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Why Do Himalayan and Celtic Salts List More Minerals Than Real Salt?

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Real Salt vs Celtic vs Himalayan

Have you ever looked at a lab report and thought you knew what it meant only to find out you were reading it incorrectly? Maybe your lab report was results from a blood test or something in science class. Well, sometimes this happens to other people, too. Like marketing departments. We think we know what we’re looking at and sweet! we’ve got a higher mineral count than all those other salt companies, let’s tout that on our labels immediately…but then, as it turns out…ummm… oops… we got it sorta wrong.

It happens.

You see, marketing departments are pretty great at doing things like crafting catchy slogans and connecting with key demographics, but we’re not always the best at doing things like interpreting in-depth lab analyses. You’re shocked, we can feel it. We were, too. (We hate knowing we have limits.) So, we don’t blame the other guys for making those claims, but the fact of the matter is, they can’t back them up.

 

Theoretically, a natural salt from either a current ocean or an ancient ocean will have about 84 trace minerals, however, some of those are in such minuscule amounts that lab equipment isn’t sensitive enough to detect them. The most a lab can realistically find is about 50 or 60. And that’s where the confusion starts.

When you read an elemental analysis you can see everything tested for and found as well as everything tested for and not found. For people who aren’t familiar with reading a report of this kind (like marketing departments), it’s pretty easy to mistake elements that were “detectable” with elements that were “non-detectable.” When looking over the report you’ll notice a little “< ” symbol near some of the minerals. If you reach way back into your third grade math memory file, you’ll remember that symbolizes “less than,” and more technically in this instance, “no quantities of this analyte were detected above the stated limit.” That’s an easy statement for marketing departments to spin, because what it means is that the lab tested for those things and couldn’t detect any at the stated threshold, but if they could test to a lower level it’s possible they would find it. It’s the lab version of “We can’t prove it but we can’t disprove it, either.”

It’s important to remember that we’re talking about Parts Per Million; if there is 1 part per million (ppm) in a given substance, it would equate to 0.0001% of the substance. Any lab tech worth their salt (ha) will tell you that when you’re dealing with limits of this size your results can vary slightly even with back to back tests of the exact same sample. That slight variation can be the difference between “detectable” and “non-detectable.” In fact, if you compare the “Real Salt Lab Analysis” with the “Real Salt Elemental Analysis” you’ll see 75+ elements listed on one and only about 60 elements listed on the other. The shorter list excludes the minerals that were technically not found. Sure, in theory there are 84 minerals, but we prefer science over theory. One day lab equipment may advance and become more sensitive, allowing us to find all 84 of those theoretical minerals, but for now, we’re only claiming the ones we can prove.


We’re not trying to throw other companies under the bus and we don’t believe they’re trying to be dishonest; they simply might not know how to read their own analyses or we may have different approaches to interpreting them for the purposes of marketing.

Regardless of marketing spin, Real Salt is a complete natural sea salt. It is unrefined with nothing added and nothing removed, containing all of the minerals that nature put in place—all 60 or 84 of them, depending on who you ask.

What About the Aluminum in Real Salt? Is It Safe?

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Ever since 1911, scientists have had questions about the safety of aluminum in our diets. Most notably, aluminum has been cited as a potential cause of Alzheimer’s Disease. Despite an ever-growing body of research conducted throughout the last century, few clear conclusions have been reached regarding this complex issue, leaving the average person to wonder how much worry—if any—they should be devoting to the matter. We aren’t smarter or better-trained than actual scientists and medical professionals, so we aren’t going to claim to know the implications of aluminum in diseases. What we can do, though, is talk about the aluminum in Real Salt and what we know about its effect on the human body.

The first thing to know is that the minerals and trace elements in Real Salt pink sea salt are all naturally-occurring. We aren’t adding aluminum-containing additives like anti-caking agents (or anything else) to Real Salt. This is important when seeking to understand if it’s safe to eat. The naturally-occurring amount of aluminum in Real Salt is 0.0139% and is likely bound to the silica, making it aluminum silicate, as opposed to pure unbound elemental aluminum (which is the element research has raised questions about).

