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Tags salt , himalayan

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Old 10th June 2006, 12:12 AM   #1
empeake
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Himalayan salt

I would appreciate your comments and help on the "Himalayan salt" fad. It came to my attention when someone offered it to my wife and claimed, among other things, that "it was the purest salt on Earth...", "it contained the 84 natural elements that the body needed, in the same proportions as present in our blood...", etc. What really set off my alarms was the following claim: that Himalayan salt was a "safe" alternative to common salt and "did not cause high blood pressure"! Of course, no factual evidence was presented, but only the usual answers about "body energy", "natural wonders vs. man-made poisons", "so-called experts (?) have said...", "studies (?) have shown...", and all sort of pseudoscientific and pseudomedical explanations.

All this seems like nonsense to me, but I'm not a doctor, biologist, biochemist or expert on the human body, and don't have the knowledge or tools to refute these claims.

I tried searching the major skeptical sites for information, to no avail. However, I did come across a web site that includes a woo-woo-wonderful testimonial by an "Aurora Colour Magnetic Crystal Sound Practitioner & Teacher, Reiki Master" (this title alone is worth the visit). Needless to say, few sites display the amount of quackery that this one does. What really concerns me is that people are believing this to be a cure for cancer and high blood pressure, as I found out in some "alternative medicine" websites.

(Since I'm new to the forum, I can't post the URL. However, do a Google search for "Himalayan salt" and visit the "magmed.co.nz" site at the top of the list.)

The wondrous claims for Himalayan salt are many and you can find them at the same site, under ""Salt for life" (just try not to hurt yourself laughing when you read the page). However, what I really need right now is information to refute the following:

1. "Table salt" is sodium chloride to which sometimes fluorine and iodine are added. Therefore it is not the kind of salt the body needs. I know that fluorine and iodine are added to prevent certain diseases, such as goiter. However, what about the claim that sodium chloride is not the salt we (and other living things) need?

2. Natural crystal salt contains the same 84 elements that form human blood in the exact same proportion. As I see it, if it has exactly the same element in exactly the same proportions, it wouldn't be salt, but human blood! Any comments?

3. Contains no heavy metals, therefore helping avoid body fluid retention. This contradicts the claim that is has 84 elements, since mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and chromium are heavy metals and are also in the list of 84 elements. My question is, what causes fluid retention and why?

4. Crystal salt is better than ordinary table salt, since table salt has preservatives and additives that the body doesn't need. There are basic three types of "salt": seawater salt, rock (crystal) salt, and refined salt. Is any of one these actually or inherently better than the others?

Sorry for the long post, but I really want to put this matter to rest the way it should be.
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Old 10th June 2006, 12:28 AM   #2
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Here's the linky.

1. Salt is salt is salt. The body fills its needs for minerals not just from salt, but from all the foods we eat. This assertion is just a circular arguement.

2. Not everyone has the exact same blood chemistry so the claim is false on its face. But, theoretically, a substance could have all the trace minerals found in blood and not be blood because, for example, red and white cells would be missing. As well as water.

3. Not a MD so I can't answer with authority. But water retention by women during portions of their cycle is certainly not caused by heavy metals so I wouldn't put much stock in this claim.

4. Salt is salt is salt. Commercial products may have other elements added, but that is just icing on the cake.

This site is pure woo. Ignore it.
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Old 10th June 2006, 12:32 AM   #3
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Clearly, the claims about purity and containing 84 elements are contradictory. Same goes for no heavy metals and 84 elements. How can you have 84 elements and no heavy metals?

That said, a number of elements that are pretty toxic are needed in trace doses. The best example I can think of is selenium. There were a few cases of selenium deficiency in China, which were quickly rectified by government-provided supplements. Selenium is toxic above 400 micrograms though.

I can't imagine the world at large is in any danger of missing out on trace elements though.

I also can't imagine that sea salt is any different than refined salt to several decimal places.

Blast, it's getting late here, but I'll see what I can turn up on this OK?
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Old 10th June 2006, 12:36 AM   #4
Eos of the Eons
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Wow, excellent questions.

What they are selling is a supplement with the usual claims. A body needs the "additive" iodine to avoid a deficiency. Does this supplement not contain it?

Unless the body lacks the "84 elements", then there really is no need to take the supplement.

Our regular table salt is not over priced, and does contain essential nutrition for our body. The lie about preservatives is hilarious. Since when does salt go bad or stale??

