Types of Salts and Their Benefits

Wars have been fought over it, countries built on it. It’s production dates back more than 8000 years and is referenced in every ancient civilization. It has been used for currency, ceremonies and to save lives as it is vital to our existence. It is salt.

Arguably the most important ingredient in your kitchen, salt comes in many types and forms. Lets explore the most popular types, their nutritional values and their differences.

Salt is a mineral made of two elements, Sodium (Na) and chorine (Cl). Most of the world’s salt is harvested from salt mines, or by evaporating sea water or other mineral-rich waters. While salt is essential for good health its proper use is a delicate balance. Salt is needed to regulate bodily fluids, aid digestion and for proper muscle and nerve function. It also provides essential minerals and aids in vitamin adsorption. While all these things sound great, over use of salt can lead to kidney problems, increased blood pressure and edema. The great majority of sodium in the Western diet comes from processed foods. If you eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods then you don’t need to worry about adding some salt to your meals. But what kind is best? You be the judge

Table Salt

The most common and readily available salt is table salt. It is harvested from underground deposits or produced with a flakey residue from oil digging.  It is highly refined with most trace mineral being removed or damaged in the high heat process. The result is primarily Sodium Chloride 97+% and additives 3%. Because finely ground salt has a tendency to clump, anti-caking agents are often added to keep it flowing. Other ingredients added to table salt include MSG, sugar, and iodine. Iodine deficiency is still common in much of the world but with the well-balanced diet, available to most North Americans, iodine deficiency is not a concern. Table salt is also bleached to produce a stark white colour, not typically found in nature. When people talk about salt being “bad” for you – in the case of table salt they may be right!

Sea Salt

Sea salt is made by evaporating sea water. It is made all over the world, including right here in Canada by SaltWest. Sea Salt can vary in taste and texture depending on where and how it is harvested. The size of the irregular crystals affects how fast the salt dissolves. It also varies in colour, depending on the minerals it contains. These natural impurities can add subtly briny, sweet, or even bitter flavors to the salts. Sea salt contains a number of trace minerals including potassium, iron, and zinc. It can also contain pollutants and heavy metals depending on the water quality from which it is evaporated from.

Kosher Salt

Kosher salt is more about the crystal size than the origin. Like table salt it is primarily Sodium Chloride; however, it does not contain the anti-caking or other additives. The large craggy crystals make it perfect for curing meat – a step in preparing Kosher meats according to Jewish dietary guidelines. Chefs love the quick dissolving crystals, making it a good, inexpensive all-purpose cooking salt.

Celtic Salt or Sel Gris

Harvested in France using a 2000-year-old method, Celtic Salt is raked once salt crystals have sunk to the bottom of the evaporation ponds. Celtic salt has a slightly lower sodium content than table salt and contains a variety of minerals, giving it a grey colour. Moist, granular, and chunky, sel gris is used as both a cooking salt and finishing salt.

Fleur de Sel

Harvested from the same ponds as Celtic Salt, Fleur de Sel is hand harvested by scraping salt crystals from the water’s surface before the crystals sink to the bottom of the evaporation ponds. Conditions have to be just right for the flower-like crystals to “bloom” on the water’s surface, making it a prized and expensive salt.  The delicate, irregular crystals gently dissolve, making it a great finishing salt.

Himalayan Salt

Pink Himalayan salt is often said to be the most beneficial as well as the cleanest salt available on this planet today.  Harvested from ancient salt fields in Pakistan it is believed to be the salt from the original primal ocean. It contains all 83 trace minerals found in the human body and has one of the lowest sodium contents of all salts. The pink hue is due to the trace amount of iron oxide found in the salt. The colour can vary from a very light pink to red.  It is believed by many that there are a number health benefits associated with Himalayan salt, beyond the consumption of essential minerals. Himalayan salt is used in beauty products for its effect of skin health and lamps made from the popular salt are prized for their relaxing and air purifying effects.