That said, pure elemental aluminum has a gastrointestinal tract absorption rate of less than 1%. This number is suspected to be even lower in aluminum silicate as the body’s ability to fully break down silica is up for debate. This means that your body is going to absorb, at the most, less than 1% of a substance that makes up 0.0139% of Real Salt—that’s about 0.000139%, or 1/10,000 of a percent.

Per ¼ teaspoon serving, Real Salt contains 0.194 mg of aluminum. For context, most adults consume between 1 and 10 milligrams of aluminum daily, to no ill effect. You will find aluminum in spinach, tea, most baked goods, some types of fish, and many vegetables. Meat, eggs, and fresh fruit also contain it. Because of its abundance in the earth’s crust, it is present in many of our food sources—including the natural, organic, and cleanly produced ones.


Possibly the most comforting bit of information on this topic is the intelligence of the human body. According to this paper on the safety of dietary aluminum, “The healthy human body has effective barriers (skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract) to reduce the systemic absorption of aluminum ingested from water, foods, drugs, and air. The small amount of aluminum (<1%) that is systemically absorbed is excreted principally in the urine and, to a lesser extent, in the feces. No reports of dietary aluminum toxicity to healthy individuals exist in the literature.” Our bodies are better at protecting us than we sometimes give them credit for.

If you’ve been wondering about the safety of aluminum in natural sea salt, we hope these points will prove useful in helping you make an informed decision about what’s right for you.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16019791
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11259180
  3. http://www.livestrong.com/article/403282-aluminum-in-your-diet/
  4. http://uknowledge.uky.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1030&context=ps_facpub
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21157018

What Do You Mean Real Salt Comes From an Ancient Sea in Utah?

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On a recent weekday afternoon, a concerned citizen took to our Facebook page thinking we were trying to pull the wool over our fans’ eyes. Our claims of sourcing from an ancient sea in Utah, USA, seemed ludicrous to her. She didn’t explain her reasoning, but we’re guessing it has something to do with the fact that a quick glance at a map will confirm that Utah is decidedly not under the sea. So what’s up with that claim, then? How can we source Real Salt from an ancient sea in the middle of a desert? Are we talking about The Great Salt Lake? (Nope, we aren’t.)

When people hear the words “ancient sea” they usually immediately think of, you know, a sea. Full of water. Like the Red Sea. But the term “ancient sea” often refers to a sea that existed in ancient times and has since dried up and created geologic deposits. In what is now North America, during the Jurassic Period of the Mesozoic Era, there was an inland sea known as the Sundance Sea.

According to experts, the Sundance Sea was full of marine life and drew many dinosaurs and land-dwelling animals to its shores (where modern day scientists have found a wealth of fossils and dinosaur tracks). Geologists believe this ancient sea expanded a handful of times throughout its existence, in a course of what is known as marine transgressions. “Marine transgression” is a scientific way of saying it rose and covered more and higher ground, flooding what had previously been not-sea.

Eventually, the sea dwindled as the landscape changed. When a sea recedes and dries up it leaves things behind, like the salt and minerals that once saturated its waters. In the case of the Sundance Sea, after it abated the land it once sustained was covered by volcanic ash, which sealed its remnants in the earth, keeping them as pristine and unpolluted as they were in prehistoric times.


Today, part of that preserved inland seabed lies underground in central Utah, near the small town of Redmond. This is where Real Salt has been sourced for almost 60 years.

And there you have it. While Utah is not currently under water, parts of it were in ancient times. The vestiges of it were sealed away for millennia, leaving us with an immaculate source of vital nutrients and unique flavor that we call Real Salt.  

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sundance_Sea

http://www.geowyo.com/red-gulch-dinosaur-tracksite–sundance-seaway.html

http://historyoftheearthcalendar.blogspot.com/2014/10/october-15-sundance-sea-and-island-in.html

Has Real Salt Sea Salt Been Contaminated By Plastic?

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Plastic is everywhere, and that’s becoming a problem. There’s growing concern about the prevalence of plastic and its impact on our planet in ways we might not have foreseen. We now have evidence that plastic is making its way into our food sources, and a recent article in The Guardian shines a light on research showing plastic in sea salt.

As you can imagine, as a result of this, we’ve been fielding questions from customers worried that Real Salt has been affected. Before we dig into the issue, we want to state unequivocally that Real Salt natural sea salt is not and cannot be affected by plastic contamination. Understanding the concern with sea salt will help you see why this is the case.

The Guardian article reveals that researchers in Spain have declared that “sea products are irredeemably contaminated by microplastics,” an edict that is somewhat alarming. One sea product is of course sea salt. Recently, a study conducted at the University of Minnesota showed that Americans could be ingesting a surprising amount of plastic microparticles from sea salt if they are following the recommended dietary guidelines for sodium—and as you probably know, the vast majority of Americans are getting a lot more salt than that. While no one concretely knows the effects of ingesting plastic, it seems like it’s probably not a particularly good thing.

According to The Guardian, “Some researchers, such as Mason, now believe sea salt could be more vulnerable to plastic contamination because of how it is made, through a process of dehydration of sea water.”

The aforementioned Mason is Sherri Mason, the scientist who led the University of Minnesota research. She is interviewed in the piece. She is quoted as saying, “It is not that sea salt in China is worse than sea salt in America, it’s that all sea salt—because it’s all coming from the same origins—is going to have a consistent problem…I think that is what we’re seeing.”

While we have a great respect for science, Mason got that part wrong. All sea salt does not come from the same origins. Source matters, especially in this case. While many sea salts are made by dehydrating sea water as Mason says, not all is. Real Salt natural sea salt is harvested from an ancient seabed. The sea existed during the Jurassic Period, long before plastic and other modern pollutants existed, and then receded. Its remnants were buried under protective volcanic ash that kept it entirely unpolluted and unchanged for millions of years. You can learn more about that here. Because it is not sourced from a current ocean, our changing way of life doesn’t affect the cleanliness and purity of Real Salt unrefined sea salt. We also use clean mining techniques to harvest Real Salt, employing hydraulic-powered stainless steel rotary tools and no explosives (learn more about that here), further protecting it from contamination..

If you are concerned about ingesting plastic from sea salt, we suggest you switch to Real Salt ancient natural sea salt. Unspoiled by the pollution we humans create and mined in America with an awareness of environmental impact, it’s a safe choice now and always.

Why Do Some Japanese Restaurants Keep Piles of Salt Outside?

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When visiting a Japanese restaurant or other Japanese establishment, you may have noticed a dish or pile of salt outside of the entrance. (If you didn’t, it’s not necessarily a reflection on your powers of observation—not all places have them.) If you did, you may have wondered about its significance. We have, too, and because we’re pretty interested in all things salt, we decided to do some research. As with many questions about the origins of customs, there’s more than one answer.

Some sources tie the presence of salt piles outside of businesses to the Japanese ritual of misogi, which involves cleansing and purification with seawater and sprinkling salt. This cleansing is believed to have both spiritual and physical effects. Meanwhile, in the Shinto belief, salt is used to purify land, protect a home from impurities, and as an offering to the spirits. A pile of salt outside the door, according to some, may then signify that a place has been purified. The display is meant to both inform and attract customers. A mound refreshed daily communicates to guests that the owner meticulously attends to matters of cleanliness.

Depending on the proprietor, the presence of salt could be related to one of these possibilities, but there are two prevalent bits of lore that provide other theories.


The first centers on the idea that long ago, a pile of salt outside of a business could be used to attract the business of the rich by first attracting their horses. As any equestrian will tell you, horses love salt. A pile of salt, then, would be as attractive to them as a pile of candy would be to a child, and they would approach it with the same enthusiasm—and incidentally bring their owners to the business.

