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Black salt is a popular ingredient in Indian cuisine.

It offers a unique flavor that enhances many dishes. There are also claims that it provides several health benefits.

This article examines what black salt is, its potential health benefits, and whether or not it’s better than regular table salt.

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Though there are different types of black salt, Himalayan black salt is the most common.

It’s a rock salt that comes from the salt mines of Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and other locations in the Himalayas.

The use of black salt was first documented in Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional and holistic approach to health that originated in India (1).

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 color.

Summary

Black salt is a rock salt from the Himalayas. It’s dark pink and believed to have therapeutic properties.

There are three main types of black salt: Himalayan black salt, black lava salt, and black ritual salt.

Himalayan black salt

Himalayan black salt may also be called Indian black salt, or kala namak.

Though it’s been acknowledged for its medicinal properties, there are few studies to support these claims.

With a pungent, savory, and umami flavor, it’s commonly used in cooking, especially in Asian and Indian cuisine.

Additionally, due to its subtle, sulfurous aroma similar to eggs, it’s used in vegan cooking to provide an egg-like flavor.

Black lava salt

You may see black lava salt also called Hawaiian black salt, as it usually comes from Hawaii.

While Himalayan black salt has a pinkish-brown hue, black lava salt is true to its name and black.

It offers a distinctive, earthy flavor and is sprinkled on food at the end of cooking as a finishing salt.

Since it also gives food a mild, smoky taste, it serves as a great addition to dishes that are intended to have a smoky flavor.

Black ritual salt

Black ritual salt, also referred to as witches salt, is a mixture of ashes, sea salt, charcoal, and sometimes black dye. It’s not used for consumption.

Though unsupported by science, some people believe that black ritual salt has magical abilities to protect against negative spirits. Believers may sprinkle it around their yard or keep it in a jar under their bed.

Though this superstitious practice is likely harmless, it’s not suggested, and there isn’t any evidence to support its use.

Summary

There are three main types of black salt. Himalayan black salt and black lava salt are used to enhance the flavor of certain dishes, while black ritual salt is not meant to be eaten.

Black salt differs from regular table salt in the way it’s made and the way it tastes.

Manufactured differently

Himalayan black salt starts as pink Himalayan salt, which is a type of rock salt.

Traditionally, it was mixed with herbs, seeds, and spices and then heated to high temperatures.

Today, many black salts are made synthetically from a combination of sodium chloride, sodium sulfate, sodium bisulfate, and ferric sulfate. The salt is then mixed with charcoal and heated before the final product is ready.

The finished product contains impurities like sulfates, sulfides, iron, and magnesium, contributing to its color, smell, and taste.

These impurities are likely not harmful to your health. Sulfates are considered safe to eat and are used in certain food products to control harmful bacterial growth (2, 3).

Black lava salt, on the other hand, was traditionally made from volcanic lava. Today, it’s usually made from blending sea salt with activated charcoal.

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.

Taste differences

Black salt varieties have more in-depth flavor profiles than regular salt.

Himalayan black salt offers a sulfurous aroma unique to Asian and Indian cooking, while black lava salt gives an earthy, smoky flavor.

Alternatively, regular table salt tastes salty, but can also have notes of sweetness, sourness, or bitterness (4).

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 (5).

Regardless, salt of all kinds is added to many foods because it enhances the flavor (6).

Summary

Black salt is manufactured differently than regular salt. Black salt often contains more minerals and offers a more unique flavor.

Choosing black salt may have several potential health benefits.

For starters, black salt may contain less sodium than table salt. Additionally, it contains fewer additives and may offer other therapeutic effects as well.

May be lower in sodium than table salt

Commercial table salt may have a higher sodium content than naturally derived black salt.

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.

Diets high in sodium have been linked to high blood pressure and may increase blood pressure for those with elevated levels (7).

It’s important to remember to check the nutrition label when using black salt, as the sodium content can vary widely depending on the brand.

May contain fewer additives

Black salt may contain fewer additives than regular table salt. This is because traditional black salt goes through minimal processing, without additives.

What’s more, anti-caking agents — which can be harmful to your health — are added to regular table salt to prevent the formation of lumps (8).

Some table salts also contain potentially harmful additives like potassium iodate and aluminum silicate. Potassium iodate may increase oxidation of fat, a harmful cell process that can cause tissue damage and increase your risk of various diseases (9, 10)

However, not all additives are necessarily bad.

In fact, the added iodine found in table salt was the result of a major public health effort to reduce the rates of iodine deficiency, which is common in many parts of the world.

Iodine deficiency is a leading cause of hypothyroidism and can cause various other health problems (11, 12).

Other unfounded health claims

  • May contain more minerals. Claims suggest that Himalayan black salt contains more minerals than regular table salt. However, there is limited research on the differences between these two salts.
  • May improve digestion. It’s believed that black salt may help improve digestion, provide laxative effects, and relieve gas and bloating. However, research is needed to support these claims.
  • May enhance skin and hair. Due to its mineral content, black salt may improve skin and hair health. Yet once again, there is minimal research to support these claims.
Summary

Black salt may be lower in sodium and contain fewer additives than regular salt. It may also offer other health benefits, but more research is needed to support these claims.

The higher mineral content of black salt may not be that relevant, since your body can’t absorb them very well, and you generally eat such a small amount of salt in one sitting (13).

Minerals in salt are not easily absorbed likely because they’re insoluble, meaning they don’t dissolve in liquids. It’s much easier to absorb minerals when they’re in their soluble form (13, 14).

Plus, many black salts available for purchase are likely made synthetically, which tend to be low in mineral content anyway.

Because black salt contains fewer additives than regular table salt, it may be a better choice if you want to avoid anti-caking agents.

Nevertheless, it’s best to consume salt in moderation — regardless of the type. It’s recommended that people consume a maximum of 2,300 mg of sodium per day, which is equivalent to one teaspoon of salt (15, 16).

Summary

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.

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.

However, it isn’t likely that you’ll experience any miraculous healing benefits that you may read about online.

No studies have compared the health effects of black salt and regular table salt. Overall, more research is needed.

For now, enjoy this salt for its unique flavor profile and delicious taste.

Where to buy

If you can’t find black salt locally, you can shop for it online: