How is sea salt any different from industrial salt? Isn’t it all the same compound? Why would it matter how fancy it is? Would it really taste they same?

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How is sea salt any different from industrial salt? Isn’t it all the same compound? Why would it matter how fancy it is? Would it really taste they same?

In: Chemistry

They don’t taste the same. For me, regular table salt is really metallic.

Sea salt, if it’s legit sea salt, has minerals in it from whatever body of water it came from.

It’s like the difference between beet sugar and a good raw cane sugar. They’re the same crystal, but the basic version is somehow both plain and also sharper tasting. The raw/sea version is rounder, more complex, more interesting.

Sea salt isn’t just sodium chloride. Sodium chloride is a major constituent, but there are other salts present such as Potassium Chloride that gives it a different appearance.

Yes at it’s core all salt is just NaCl crystals. However the difference comes in the impurities. Sea salt has traces of other minerals from the water. Table salt is processed to eliminate those minerals. The taste difference is so extremely subtle, you probably won’t notice the difference unless you taste them side by side.

Before you buy into the expensive salt snobbery, buy several kinds and get a couple people to do a blind taste test. You will be surprised how little difference there is.

So I was once the guy running marketing of consumer salt for a company. Leaving out the fact that nothing is 100% pure, the salt you buy in a round at the grocery store is evaporated using a well to tap salt beds underground, or salt that has dried in evaporating ponds (like those near San Jose). It is purified. In both cases, the salt is just sodium chloride. The claim that the purified salt is still “sea salt” is a bit of a stretch. But Hain makes it, among others.

Then there is sea salt that has not been purified, just collected. That is legal to sell in the US, but not legal to make in the US. Because the production method doesn’t pass regulatory muster. Think of the bird poop. Nobody is approving a food production system that features bird poop. But the impurities are not present in a high enough percentage to deny import permits. Ah bureaucracy. (There are some other items that this also works for, bully sticks for dogs comes to mind. We could never make them the way the Brazilians make them, legally.)

But this is all just marketing hooey. There aren’t enough micro nutrients in sea salt to make a difference. It is mostly good old sodium chloride. You just pay extra money for fancy labels on salt in fancy jars. Some sea salt brands use big crystals of salt, which I think look really cool, particularly in a package that shows them well. But that is just the crystal size some person selected. The salt goes through a series of screens, and there is a market for each size of crystal. You can buy a large bag of whatever crystal size salt you want from a distributor