Chapter 15: Salt

Salt, also known as sodium chloride, has impacted us in many ways. We can get salt three different ways, which are evaporating seawater, boiling down salt solutions from brine springs, and mining rock salt. All of these methods were used in ancient times and in today’s time. Evaporating seawater was and is the most common way to get salt. The process is slow but cheap. To get the salt, seawater was placed over a coal burning fire. Once the fire was out, the salt was scraped out. Dissolved seawater is only two-thirds sodium chloride. The rest is a mixed of magnesium chloride and calcium chloride. Evaporating salt can only happen in the tropic, while boiling down salt solutions from brine springs can happen in any climate. Brine springs usually are 10 times more concentrated than seawater.  Rock salt is found almost anywhere in the world. Rock salt is also a halite which are dried remains of oceans or seas and have been mined for centuries. Salt was so important in Europe during the Middle Ages that salt was known as “white gold”. In small cities in Europe, salt is the source of wealth.

The ions in salt helps maintain the electrolyte balance between cells and the fluids surrounding the cells. The chloride ion produce hydrochloric acid which is the essential component of digestive juices in the stomach. Not having enough salt in your diet can cause many health issues such as weight loss and loss of appetite, cramps, and nausea. Too much sodium can cause high blood pressure.

You can get the amount of salt needed from eating meat. Raw meat is an excellent source of salt. Once vegetables became a large part of our daily diet, a supplementary salt was needed.

Since salt was a need for humans and there is no substitute for salt, salt became a reliable income to the government. 2000 B.C. in China, salt has been a profitable income to the government through taxes, tolls, and tariffs. In 1825, the United Kingdom became the first country to abolish salt taxes. The British imposed a tax on salt in India. The salt tax was more than their original taxes. The diet in India is mainly vegetarians. The climate is intensely hot, which promotes salt loss by sweating. Because of the loss of salt, it is important that salt is part of their diet. In 1923, salt taxes were doubled in India. In 1930, Gandhi and many supporters marched 240 miles to a village called Dandi. Once they got to the shoreline, they started to boil seawater to get the salt. Salt was illegally sold. The supporters were brutalized by the police and thousands were sent to prison. Finally salt laws were modified. Locals could collect salt from local sources and sell it to others in their village. This broke the British government’s salt monopoly.

I feel the author was very knowledgeable to the topic. The history behind salt has impacted today’s time. I feel it’s important to know what too much salt and too little salt can do to a person’s body. The author could have wrote more information on this portion. The author was detailed about the history of taxing salt and the value salt had at one point. Salt has lost its value. Salt is a common spice to have at home. Salt no longer determines a person’s wealth.

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2 thoughts on “Chapter 15: Salt

  1. I agree with you that it’s important to know about salt and our bodies, but I think salt has only lost monetary value. It’s still important and valuable.

  2. I like how you were able to hit almost all of the history on the subject that was in the book, however, I thought a little more chemistry would have been nice besides the very basics of the salt molecule. Salt hasn’t completely lost its value, in my opinion, especially in third world countries located in the Middle East where salt is valuable.

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