The second bit of lore dates back to ancient China, when a famed emperor had a mind-boggling number of concubines (3,000, give or take) and would visit them in turn. The story goes that one wife was extra eager to be visited, so she laid salt outside of her home to entice the oxen (or perhaps cow) pulling the emperor’s cart to stop for a while instead of heading on toward the intended wife’s quarters. Her plan worked, and the emperor was forced to stay with her. As a result of this tale, it became customary for salt to be placed outside of certain businesses to both attract customers and signify the patronage of someone important. Sometimes it is scattered, other times it is placed in small piles, and yet other times it is carefully arranged into large cones, the tops of which are smudged once customers arrive.  

With so many potential explanations for it, the only way to really know why a particular proprietor places salt outside of their establishment is to ask. Perhaps the reason will sound familiar, or maybe you’ll discover something new.

How to Make Salt Water Solé

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Every morning, a growing number of health-conscious people around the world add a spoonful of salt solution to a glass of water and drink it. Skipping this would be as unfathomable to them as skipping a morning cup of coffee is to others. They credit it with increased energy, improved hydration, better digestion, and a host of other benefits. The solution is called solé.

Solé is a homemade brine that has taken the holistic wellness community by storm in the last few years, though some communities have been using it for centuries. Followers of low-carb and keto diets have also begun using solé to get necessary electrolytes. Making solé is different than adding a spoonful of salt to your morning glass of water, however. It has to be prepared ahead of time so the water can be fully saturated with salt, meaning it would be unable to absorb any more (26% NaCl saturation for you chemistry fans). Using unrefined sea salt is recommended to get the full benefit, which is owed in part to trace minerals. When it’s ready, don’t drink the entire jar of solé, use just a spoonful in a glass of water. You can continue to use the solé brine every day until it’s gone. 

Want to try it for yourself? Follow the directions below. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this natural remedy, so let us know how it works for you.

 

What You’ll Need:

  • Pint jar
  • Real Salt or other unrefined salt (granular, kosher, or coarse)
  • Water

What to Do:

Place about ¼ cup salt in the bottom of the jar. Fill the jar the rest of the way with water, leaving a small space at the top. Put the lid on. Wait at least an hour, then check on it. There should be some salt remaining in the bottom of the jar. If all of the salt is absorbed, add more, then wait again. If there are crystals at the bottom of the jar, your solution has reached full saturation and is ready to use. Remove a spoonful, add to a glass of water, and drink.

Why is Fleur de Sel So Expensive?

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If you visit certain coastal regions of France in the summer months, you might see local farmers engrossed in the harvest—except these farmers aren’t in the fields picking wheat or grapes, they are carefully raking tools reminiscent of garden hoes across the surface of man-made ponds, gathering what we know as fleur de sel—that rather expensive, pretty gray sea salt.

But why exactly is it so expensive? As it turns out, there are actually good reasons for it.

Most salt comes from sources that offer large quantities of supply, like underground deposits or the current ocean. Fleur de sel, however, is much harder to come by. It technically comes from the current ocean, but it is carefully cultivated through a series of canals and ponds designed to produce the desired end result. These ponds fill with seawater when the tide is highest (in some spots, they only fill during the new and full moon). Once full, the water slowly flows from pond to pond, evaporating and becoming saltier at each pool, until it reaches the final one, where it will be harvested. At the bottom of the pond, sitting on top of the clay, a salt layer that will be sold as coarse gray sea salt forms, and at the very top of the pond, fleur de sel.

Fleur de sel is French for “salt flower,” an apt description of this fragile form of salt crystal that can be destroyed by something as common as wind. It looks like a thin layer of icy snowflakes on the water’s surface, and it has to be harvested immediately, with great care, and by hand. The farmers use skimmers to remove the salt, similar to the way you might skim the top of a pool to remove debris. Then they drain it and collect it in wheelbarrows. After a full afternoon of work, they might get a few wheelbarrows’ worth of the crystals, providing the weather cooperates. Speaking of weather, should a storm roll in, the humidity fluctuate too much, the wind kick up, or some other unfortunate turn of luck occur, the fleur de sel will not form, and the salt farmers will have to hope for better luck tomorrow.