NaCl (sodium chloride) is salt. Anything you call salt will inevitably contain it.

http://www.saltinstitute.org/15.html
http://206.191.51.240/Resources_Salt_TowardUSI.html

I haven't heard of flourine being added before, so am trying to look that up.


This is a typical smear campaign in order to create demand for a more expensive alternative. I hope others can address your great questions in more detail, but I've got to get my silly @ss to bed.
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Old 10th June 2006, 12:45 AM   #5
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I concur with SezMe and Eos. Woo, to the core.

Except for one nitpick: Table salt, Sodium Chloride, is vastly different from many other salts, like Sodium Carbonate, Calcium Carbide, and Magnesium Sulfate.
I would say that one table salt is probably very much the same and any other table salt.
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Old 10th June 2006, 01:11 AM   #6
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1) Sea salt does have components in trace amounts that are similar to human blood.

2) Mined salt is pretty much the same as sea salt, because most of it comes from salt from dried-up seas anyway.

3) There's nothing special about the Himalayas that makes this much different.

4) Sea salt and mined salt suck because of a lack of iodine, mostly because near the surface the iodine gets snarfed up by sea creatures.
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Old 10th June 2006, 02:29 AM   #7
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I wonder if the wonderous substance comes from this mine:
Quote:
The salt mined in Khewra - which is often called the biggest or second biggest salt mine in the world - is primarly used for industrial purposes. More than half of the production, 200,000 tons per year, are sold to Imperial Chemical Industries ICI Soda Ash Khewra. Other customers are Ittehad Chemical Limited at Kala Shah Kaku and various tanneries. A certain amount of salt of the purest quality, called rock salt, is sold as table salt in the country and abroad, especially to India. A small amount is used to produce fancy goods like salt lamps, vases, and ash trays. They are sold at the tourist mine, but also exported in large quantities. The Himalayan Rock Salt Crystal Lamps are somewhat notorious.
(My bolding)
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Old 10th June 2006, 04:20 AM   #8
geni
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Purest salt I can find at short notice would be 99.999% sodium chloride:

http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/...il/SIAL/204439
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Old 10th June 2006, 11:24 AM   #9
Eos of the Eons
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Originally Posted by clarsct View Post
I concur with SezMe and Eos. Woo, to the core.

Except for one nitpick: Table salt, Sodium Chloride, is vastly different from many other salts, like Sodium Carbonate, Calcium Carbide, and Magnesium Sulfate.
I would say that one table salt is probably very much the same and any other table salt.

Ah, I was looking for those. Na & Cl are necessary for many bodily functions. I don't see any other noxious chemical make ups for the other salts. Basically, nothing in the salts could make one better for the body than another. Eat too much of any, and you'd encounter problems though. I think 3/4 cup of NaCl could potentiall kill somebody, but I'd like to see someone eat that much in one sitting.
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Old 10th June 2006, 12:13 PM   #10
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Fluoride and iodine are necessary for normal function but not necessary in salt if you are getting it elsewhere.
The claim that is has minerals in the exact proportions as the human body is probably not true but I will withhold judgment till I see data. Regardless of that if it did then it would not be the perfect source of these things since the absorption and metabolism is likely different for many of them.
The claim about fluid retention doesn't make sense to me. Fluid is retained because you have too much sodium which causes an osmotic force pulling water into the sodium rich environment. As far as I know people are not dying from heavy metal contamination of salt.
What preservatives and additives are they saying salt contains and what is the harm caused by them?
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Old 10th June 2006, 12:21 PM   #11
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Table salt generally has iodine and anti-clumping agents added, but if that's the issue, it's sold without additives as "pickling salt" in most U.S. groceries at least. It has some impurities up to an allowable level, whatever the government requires for "food grade" purity, but of course the Himalayan salt also has impurities in it--in fact they seem to be its main selling point, assuming it's primarily sodium chloride plus extra trace elements that aren't removed.

For the necessity of sodium chloride to the human body, try a google for "hyponatremia," a potentially fatal condition that can occur in otherwise healthy athletes who lose large amounts of salt in sweat, without replacing it.

Quick-and-dirty answer on the fluid retention question: It's caused by the body trying to balance its osmolarity. More salt requires retaining more water to balance it; less salt requires less water to be retained. Thus the body needs sodium chloride in the right amount, but can cope with a reasonable excess or lack by retaining or excreting water. Again, a google on something like salt, "retain water" and osmolarity should bring up a variety of articles, and you can pick how technical you want to get.

