Salt is, well, the salt of life. We’re full of it, our oceans sting our eyes with it, and there’s even more we can’t see underground.Valuable to cuisine and health, salt used to be worth more than gold and is still touted as currency in some African nations. Most of the world, however, can grab two years worth of salt for less than $5 to cook with, spill, and throw over their shoulders. Whether you’re warding off demons or just making some spaghetti, here a few things you didn’t know about salt.
1. Only 6% of salt is used for human food in the U.S.
Another 6% goes towards feeding livestock, so you could say we indirectly consume 12% of the salt used in America. Over two-thirds of salt used in the U.S. goes into industrial chemicals like detergent, plastic, aviation fuel, and finger-licking paper.
2. Kosher salt isn’t necessarily kosher.
Any salt made under the proper supervision can be deemed kosher, but what makes kosher salt special is the crystal size. The larger crystals help to kosher meat, that is, to remove the blood from it. The smaller crystals in table salt easily absorb into the meat during this process, resulting in excessively salty cuts.
3. Babies can’t taste salt until they’re about four months old.
Sweet, bitter, and sour flavors are easily recognizable to them, but studies suggest that babies just can’t wrap their taste buds around salt right away. Luckily, with a diet consisting of formula/breast milk, babies don’t have much need for the valuable spice.
4. Sea salt and table salt contain roughly the same amount of sodium.
Many people assume that sea salt is an overall healthier alternative to table salt. While sea salt holds the benefits of minimal processing and other vital minerals like magnesium, its sodium level tends to be only just shy of its table salt counterparts. Many believe the sodium would be identical if the larger, jagged crystals in sea salt didn’t make completely filling any measuring container impossible.
5. Mexicans only use salt and limes to mask bad tequila.
The tequila boom at the turn of the 19th century allowed for a dilution of quality which Mexicans answered with salt and limes. To this day, slamming shots with the pair and slurping salt-rimmed margaritas are decidedly American practices. Meanwhile, Mexicans sip their high-end tequila, similarly to scotch or brandy.
6. A massive salt mine lies 1,200 feet below Detroit, Michigan.
Completed in 1910, the Detroit Salt Mine spans over 1,500 acres of subterranean real estate in the Motor City. The miners spend most of their days blowing up rock salt which is later used to keep nice folks like you from slipping on black ice.
7. Salt was sprinkled on the stages of old Japanese theaters to ward off evil spirits.
A common purifying practice of Shintoism, salt is still sprinkled on sumo wrestling stages for the same reason. It’s a little more aggressive than Lebron James throwing talcum powder into the air considering they exclusively use fairly unrefined rock salt.
8. Salting the pot only saves you a few seconds when boiling water.
Most pasta recipes call for a teaspoon of salt per gallon of water, which only raises the water’s boiling point about ¼ of a degree. Depending on how often you make pasta, those couple of seconds really add up over time, but that assumes you were actually watching pot boil and immediately added your noodles. Just add your salt when the water comes to a rolling boil, like a true Italian grandmother.