What is sea salt? – Sea salt is a type of salt that is made by evaporating seawater or salt water lakes, unlike regular salt that is taken from sedimentary deposits.1 Sea salt is a popular seasoning in many dishes as it is known for having a coarse texture and strong flavor. For those wondering, does sea salt have iodine in it? Yes, sea salt does contain iodine just like regular table salt, however it contains much less iodine. Most table salt is iodized, which means they add extra iodine into the product during processing.
Is Sea Salt Good for You?
You may wonder, is sea salt healthy? Many believe that sea salt contains less sodium than most regular salts however this has been proven to be incorrect. Sea salt nutrition facts show that a ¼ teaspoon of sea salt contains about 575 mg of sodium.
The main difference between these salts is that sea salt is made with very minimal processing, and contains sea salt minerals like magnesium, potassium and calcium.1
Benefits of Sea Salt
While sea salt should be consumed in moderation, there are a few sea salt health benefits. Since sea salt is less processed it does contain trace amounts of minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium, unlike regular salt that often has these minerals removed during processing.1 Below is an overview of the health benefits of sea salt.
Source of Magnesium
Sea salt is a good source of the mineral magnesium which is essential for heart health, energy production, and bone and cell formation.2
Source of Potassium
Potassium can improve heart and bone health while reducing the risk of stroke or heart disease.3 Sea salt can also help balance your sodium-potassium ratios in the body which is essential for fluid balance and preventing dehydration.
Source of Calcium
Sea salt contains calcium which is an essential mineral for the maintenance of healthy bones and for proper brain, muscle and immune system function.4
Support Electrolyte Balance
Sea salt is also said to support electrolyte balance in the body. Sea salt is made up of electrolytes like sodium, magnesium and potassium all of which are essential for the maintenance of good health.2,3
Reduce Joint Pain and Relax Muscles
Different types of sea salt are often used in baths for its ability to reduce joint pain and relax sore, tired muscles. When added to water, the minerals in sea salt are then able to be absorbed through the skin. Bathing in Dead Sea salt is known to have positive effects on the texture and appearance of skin while reducing inflammation.5
Improve the Appearance of Skin
Sea salt has also been added to a variety of cosmetics, such as exfoliating scrubs and washes, as exfoliating with sea salt is said to remove dead skin, encourage circulation and renew the skin.
In a meta-analysis, sea salt from the Dead Sea was shown to naturally improve the appearance of psoriasis.6
Alleviate Symptoms of Rheumatologic Diseases
In the same meta-analysis, Dead sea salt mud or balneotherapy (bath therapy) were shown to improve symptoms of various rheumatologic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and knee osteoarthritis.6
Support Oral Health
Sea salt may help support your oral health as it may contain fluoride which provides cavity protection. Gargling regularly with salt water is claimed to help bleeding gums, prevent mouth sores and even help a sore throat.
Sea salt has traditionally been used as a home remedy to improve allergy symptoms. Breathing in sea salt is said to reduce inflammation in the nasal cavity and respiratory system. Many people add small amounts of sea salt to water and drink the mixture to balance minerals in the body and stop congestion.
It is also believed that sea salt can improve and treat acne. Thanks to the natural coarse texture, washing your face with sea salt and water may help cleanse the skin and unclog pores. Users report it helps dry up excess oils on the skin, leaving your face feeling fresh and clean.
Types of Sea Salt
There are many different variations of sea salt to enjoy. Below is an overview of nine different varieties of sea salt with information about each type of sea salt, along with where it originated from, its color and taste.
Dead Sea Salt
This type of sea salt is taken from the Dead Sea and unlike regular salt, it has much lower levels of sodium-chloride and higher amounts of magnesium chloride. It has traditionally been used to treat a variety of inflammatory diseases, and is known to improve the skin.5 A study found that participants with atopic dry skin saw overall positive improvements to their skin, including improved hydration and a decrease in inflammation and roughness when bathing with Dead Sea salt.5 Eczema sufferers may also find similar benefits of bathing with this type of salt as it may reduce redness and smooth the skin.
Celtic Sea Salt
For those wondering, what is Celtic sea salt? It isn’t a type of salt at all, it is a popular brand. Celtic Sea Salt® is a family owned brand that has been selling sea salts from around the world since 1976. Their variety of natural, unrefined salts are written in several recipe, health and nutrition books.
Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
Himalayan sea salt is also known as pink sea salt for its light rosy hue that is caused by the trace minerals in the salt. While it can be added to flavor dishes in the kitchen, this type of salt has also been used to make salt lamps. Himalayan pink sea salt is often debated for its healing benefits with some claiming it cleanses the air and relaxes the mind.
Black Lava Sea Salt
Black lava sea salt is known as black sea salt. It is dark in color and contains a blend of sea salt mixed with purified volcanic charcoal. This type of salt comes from Hawaii, which is where it gets its nickname of black Hawaiian sea salt. Charcoal is known for its detoxifying properties and adds a pungent, earthy flavor to this sea salt.
Red Hawaiian Sea Salt
Hawaiian sea salt, also known as Alaea salt or red sea salt, is pinkish-brown in coloring. This is caused by mixing the salt with red alae volcanic clay which adds iron oxide, and also gives the salt an earthier taste. This type of sea salt was traditionally used by Hawaiian natives as a food preservative and for cooking in a variety of different Hawaiian dishes.
Smoked Sea Salt
This variation of sea salt is smoked over different kinds of wood to change its flavor and is quite dark in color. Depending on the type of wood it is smoked over, the salt can taste bold or even sweet and it is used to add a smoky flavor to various dishes. The most common types of wood used to smoke sea salt are alder wood, apple wood, hickory, mesquite and oak.
Mediterranean Sea Salt
Mediterranean Sea salt is taken from the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. This type of salt differs because of its extraction process – once the salt is harvested it is then left to evaporate in the sun. Mediterranean Sea salt is white in color and has a similar taste to regular sea salt.
Flake Sea Salt
Flake sea salt differs from regular sea salt as it has a softer, flakier texture. This type of sea salt is known as one of the fastest dissolving of all the salts and adds a subtle briny flavor to dishes.
Fleur de Sel
Fleur de sel, which is French for flower of salt, is a salt that forms a thin, delicate layer on the surface of seawater as it evaporates and has been extracted since ancient times. It is reported as being one of the rarest types of sea salt on earth because its collection process can only be carried out during certain times of year.
Kosher Salt vs. Sea Salt
So, what is the difference between sea salt and kosher salt? The main difference is in the grain size. Kosher salt has irregular flakes that are larger than regular table salt and contains no added iodine which is why it tastes less salty. Sea salt is known to be coarser in texture with a stronger flavor.
Sea Salt vs. Table Salt
Many will debate sea salt vs. salt and wonder, is sea salt better than regular salt? The answer is yes. While they have similar nutritional information, sea salt is considered to be better for you then regular table salt. Sea salt is not processed the same way as table salt, which is taken from salt deposits and processed into a fine texture.1 Sea salt does not have added iodine and contains more trace minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium, all of which promote good health.
Where to Buy Sea Salt
If you are wondering where to buy sea salt, it is available for purchase at most grocery or health food stores. Varieties like Dead Sea salt, Black Lava sea salt, red Hawaiian sea salt, and fleur de sel can be harder to find in store and can instead be purchased online at Amazon or Walmart.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- American Heart Association (2017). Sea Salt vs. Table Salt, American Heart Association. Retrieved November 7, 2017 from – View Reference
- National Institutes of Health (2016, February 11) Magnesium. Retrieved November 7, 2017 from https://ods.od.nih.gov/FactSheets/magnesium/
- Weaver, C. M. (2013). Potassium and Health. Advances in Nutrition, 4(3), 368S–377S. http://doi.org/10.3945/an.112.003533
- National Institutes of Health (2016, February 11). Calcium. Retrieved November 9, 2017 https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Calcium-HealthProfessional/
- Proksch, E., Nissen, H.-P., Bremgartner, M. and Urquhart, C. (2005), Bathing in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution improves skin barrier function, enhances skin hydration, and reduces inflammation in atopic dry skin. International Journal of Dermatology, 44: 151–157. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2005.02079.x
- Katz, U., Shoenfeld, Y., Zakin, V., Sherer, Y., & Sukenik, S. (2012). Scientific Evidence of the Therapeutic Effects of Dead Sea Treatments: A Systematic Review. Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism, 42(2), 186-200. doi:1016/j.semarthrit.2012.02.006
- Celtic Sea Salt (2017) Celtic Sea Salt. Retrieved December 2017 from – View Reference