The Granary sells a variety of salts in both bulk and packaged forms. We also sell a section of Himalayan salt lamps, cooking slabs and bath salts.






Tuesday’s Ten: World Health Day Special Edition

  5 TuesdayHappy World Health Day 2015

  Sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), World Health Day has been around since 1950. Each year, on April 7th, WHO celebrates by bringing awareness to various global health topics. This year, the topic is Food Safety. 

You may be wondering why Food Safety is such a big deal. What you may not have known is that more than 200 known diseases are transmitted through food. Hepatitis, E. Coli and Salmonella are just a few examples. It’s a problem in both developed and developing countries, creates a strain on our health care system and even hurts the national economy and development of international trade.

Luckily, most foodborne illness is preventable with proper food handling techniques. Follow these 5 Key Tips to ensure your own Food Safety, provided by WHO.

1) Keep Clean

This ensures that microorganisms that you may encounter during your daily activities do not contaminate your food.

  • Wash your hands before handling food and often during food prep
  • Wash your hands after using the washroom and before eating
  • Wash and sanitize all surfaces and equipment used during food prep
  • Protect your kitchen from insects, pests and other animals
  • Clean all surface (including your hands) that come into contact with raw meat or poultry


  • Try singing “Happy Birthday” twice while washing hands to ensure you’ve washed them long enough

2) Seperate Raw and Cooked Food

Raw foods, especialy meat, poultry and seafood and their juices, can contain harmful microorganisms. These can be transferred to other foods during preperation or storage, resulting in cross contamination.

  • Seperate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods
  • Use seperate equipment and utensils for handling raw foods, this includes knives and cutting boards
  • Store food in containers to avoid contact between raw and prepared foods


  • Store meat, poultry and seafood below cooked or ready to eat foods to avoid cross contamintaion
  • Store food in containers with lids

3) Cook Thoroughly

Proper cooking can kill almost all harmful microorganisms. Cooking food to a temperature of 70 ºC will help enure it’s safe for eating. High-risk foods that require special attention include minced meats, large joints of meat and whole poultry.

  • Cook food thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, eggs and seafood
  • Bring foods like soups and stews to a boil to make sure they’ve reached 70 ºC.
  • Make sure that the juices from meat and poultry are clear, not pink.
  • Use a thermometer if you’re not sure
  • Reheat cooked food thoroughly


  • When using a microwave make sure your food is cooked through, as microwaves can leave cold spots and cook food unevenly

4) Keep Food at a Safe Temperature

Microorganisms multiply very quickly when sotred at room temperature. By storing foods in the fridge or freezer or heating them up you can slow, or even stop, the growth of harmful microorganisms.

  • Don’t leave cooked food at room temperature for more than 2 hours
  • Refrigerate cooked and perishable foods as soon as possible
  • Keep cooked food piping hot before serving
  • Know when to get rid of food, don’t keep it too long in the refrigerator
  • Do not thaw frozen food at room temperature


  • If you use a microwave to thaw food, make sure to cook it promptly. This method of thawing can leave hot spots where bacteria can grow
  • Leftovers should not be reheated more than once
  • Thaw food in your refrigerator or other cool location

5) Use Safe Water and Raw Materials 

Raw materials, including water and ice, may be contaminated prior to cooking. Toxic chemicals may be formed in damaged and mouldy food. Take a preemptive step by taking care when choosing raw materials. Remember to wash and peel certain fruits and veggies as well.

  • Always use safe water or treat it to make it safe
  • Select fresh and wholesome foods
  • Choose foods that are processed safely
  • Wash fruits and vegetable, especially if eaten raw
  • Take note of expiry dates


  • Safe water is not only important for drinking, but must be used for washing fruits and vegetables, cleaning cooking and eating utensils and washing hands

So, how many of these key tips are you already following? Hopefully the answer is most of them, but theres always room to improve, especially when it comes to your health.


World Health Organization (WHO). “Five Keys to Safer Food Manual.” 2006. PDF. April 2015.