favorite with not only Jewish cooks, but also professional and gourmet cooks who prefer its texture and brighter flavor. When substituting for table salt, you may need more to taste since it seems less salty.