Pink Himalayan salt is crystal salt mined in the Himalayan region of northern Pakistan. The salt is primarily used for cooking and as a natural food supplement to replace ordinary table salt, although it is also found in various decorative forms for decorating lamps, water lamps, and other spa accessories. It is considered an exotic salt due to its unusually high mineral content, which includes more than 300 minerals, including sulfur, magnesium, iron, sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, bromine, manganese, and zinc. Himalayan salt can be separated into two categories based on the way it is mined, natural (manmade) and artificial. Although they are mined naturally, artificial methods are also used in some instances.
Natural mined Himalayas are often carved into gods or goddesses and are found in carved temples and carved woodwork. The salt is extracted by crushing the rocks and then filtering them through steam or sunlight to remove contaminants. The purified salt is then dried and milled into flakes. Industrial dryers process them further, but they are not as fine-grained. Industrial salt lamps, saltwater baths, and Himalayan salt table lamps are made from these processed flakes.
Artificial Pink Himalayan salt can be manufactured in a similar way. But because of the higher temperatures involved, the impurities are reduced even further. In this instance, the desired crystal salt is "mined" using a process called electrolysis in which electricity is passed through trace mineral crystals and vaporizes them into water. The resulting salt crystal is then crystallized using a technique called flash freezing. Natural Himalayan salt crystals cannot be frozen, so their manufacturing is much more expensive.
Himalayan salt lamps are another popular method of producing them. These lamps work in much the same way as Himalayan crystal salt lamps. Impurities are trapped in a glass cylinder, heat is applied for a certain amount of time, the heat source is then switched off and the result is an ionic crystal of salt suspended in a solution. Negative ions are exchanged with positive ions produced by the water vapor in the air.
Industrial processes that produce normal commercial grade Himalayan salt are used in order to improve its quality. They involve pressing, cleaning, and crystallizing the salts. Afterward, the result is a product with higher purity, density, and color than the original sample. There is some debate among collectors about whether the reduction of minerals and the increase in color are acceptable trade-offs. Some collectors consider themselves to be more "traditional" in their approach to collecting than the more "modern", commercial methods.
One of the most common complaints when using natural salt for jewelry is the brittleness that sometimes occurs. In the process of pressurizing salt and heating it, the impurities in the crystal become trapped between the negatively charged metals used in the pressing and the positively charged ions of the salt. As the negatively charged ions rise to higher levels, they push the salt molecules down and the crystal will begin to take on a new shape. This brittleness is a natural effect of the brittleness that Himalayan salt undergoes during the natural aging process. It seems to be an unfortunate side-effect of the popularity of these salt beads, which are often heated and then placed in a special glass vase or jar.
The addition of minerals to Himalayan salt has been used for centuries to bring healing properties and enhance beauty. Minerals like potassium and calcium have healing properties that help to promote the health of the immune system and provide additional nutrients to help with weight loss. Other minerals like magnesium and selenium are beneficial to the digestive system. Table salt can contain up to 80 different minerals, while Himalayan salt only contains three minerals, iodine, sodium, and chloride.
High levels of salt intake have been linked to hypertension and other renal disorders. In addition, increasing sodium intake can cause high blood pressure. A study conducted by the Institute of Medicine shows that the effects of increasing sodium levels are much greater than lowering blood pressure. While Himalayan salt does not provide as much salt as you would find in regular table salt, it still has significant mineral content and many benefits to our health.