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8 Numbers Behind... Salt

8 Numbers Behind... Salt

Varieties, consumption, composition: check out our list of salt facts you probably don't know to have a closer look at this ingredient.

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One pinch or two? We normally refer to salt in rather vague terms. Nevertheless, there are plenty of salt facts available to help us familiarize with this ingredient. Here are 8 numbers and facts about salt you cannot afford to miss!

Salt Facts: 8 Numbers and Facts About Salt

2 elements make up table salt: sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl). It usually contains other minerals in small quantities which are eliminated when salt is refined. Iodine is added to some types of salt either to compensate for a dietary deficiency or to avoid the formation of salt “blocks”.

3 main types of salt are produced. “Rock salt” which is extracted from underground mines, accessed through tunnels of about 50-60 metres in diameter and 500-600 metres deep. In the largest mines, salt is extracted at a rate of approximately 900 tons an hour. “Solarsalt, on the other hand, is harvested from open-air deposits whose formation is due to the natural evaporation of water, which contains on average 3.5% (however, lakes such as the Dead Sea or the Great Salt Lake have much higher percentages). Finally, there is a type known as “evaporated salt”, which is artificially processed by evaporators. The latter is the most common and, compared to the other two, enables manufacturers to establish the NaCl purity grade, which exceeds the 99% value of rock and solar salt.

12.3 grams of salt is the average daily intake of a citizen of Azerbaijan, the country occupying the 10th position in the world salt consumption charts. Mongolia comes ninth with 12.6 grams, followed by South Korea (12.9); Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Thailand (13.2); Tajikistan (13.4). On the podium, we find Turkmenistan in third position (13.7), second Uzbekistan (14). Kazakhstan comes first with as much as 14.8 grams.

At least 20 types of salt are to be found in the world, but there are probably many more. The most important are Himalaya pink salt, Hawaiian red salt, Cyprus black salt, Danish smoked salt, Breton grey salt, Trapani salt, Mothia salt, Maldon salt and fleur de sel from the Camargue. They mainly differ in the way they are produced, resulting in various types of salt crystals and the presence of certain minerals.

77% of our salt intake comes from ready-made bought food or the meals we eat at restaurants, while the amount we actually add to food when cooking is a scarce 5%. 6%, though, is the percentage of salt we add to our dishes when cooked, while the remaining amount is to be found in the ingredients themselves. Just think that 90% of the sodium we consume actually derives from salt.

8,000 years ago, the first attempts were made to refine salt. In the region now known as Romania, water used to be boiled to make salt. The same procedure was apparently in use in China during the same period. However, the earliest evidence of salt harvesting dates back to the Hittites and Ancient Egyptians, who collected it from the rocks and beaches where seawater had evaporated.

62,000,000 tons of salt are produced annually by India, which is now the world’s leading producer. And this country is not likely to be ousted in the short term since the United States, occupying second place, produce “only” 40 million tons. At a distance, China comes in third with its 24.5 million tons, followed by Germany (19), Canada, Australia and Mexico, all three with an output of around 10 million tons.

255,000,000 tons of salt were produced worldwide in 2016. A downward trend compared to the 271 tons of 2015 and the 261 tons of 2006.

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