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Himalayan pink salt seems to be all the rage now — I even encountered (very expensive) packages of the coarse stuff in a regular supermarket the other day — but back when I first came across it, it still very much belonged to the obscure realm of "crunchy granola" hippy types.
I like granola as much as the next vegetarian, chicken-keeping, tai-chi practicing gal, so it's no surprise that I knew people who had numerous Himalayan salt lamps in their incense-infused home. Just having the lamps in your house, they told me, would rid your air of allergens and chemicals, and offer you positive energy. Smash a lamp, the lady of the house mentioned, and you could make salt: salt that contains a lot less sodium and a lot more minerals than regular table salt. I didn't like the thought of smashing a lamp up to make salt, but I did buy some Himalayan salt the next time I came across it at my local health food shop.
What Exactly Is Himalayan Salt?
Himalayan salt is rock salt mined in the Khewra Salt Mine in the Punjab region of Pakistan. It comes from caves that formed around 250 million years back, when ocean salt poured in and settled down there. Mined by hand, Himalayan salt is usually sold in very coarse or slightly finer granules. That, combined with its distinctive pink hue, makes it look pretty cool.
What about the makeup of Himalayan salt? About 95 to 96 percent sodium chloride, actually, as well as about two to three percent polyhalite — which is, according to Wikipedia, a "hydrated sulfate of potassium, calcium and magnesium". The rest consists of traces of ten different minerals. Iron oxide gives Himalayan salt its pink color.
What Do People Do With Himalayan Salt?
They put it on their food. Humans, like many other animals, love salt, and sodium is indeed essential — our brains and nerves wouldn't work without it. Still, we all know too much sodium isn't good. Himalayan food is said to contain less sodium and more minerals, so people who put the pink stuff on their food think they are doing their health a lot of favors.
They also increasingly often stick it in "salt rooms", which serve to mimic the mine the salt comes from, and which is — proponents say — home to some of the happiest and healthiest miners on Earth. A salt room session is meant to be good for your skin and airways, as well as relaxing. Those salt room sessions, which last about 45 minutes, can be pricey. If you want to do something similar for less money, add some Himalayan salt to your bath, close the door, and enjoy.
Once, I even bought a package for a friend's dog, who had skin problems. Bathing the dog in Himalayan salt was meant to cure those.