Himalayan salt

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Himalayan salt is rock salt (halite) from the Punjab region of Pakistan. The salt often has a pinkish tint due to mineral impurities. It is primarily used as a food additive as table salt, but is also used as a material for cooking and food presentation, decorative lamps, and spa treatments. The salt has been claimed to provide numerous health benefits, but no scientific support exists for such claims.

Geology[edit]

Himalayan salt

Himalayan salt is mined from the Salt Range mountains.[1] These mountains are the southern edge of a fold-and-thrust belt, which underlies the entire Pothohar Plateau south of the Himalayas. The Salt Range and associated Pothohar Plateau are a result of the ongoing collision between India and Eurasia. Himalayan salt comes from a thick layer of highly folded, faulted, and stretched layer of Ediacaran to early Cambrian evaporites of the Salt Range Formation. This geological formation consists of crystalline halite, which is intercalated with potash salts and overlying by gypsiferous marl and interlayered beds of gypsum and dolomite with infrequent seams of oil shale. These strata and the overlying Cambrian to Eocene sedimentary rocks have been thrust southward over younger sedimentary rocks and eroded to create the Salt Range at the southern edge of the Pothohar Plateau. Although Himalayan salt is sometimes marketed as "Jurassic Sea Salt", this salt precipitated in subsiding rift basins along the edge of Gondwanaland between 600 and 540 million years ago.[2][3][4]

History[edit]

The first records of mining are from the Janjua people in the 1200s.[5] Himalayan salt is mostly mined at the Khewra Salt Mine in Khewra, Jhelum District, Punjab, which is situated in the foothills of the Salt Range hill system in the Punjab province of the Pakistan Indo-Gangetic Plain.[1][6]

Mineral composition[edit]

Himalayan salt crystals

Himalayan salt is chemically similar to table salt. Some salts mined in the Himalayas are not suitable for use as food or industrial use without purification due to impurities.[1] Some salt crystals from this region have an off-white to transparent color, while impurities in some veins of salt give it a pink, reddish, or beet-red color.[7][8]

According to one estimate, Himalayan salt is 98% sodium chloride, with 2% of it being minerals such as magnesium, potassium and calcium. This level of impurities is similar to that seen in common table salt,[9] and is considered to be too small to provide Himalayan salt with any special health benefits.[10]

Uses[edit]

Salt rock lamp

Himalayan salt is used to flavor food. It is recognized by the aesthetics of its distinctive pink hue, which has led to a misconception that it is "natural" and healthier than common table salt.[9][11] There is no scientific evidence to support such assertions.[11][12][13][14] Blocks of salt are also used as serving dishes, baking stones, and griddles.[15] In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration warned a manufacturer about marketing the salt as a dietary supplement with unproven claims of health benefits.[16]

Many pseudoscientific claims are made about Himalayan salt. For example, there is no scientific evidence that salt lamps, wherein light bulbs are placed within hollowed blocks of Himalayan salt, provide any health benefits.[9][17][18] There is also no scientific evidence that use of Himalayan salt-lined rooms in spas contributes in any way to health.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Qazi Muhammad Sharif; Mumtaz Hussain; Muhammad Tahir Hussain (December 2007). Viqar Uddin Ahmad; Muhammad Raza Shah, eds. "Chemical Evaluation of Major Salt Deposits of Pakistan" (PDF). Journal of the Chemical Society of Pakistan. Chemical Society of Pakistan. 29 (26): 570–571. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  2. ^ Jaumé, S.C. and Lillie, R.J., 1988. Mechanics of the Salt Range‐Potwar Plateau, Pakistan: A fold‐and‐thrust belt underlain by evaporites. Tectonics, 7(1), pp.57-71.
  3. ^ Grelaud, S., Sassi, W., de Lamotte, D.F., Jaswal, T. and Roure, F., 2002. Kinematics of eastern Salt Range and South Potwar basin (Pakistan): a new scenario. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 19(9), pp.1127-1139.
  4. ^ Richards, L., King, R.C., Collins, A.S., Sayab, M., Khan, M.A., Haneef, M., Morley, C.K. and Warren, J., 2015. Macrostructures vs microstructures in evaporite detachments: An example from the Salt Range, Pakistan. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 113, pp.922-934.
  5. ^ Maurer, Hermann (2016). "Khewra Salt Mines". Global Geography. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  6. ^ Weller, J. Marvyn. "The Cenozoic History of the Northwest Punjab, in The Journal of Geology, Vol. 36, No. 4 (May–June 1928), pp. 362–375". JSTOR. Chicago Journals. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  7. ^ "Salt Mines". Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation. Archived from the original on August 13, 2017. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  8. ^ Freeman, Shanna. "How Salt Works". HowStuffWorks. Archived from the original on July 21, 2017. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d Alexandra Sifferlin (28 June 2017). "Does Pink Himalayan Salt Have Any Health Benefits?". Time. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  10. ^ Sipokazi Fokazi (30 October 2017). "Himalayan salt: Benefits of staying in the pink". Independent Media, South Africa. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  11. ^ a b Mull, Amanda (5 December 2018). "How Pink Salt Took Over Millennial Kitchens". The Atlantic. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  12. ^ "David Avocado's Himalayan Salt Debunked". Bad Science Debunked. January 18, 2016. Archived from the original on July 21, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  13. ^ Hall, Harriet (19 August 2014). "Pass the Salt (But Not That Pink Himalayan Stuff)". Science-Based Medicine. Archived from the original on August 13, 2017.
  14. ^ Sipokazi Fokazi (30 October 2017). "Himalayan salt: Benefits of staying in the pink". Independent Media, South Africa. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  15. ^ Bitterman, Mark (January 30, 2008). "Safe Heating and Washing Tips for Your Himalayan Salt Block". Salt News. Archived from the original on August 13, 2017.
  16. ^ "Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations - Herbs of Light, Inc. 6/18/13". Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  17. ^ Julianna LeMieux (24 January 2018). "Pseudoscience Is Everywhere - Even The Gift Shop Of The American Museum Of Natural History". The American Council on Science and Health. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  18. ^ "Do Salt Lamps Provide Multiple Health Benefits?". Snopes.com. April 8, 2018. Retrieved April 8, 2018.

External links[edit]