Salt: Facts and Uses
Salt may seem simple, but since it can be used in more ways than the well known, its fascinating facts and uses make it the world’s most amazing mineral. Discover some of the secrets of salt:
- The two major components of salt, chloride and sodium ions, are needed by all known living creatures, though in fewer quantities than the typical human consumes. Salt is also involved in the process by which your body regulates its water content (fluid balance).
- All four cationic electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium) are found in unrefined salt.
- The word “salad” comes from the ancient Roman practice of salting leaf vegetables; “salad” literally means “salted”.
- Salt works amazingly well as a stain remover if the stain is from spilled liquid and the spill is recent. Next time you spill some red wine on the carpet, cover it with a very generous pile of table salt. Wait an hour or two (the longer the better), then vacuum the salt up. It is unlikely there will be any stain left behind; at least, in every instance
- Adding salt to water will raise the temperature it boils at and lower the temperature it will freeze at.
- Ιf you boil eggs in salt water, it will make them easier to peel. Also, if you add a little non-iodized salt to egg whites before whipping them, it will increase the volume and serves as a stabilizer.
- Due to the fact that salt is a mineral, it can be stored more or less indefinitely without going bad or stale.
- Salt has been used as far back as history records to preserve meats, cheeses, and various other foods. Its preservative nature works by absorbing moisture from the cells of bacteria and mold through osmosis. This ends up making the mold and bacteria unable to reproduce and ultimately will kill them.
- One of the earliest known salt harvesting facilities dates all the way back to 6000 B.C. in China. This saltwork harvested salt from the surface of Xiechi Lake near Yuncheng in Shanxi.
- Salt was so important throughout human history that the word ‘salary’ derives from the Latin word salārium, referring to money given to soldiers so that they could buy salt.
- In the mid to late 1800s, there was a 4000 km impassable hedge built by the British to cut India in two, and its main purpose was to stop salt smugglers (who affected their revenue from salt tax)
- Good quality sea salt contains many essential minerals for the body. The best type of sea salt should be slightly wet from the sea it was taken from.
- In the Middle Ages, salt was so expensive it was sometimes referred to as “white gold”. The medieval pavement of one of the transportation routes for Salt still exists in Germany where it links the inland city of Lüneburg to the German Baltic coast.
- In the early 1800s salt was 4 times as expensive as beef on the frontier – it was essential in keeping people and livestock alive.
- In the late 17th century, salt was the leading cargo carried from the Caribbean to North America (most tonnage). Salt Cod was the leading cargo carried from North America to the Caribbean. It was used to feed slaves on sugar plantations.
- In old Japanese theaters, salt was sprinkled on to the stage before each performance to prevent evil spirits from casting a spell on the actors. Sprinkling salt around your home may have the same effect today.
- In the 18th and 19th century, blocks of salt were used as currency in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia).
- Salt towns: Towns ending in “lick”, “wich” and “saal” are towns that were founded because of salt availability.
- While we do not want to go over the top with our daily salt intake, without a healthy amount of salt in our bodies we would simply not be able to survive. Without salt, our muscles would not contract, our blood would not circulate, food would not digest and most important of all our hearts would not beat.
Next: The story behind salt
- If an inexhaustible supply of salt on earth is not enough, salt has been found on earth that has come from as far away as outer space. In this particular case has been found on meteors that have crashed to earth. Scientists have also found a presence of salt on Mars which gave life to the theory that life may, in fact, exist on the red planet. NASA scientists have also detected sodium salts in ice grains in the outermost rings of Saturn’s outermost ring. The salty ice suggests that one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, which forms Saturn’s outermost ring from discharging jets, could harbor a reservoir of liquid — possibly an ocean — underneath its surface.