So plain sodium chloride is necessary in reasonable amounts, and readily available without additives in grocery stores. The other elements found in this Himalayan salt may have benefits, but they'd need to be examined on a case-by-case basis, since trace minerals will also be coming from other parts of a person's diet, and a person may already be getting enough or too much of any of them.

My two cents on the topic anyway.

Edited to add: looks like the pup and the dogdoctor were typing similar things at the same time!

Last edited by Pup; 10th June 2006 at 12:23 PM.
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Old 10th June 2006, 01:54 PM   #12
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84 elements is too many by the chemical meaning of elements, unless we are going to include heavy metals such as lead, uranium, plutonium, mercury and arsenic. There is no good reason to think these merchants have found the optimum ratio of elements needed by average persons. Worse there is a strong possibility that the Himalayan salt will be injurious to some people at one gram per day and injurious to most people at 20 grams per day. We do vary considerably in our ability to dispose of an excess of many elements and compounds. The molecular structure of the compounds also affects the toxcisity and/or benefits in some cases. Neil
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Old 10th June 2006, 03:24 PM   #13
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Thank you

Just a quick thank you to everyone that posted a reply. You've been very helpful.
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Old 10th June 2006, 07:08 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Eos of the Eons View Post
NaCl (sodium chloride) is salt. Anything you call salt will inevitably contain it.
One smallish thing. Besides the chemical definition of salt, there are compounds that are salt-like but not NaCl. The most common is probably KCl, which is sold in grocery stores as sodium-free salt. If I remember correctly (from this book), magnesium salts were also occasionally used as salt, but NaCl tastes better and is so inexpensive nowadays that there's little reason to use other types.
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Old 10th June 2006, 07:31 PM   #15
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Thanks Dilb.

It would be interesting to try KCl, since potassium is quite beneficial. I think though, and please correct me if I'm wrong, we need more amounts of sodium than potassium in our diet?
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Old 10th June 2006, 10:33 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Dogdoctor View Post
Fluoride and iodine are necessary for normal function but not necessary in salt if you are getting it elsewhere.
That's true, but my ancestors (and I'm only talking three generations here) generally expected to have goiters by the time they were 45. Adding iodine to salt was a great benefit early in the 20th century.
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Old 10th June 2006, 11:21 PM   #17
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It cannot be the purest salt on Earth and have any detectible elements/ions except those in the salt (presumably sodium chloride) that it is (sodium + and
chlorine - bound in a crystal lattice. It could, in theory, be the purest dry sea salt if there was such a standard (no bio/organic contaminants, no elements/molecules/ionic compounds not in seawater and in the same proportions as seawater for those legitimately present. No way could it be healthier than any other pure salt or pure sea salt regardless.
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Old 11th June 2006, 01:56 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
It cannot be the purest salt on Earth and have any detectible elements/ions except those in the salt (presumably sodium chloride) that it is (sodium + and
chlorine - bound in a crystal lattice.
I doubt anyone has ever made copletely pure soudium chloride. Even the very purest reagent have impurities.
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Old 11th June 2006, 02:08 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by neil View Post
Worse there is a strong possibility that the Himalayan salt will be injurious to some people at one gram per day and injurious to most people at 20 grams per day. We do vary considerably in our ability to dispose of an excess of many elements and compounds. The molecular structure of the compounds also affects the toxcisity and/or benefits in some cases. Neil
Another page of the site recommends taking the salt by drinking a teaspoon of 26% solution of it. The perentage is their own figure, with no explanation of how they measured it - their method for making the solution involves putting the salt crystals in water until they stop dissolving.
So that's a daily quarter-teaspoon of salt, which by my reckoning is over a gram. And as far as I can tell, they don't say anything about not adding it to food as well. So you can bet that the fruitloops who believe this stuff will be putting it into everything they eat.
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Old 11th June 2006, 06:03 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Eos of the Eons View Post
It would be interesting to try KCl, since potassium is quite beneficial. I think though, and please correct me if I'm wrong, we need more amounts of sodium than potassium in our diet?
Not really. Off the top of my head, I believe the recommended amount of sodium in the US is no more than 2500 mg a day, and the recommended amount of potassium is no less than 3500 mg a day. Someone who sweats a lot in their daily activities could need more sodium than the maximum, I'd guess. The main difference, as you implied, is that we tend to get enough sodium in an average modern diet, but not enough potassium.

