Salt savvy

Pierre Hofmeyr, Gordon’s Bay

In “Please will you pass (on) the salt ” (Bolander, August 2), Tracy Venter has written a most interesting and informative article on table salt.

She discusses the importance of salt (sodium chloride) and other components, such as potassium (K), magnesium (Mg) and iodine (I) found in “unrefined salt”, to the human body and points out the problems that a deficiency of salt as well as an excess of salt can cause to humans.

However, I feel compelled to point out some serious errors in her article. Refined salt is not toxic to the human body.

Refined salt does not have an altered chemical structure to unrefined salt. It is still sodium chloride with cubic, hexoctahedral crystals with an atomic structure identical to unrefined salt.

She says: “Unrefined salt, such as Himalayan crystal salt or sea salt, is pure salt in its unrefined form.” Correct.

Sea salt ( unrefined salt) is the salt commonly available in our supermarkets here in South Africa. It is produced locally by the evaporation of seawater until it is 99.7 percent pure sodium chloride, and the remaining
0.3 percent comprises the essential trace elements of K, Mg, I and many others.

You will often note the words “Contains potassium iodate” on commercial table salt packaging. It hasn’t been added – it just hasn’t been taken out during the evaporative manufacturing process.

Refining of salt is carried out in some countries like the UK, where a high temperature vacuum evaporation process is used to produce table salt from underground salt deposits, but no refining of salt is carried out in South Africa as our hot, dry climate favours the natural evaporative system of making table salt from seawater.

Himalayan salt is great, but it is no healthier than the local sea salt. Incidentally, the pink colouration of Himalayan salt is due to minute inclusions of hematite (iron oxide) crystals.

Donné Brown: director, African Salt Works

I strongly disagree with some of Tracy Venter’s statements regarding refined salt and pure salt; for example no extraction nor chemical bleaching is done to salt.

I would love for Bolander or Tracy to visit our factory in Parow, and give us the opportunity to explain how salt is made.

Our salt is harvested in a sustainable manner from a remote and pristine area of the vast Kalahari Desert in South Africa.

Here, salt water from an ancient underground lake, fed by subterranean streams, is laid to rest on a pan, sun-dried and harvested.

We do not add any additives to our salt nor extract any minerals. (in some of the refined salt we are, however, by law forced to add iodine).