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Salts have always been an important flavouring agent in meals. While bland food may be good for dieting and health, it is hard to imagine a life without the savoury touch of salts. And when you have so many different types at your disposal, it is a treat for the senses.

There are many types of salts. Some are mined from dried up lakes while the others are obtained from seawater. Few of them are found in the mineral ores. The most common types are:

  • Table salt
  • Kosher salt
  • Sea salt
  • Pickling salt
  • Celtic salt
  • Himalayan rock salt

Black salt or kala namak is one of the many varieties of salts available in most pantries worldwide. Unlike the common salt, black salt is known to have a sulphurous, egg-like flavour which makes it the prefered choice for fruit salads and dressings. Black salt is a type of Himalayan rock salt, the main source of which is the halite (ores of rock salt) of Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Due to its geographical range, it is also known as the Himalayan Black Salt.

The colour of kala namak ranges from dark brown (almost black) when it is present in a crystal form and changes its colour to pink when grounded.

Black salt like every other salt contains sodium mainly in the form of sodium chloride and sodium sulphide. It is also rich in iron which gives it a dark colour. This makes it the perfect choice of salt for people suffering from iron-deficiency anaemia.

Depending on the place of origin black salt may be classified into:

  • Black lava salt- sea salt with activated charcoal forms this lava salt, used at the end of cooking as finishing salt.
  • Black Indian salt- kala namak, is Indian volcanic rock salt, is the main black salt used in South Asia.

Some facts about kala namak:

  • According to Ayurveda, Sendha namak is the best for eating followed by Kala namak.
  • Black salt has a long history, written evidence are found from the 5th and 6th century in the writings of Charaka and Sushruta.
  • There are eighty-four minerals in Himalayan rock salt.    
  • A most popular ingredient in all chat masala recipes.
  1. Table salt vs Black salt
  2. Production process of black salt
  3. Benefits of black salt
  4. Different uses of black salt
  5. Side effects of black salt
  6. Takeaway
If you compare the mineral compositions of table salt and black salt, the latter has a higher content of good ions and is low in negative ion as compared to the table salt. Furthermore, there are no additives present in the black salt.

Black salt is rich in 84 trace elements, which are not found in the table salt. And since the production process of black salt does not involve refining, these trace elements are not destroyed.  Some of these elements which play a major role in human health are listed below:

  • Bromine
  • Calcium
  • Carbon
  • Chlorine
  • Copper
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Nitrogen
  • Oxygen
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Sulphur
  • Zinc

Indian black salt is obtained from the north Indian salt lakes or the halite ores present in the Himalayan range. A cascade of reductive chemical reactions are involved to convert the sodium sulfate content to sodium sulfide and hydrogen sulfide.

This is done by burning the mineral on the furnace for about 24 hours at 1400° F, while sealed in a ceramic jar containing charcoal and minute amounts of amla, harad seeds, babul (acaciabark, bahera, or natron.

This completes the production process of black salt and the salt is now ready to be cooled and stored for further uses.

Health benefits of black salt were first identified by Maharishi Charak, the father of ayurvedic medicine, around 300 B.C.

Its benefits are numerous according to traditional Indian medicine system. Let us explore some of these benefits along with the scientific evidence behind them.

Black salt in acidity and heartburn

Each and every one among us has sometime or the other suffered from the problem of acidity and heartburn, which is mainly caused due to the improper production of stomach acid or consumption of fried foods and carbonated beverages.

Black salt is full of alkalising minerals, one being magnesia (MgO). Being basic in nature, magnesia aids in neutralising the acid present in the body. In fact, milk of magnesia is one of the best antacid present in the market.

It also helps in preventing acidity as it maintains the balance of stomach acid being produced.

Black salt for respiration

Salt therapies originated way back during ancient Greek civilization, and it used to be known as halotherapy. It may go by a different name but it still holds all of its benefits for your health and well being.

According to ayurveda, inhalation of salt clears the nasal passage and also the throat.

In 1843, Feliks Boczkowski, a polish scientist noticed that salt ore miners did not suffer from lung or respiratory disorders, then later Karl Herman Spannagel, a German scientist noticed that when people who hide in salt mines had an improved lung quality.

This brought halotherapy to the modern world.

Salt therapy is done within a chamber mimicking a salt cave environment. The salt absorbs moisture while inhalation and thus helps in thinning of mucous and removing excess of mucous from the respiratory system.

The trace elements present in the black salt also helps in killing the microorganism present in the lungs.

This technique is effective in reducing the symptoms of common cold, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), sinus and hay fever.

Black salt for bones

Osteoporosis is one of the major bone-related problems, which is caused when the body starts to draw sodium from the bones.

Yes, apart from calcium, bone is also composed of sodium, and interestingly 1/4th of all sodium content in the body is stored in the bones, where it helps to maintain bone structure.

Black salt, being rich in sodium, helps to replenish the deficit of sodium in the body and therefore in preventing osteoporosis.

Black salt for muscle spasm and cramps

A basic balance of sodium-potassium is required to maintain proper functioning and movement of the muscles.

Black salt contains both sodium along a small amount of potassium, which are essential for muscles to work properly. It not only contains potassium but also helps in its absorption through food.

Thus black salt proves to be very effective in reducing muscle spasm and cramps.

Hot Fermentation with black salt also helps in reducing cramps and joint pain.

Black salt in depression and sleep disorders

Serotonin and melatonin are the two hormones which help you to feel good and sleep well at night. Black salt helps in preserving both of these hormones, this assists in dealing with stress, thus invoking happiness and inducing a proper sleep at night.

