Himalayan Salt vs Spring Salt. Who’s the Clean Eating Champ?
Whether you are preparing a few Mexican side dishes, concocting a homemade Kansas City rib rub, or working on mastering Italian street food (is there ever a bad time for a savory panzerotti?) chances are the recipe is going to call for a dash of salt.
So, with salt being so integral to our food experience, it’s no wonder food lovers have focused on finding clean gourmet salts to add to their creations.
Because not only is typical table salt processed to the point where it is stripped of health-promoting minerals but it is combined with additives like anti-caking agents as well. In some table salts anti-caking agents can make up close to 5% of the product’s total weight.
One popular alternative to table salt is Himalayan pink salt (sometimes referred to as Chinen salt). Some people use a ground version as a table salt alternative while others are fans of Himalayan salt block cooking where food can be cooked on a salt block rather than a skillet or baking sheet.
What are the benefits of pink Himalayan salt?
Many people believe there are health benefits associated with Himalayan pink salt as it comes from mines located in Pakistan and is typically unprocessed. This means the health-promoting trace minerals mother nature put in the salt remain in the salt which definitely gives it some purity points. (The mines are actually a few hundred miles from any Himalayan peaks though which makes the origin of the name a bit of a head-scratcher.)
The list of trace minerals present in Himalayan pink salt is impressive and can include magnesium, calcium, and potassium as well as others.
Unfortunately, whether we are talking about Himalayan pink salt, Himalayan black salt, or Chinen salt, they can come with a considerable environmental price. Just the thing clean eating enthusiasts are trying to avoid.
It turns out that extracting salt from a mine can require blasting with explosives as well as the use of industrial machinery to cut and crush the large chunks that come out of the mine. Both blasting and machinery are used for the same reason. They are cost-efficient ways to remove the material from the mine and prepare it for market.
However, these techniques are not so great for the environment. Something you need to consider when judging a product you’re considering including on your clean eating grocery list.
Blasting can have an impact on air quality as it can produce toxic fumes and unhealthy particulate matter. Blasting fumes can migrate underground for hundreds of feet and particulate matter can remain suspended in the air for a considerable length of time. In addition, if explosives are left in the area for extended periods there is a possibility that the chemical constituents of the explosives could reach surface or ground water.
What’s more, when it comes to industrial machinery, unless the energy required to run the machines comes from renewable resources, the pollution generated in order to remove salt from the mine and crush or cut it is significant.
All of which is a little ironic for a salt that is often marketed as being pure and untouched by environmental pollution.
How does spring salt compare?
Spring salt certainly sets itself apart from Himalayan pink salt when it comes to eating clean. Here’s how the collection process works. Water emerges from a salt spring after having traveled miles underground, picking up health-promoting minerals along the way. Like Himalayan salt, these minerals can include trace amounts of important elements like calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, vanadium, iodine, manganese, and iron to name a few.
Once the salt and mineral-infused water seeps naturally from the spring it collects in pools where it is allowed to dry in the sun before the remaining salt is harvested by hand. The way it has been done for thousands of years. As you might imagine, this all-natural process is significantly more environmentally friendly than mining with explosives or industrial machinery. And more in line with a clean eating lifestyle.
Taking all of this into consideration, when you’re gathering supplies for your next taste adventure you may want to do yourself and the environment a favor and consider getting your mineral-rich salt from a pure mountain spring instead of an underground mine.
One very ancient salt spring can be found tucked away in a remote Anatolian valley. It has been in use for over 1,000 years and the salt harvested there was known to have been favored by the elite of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires due to its unmatched purity. You could say it is as rich in minerals as it is in history.
That same spring is the centerpiece of the production facility where Mayi Spring Salt is harvested today.