Article at a Glance:
- Real Salt contains healthy, naturally-occurring trace minerals, some of which don’t dissolve in water.
- One of the minerals that doesn’t dissolve is silica, which supports bone and connective tissue health.
- Silica may even help keep your teeth clean.
- Removing silica would mean making Real Salt less healthful— and less real.
If you were to pay a visit to Real Salt’s customer service department, you wouldn’t have to wait long before someone called with a question along the lines of: Why is Real Salt dirty? Is there sand in Real Salt? Why doesn’t Real Salt dissolve completely like other salt? The short answer to all these questions is the same: This is what salt really looks like when nature makes it.
Natural Salt Contains Trace Minerals
If you’ve ever seen freshly ground whole wheat flour, you know that it’s browner and grittier than the processed white flour so many people are used to. (We’ve even had nieces or nephews ask us why our whole wheat flour looks “dirty” when we were cooking or baking with it.) That’s because the healthiest components, like the bran (which contains most of the fiber) and the germ (which contains most of the nutrients) haven’t been processed out of whole wheat flour.
Just like minimally-processed flour, Real Salt is healthier than other salts because of what we don’t take out of it. Real Salt is 98% sodium chloride and 2% trace minerals, and it’s these 60+ trace minerals that make Real Salt real. (If you want to see a full breakdown of all the minerals in Real Salt, check out the Real Salt Mineral Analysis.)
Some of these minerals don’t dissolve in water. In fact, if you were to take some Real Salt and put it in a cup of water, you’d see insoluble trace minerals. Some look like grains of sand and some look like grains of salt. People sometimes notice traces of red minerals left behind too.
Dr. James DiNicolantonio in The Salt Fix and Dr. David Brownstein in Salt Your Way to Health note the importance of the additional minerals found in unrefined salts such as Real Salt. They discuss the benefits of getting these minerals at the same time as sodium chloride.
What About Other Healthy Brands?
There are two other brands of sea salt that have trace mineral content similar to Real Salt— Celtic from France and Himalayan from Pakistan. Some people notice that these brands dissolve more completely in water than Real Salt, and wonder why. (We compared other differences between Real Salt and Celtic or Himalayan a little while ago, if you’re curious.) We don’t know the answer to that question specifically, but we can tell you that most of the granules that don’t dissolve in Real Salt are the trace mineral silica, an element that occurs naturally in healthy bones and joints.
Wait, Did You Say Silica?
Yep, silica. If you’re asking, you probably remember learning that silica most often appears in nature as sand. Like iron and magnesium, our body needs silica, even though it seems a little strange to think of eating it. When people ask if there’s sand in Real Salt we sometimes answer, “Yes! Isn’t that wonderful?”
The medical community recognized silica as an essential trace element in the early 1970’s, and studies since then show it’s necessary for bone formation and connective tissue health.
Now, sometimes, customers ask us whether the small amount of silica in Real Salt could negatively impact their tooth enamel. The answer? You shouldn't crunch down on Kosher-sized granules, but a small amount of silica is safe for your teeth. In fact, if you ask your dentist or dental hygienist about it at your next appointment, they may tell you that small amounts of silica can help clean your teeth and scrub away surface stains. It’s even added to some whitening toothpastes.
Healthy, “Dirty” Salt
Just like some people will never come around to liking “dirty” flour, we know that some people won’t appreciate insoluble trace minerals such as silica in Real Salt, either. But we believe in the health benefits of these minerals, and removing them would not only change what nature created, but require all kinds of processing. We also believe these natural minerals are part of what’s made Real Salt the best-selling salt in health food stores across the country. Changing our process to eliminate or reduce insoluble minerals would only mean changing one tenth of one percent of the product, but we’d be making Real Salt less healthful— and less real— in the process.
The Truth About Refined Grains— Experience Life Magazine.
Minerals: What They Do, Where to Get Them— Texas Heart Institute.
The Nutritional Essentiality of Silicon— Nutrition Reviews.
Silicon and Bone Health— The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging.
Role of Different Ingredients of Toothpastes and Mouthwashes in Oral Health— Journal of the Pakistan Dental Association.