Salt

An excellent history of salt beginning in early China and weaving through ancient Rome, Israel, US Civil War, US Revolutionary War, Italy, France, Sweden, Hawaii, Ghandi’s India, Liverpool, Bahamas, Poland, Salzburg, Avery Island, San Francisco. The story also touches on the Morton Salt Company buying up little saltworks and becoming the world’s largest salt company. “When it rains, it pours.” Salt is ubiquitous and often overlooked as an important facet of life. Animals (humans included) would die without salt.

Some fun facts about salt:

  • the word salary comes from the Latin salarius, of salt. Roman soldiers received salt as their pay.
  • olives were experimented with for centuries before it was found that soaking them in brine (salted water) made them edible
  • Avery Island (home of Tabasco sauce) sits on a salt dome
  • a Carlsbad, NM salt mine is being prepared to contain nuclear waste that will remain toxic for 240,000 more years
  • in the 1970’s, emergency oil reserves were stored in salt domes around the Gulf of Mexico
  • in the early 17th century, the Polish salt mine was used to entertain visitors: the walls, ceiling, floor, chandeliers and statues in the mine were all made from salt.
  • The World Health Organization & Unicef urged salt producers to add iodine to their salt to prevent goiter, a thyroid gland enlargement.
  • in 18th century England, anchovy sauce became known as ketchup, which derives its name from the Indonesian fish and soy sauce kecap ikan. Ketchup became a tomato sauce in the US, as tomatoes are native to America.
  • soy sauce originally was fish fermented in salt, or jiang. In China, soybeans were added to ferment with the fish and in time fish were dropped from the recipe, resulting in jiangyou, or soy sauce.


auth=Kurlansky, Mark
pub=2002
sub=A World History