Furthermore. black salt reduces cortisol and adrenaline, which attenuates stress. Together with the increase in pleasure hormones, this makes it effective in treating some types of depression.

(Read more: Sleep deprivation causes)

Black salt for diabetes

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and it is responsible to control the sugar level in blood. A person suffers from diabetes when his/her body is incapable of producing insulin properly, or the body has become resistant towards insulin. Such patients are either administered with medicines or with insulin injections.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, low sodium causes a reduction in insulin secretion in the body. Hosting a good source of sodium, regular consumption of black salt helps in improving the production of insulin and thus maintaining the blood sugar levels.

Black salt benefits for skin and hair

Black salt's anti-inflammatory properties and coarse texture help heal cracked heels, swollen feet and even sprain. It removes dead skin cells, without drying your skin.
In addition, it also acts as a cleanser that helps open clogged pores and provides a glowing skin. 

Adding a pinch or two in lukewarm water, and bathing with it results in the removal of toxins from the body. Also, the minerals present in black salt are absorbed by the body through the process of osmosis. This helps in rejuvenating your skin and also prevents dryness, itching and irritation.

Using black salt for scrubbing prevents the occurrence of acne.

In traditional medicine, black salt along with tomato juice is also effective in treating dandruff.

The minerals present in black salt helps to prevent hair fall and strengthening hair shafts. It is also good for reducing split ends.

(Read more: Home remedies for hair fall)

Black salt in anaemia

Anaemia is a condition marked by a lack of healthy red blood cells or haemoglobin in the body. The major symptom of anaemia is fatigue and headache. Though a variety of factors may be responsible for the development of anaemia, iron-deficiency is one of the major causes of anaemia.

Black salt contains small iron which helps in the formation of haemoglobin and thus aids in alleviating iron/ haemoglobin deficiency symptoms.

(Read more: iron deficiency treatment)

Black salt for babies

Black salt is not only beneficial for your health but also it provides some benefits for your toddlers. Loaded with minerals, black salt enhances the immune system of the child and also increases their red blood cell count.

It also removes intestinal gases, improves digestion and eliminates excess phlegm from the body and hence it is good for babies above one year of age. However, black salt should not be given in excess to toddlers.

Best alternative for sea salt

Regular consumption of sea salt increases water retention in our body, thereby increasing the blood pressure, which gives more strain to arteries, heart, brain and kidneys. This, in turn, increases the risk of conditions such as heart attack, stroke, dementia and kidney disease. This is because of the presence of a high amount of sodium in sea salt.

Due to its low sodium content, black salt provides an excellent alternative for sea salt. It is also rich in various minerals like calcium, iron and potassium.

Black salt for digestion

Himalayan black salt or the Indian black salt is a good cooling agent and has many therapeutic advantages over the traditional table salt. In fact, most of the Indian Churanas used as a digestive aid contain black salt as one of its primary ingredients.

It is a good laxative since it improves digestion and alleviates intestinal gas. Thus it is used to relieve constipation and bloating. (Read more: Home remedies for bloating)

Black salt balances the natural production of acid in the stomach and increases the production of bile juice by the liver which is again good for improving the digestion process.

(Read more: How to improve digestion)

Black salt for weight loss

Black salt increases the solubility of the digestive enzymes and helps in the disintegration of lipids.

It increases the digestion rate and provides more nutrition to cells of the body as compared to the normal table salt.

Additionally, it acts as a stimulant for the production of bile juice and enhances its function, that is digestion and absorption of fat. Also, it prevents fat molecules from getting accumulated in your body. It also prevents the accumulation of bad cholesterol in the body.

The mineral content of this salt acts as an antibacterial, thereby, helping in the detoxification of your body.

(Read more: Diet chart for weight loss)

There are many different uses of black salt, but predominantly all of the uses of black salt lies in these categories:
  • Cooking,
  • Ayurvedic and traditional medicine

Just sprinkle a bit of this salt over your meals or use it in cooking. As a medicine, black salt is administered along with herbs and seeds to relieve various symptoms and health conditions. 

Halotherapy is probably one of the best ways to clear away toxins from the body and for reducing symptoms of lung diseases.

The dietary amount of black salt should not exceed from 6 grams, and the therapeutic amount should range between 250 mg to 500 mg.

Too much of anything is bad, this proves to be correct in the case of black salt too.

  • Excess consumption of black salt results in too much sodium accumulation in the body which causes more water retention and hypertension.
  • In case of bathing with salt water, do not use salt in excess and avoid soaking in water for a prolonged period, since it will then absorb all the moisture from the body leaving it dry.
  • Too much sodium in the diet also causes more calcium excretion by the kidneys thereby leading to the formation of nephrolithiasis, which is commonly known as kidney stones. (Read more: diet for kidney stone)

Black salt is quite rich in minerals, it boasts of eighty-four different minerals. It is a popular ayurvedic ingredient and has many therapeutic benefits. Being a regular household ingredient, it is easily available in the market. Low sodium content and the presence of other trace elements gives it a superior hand to normal table salt. But everything has side effect and so does black salt, so the regular consumption should be within the recommended daily dosage. However, it is better to use an equal mix of black salt and table salt because black salt lacks iodine and for people suffering from thyroid related issue iodine is essential. 


Medicines / Products that contain Black Salt

References

  1. Blood Pressure Association.Why salt is bad. Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine, Charterhouse Square, London
  2. International Journal of COPD. A review of halotherapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Dovepress; 2014:9 239–246
  3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Salt Intake Widget
  4. U.S. Department of agriculture. Sodium and Potassium. U.S. federal executive department
  5. US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [internet]; Guidance for Industry: Colored Sea Salt
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