The Uses Of

It used to be so simple: Salt was always just, well, salt. But in recent times, things have gotten more complicated. Sea salt, table salt, organic salt, Celtic salt -- these and more are available to the average consumer, thanks largely to gourmet and health food stores. Here's how to distinguish between a few of the most common:

Table salt -- This is the one most of us sprinkled on our food growing up and probably still have a shaker-full of now. It comes from salt mines, from where it's been dug up, refined and had all of its minerals removed, leaving pure white sodium chloride. It is fine-grained, with additives to keep it free-flowing. It's the cheapest and most widely used.

Sea salt -- As the name indicates, this is collected from ocean or sea water through boiling or evaporation by sun and wind. Available in many different varieties and in grinds that range from coarse to extra-fine, it's usually not as refined as table salt. In fact, it often still has some trace minerals intact, including iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and iodine, which gives it the bright, clean flavor devotees rave about. Sea salt tends to be significantly more expensive than common table salt because of its more labor-intensive manufacturing process.

Kosher salt -- This may or may not be sea salt. It usually comes in flakes instead of granules, with a larger surface area that's especially suitable for sticking to pretzels and the rims of margarita glasses. Free of additives, it has a saltier -- some say "brighter"-- taste than regular table salt. Gourmet kosher salt runs about $7 per pound. Organic salt -- Salt is a mineral, not a plant, so it cannot be "organically grown." However, certified organic salt is guaranteed to be harvested from a protected, pollution-free environment and to be unrefined. For those who are concerned about pollutants in their food, this may be a good choice. Expect to pay around $9 per pound.

Celtic sea salt -- An unrefined sea salt harvested by hand in Brittany, France, it has a grayish color from the clay-lined salt ponds from which it originates. It is slightly moist and very rich in trace mineral content. Celtic salt is available in coarse, stone-ground, fine and extra-fine grind and retails at approximately $10 per pound.

Fleur de Sel -- Known as "the caviar of sea salts," these precious crystals are skimmed from the very top of salt ponds in the coastal areas of western France when sun and wind conditions are ideal. The hand-raked and harvested crystals are small and flaky with a creamy white or pale grayish tinge. Fleur de sel is considered more a condiment than a spice, with just a touch needed to transform a dish with its delicate flavor and moist texture. It goes for $20�30 per pound and up.

For more information:
SaltWorks --
Salt Traders --
Gourmetsleuth --
Salt Institute --

Recommended for you


Comments on "Kosher salt, organic salt and sea salt"

billy bilbly September 09, 2013 | 9:30 PM

salt is a mineral, as we all know, it isn't plant or animal based so how could you possibly verify it? by it's nature if it's unrefined then it's a pure product. organic doesn't really mean much anyway, it's full of anomalies, like you must use organically certified mulch on strawberries which is expensive, so all the farmers use black plastic which is made from petrochemicals, so go figure that one. i see people buying their biodynamic sprouted spelt bread which is vacuum wrapped in petrochemical plastic. that's crazy.. better to buy the normal conventional baguette that comes in paper. all organic means is that it was grown without chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides, nothing more nothing less... manufactured organic food is an oxymoron, it's a lot of crap, buy the produce and make it yourself!

Marcy Cardenas August 04, 2011 | 2:55 PM

Where can I buy organic sea salt? I have tried Sprouts and Trader Joe's and they have never even heard of organic salt. I live in Claremont, CA. Any suggestions where I can get some? Please advise. Thank you,

Linda February 28, 2009 | 4:14 PM

Instead of using pickling or canning salt for canning, can you use organic sea salt? Would this affect the canning or preservation process at all??

+ Add Comment

(required - not published)