I've tried KCl salt, and it's got what I'd subjectively describe as a slightly bitter taste. Some "lite" salts are a mix of sodium and potassium salt, and I find them much closer to the taste of sodium salt.
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Old 11th June 2006, 06:12 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Eos of the Eons View Post
Thanks Dilb.

It would be interesting to try KCl, since potassium is quite beneficial. I think though, and please correct me if I'm wrong, we need more amounts of sodium than potassium in our diet?

We need both in our diet, in most case more sodium than potasium. Both are essential to nerve conduction and your heart will stop if you don't have enough, hypertremia? I was speaking to a food scientist about the K-Cl and he said that the chloride is also implicated in high blood pressure and that therefore, I as a salt sensitive person should watch it as well.

I am not sure what his degree was in , he worked making foods for a large name brand national company designing common table foods.
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Old 11th June 2006, 07:04 AM   #22
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I would find it hard to believe that you don't get enough sodium in a regular diet. Sodium is a relatively ubiquitous element to be found in the foods we eat. If you eat foods high in MSG, Sodium Benzoate, or frozen or pre-processed foods, you probably get more than enough. If you eat a balanced diet, you probably get plenty. If you are an athelete, that's why gatorade is so damned salty, donchya know.

Himilayan salt? Bah. Just eat healthy and exercise. Whoops...that takes work..my bad...
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Old 11th June 2006, 10:07 AM   #23
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Our food typically contains quite pure NaCl sometimes with a bit of iodine added. I rarely add any salt to my food, but do eat about a gram of KCl most weeks. We typically get about 30 grams of NaCl per week, so a potassium deficiency is likely adding one gram per week of KCl, but 30 grams of KCl per week would likely be slightly toxic for some of us. I recently read that a gram or two of magnessium, and zinc suppliment would also be helpful, but who are you going to believe? Neil
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Old 11th June 2006, 10:25 AM   #24
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We humans have a very sophisticated evolutionary mechanism for maintaining a good salt balance - too much we get thirsty, too little and we feel lethargic and food seems tasteless. I'm not convinced that adding salt to food is justified because it just makes us thirsty and doesn't improve the taste of the food.

The only exceptions are the very old and very young. Babies haven't developed their salt balance and if fed too much salt in processed foods made for adults, can cause severe problems or even death (I've read about a case recently where this happened). In old people, the taste buds aren't as efficient, so they can over-salt food leading to high blood pressure problems.

There is a public campaign at the moment about the dangers of salt - generally speaking its government sponsored pseudoscience at its finest.

If Himalayan salt contains 84 elements and is "pure" I wonder what impure salt would be like....there can't be too many naturally occurring elements left in the periodic table.
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Old 11th June 2006, 03:40 PM   #25
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Just for something to do, I did a quick browse through the Periodic Table.

of the 118 listed elements, one of them (118) has been determined to not actually exist; 27 are synthetic, and do not exist outside the laboratory or nuclear reactor; and 6 are noble gasses that do not form any sort of compounds, let alone solid ones.

That leaves exactly 84 elements; the number claimed by the "Himalayan salt" woos.

Of those, a substantial number are radioactive. Quite a few are tolerable only in very small doses, and only when compounded with certain other elements, usually in the form of a salt. A few are heavy metals that are highly toxic in pretty much all forms, and which are tolerable only in very minute doses. A few of these are cumulatively toxic.

Make all the claims you want about that "84 element Himalayan salt", but I'm not touching the filthy stuff. I'll stick with my nice, safe, refined sea salt.
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Old 11th June 2006, 04:03 PM   #26
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That was my point

Originally Posted by geni View Post
I doubt anyone has ever made copletely pure soudium chloride. Even the very purest reagent have impurities.

