Human beings have made salt a part of their diet and culture since at least 6050 B.C., according to sea-salt supplier SaltWorks. Today, there are two sources for the salt we consume. One is from underground mines and requires heavy processing in order to be made edible. The other is organic unrefined sea salt. This salt is harvested from brine ponds, and is unprocessed and untreated by chemicals.
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Unrefined sea salt is made up of 98 percent sodium chloride and 2 percent trace minerals. There can be over 80 elements in a grain of unrefined sea salt. (Mined salt, on the other hand, is 99.9 percent sodium chloride.) Unrefined sea salt cannot contain any additives, preservatives or anti-caking elements. There is a difference between unrefined sea salt and "sea salt." If a salt doesn't contain the word "unrefined," then it was harvested from the sea but processed much in the same way as mined salt, according to CureZone.com. All unrefined sea salt is organic, since it is free of pesticides and chemical additives.
There are many different varieties of organic unrefined sea salt that vary by geographical region. Among them are Celtic Grey, a salt harvested in France and named for its color. The French also boast Fleur du Sel, a delicate pink salt whose flavors differ depending on the specific location. In the Hawaiian islands, volcanic clay makes Hawaiian sea salt range in color from pink to red and gives it an earthy flavor rich in iron.
To produce organic unrefined sea salt, workers trap sea water in earthen ponds where the right climate combination of wind and sunlight allows the water to evaporate, according to the Salt Institute. During the crystallization process, they move the sea-water brine through a series of these ponds using valves. Calcium carbonate is naturally removed through the process of transferring salt from pond to pond over several years. When the ponds are drained, the layer of sea salt is deposited at the bottom. Workers scrape up the finished product with hand tools. If it is harvested and later refined, it does not qualify as organic unrefined sea salt.
Organic unrefined sea salt contains 2 percent trace minerals, which vary depending on the geography of the salt. These beneficial minerals are destroyed in mined salt during refinement, according to CureZone.com. Not only does organic unrefined sea salt help the body maintain an appropriate water balance, but the trace minerals also provide essential electrolytes that keep you hydrated.
While salt is essential to the human body, too much salt can negatively affect your health. It is important that you drink enough water to flush out the unnecessary salts from your body. The general recommended ratio is 1/4 tsp. of salt per quart of water, according to Health-Benefit-of-Water.com. If you have high blood pressure or are of African-American descent, you may need to lower your salt intake, according to nutritionist Karen Zeratsky of the Mayo Clinic. Consult a physician to determine your individual needs.