In French the word is, sel. It is a simple word, but a word with a rich history, both as a form of payment, a miracle with food and manufacturing. Salt, in English is a combination of the Latin, sal and the Greek, hals.
Salt is naturally occurring mineral found in salt flats, seawater and ancient mines all over the world. Those mines contain the salt left behind from evaporated oceans from millions of years ago. Seawater is 2.6% NaCl (by weight), one cubic mile of seawater contains 120 million short tons of salt, a never ending supply! (Note: NaCl makes up 77% of all the dissolved minerals in seawater!
Salts found in different areas all have different chemical makeup, but their location can offer a crystal form of the salt with added benefits! Pink Himalayan salt gets its color from the minerals, such as iron and magnesium, trapped in the crystal with the salt. Salt harvested from the Dead Sea, the saltiest body of water on the planet, is said to have healing properties unparalleled on the planet.
What do salt crystals look like?
Salt can be found in chunks the size of your fist or finely graded down to a powder. The crystals are cubic in form, table salt, is made up of tiny cubes, but all salts can be found and purchased in different sizes (gradations) and forms, depending on the intended use!
What exactly is salt?
The chart below shows all of its amazing properties:
Properties of Pure Sodium Chloride:
|Molecular weight – NaCl||58.4428|
|Atomic weight – Na||22.989768 (39.337%)|
|Atomic weight – Cl||35.4527 (60.663%)|
|Eutectic composition||23.31% NaCl|
|Freezing point of eutectic mixture||-21.12° C (-6.016°F)|
|Crystal form||Isometric, Cubic|
|Color||Clear to White|
|Index of refraction||1.5442|
|Density or specific gravity||2.165 (135 lb/ft3)|
|Bulk density, approximate (dry, ASTM D 632 gradation)||1.154 (72 lb/ft3)|
|Angle of repose (dry, ASTM D 632 gradation)||32°|
|Melting point||800.8° C (1,473.4° F)|
|Boiling point||1,465°C (2,669° F)|
|Hardness (Moh’s Scale)||2.5|
|Critical humidity at 20 °C, (68° F)||75.3%|
|pH of aqueous solution||neutral|
Purity of rock salt produced in North America varies depending on the type of salt (evaporated, rock, solar) and on the source. Rock salt typically ranges between 95% and 99% NaCl, and mechanically evaporated salt and solar salt normally exceed 99% NaCl. Evaporated salt made with purified brine has the highest purity, in some cases 99.99% NaCl. Voluntary standards, such as those developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) assure appropriate quality for what the intended use is. Mandatory specifications for food grade, drug/medical and analytical use include Food Chemicals Codex, U.S. Pharmacopoeia, and Reagent Grade Chemicals. Special devices, called refractometers, are what is used to measure salinity.
Common salt or sodium chloride is considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as safe for its intended use as a food additive. This GRAS (generally recognized as safe) classification, and the universal use of sodium chloride since ancient times, affirms its safety. The Merck Index is what refers to sodium chloride as “not generally considered poisonous.” However, it is recognized that many substances in everyday use can be toxic in high concentrations, even too much water. Toxic levels of sodium chloride are reported as:
Oral toxicity (The Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances, 1986):
- Human; TDLo: 12,357 mg/kg/23 D-C
- Mouse; LD50: 4,000 mg/kg
- Rat; LD50: 3,000 mg/kg
- Rabbit; LDLo: 8,000 mg/kg
Acute aquatic toxicity (U.S. EPA, Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Chloride, 1988):
- Rana Breviceps (frog); No observed effect concentration (NOEC): 400 mg/L
- Daphnia pulex 48-hour LC50 or EC50: 1,470 mg/L
- Daphnia magna (water flea); 48 hour EC50: 3,310 mg/L
- Myriophyllum spicatum (water milfoil); Phytotoxicity (EC50 for growth): 5,962 mg/L
- Pimephales promealas (fathead minnow); 69-hour LC50: 7,650 mg/L
- Lepomis macrochirus (Bluegill) LC50 or EC50: 7,846 mg/L
- Anguilla rostrata (American eel) 48-hour LC50 or EC 50: 13,085 mg/L