Chapter 15- Salts

Salt, one of the most valued and used molecule used today. It’s such a shame that once back in history, salt or Sodium Chloride (NaCl) was actually worth something unlike the dirt cheap price of it today. It is said that we would die without salt, yet too much will also kill us. Salt has many uses still today like preservation of food, and to eliminate ice off the roads; however salt was a precious commodity, and was extremely expensive. Salt was so influential on the history of many countries worldwide, from global trade, economic sanctions and monopolies, wars, to the growth of cities, beliefs, and even languages!


Have you ever given a thought or two of how salt was collected? me neither until I found that there were three ways to collect salt: Evaporating seawater, boiling down salt solutions from brine springs, and mining rock salt. Evaporating seawater back then and now was the cheapest way to collect salt, but not necessarily the fastest way to collect it. Collecting salt this way involved gathering it from coastal rock pools, or from scrapes from the residue of the seawater thrown in burning coal. When salt was collected this way, both Magnesium-Chloride (MgCl2), and Calcium- Chloride (CaCl2), and these contaminated the salt, giving the salt a greater effectiveness as a preservation  Evaporating seawater was very efficient  in hot & dry climates, but Brine Springs were efficient in any climate!! Wood was needed to boil the water from the Brine solution, which also impacted the deforestation of parts of Europe. Salt contained from boiling Brine Springs were uncontaminated by the chlorides Magnesium-Chloride (MgCl2), and Calcium- Chloride (CaCl2), which lowered the effectiveness of food preservation, this was rather prefered than salt from evaporating seawater, and a lot more expensive. The last way of collecting salt from mining rock salts, or the NaCl mineral Halite. Halite is dried remains of old oceans, or seas that’s been mined near earth’s surface for it’s salt deposits. This became a current in the “Iron Age” because people decided to create a lucrative civilization down there in the mines.   Salt was considered “White Gold” because the salts were at that point more precious than gold itself. Salts were loved so much that many european cities decided to make their names follow whatever rules in their languages that means salt.

Salt was dated back farther than the Iron Age, all the way to the ancient times, where salt was used as a trading commodity; the romans would travel through the desert  just to get some salt for preservation for mummification… Salt was more important that you can even think to the romans, they needed the salt so bad from a grand salt plains in Ethiopia that constructed a large coastal saltworks at Ostia, and later a road that leads directly to Rome from the coast, this road today is know as the “Salt Road.”

Salts were shipped to Europe from the Sahara (because of their large heap of stored salt) to preserve the fishes that were being caught. With the help of the salt, european were able to fish near the newfounded lands, and catch millions of tons of Cod fishes, creating a profit like any other. Salt was in such a high demand that lands were conquered specifically for their precious staches of salt. Countries declared war against others who they felt threatened the sake of their salt staches, and capturing the enemy’s salt staches was a beneficial tactic at the time. This was so successful during the American Revolution for the British, because they destroyed the saltworks the colonist were using along the New Jersey coast, which led to the colonist paying more for the imported salts. Taking the salt from the Federate army in the American Civil War led to the Union Force’s victory in the end. The reason why this tactic was so beneficial, was because it may have prevented wartime wounds from healing, which lead to the death of Napoleon’s army during their fight with Russia.

Halite was the most soluble mineral because of it’ 36 Grams/ 100 grams of cold water solubility rate. The chemist Arrhenius first proposed the idea that oppositely charged molecules were the answer to the structures, and properties of the salt, and later the acids and bases. Chemist pondered at the time that salt solutions were capable of conducting electrical currents. Arrhenius’s theory stated for conductivity; when a salt was dissolved in water, then the concentration is greater, and so is the charged ions, and they need to carry the electrical currents. He later states that salt forms a crystal lattice of Na+ and Cl-, and they’re held together by opposite charges. when dissolved, NaCl is taken apart from the Dipole molecule H2O, or HOH, and when the NaCl is dissolved, the slightly positive portion of H2O, the H+ attracts the Slightly negative portion of NaCl, the Cl-, which then leaves the O2 to take up the positive Na+.

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