Chapter 15: Salt

Salt has been, is, and will be an important compound with countless uses. It can act as a food preservative, can enhance flavor, and it keeps our bodies functioning properly. Without this common compound the world may be a very different place. This “white gold” has had worldly impacts on both economical and industrial aspects, helping society to grow and improve.

One of the first uses of salt was as a food preservative. It was placed on fish and other raw meats to ‘absorb’ moisture from the meat and create an uninhabitable environment for the growth of germs. This technique works because of the structure of NaCl. This compound consists of a positively charged sodium ion and a negatively charged chloride ion, forming a bond. Water molecules are also partially charged; the oxygen a partial negative and the hydrogens are partial positive. These charges are attracted to the opposite charges of salt (oxygen to sodium and hydrogen to chloride). The compounds are pulled towards each other until the salt is completely surrounded by water, allowing it to dissolve. This brings the water out of raw meats and preserves them for a longer amount of time.

Salt can be collected in three different ways, the first is by evaporating sea water. This is the most common way to extract salt and is very effective in tropical climates. This process is very slow, but is also cheap. The second method for collecting salt is by boiling solutions from underground brine springs. This process is more costly, however brine salt is about ten times more concentrated than sea salt. This compound can also be extracted from underground salt mines as rock salt; which is essentially just the dried remains of old oceans or seas. In fact, towns were formed around these mines, funded by the mined rock salt and its trade for other goods.

The increasing need for salt has lead to imposed taxes upon it. These taxes, which gave governmental profit, caused the price of salt to rise beyond an affordable price for citizens. In turn, salt began to be smuggled, which was a death sentence if caught in the act. Eventually, refrigerants were invented which replaced salt as a food preservative. This lowered its demand which allowed for a lowering of its price, making it more affordable again. Today, salt is cheap, as it is used mainly as a flavor enhancement.

I agree with the authors entirely that salt is one of the most important compounds in that it has helped our society grow and improve both economically and industrially.  Salt can be used as a food preserver, a flavor enhancer, and its earnings were used to profit towns. Today, salt still has a major impact in that it is a necessity for healthy body functions. It maintains the body’s electrolyte balance, generating electrical impulses of neurons. It is also used in the body to produce hydrochloric acid; needed as a digestive juice to break down food. Presently, salt is also commonly used on roads to prevent ice formation for safe driving. I believe that the great impact of salt in the past and present is very clear, and that it will continue to impact our lives in the future in many different ways. This simple compound, sitting on most everyone’s kitchen table, greatly influenced the way we live our life today.

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One thought on “Chapter 15: Salt

  1. It is ironic that you blogged about salt; cause you be salty all the time. It is like your middle name…….and should be your first and last name to. Your name should be Salty McSalt Salt. That its what I learned from this.

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