Himalayan salt

Himalayan salt is rock salt (halite) mined from the Punjab region of Pakistan. The salt often has a pinkish tint due to mineral impurities. It is primarily used as a food additive as table salt, but is also used as a material for cooking and food presentation, decorative lamps, and spa treatments. The salt is promoted with claims that it benefits health, but these claims lack any scientific basis.

Himalayan salt from Khewra Salt Mine near Khewra, Punjab, Pakistan

GeologyEdit

 
Himalayan salt

Himalayan salt is mined from the Salt Range mountains,[1] the southern edge of a fold-and-thrust belt that underlies the Pothohar Plateau south of the Himalayas. Himalayan salt comes from a thick layer of Ediacaran to early Cambrian evaporites of the Salt Range Formation. This geological formation consists of crystalline halite intercalated with potash salts, overlayed by gypsiferous marl and interlayered with beds of gypsum and dolomite with infrequent seams of oil shale that accumulated between 600 and 540 million years ago. These strata and the overlying Cambrian to Eocene sedimentary rocks were thrust southward over younger sedimentary rocks, and eroded to create the Salt Range.[2][3][4]

HistoryEdit

Local legend traces the discovery of the Himalayan salt deposits to the army of Alexander the Great.[5] However, the first records of mining are from the Janjua people in the 1200s.[6] Salt is mostly mined at the Khewra Salt Mine in Khewra, Jhelum District, Punjab, Pakistan, which is situated in the foothills of the Salt Range hill system in the Punjab province of the Pakistan to the Indo-Gangetic Plain.[1][7] It is primarily exported in bulk, and processed in other countries for the consumer market.[5]

Mineral compositionEdit

 
Himalayan salt crystals

Himalayan salt is chemically similar to table salt. Analysis of a range of Khewra salt samples showed them to be between 96% and 99% sodium chloride, with varying amounts of trace minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, chromium, magnesium and sulfate, all at safe levels below 1%.[1][8][9][10] Some salts mined in Pakistan are not suitable for food or industrial use without purification due to impurities.[1] Some salt crystals from this region have an off-white to transparent color, while impurities in some veins of salt give it a pink, reddish, or beet-red color.[11][12]

Himalayan salt is nutritionally similar to common table salt,[10][13] though it lacks the beneficial iodine that is added to commercial iodised table salt.[14][15]

UsesEdit

 
Salt lamp

Himalayan salt is used to flavor food. Due mainly to marketing costs, pink Himalayan salt is up to 20 times more expensive than table salt or sea salt.[16] The impurities giving it its distinctive pink hue have given rise to the belief that it is healthier than common table salt.[13][17] There is no scientific basis for such claimed health benefits.[14][10][17][18] In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration warned a manufacturer of dietary supplements, including one consisting of Himalayan salt, to discontinue marketing the products using unproven claims of health benefits.[19]

Slabs of salt are used as serving dishes, baking stones, and griddles,[20] and it is also used to make tequila shot glasses.[21] In such uses, small amounts of salt transfer to the food or drink and alter its flavor profile.[22]

Himalayan salt is also used to make "salt lamps", illuminated hollowed out blocks which radiate a pinkish or orangish hue.[23] Claims that their use results in the release of ions that benefit health are without foundation.[13][24] Similar scientifically-unsupported claims underlie use of Himalayan salt to line the walls of spas, along with its use for salt-inhalation spa treatments.[13]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d Qazi Muhammad Sharif; Mumtaz Hussain; Muhammad Tahir Hussain (December 2007). Viqar Uddin Ahmad; Muhammad Raza Shah (eds.). "Chemical evaluation of major salt deposits of Pakistan" (PDF). Journal of the Chemical Society of Pakistan. Chemical Society of Pakistan. 29 (26): 570–571. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  2. ^ Jaumé, S.C. and Lillie, R.J., 1988. Mechanics of the Salt Range‐Potwar Plateau, Pakistan: A fold‐and‐thrust belt underlain by evaporites. Tectonics, 7(1), pp.57-71.
  3. ^ Grelaud, S., Sassi, W., de Lamotte, D.F., Jaswal, T. and Roure, F., 2002. Kinematics of eastern Salt Range and South Potwar basin (Pakistan): a new scenario. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 19(9), pp.1127-1139.
  4. ^ Richards, L., King, R.C., Collins, A.S., Sayab, M., Khan, M.A., Haneef, M., Morley, C.K. and Warren, J., 2015. Macrostructures vs microstructures in evaporite detachments: An example from the Salt Range, Pakistan. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 113, pp.922-934.
  5. ^ a b Hadid, Diaa (22 September 2019). "Pakistan's Pink Himalayan Salt Has Become A Matter Of National Pride". NPR. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  6. ^ Maurer, Hermann (2016). "Khewra Salt Mines". Global Geography. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  7. ^ Weller, J. Marvyn (May–June 1928). "The Cenozoic History of the Northwest Punjab". The Journal of Geology. Chicago Journals. 36 (4): 362–375. Bibcode:1928JG.....36..362W. doi:10.1086/623522. JSTOR 30055696.
  8. ^ Abrar ul Hassana; Ayesha Mohy Udd Din; Sakhawat Alib (2017). "Chemical Characterisation of Himalayan Rock Salt". Pakistan Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research Series A: Physical Sciences. 60: 67–71.
  9. ^ Ada McVean (20 June 2017). "Is Himalayan pink salt better for you?". Office for Science and Society, McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Hall, Harriet (31 January 2017). "Pink Himalayan sea salt: An update". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  11. ^ "Salt Mines". Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation. Archived from the original on August 13, 2017. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  12. ^ Freeman, Shanna. "How Salt Works". HowStuffWorks. Archived from the original on July 21, 2017. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  13. ^ a b c d Alexandra Sifferlin (28 January 2017). "Does pink Himalayan salt have any health benefits?". Time. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  14. ^ a b Sipokazi Fokazi (30 October 2017). "Himalayan salt: Benefits of staying in the pink". Independent Media, South Africa. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  15. ^ Shilton, A. C. (17 January 2019). "Pink Himalayan Salt Is a Waste of Money". Vice. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  16. ^ Charlie Floyd; Ju Shardlow (11 June 2019). "Why pink Himalayan salt is so expensive". Business Insider. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  17. ^ a b Mull, Amanda (5 December 2018). "How Pink Salt Took Over Millennial Kitchens". The Atlantic. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  18. ^ "David Avocado's Himalayan Salt Debunked". Bad Science Debunked. January 18, 2016. Archived from the original on July 21, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  19. ^ "Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations Herbs of Light, Inc". Food and Drug Administration (FDA). June 18, 2013. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  20. ^ Bitterman, Mark (January 30, 2008). "Safe Heating and Washing Tips for Your Himalayan Salt Block". Salt News. Archived from the original on August 13, 2017.
  21. ^ Hadid, Diaa; Sattar, Abdul (3 October 2019). "Pakistan Wants You To Know: Most Pink Himalayan Salt Doesn't Come From India". NPR. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  22. ^ Scozzaro, Carrie (January 10, 2019). "Salt blocks can be used as a versatile cooking alternative". Spokane, WA: Inlander. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  23. ^ Banu Ibrahim, Nikhita Mahtani (24 May 2018). "Everything you need to know about buying Himalayan salt lamps". CNN.
  24. ^ Alex Kasprak (22 December 2016). "Do Salt Lamps Provide Multiple Health Benefits?". Snopes. Retrieved 2 September 2019.

External linksEdit