What is Black Salt?
Kala namak is a kiln-fired rock salt with a sulphurous, pungent smell used in the Indian subcontinent. It is also known as "Himalayan black salt", Sulemani namak, bire noon, bit loona, bit lobon, kala loon, guma loon, or pada loon, and is manufactured from the salts mined in the regions surrounding the Himalayas.
The condiment is composed largely of sodium chloride, with several other components lending the salt its colour and smell. The smell is mainly due to its sulphur content. Because of the presence of Iron sulphide in the mineral, it forms brownish-pink to dark violet translucent crystals when whole. When ground into a powder, its colour ranges from purple to pink.
Kala namak has been praised in Ayurveda and used for its perceived medical qualities. Ayurvedic healers claim that Himalayan black salt has therapeutic qualities. However, it’s debatable whether these claims are rooted in solid research.
Interestingly, despite its name, Himalayan black salt is pinkish-brown in colour.
Types of black salt
Head to any gourmet store and you will find that there is more than one type of black salt. In fact there are two other common types of black salt that you need to be aware of: black ritual salt and black lava salt. These black salts are nothing like the umami-rich, flavor enhancing kind that is Himalayan black salt, and are used for very different purposes.
Black Ritual Salt
Firstly, Black Ritual Salt is a type of salt made by a blend of charcoal powder or dyes to obtain the dark color, and is usually found at special curiosity stores for purposes outside of the kitchen.
Black Lava Salt
Black lava salt, on the other hand, is simply a table salt blended with activated charcoal and comes from Hawaii or Cyprus. Use black lava salt (also called Hawaiian black salt) as a finishing salt - it is great for visual effect rather than adding actual flavor.
Black Himalayan Salt
It is the most used salt variety for its deep, savory taste. It not only provides medicinal properties but also gives earthly flavor to the dish.
How is Black Salt different from Regular Salt?
Black salt differs from regular table salt in the way it’s made and the way it tastes.
Manufactured Differently - Kala Namak is actually manufactured by heating it up at extremely high temperatures in the kilns and then is mixed with the seed of Harad or Black Myrobalan tree to imbibe certain therapeutic properties to it. The finished product contains impurities like sulphates, sulphides, iron, and magnesium, contributing to its color, smell, and taste. These impurities are likely not harmful to your health. Sulphates are considered safe to eat and are used in certain food products to control harmful bacterial growth. On the contrary, Black Lava Salt is one you can add to your everyday cooking. It has a robust, unique taste that is unlike ordinary salt. You can use it on steak and match it with Cabernet or make use of its gentle abrasiveness in a healing foot bath.
Alternatively, regular table salt — the kind you find in your salt shaker — is highly processed and refined, meaning most of the trace minerals are removed. Most table salt comes from large rock salt deposits — a result of evaporated ancient oceans — that are mainly found in the United States, Canada, Germany, Eastern Europe, and China. Several methods, requiring different machinery, are used to extract this type of salt. As regular salt is mined from salt deposits. It makes a very fine grain with even flakes.
When it comes to taste, Black salt varieties have more in-depth flavor profiles than regular salt. Himalayan black salt offers a sulphurous aroma unique to Asian and Indian cooking, while black lava salt gives an earthy, smoky flavor.
And on the other side, It is commonly held that there are five basic tastes—sweet, sour, bitter, umami (savory) and salty. Common table salt (NaCl) is perceived as “salty”, of course, yet dilute solutions also elicit sourness, sweetness, and bitterness under certain situations. It’s also the type of salt found in most processed foods. In fact, over 75% of daily sodium intake comes from salt found in processed foods.
Nevertheless, Salts of all kinds are added to many foods as in the end it enhances the flavor.
Black salt has antioxidant properties and has surprisingly low sodium levels. It also contains important minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium, which are essential to healthy bodies.
Other added benefits of black salt includes:
1. Nutrition Provider.
Kala Namak benefits the body immensely by providing it with essential minerals like iron, magnesium, and even calcium. It is also believed to have lower sodium levels which are good for your health. And because of its purported lower sodium content, black salt may be a better option for people with high blood pressure or those looking to reduce their sodium intake.
2. May contain fewer add-ons
Is Black Salt healthier than Regular Salt?
Speaking about a higher mineral content, synthetically produced black salt tends to be low in minerals, and the body anyway does not absorb them well because they are insoluble. Plus, many black salts available for purchase are likely made synthetically, which tend to be low in mineral content anyway.
On the contrary, Regular salt is highly refined to remove any impurities and eliminate any trace minerals often found in specialty salts. Because it is finely ground, anti-caking agents are added to ensure the salt doesn't clump together. Some table salts also have added sugar and other additives.
So the answer is that black salt may be healthier than regular salt, although all types of salt should be consumed in moderation. It’s recommended that people consume a maximum of 2,300 mg of sodium per day, which is equivalent to one teaspoon of salt
There isn’t strong enough research to suggest that black salt is healthier than regular table salt. It’s best to consume salt in moderation and use it to enhance the flavor of food.
A Word from Naturevibe
Salt is used for flavor—not to add nutritional value (with the exception of iodine). Still, getting the right amount of salt in your diet plays an essential role in maintaining optimal health. Black salt is a great natural alternative to regular table salt, especially if you want to try an Indian or Asian recipe that calls for it. With its unique flavor profile, it can enhance the flavor of many dishes.
Remember, research about different salt types is still lacking, but the consensus among health experts is that there is no one best or healthiest salt. Trace minerals found in differing salts do not provide additional health benefits, and trace mineral differences among salts shouldn't be a selling point.What do you prefer more? Black Salt or Regular Salt, Do let us know in the comment section. Share your black / regular salt recipe with us on 'Submit your recipe' section. We’d love to hear from you!