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Different Types of Salt

Mukulika Mukherjee Jan 23, 2019
Wondering if all salts are the same or there are different types of salt? Read through this write-up to find out.
Salt is chemically defined as the neutral product formed as a result of a reaction between an acid and an alkali. However, when we speak of salts, we just have the common salt in mind. What is meant by common salt? Well, it is the salt which we use in our homes to cook and preserve food.
Salt adds a distinct taste and flavor to food and is also essential for the body. Common salt or sodium chloride (NaCl) is found in many forms and each of these have their own distinct flavor. It is for this reason that each salt is used for a different purpose, even though they all have the same chemical properties.

Types of Salts

Let's have a look at the many types of salt and where they are used.

Table Salt

Table salt is one of the most commonly used salts in the kitchen. The salt obtained by the evaporation of sea water is refined to get table salt which is pure sodium chloride. The salt obtained from sea water has traces of other minerals and impurities and is termed as unrefined or raw salt.
To get table salt, the raw salt is dissolved in water to form salt solution or brine and is chemically treated to remove all impurities. Sometimes, certain anti-clumping agents are added to it. The crystals of table salt are very fine, uniform and easy to measure which is why it's widely used in cooking, especially for baking brownies, cookies, cakes, etc.

Iodized Salt

Iodine is one of the minerals that our body needs in tiny quantities. In regions with a deficiency of iodine in the soil, people stand a risk of suffering from iodine deficiency as the body does not get the required amount of iodine from vegetables.
Deficiency of iodine can cause problems such as goiter and even mental retardation in some cases. Such a problem can be countered by adding iodine to the salt used. Thus, iodized salt is nothing but iodine added to table salt or sodium chloride. However, on prolonged exposure to the atmosphere, the iodized salt may begin to release the iodine in it.

Kosher Salt

Kosher salt is a type of crystalline edible salt which is coarser as compared to table salt and has large-sized grains making it perfect for recipes in which salt is used for garnishing. One of the characteristics which makes it a favorite among chefs around the world, is that it readily dissolves in water, dispersing the flavor of the food uniformly.
Also, its larger and coarser grains make it easy for you to add pinches of the salt in exact quantities. Kosher salt is used for curing meat by the koshering process and its density is less than that of table salt.

Sea Salt

Sea salt is salt obtained by the evaporation of sea water. Earlier known as bay salt, sea salt is amorphous with a distinct flavor. Sea salt is more expensive than table salt and kosher salt. A wide variety of sea salts are available in the market and these differ in their sources and properties.
Not only do you get moderately priced sea salts but also exotic sea salts from different regions of the world. If you go shopping for sea salts, here's what you're expected to find.
Sel Gris
Sel gris or gray salt is a coarse grain salt obtained from Brittany, a region in the Atlantic coast of France. It is an unrefined sea salt that is light gray in color. It is collected using the traditional method using tools made of wood. Chefs around the world believe that when it comes to quality and taste, the gray salt is simply the best.
Fleur de Sel
This salt is also obtained from the GuĂ©rande region in Brittany, France and its name means 'flower of salts'. Just like gray salt, this salt is also collected manually using only wooden tools. Also known as the "caviar of salts", the Fleur de Sel is the salt ideal for use in garnishing salads and other dishes.
Hawaiian Sea Salt
Also known as alae, this salt is obtained by adding alae, a volcanic clay, to the sea salt. The volcanic clay being rich in iron oxides, gives the salt a reddish tinge along with an earthy flavor.
Another variety of the Hawaiian sea salt is the black sea salt, which is obtained after adding activated charcoal to sea salt. The activated charcoal serves as a detoxifying agent. Hawaiian sea salts are ideal for seasoning and for use in preservatives.
In addition to this, there are many varieties of sea salts like Italian sea salt and French sea salt. Obtained from the Mediterranean Sea, the Italian sea salt is ideal for salads and is rich in iodine, fluorine, potassium, etc. The French sea salt is obtained from the Atlantic waters and is rich in iodine. It can be used as a replacement for table salt.

Rock Salt

Rock salt differs from most varieties of salt as it is mined from under the earth i.e., salt beds across the world and not obtained from sea water.
These salt mines are located in places, which were once under the sea and were formed by the sedimentation of salts for millions of years. It doesn't readily dissolve in water and is primarily used to melt ice.
In addition to the mentioned salt types, there are a few others too. Pickling salt is one example. A finely grained salt, it is free of additives and is used in pickles. Similarly, you have many other salts to choose from, like seasoned salt, sour salt, pretzel salt, popcorn salt, etc.
Now that you are familiar with the different types of salt used in cooking, what are you waiting for? Just go ahead and add that touch of exotic taste to your dishes. For by now you are well aware of which salt to use the next time you bake some pretzels or roast that Thanksgiving turkey, aren't you?