Choosing the right salt for a particular dish can be challenging, especially since there are so many different types on the market. For example, Himalayan salt is a popular option, but does it offer anything that you would not get from regular table salt? Is it all that different, outside of the price? Let’s break down the differences between the two.
Table of Contents
- How does Himalayan salt differ from table salt?
- Can you use Himalayan salt in place of table salt and vice versa?
- When should you use Himalayan salt? When should you use table salt?
How does Himalayan salt differ from table salt?
Both Himalayan salt and table salt are chemically similar in that they both consist largely of sodium chloride. That said, they do have significant differences, starting with the color. Himalayan salt is known mostly for its pink color, which it has because of its mineral content. Its minerals include iron oxide which provides that reddish hue to the salt.
On the other hand, table salt has been processed to remove impurities and is white. As a result, large crystals of Himalayan salt offer a dramatic visual touch to dishes that you would not get from regular table salt.
The minerals in Himalayan salt also give it a nutritional value not found in table salt. It does not contain a high enough concentration of minerals to be considered a good source of them, but it does contain traces of several nutritionally important ones. Calcium, magnesium, and potassium are some of the minerals found in Himalayan salt. The minerals in Himalayan salt give it a sharp, earthy flavor profile that makes it more than just a source of saltiness.
Another difference has to do with the effects that each salt has on health. Himalayan salt contains 12 mg less sodium chloride per gram when compared to table salt. Excessive consumption of sodium is associated with a range of health problems ranging from high blood pressure to heart disease. Himalayan salt provides you with the salty taste, but without as much of the sodium.
Can you use Himalayan salt in place of table salt and vice versa?
Despite its different appearance, Himalayan salt is simply a salt. It works by giving food a salty flavor and it does that job just as well as any other form of salt. However, there are a number of ways in which it is not interchangeable with table salt.
For starters, one of the most popular ways to use Himalayan salt is in block form. Steaks and other foods are cooked on heated blocks of pink salt. The salt conducts the heat while also giving the food a mildly salty flavor. Table salt cannot be used in this way and so would not make a good Himalayan salt substitute.
Large crystals of Himalayan salt are also popular as a finishing salt to be sprinkled over food just prior to them being served. The fine crystals of table salt are unsuitable for this since they melt quickly and will not provide the distinctive crunch of larger crystals.
Conversely, Himalayan salt can serve as a substitute for table salt in almost all applications and it can be ground fine to have a similar shape.
When should you use Himalayan salt? When should you use table salt?
Himalayan salt is more expensive than table salt, so you may want to reserve it for special occasions and dishes where its qualities will be noticed. Use it as a finishing salt for steaks, seafood, and salads. Not only will it provide a crunch that will enhance the texture of your dishes, it will also be visually appealing. Use table salt in dishes where you want a salt that dissolves quickly without drawing too much attention to itself.