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Salt is an essential element in the diet of all living things --humans, animals, and even many plants. Critical to life, it is made up of 40% sodium and 60% chlorine. With over 14,000 known uses, salt is an integral part of a person's diet. The human body cannot exist without salt. Salt has been worshipped; salt has been used as money. Salt was once worth its weight in gold. Homer, who lived about 550 B.C., called salt “divine”. Plato said salt was “dear to the Gods’. Salt has been the cause of many wars during the ancient and the medieval periods.

[edit] Why should I be aware of this?

In modern times, salt is no longer scarce. It is one of the low priced food items across the world. Today a person needs to check if he is having too much salt; what are the surprise sources of salt; why in the first place should he have salt; what does the decision of opting for a particular type of salt mean for him and his family; and the health implication of having too much or too little salt.

With recent food trends moving towards processed or prepared foods, it has become necessary for everyone to monitor their personal salt intake regularly. The generally accepted maximum recommended amount of salt intake per day is set at 2400 mg by the US Food and Drug Administration ( FDA. ) The average fast food burger contains anywhere from 500mg to 1500mg of sodium.

Many foods such as anchovies, salted nuts, packaged soups, sauces, breads, cereals and ready made meals already contain reasonably high levels of salt. In product where salt is mentioned as sodium, the quantity should be multiplied by 2.5 in order to determine the actual salt content. The guidelines for salt content state that 0.1g of sodium is low salt, 0.2-0.4g is medium salt and over 0.5g is high salt content.

[edit] How does this affect me?

Consumption of more than 6g of salt per day can lead to high blood pressure which can then lead to stroke, heart attack, osteoporosis and asthma. Salt has also been linked to stomach cancer.

Those suffering from high blood pressure and kidney problems should be particularly careful about salt intake. The kidneys regulate salt level regulation in the body. When the body's sodium levels are low then the kidneys conserve it. When the levels are elevated the kidneys work to reduce it. With age the kidneys are unable to perform this task optimally and the potential problems become much more likely to occur.

There is currently no test to determine sodium sensitivity, However if your blood pressure lowers while on a low salt diet then it is safe to assume that the odds are you are among the genotypes that have a sensitivity to sodium.

Many alternatives to salt can be used for cooking, such as curry powders, mustard powder, lemon juice, lime juice, red wine, white wine, cider, beer, onions, garlic, shallots, ginger and chilies. Potassium can also be used as salt substitutes.

[edit] Salt and environment

Rock salt is preferred as the principal deicer because it is the most available and cost-effective deicer. It is used to keep snow and ice from bonding to the pavement and to allow snowplows to remove. When salt is applied to ice and snow it creates a brine that has a lower freezing temperature than the surrounding ice or snow.

But according to estimates, 30to 50 percent of the salt used travels into the ground water and causes pollution which affects human health in the form of high blood pressure and hypertension.

The increase of salt around bodies of water also effect aquatic life in the area as most fish life can only tolerate a narrow range of salt content in the water.

[edit] All about salt

  • Human body -- All human body fluids including blood, sweat, tears, etc contain sodium. It is essential to maintain proper balance of sodium in these fluids. In the body, sodium is mainly found in fluids that surround the body’s cells, such as blood and lymph fluid. When sodium intake exceeds the amount the body can handle, it builds up in the interstitial areas and the kidneys have to work extra hard to excrete it. Salt (sodium) plays an important role in the regulation of muscle contraction, fluid balance and nerve impulses in the human body and it is essential for overall good health.
  • Food -- The earliest known food additive, salt brings out natural flavors and makes foods acceptable. One of the popular preservatives, it retards the growth of spoilage microorganisms. Salt gives proper texture to processed foods and serves as a control agent to regulate the rate of fermentation in food processing. It also strengthens gluten in bread, provides the colour, aroma and appearance to various food items. It is also used to create the gel necessary to process meats and sausages. As a result, more heavily processed foods usually contain more sodium and salt.
  • Feedstock for the production of chemicals -- This is the greatest single use for salt. The chlor-alkali industry uses salt, primarily as salt in brine from captive brine wells, to produce chlorine and caustic soda.
  • Supplement for animal feedstock -- Livestock, poultry and other animals do not always receive adequate amounts of sodium and chloride from forages and other feeds.
  • Highway deicer - Salt is the most effective, readily available, and economical highway deicer in use today. It assures winter driving safety and continued mobility in snowbelt states, even under the most adverse snow and icing conditions. Rock salt and solar salt are used on U.S. highways.
  • Industry -- Salt is used in pulp and paper industry. It is also used for fixing and standardizing dye batches in the textile industry; it is used in metal processing and secondary aluminum making, to remove impurities and many other industries.
  • Seeding clouds -- Salt has been used to "seed" clouds to produce rain in desert areas.

[edit] CopperBytes

  • Salt is the world's oldest known food additive.
  • It has more than 14,000 known uses.
  • One of the greatest military roads in history was built to bring salt from the salt works at Ostia, on the Tiber River, to Rome. The English word salary comes from the fact that Romans were paid in part with salt coins that were called solarium.
  • Mahatma Gandhi’s “Salt March” was instrumental in the freedom of India from British Colonial rule and the salt tax.
  • When Napoleon Bonaparte was at war with Russia, thousands of his men died in the retreat from Moscow. Historians record these soldiers died from wounds that would not heal because their bodies had been deprived of salt.
  • It has been said that the lack of salt in the south was the greatest single factor for the Confederacy having lost the war.
  • Magnesium is extracted out of common table salt: Because the chemical industry needs pure sodium and chloride, vital magnesium is taken out to make it flow smoother which means it can be sold for a better profit on the chemical market.

[edit] 90 degrees

[edit] Salt attack

If a person intends using a salt-chlorinator for the swimming pool, he needs to consider carefully how to deal with the edges of the pool. Clay brick paving, real slate, cast concrete coping and several other types of pool surrounds are subject to a phenomenon known as salt attack, in which salt crystals form when splashed water evaporates from the coping surface. The formation of these crystals “eats away” the pool edge, causing it to crumble. The problem only occurs with salt-chlorinated pools, not with ordinary chlorinated pools.

Things to keep in mind for those using salt chlorinated pool

  • Ensure that the salt dosage is accurate. Do not over-dose.
  • Dive-bombing and other activities which cause a lot of splashing will accelerate salt attack.
  • Using fresh water and a high-pressure hose, spray down the coping towards the pool edge to wash away excess salt.

[edit] References

  • What is salt?
  • Britons told to cut salt intake;BBC Health
  • Salt Cooking Tips and Hints
  • Did You Know that Excess Salt is Harmful?
  • Interesting Facts About Water & Salt
  • The history of salt
  • High salt consumption can cause a range of health problems
  • Dangers of excessive salt intake
  • Sodium - Salt - Needs for Ultra-Endurance Athletes