Pink Salt: Should you Pass?

Which Salt is Better for health? Himalayan Pink Salt or Pure Sea Salt?

I get asked this question so regularly that it’s worth a post of it’s own.

I’ll assume that you already know that table salt – whether it is sea salt, rock salt, iodated salt or koshering salt has been stripped of minerals and is basically sodium chloride with some “free flow agent” thrown in to keep it from clumping in your shaker.

This is not worthy of being called “salt”, no matter how white, fine or freely running…so we’ll move on swiftly. Salts that are considered health enhancing are those that contain a full mineral complement. That means ALL the minerals essential to life – and some more that we don’t know the first thing about. They have a similar sodium chloride content to table salts, but they have a higher mineral content.

Often, there is a misconception that salts vary greatly if they are sea salt or rock salt, pink, grey or white. All salt is sea salt – some salt pans and salt hills are simply ancient seas, lochs and lakes that have evaporated or formed into structures located far from where the sea is today. So whether it’s Pink Himalayan Salt from Pakistan or Pink Desert Salt from Australia, it was all sea salt once upon a time.

Until few years ago only smug vegans and really well informed holistic health practitioners knew about which salt was the “right” salt, until the world was hit by the Himalayan Salt marketeers. This began the Pink Salt craze, and today no asthmatic can pass the salt safely without first being subjected to an anecdote about how Himalayan  salt drinks, nasal sprays, bath salts and even lamps cured their aunt’s friend’s cousin.  Many people believe Professor Buteyko would have preferred pink Himalayan salt had he been around today, but I’m not convinced he would have approved.

Buteyko was clear; apparently specifying to Jennifer and Russell Stark (of Buteyko Works in Australia) when he met them in New Zealand in 2000; that the best salt for good health was Fresh Sea Salt – and the greyer the better.

Why?

Himalayan Salt comes from the Salt Mountains of Pakistan and is said to be millions of years old.  It’s been touted as a cure for all sorts of illnesses and it’s been said to be the great saviour of our electrolyte challenged bodies. But a deeper look into Himalayan Salt  reveals that Hand Harvested South Atlantic Ocean salt is probably better for you.

Here’s some very good reasons why I believe this is the case:

Coastal Sea Salt is Hand Harvested, Himalayan Salt is Mined:

Most of us see crystalline salt and assume this must mean it is unprocessed – but nothing could be further from the truth. Mining salt is still mining. Mining is a process. A rather in-your-face kind of process that doesn’t bear out the claims of the Himalayan salt sellers who promise an “unprocessed and un-adulterated” salt product. Mining salt means using industrial equipment and machinery, rock crushers, bulldozers and trucks. There’s a lot of opportunity for contamination.

Khewra Salt Mine
This picture is from a site that sells mining equipment for salt mines. According to this site, this is the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan where Himalayan Salt is extracted.

By comparison, hand harvested sea salt is truly a “whole” and un-industrialized foodstuff.  Sea salt collects naturally in pools or pans on the sea shore and is dried in the wind and sun. Most sea salt harvesting happens in the timeless traditions of our forefathers channeling seawater into pans and allowing to dry in the sun.  Fresh sea salt is completely unprocessed – no mines, conveyors or dumps – and unadulterated with anything.

Salt Harvesting Gozo
This picture is from a video on youtube showing students hand harvesting salt in Gozo, Malta.

This sun dried sea salt is simply scooped up and put through a sieve to filter particles. It is then crushed to the desired fineness and this is technically the only “processing” that happens to it.

Coastal Sea Salt is sustainable, Himalayan Salt is not!

 

Coastal sea salt is a truly sustainable resource that is refreshed daily by the life-giving oceans. Hand harvesting creates almost no impact on sealife and marine resources. By comparison, the mining of Himalayan Salt inevitably means environmental degradation – sooner or later – and, eventually, an end to the resource that is reputed to be around 800 million years old. The amazing fossils and scientific discoveries found in the Himalayan salt mountains bear testimony to a heritage sadly being lost, and the Himalyan Salt Mountain is tentatively listed for World Heritage Status. Sea salt is usually locally available – especially in South Africa – whereas Himalayan Salt needs to be transported across the globe creating a massive carbon footprint and contributing to emissions – and degradation of the entire planet. If Food Miles are important to you – your salt could be sabotaging your best efforts to stay Green and Clean.

Pink Salt has “extra minerals” – But do you need or want them?

Himalayan Salt, like fresh sea salt has a good mineral content, but many product websites declare it has more minerals per gram than sea salt. This is true.  Himalayan salt contains additional minerals when compared to fresh sea salt, but it should be pointed out that these are radioactive substances, like Polonium and Radium. Although present in tiny amounts, of course, but still highly toxic. To date, I have not found any salt supplier that lists these elements in their chemical analysis – except for Himalayan Salt sellers. So while it does appear to contain a few extra minerals compared to fresh sea salt – these minerals may not be what you need or want.

It seems to me that when comparing our Southern Atlantic ocean salt to mined Himalayan rock salt – the local, fresh, sustainable version wins out every time  – and it poses less potential risk.

©Buteyko South Africa

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