Knowing where fleur de sel comes from makes understanding its cost simple. It’s rare and labor-intensive to produce. Its formation depends on uncontrollable factors like weather and the tide, and the season in which it can be done is brief. On top of that, there are relatively few salt farmers who produce it, and all of them have rather small operations. When you think of it, it’s a wonder it’s widely available.

Is it worth paying the price for fleur de sel? We suppose that depends on who you are. Chefs and connoisseurs prize it for its delicate flavor and texture (and maybe a little bit for its exclusive status?), and some go so far as to have tasting parties where fleur de sel takes center stage. If you’re not someone who is going to give your food that much attention, it may not be the best choice for you. We like to think of fleur de sel like truffle oil: a high-end product that is excellent as a finishing touch for special dishes, but not something you’d use every day. If you love cooking, it has its place in your spice cabinet—right next to your Real Salt.

Mine to Table: The Real Salt Process

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One of the most common questions our customer service team fields is “How is Real Salt processed?” And we gotta say, we’re really glad you asked. You see, when we named our salt Real Salt we weren’t taking artistic license or employing some masterful spin, we were calling a spade a spade. Real Salt is as real as it gets: unrefined, unprocessed, nothing added, nothing removed. Sourced from a protected ancient seabed in a rural area of central Utah, Real Salt formed before modern pollutants were introduced into the environment. As the only owners of the mine since it opened in 1958, we have maintained strict standards to ensure the continued purity of Real Salt and are committed to doing so in the future. To learn more about our practices, read this

Redmond mine entrance

Bringing it to you starts with the salt being removed from the walls of the mine with a stainless steel hydraulic rotary tool—no explosives necessary. (When you’re in the mine while this is happening, the air is so thick with pure salt you can taste it on your lips and feel your sinuses clear.) If you walked into the food-grade veins of the mine and picked up a crystal, you could take it home, pop it into your fancy blender, and crush it into the same stuff you’ll find in our packages; it’s that unadulterated. You could even take a hammer to it if you were feeling particularly primitive. You’re probably a little too busy to crush your own salt, though, so we handle that for you.

Once the salt has been removed from the wall, it goes into a lined food-grade truck and up to mill equipment used solely for our Real Salt. After all, we know you probably don’t want the stuff you use on your eggs in the morning to be produced alongside deicing salt. The Real Salt mill is made of stainless steel and entirely enclosed, ensuring food safety and protecting the salt from contamination from the air and surrounding environment. A dedicated facility ensures safety for customers who have concerns about food allergies, too. As an extra precaution, we also use a series of magnets and metal detectors to avoid any potential metal contamination from the mining, milling, or packaging process.

The milling process consists of two steps: crushing and screening. First, the large salt crystals are crushed into smaller bits, much like grain in a flour mill. Next they are passed through a series of screens to separate them out by size. Anything that is bigger than our largest Real Salt product (the coarse grind) goes back through the crusher until it makes it through the screen. After that, it’s taken to a facility that exclusively packages Real Salt, so you know you’ll never get anything else in your shaker.

Are you wondering when the anti-caking agents or other additives come into play? They don’t. We never add anything to our salt, and we don’t take anything out of it. We believe in this instance, nature got it right. Without the anticaking agents, Real Salt will occasionally clump a little bit—especially in more humid climates—but that can easily be remedied by giving a gentle tap to the shaker. Because this is more likely to happen with finely ground salt, you can avoid this altogether by choosing a coarse salt in a shaker with an attached grinder, like this one.

No additives? No heat? No mineral-stripping? Like we said, Real Salt is just that: real, pure, unrefined salt, from our mine to your table.

Real Salt - unrefined ancient sea salt

Is Real Salt Himalayan Pink Salt?

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If you were a fly on the wall of Google for the day, you’d discover that one of the most-searched questions about Real Salt is whether or not it’s Himalayan Pink Salt. It’s pink. It’s ancient sea salt. It has similar properties. So, it’s the same thing…? Or, wait, it’s not?

