Sea salt comes directly from the sea or ocean through an evaporation process and is then farmed for human consumption. The method of farming sea salt is actually quite simple. Set up along the shores of salt lakes, seas, and oceans, salt flats collect shallow pools of water, which are then evaporated by the wind and sunlight. What remains are entire fields of rich, white sea salt.
While it is natural to think that the name is being deceptive, all sea salt does originate in salinated water. Table salt, by contrast, which is the more common form of salt used in human food, is typically mined from above-ground or underground salt mines—though those mines are simply remnants of former lakes and rivers that once held saltwater.
Table salt, once mined, goes through extensive processing and becomes much more granular than other types of salt. Sea salt, on the other hand, is known for its purity, deriving directly from the sea with very little processing. Because of this, sea salt retains its natural minerals better than table salt. This may also be the reason, aside from the difference in taste, that sea salt has earned its special recognition as a selling point for the foods we eat, such as sea salt potato chips and sea salt-covered chocolate.
The good news is that sea salt is a very abundant resource. After all, salted oceans make up more than two-thirds of the Earth’s surface. The trouble is sometimes just accessing it, and the desalination process takes time. Ironically, as researchers quest to develop an efficient desalination process for providing safe drinking water to more people around the world, sea salt becomes a pesky byproduct. Guess that means more gourmet chocolates!
Read this if you’ve ever wondered how the oceans can be saltwater when the rivers that flow into them are freshwater, It’s weird, isn’t it?
- Only 6% of the salt that we use in the United States is used for food.
- Every cell of your body contains salt.
- You can test the freshness of eggs in a cup of saltwater. Fresh eggs will sink to the bottom while bad eggs will float.
- Ocean seawater around the planet is made up of 3.5% salt. That means there are 49,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 grams of salt in our oceans (enough to form a 500-foot layer of salt around the entire globe).
- The largest salt flat in the world is called Salar de Uyuni, located in southwest Bolivia, and covers almost 4,000 square miles. It is so large it can be seen from space.
- MayoClinic.org – What’s the difference between sea salt and table salt?
- USGS.gov – Why is the ocean salty?
- History.com – Off the Spice Rack: The Story of Salt