Salt is called pa’akai in the Hawaiian language and making it is one of the islands’ oldest traditions. The word pa’akai can actually be broken down into two separate words: pa’a and kai. Pa’a means solid or firm while kai means saltwater. This means that pa’akai can be translated as solid sea. For the ancient Hawaiian people, salt was the solid embodiment of the sea. For centuries Hawaiians have harvested salt and used it for both curing and for seasoning food. Their harvesting techniques include ponds similar to those used to harvest the French fleur de sel.
With true Hawaiian black lava salt, the dark color is believed to come from Hawaiian lava. This is said to be the traditional form of black lava salt; however, most of the black lava salt available today consists of regular sea salt mixed with activated charcoal. The black lava name is thus more about marketing than a representation of fact. The sea salt may or may not actually come from Hawaii.
Black lava salt can also come from Cyprus but is made in much the same way. As with the Hawaiian version, Cypriot black lava salt was historically taken from volcanic areas, but is now made by blending sea salt with activated charcoal.
Black lava salt flavor profile
Aside from delivering the crisp flavor of sea salt, black lava salt is known for having a strong smoky taste. This makes it the perfect complement to dishes where the taste of smoke is desired. Some people detect sulfur notes in black lava salt, which means that it may be possible to use it in place of Indian black salt. Others detect nutty notes.
Health benefits of black lava salt
Hawaiian black lava salt is primarily sodium chloride like any other table salt. Its health benefits are therefore largely the same as other forms of salt. As a result, black lava salt’s health benefits extend mainly to:
- Regulating fluids: Sodium helps to regulate the body’s hydration levels. The balance of sodium and water are closely connected to each other.
- Improving brain function: Sodium can significantly affect the way that the brain functions, with sodium deficiency often presenting as confusion. In cases where your sodium levels are low, increasing salt intake can help to improve mental clarity.
- Providing muscle cramp relief: Muscle cramps are often due to electrolyte imbalance. Electrolyte balance can be restored by increasing sodium intake.
Black lava salt also contains activated charcoal, which is beneficial for:
- Removing toxins: Activated charcoal is often the first treatment administered for different kinds of poisoning due to its well-documented ability to remove toxins from the body. It can even help to counteract the effects of toxic mold on your health.
- Fights premature aging: Activated charcoal can help to support the health of the adrenal glands in addition to protecting the cells of the kidneys and liver.
- Treating gas and bloating: Activated charcoal can bind to constituents in food that cause gas thus preventing flatulence.
Common uses of black lava salt
Black lava salt is typically coarse-grained, which means that it is best used as a finishing salt. Using it for cooking can give dishes an unpleasant gray color or produce streaks. The size of the grains means that not only will using it as a finishing salt make for a visually striking presentation, it will enhance the texture of the dish as well. Its dark color can give a dramatic appearance when it is applied to light-colored foods like fish or chicken, or when it is sprinkled over salads.