Did You Know?...
Historically called bay salt or solar salt, sea salt is unrefined salt that comes from the sea or ocean. Sea salt is formed from the natural evaporation of ocean water, harvested in man-made pools near a protected shoreline. Sea salt is collected by guiding salty water into big clay forms. Once the water has been collected in the clay forms, it is kept until it has evaporated naturally. After the water has evaporated, what remains is scraped out as natural sea salt.
Sea Salt is used in cooking and commercially in products. It is considered to be much more flavorful and not quite as "salty" than table salt. It is 98% sodium chloride, compared to table salt's 99.9% purity. Many chefs will use sea salt or kosher salt as a crust for baked potatoes or in French cuisine and preserving. Sea salt is also considered Kosher, as it has been approved by rabbis for use in the Jewish community.
Sea salt is also used in the cosmetics industry as a natural exfoliate or scrub. Natural sea salt crystals may form the base for deodorants or antiperspirants. Many bath salt mixtures contain generous amounts of natural sea salt.
Sea salt contains minerals that table salt does not contain naturally, including iron, iodine, sulfur and magnesium calcium and potassium. Sea salt also does not contain some of the unnatural ingredients that table salt contains. The finest artisan salts are natural or organic and are not treated or washed. Even lesser-grade sea salts are typically not refined as much as other kinds of salt.
Because different bodies of water have different mineral contents, salts will look and taste different. Some have flowery nuances, some are strong, some delicate, some have sulfuric notes, some can taste sweet. For chefs and consumers, sea salt is produced in coarse, fine and extra fine grains. There are different qualities of sea salt, from a cooking salt to a finishing salt or garnish. A little goes a long way too.
Salt has long been mined wherever it was available; The oldest recorded history of sea salt use is in China and dates to the Iron Age. It was considered a very valuable commodity and used in trade. In Venice, whose economic strength was not just as a seaport but as a major salt-producer, the immense salt evaporation pans were referred to colloquially as "the Seven Seas." The phrase "sailing the Seven Seas" derived from the challenge of navigating one's craft among the bars that enclosed these evaporation ponds. However, there are many places where mineral salt is not present, and the only source is to mine coastally. Sea salt was mined and used in many of ways that it is still being used. The ancient methods for mining sea salt do not differ greatly from the methods currently utilized. Often done by hand, modern sea salt production is almost entirely found in Mediterranean. But other mining areas include the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean (France and Brittany coasts), the Cayman Islands, Ireland, Greece, Sicily and Colombia. There are places in the United States that produce sea salt, including Hawaii, Maine, Utah, Massachusetts and San Francisco Bay.
The health benefits are numerous. The human body absorbs salt minerals through pores in the skin. Many people enjoy soaking in mineral baths filled with sea salt. This can be done in spa-like settings or at home. When sea salt is rubbed into the skin, it can work to exfoliate dead skin cells, improve circulation and replenish certain body minerals. Adding a good quality unrefined sea salt to the diet may actually help reduce blood pressure, due to the presence of magnesium and other minerals.