IF it has 84 elements represented in it, it can't be particularly pure - and if it doesn't actually have 84 elements they are what we chemists like to call lying.
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Old 11th June 2006, 04:40 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
IF it has 84 elements represented in it, it can't be particularly pure - and if it doesn't actually have 84 elements they are what we chemists like to call lying.
Spent much time dealing with organic papers?
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Old 11th June 2006, 05:42 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by luchog View Post
of the 118 listed elements, one of them (118) has been determined to not actually exist; 27 are synthetic, and do not exist outside the laboratory or nuclear reactor; and 6 are noble gasses that do not form any sort of compounds, let alone solid ones.
The noble gases actually do form some compounds, but not many.
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Old 11th June 2006, 06:11 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by epepke View Post
The noble gases actually do form some compounds, but not many.
No reported compound for helium and neon. there was one suggested for argon when I last cheacked but that was a while back.
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Old 11th June 2006, 06:38 PM   #30
epepke
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Originally Posted by geni View Post
No reported compound for helium and neon. there was one suggested for argon when I last cheacked but that was a while back.
Xenon fluoride. Actually, several fluorine compounds. Fairly stable under laboratory conditions.

There are theoretical reasons to think that neon might form a coumpound with fluorine, but none has clearly been detected.

Helium can form a compound with hydrogen and fluorine, but only in pressurized solid helium.
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Old 12th June 2006, 02:05 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by clarsct View Post
I concur with SezMe and Eos. Woo, to the core.

Except for one nitpick: Table salt, Sodium Chloride, is vastly different from many other salts, like Sodium Carbonate, Calcium Carbide, and Magnesium Sulfate.
I would say that one table salt is probably very much the same and any other table salt.
I recall reading years ago--in a role-playing game supplement of all things--that a salt, chemically speaking, is an acid in which one more hydrogen atoms have been replaced by a metal. Thus, table salt (NaCl) is to hydrochloric acid (HCl) what copper sulfate (CuSO4) is to sulphuric acid (H2SO4). Still, you wouldn't want to ingest copper sulfate, since it's rather toxic, which is why it's commonly used as a pesticide in vineyards, among other things (at least, it was back in the 1980s). MSG (C5H8NO4Na) is also a salt (of glutamic acid, C5H9NO4), and potassium chloride's been mentioned, but in common parlance, "salt" is understood to mean sodium chloride.

Oh hey, check this out:
Quote:
When we speak of Himalayan Crystal Salt™, we are referring to only one specific crystal salt, “The Original®”, coming from one specific location in Pakistan and has been the subject of comprehensive medical research as featured in the book Water&Salt - The Essence of Life, by Dr. Barbara Hendel, MD and Peter Ferreira. Original Himalayan Crystal Salt™ is more than sodium and chloride.
Oh, dear.
Call me old-fashioned, but I'm not placing my trust in someone who doesn't know enough chemistry to know that "chloride" does not exist independently. The term "crystal salt" is also meaningless, as all NaCl has a crystalline structure.
Note also the failure to identify the specific location in Pakistan. This is suspicious because the best known location where salt is mined in Pakistan is Khewra, which lies 100 miles south of Islamabad, and is nowhere near the Himalayas. I guess that "Original Punjabi Crystal Salt™" wouldn't have quite the same ring to it.
Quote:
Original Himalayan Crystal Salt can actually be viewed as food. When we speak of salt, and as we scrutinize its properties, we mean salt in its original form: holistic, wholesome, unaltered, natural salt, as it has crystallized in the Earth over millions of years.
Just like the stuff mined in Cleveland, Ohio, then. Again, I guess "Original Lake Erie Crystal Salt™" doesn't sound exotic enough. (I'm getting flashbacks to the P&T:BS bottled water episode here, where "Everest" drinking water was shown to come from the municipal water supply of Corpus Christi, TX.)
Quote:
Original Himalayan Crystal Salt contains all the elements of which the human body is comprised. From the periodic table of elements we are familiar with 94 natural elements (stable as well as unstable). Apart from inert gases, all of these elements (84) can be found in crystal salt. Hence, crystal salt contains all natural minerals and trace elements that are found in the human body.
I'd been wondering whether they were using the word "element" to mean something other than what is commonly understood, but evidently not. So, if I understand correctly, "Original Himalayan Crystal Salt™" contains such fun stuffs as lead, cadmium, strontium, you name it. And this is supposed to be beneficial to my health?
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Old 13th June 2006, 12:25 AM   #32
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Hello all.

Another professional Chemist votes Total Woo here too!

Although IIRC, the proportion of minerals found in Sea Salt, is almost the same as the proportions, that the same minerals are found in, in vertebrate blood.
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Old 13th June 2006, 05:49 AM   #33
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I use it. It tastes quite nice.

Health benefits? Don't be daft.

Hans
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