We use salt for so many different purposes and in so many different forms that it seems silly to think of one as “salt.” And yet this is what we do. What is salt? What is the difference between kosher salt and sea salt? When should we use one over the other?
First, let’s talk about what salt actually is. Salt is the combination of two substances – sulfur and oxygen – with a neutralizer, usually water. Because technically, there is no difference between salt that are brine salts or sea salt, chemically. Because sea salt is Sodium Chloride extracted from sea water and then treated to eliminate minerals before it is distributed as table salt. This process leaves behind ions that are responsible for giving salt its color, evaporation ability, saltiness and salt to taste.
So, what is the difference between sea salt and pickling salt? Sea salt has been harvested from the sea water, brought to shore and then dyed with water and left to dry. This harvesting of the salt takes away most of the minerals. The dry, dessicated salt flakes are then picked and made into sea salt. Although not as high in minerals as pickling salt, sea salt is still an ideal way to season our foods and salt offers many health benefits. Sea salt can also be used as an alternative to table salt.
Table salt consists mainly of monosodium phosphate (the substance containing calcium and magnesium). This substance is commonly referred to as salt because it is mined primarily from salt mines. Many people choose to buy processed and packaged table salt because they believe that it is less processed and therefore healthier.
Many people have started using micro-iodized salt or “micro-salt” to add color and flavor to foods. Micro-iodized salt products are made by crushing and re-infusing active ingredients such as potassium phosphate, calcium and magnesium into a powdered container. The resulting salt product is then crushed and mixed with water to create a volume measurement similar to sea salt. This is usually combined with other ingredients such as herbs for seasoning or fruit juices for a delicious treat.
Impurities are sometimes found in sea salt. These impurities can range from dead fish, pollution and debris to chemicals. The majority of these impurities are naturally occurring and are removed during the refining process. However, sometimes industrial pollutants enter the water and can affect the salt’s ability to perform its natural role in seasoning. For example, salt works best when it is at its lowest level. In cases where industrial pollutants have contaminated salt mines, the salt will not work as well as it should.
Salt can be separated into two general categories depending on the number of crystalline bands within the salt crystal structure. Regular table salt made from sea salt differ primarily based on the number of coarse salt grains per unit mass. A coarse grain size is one that has a large number of salt crystals, while a finer grain size has fewer salt crystals. Table salt can be made from sea salt, rock salt, or both. Sea salt contains a larger grain size than rock salt, which can help it to be more efficient in dissolving ingredients that tend to produce results faster.
The main difference between table salt and sea salt lies in their processing methods. Sea salt is harvested by lifting the water from the sea floor, where it is mined. This harvesting method makes the salt cleaner and more eco-friendly compared to table salt mined from the ground. While table salt is mined from the ground. Harvesting table salt requires pumping out the salt from the earth and requires expensive equipment. It is also more water intensive, requiring more energy and water to produce.