Salts have exploded with popularity. What once was a simple decision between iodized table salt or sea salt has become a sensory overload. Walk into Whole Foods to restock on salt and you’ll be confronted with a dazzling array of colors, textures and price points. But, what really differentiates specialty salts? Are expensive salts actually worth the money? Here is a guide to 9 different culinary salts that will help you decide what salt is best for your needs.
Table. Table salt is created by superheating natural salt to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, which destroys most beneficial compounds. Fortified with essential iodine, table salt is also bleached and devoid of trace elements, so it’s certainly not the healthiest salt you can shake. This type of salt can often contain additives to slow moisture absorption so it is easy to sprinkle in your salt shaker. Some experts claim that this highly refined version of salt is responsible for many sodium-related health issues, whereas unrefined salts heal the body instead of harming it.
Sea. Most people are very familiar with sea salt. This salt comes from—you guessed it—the ocean and undergoes an evaporation process to separate the salt from the water. Sea salt contains a small amount of natural iodine, although not nearly as much as iodized salt. It is typically much less refined than table salt and comes in both fine and coarse varieties. While sea salts are a great unrefined choice, unfortunately, pollution is steadily becoming a concern. Whereas ancient seas were once clean, we have sullied our ocean coastlines with pollutants like microplastics. While this is no means a reason to give up sea salt—microplastics have infiltrated nearly everything—it’s good to keep yourself in the know and balance your sea salt consumption with other, earth-bound salts.
Himalayan pink. These salts come from ancient seabeds in the Himalayan mountains. Their pink color comes from their rich iron content. This salt is, in fact, quite rich in minerals, containing all 84 essential trace elements required by your body. Pink salt can assist in many bodily functions, such as reducing muscle cramps, promoting blood sugar health and promoting healthy pH in your cells. Many experts recommend pink salt as one of the healthiest salts you can consume. Its popularity has made it more affordable than other more exotic salts on the market.
Grey. Colored by the clay from where it’s harvested, grey salt is often called Celtic Sea Salt. It is hand-raked in Brittany, France, where the natural clay and sand create moist, mineral-rich crystals. This salt generally retains its moistness. It can help to restore electrolyte balance, has alkalizing properties and can prevent muscle cramps, much like pink salt. However, this salt is a bit more expensive, due to the labor intensive process of hand-raking.
Fleur de sel. Meant to be used as a finishing salt, this “flower of the salt”