You can see why people are confused—and so can we. Hopefully we can shed some light on this.

Real Salt is not Himalayan Pink Salt, but if you’re familiar with the latter, you’ll recognize some of the great things that make Real Salt a standout. They have a lot in common, but they have some key differences that may tip your favor in one direction or another.

Like Himalayan, Real Salt is an unrefined, natural pink crystal salt from an ancient sea bed. Both contain trace minerals that are processed out of conventional table salt. Both have no additives. Both are low in moisture. That’s a lot of shared checkmarks in some pretty important categories. But where do they differ?

Himalayan Pink Salt is mined in and around Khewra, Pakistan from an area known as The Salt Range. This range extends about 186 miles across the northeastern portion of the country, dotted with several mines of along the way. Not only do the characteristics of the salt vary from mine to mine, but the mining methods do, too. Some use recent technology and others equip their laborers with hand-crank drills and gunpowder as they have for generations. Once Himalayan salt is ready, it’s shipped to the United States. That makes for exotic salt, but depending on where you live, a potentially sizeable environmental impact.

Real Salt is mined in the United States, near Redmond, Utah, from a single mine. Because our salt comes from a single source it doesn’t vary as much in its makeup, and because we own the mine, we are able to control the extraction methods. You can learn more about this here, but in short, Real Salt is harvested using modern technology, no explosives, and the best practices for labor and safety—in an operation powered by solar fields. Our miners are paid a living wage, too, so you don’t have to worry about your salt coming to you at half the price of the other guys’, but at an unconscionable cost to someone else. (It’s still half the price of the other guys’, though.) We crush and screen Real Salt on site, then send it to a local facility to be packaged and shipped, keeping the food miles to a minimum.

The final difference is something you may have already noticed on your own if you have a well-developed palette. When tasted side by side, Himalayan Pink Salt has an earthy flavor, whereas Real Salt is slightly sweet (but still salty). Some people prefer the earthiness for certain dishes, while others opt for the sweet saltiness. We’re biased toward Real Salt, but we think both Real Salt and Himalayan Pink Salt are superior to the sharper, bitter flavor of stripped-down conventional salt. Do the taste test. We bet you’ll agree.

Why Do We Say Someone is “Worth Their Salt”?

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Ever wondered why on earth we use the phrase “worth their salt” to indicate someone is valuable and worthwhile in their position?  After all, salt is inexpensive and abundant. You can buy a big box of the refined stuff for a few bucks at your local grocer. So what gives?

Salt may be readily accessible and easily afforded these days, but that wasn’t always the case. Salt is essential to life, and for much of recorded history, salt has been incredibly valuable and often difficult to come by. (Even though much of the world is covered in salt water, extraction was not a simple or efficient task without modern technology.) Its value was tied to the fact that salt was used to preserve food before artificial refrigeration was invented. AskHistory.com says, “In this way, salt came to represent power; without it, armies couldn’t travel great distances and explorers couldn’t sail to new lands because their provisions would spoil.” The more salt an empire (or person) had, the more advantages in the quest for power. Salt also carries significance in many religions and cultures, adding to its perceived value.

Because of this multifaceted value, salt became an important commodity and even currency. There is some debate about whether or not ancient Roman soldiers were actually paid in salt or given an allowance for purchasing it, but that compensation was known as a “salarium,” which gave rise to the modern word “salary.” “Salarium” is Latin, using the root word “sal,” meaning salt. So, someone who is skilled at their vocation is earning their pay and hence “worth their salt.”

There is a more harrowing association with this idiom as well. According to HowStuffWorks.com, salt was traded for slaves, and that is the true origin of the phrase. This is a less-cited possibility, but one that should be noted.

So there you have it. “Worth their salt” was once a rather literal assessment of someone’s labor value. Nowadays, we typically use this colloquialism in the negative or as an expected standard, i.e., “any doctor worth their salt would…” instead of as praise for competency. Regardless, we’re going to call that a good thing, based solely on the fact that our bank accounts are full of money and not seasoning.

Questions? Call us! (800) 367-7258