Comparing Sea Salt vs Spring Salt. Only One Can Be The Purest.
Our last blog post compared the purity of spring salt and Himalayan salt. We talked about how Himalayan salt wins a lot of purity points because it is unprocessed and therefore retains many health-promoting minerals.
We went on to describe how harvesting Himalayan salt can unfortunately involve extensive mining with machinery or explosives which can have a negative impact on the environment whereas spring salt, containing similar health-promoting trace minerals, bubbles naturally from the earth with no assistance required from man or machine.
With that in mind our conclusion was that the overall purity of spring salt comes out on top when compared to Himalayan salt.
Well, over the years, the popularity of sea salt has surged. To the point where you can find all sorts of sea salt-related products on the market. From sea salt ice cream, to sea salt spray, to a sea salt flush. So, for those of you asking yourself, “What’s the difference between sea salt and spring salt?” we are going to compare their purity in today’s post. This is a tougher challenge because not only do both spring salt and sea salt contain plenty of health-promoting minerals, but, as you may have guessed, neither involve mining with explosives like Himalayan salt can.
A note on definitions: In case you aren’t aware, salt mined from solid underground deposits laid down as ancient sea beds millions of years ago which require environmentally harmful mining activities are sometimes marketed as “sea salt”. For this post we are focusing mostly on sea salt crystals harvested from sea water. We will further explore the questionable use of the term “sea salt” in the marketing of large-scale processors in a future post.
So how do sea salt and spring salt compare when it comes to purity?
As touched on above, when we talk about purity we are looking at both the purity of the product itself and the purity of the production process. Because, how pure can a product ultimately claim to be if producing it has a negative impact on our environment?
With that in mind we will start with how each salt is collected.
Some sea salts are gathered simply by allowing sea water to gather in huge collection ponds and evaporate through solar heat leaving salt crystals behind. You can skim flaky sea salt off the surface of the water or gather coarse sea salt after allowing more evaporation to occur. So far so good. Unfortunately, some other producers will use vacuums or generate heat with fossil fuels to artificially speed up the process.
So, when it comes to judging the purity of the collection process of a particular brand of sea salt, you really need to find out if the evaporation process relies on only solar heat or if it is assisted with a vacuum process or heat generated by fossil fuels to properly judge its purity.
The same standard needs to apply when looking at the methods used to harvest spring salt. Thankfully, it is easier to judge the overall purity of the collection process for spring salt as there are very few on the market because natural salt springs are pretty rare.
Spring salt is collected much like traditional sea salt. The salt brine that seeps from a natural salt spring is collected in pools where evaporation occurs, leaving mineral-rich salt crystal behind. All of the spring salts on the market that we know of are naturally sun dried and hand harvested. Which makes sense because brine water from the springs is collected in smaller batches which are easier for sunlight to evaporate than industrial sized ponds of sea water.
All of this combined points to the collection process of spring salt being more pure than the collection process of sea salt when judging them as overall categories. But a specific sea salt may match the purity of spring salt in this regard if the sea salt producer only uses solar evaporation.
Mineral content is another good gauge of purity since salts from large industrial-scale processors often lose their health-promoting minerals through excessive processing.
Most traditional sea salts derived by evaporating sea water are not processed to the point where mineral content is stripped from the product. This leaves them with a significant number of trace minerals which is a plus.
But, as touched on in the definition section above, some industrial-scale producers are branding rock salt mined from huge underground deposits as “sea salt”. All major rock salt deposits are the result of evaporation of sea water millions of years ago so they can technically get away with this but these “sea salts” need to be mined and may go through processing that strips mineral content from the salt.
Spring salts are minimally processed and retain the health-promoting minerals nature provided. The list of trace minerals found in spring salt includes significant elements like calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, vanadium, iodine, manganese, and iron as well as others.
Both sea salt derived from ocean water and spring salt contain many health-promoting trace minerals. So, in this category, they are a tie – with one caveat. If the sea salt in question is a mined “sea salt” from a large processor it may be highly processed and stripped of minerals. So, buyer beware.
Unfortunately, there are new challenges today when it comes to producing a truly pure product. The environment has been impacted by decades of abuse. Specifically, humanity has been feeding the ocean plastic and now things have come full circle and the ocean is feeding it back to us. We see it in fish catches and, regrettably, it is found in sea salt as well.
Every producer of traditional sea salt we know of are good actors and conscientious stewards of this planet we all share. They are more closely in touch with nature than most people given that they work with a natural resource every day. But the hard truth is that recent studies have shown that microplastics have been found in sea salt samples taken from all corners of the globe. Recently some sea salt producers have been working on processes to remove microplastics but as of this writing microplastics are a problem for the category as a whole that has yet to be resolved.
Spring salt travels for miles deep underground, picking up health-promoting minerals along the way. Due to its subterranean origin it is shielded from surface and ocean pollution including microplastics. This pure salt brine emerges close to the collection facility and, in the case of Mayi Spring Salt, collection pools are covered to ensure this purity by protecting the salt from other pollutants.
When it comes to microplastic contamination spring salt has a clear advantage over most sea salt because it is not impacted by microplastic pollution present in ocean water.
Sea salt that is actually derived from ocean water and whose evaporation is not accelerated by mechanical means will have plenty of health-promoting minerals and a minimal impact on the environment.
But if you are looking for the purest salt on the market, spring salt clearly comes out ahead. Its high marks are earned by earth-friendly evaporation practices, minimal processing which preserves mineral content, and by being free of microplastics that can be found in sea salts. At the end of the day, spring salt can fairly be called the purest when compared with sea salt.
So, if you’re treating your family to a home-cooked meal or baking something extra special for a special occasion, you may want to consider reaching for a salt that comes from a pure mountain spring rather than the oceans of today’s regrettably imperfect world.
One such mountain salt spring can be found overlooking a remote Anatolian valley. For more than 1,000 years it was a source of highly prized salt for the elites of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. And now it can be found in our customers’ kitchens around the world.
If you would like more information on the long history of the Mayi Spring Salt site and the minerals contained in our salt you can visit our homepage here.