A Brief History of Salt

A Brief History of Salt

Salt has been used for thousands of years for preserving food which allowed travelers to cross over long distances and conquer new worlds. However, it was very difficult to obtain, therefore very expensive. Salt has played a prominent role in determining the power and location of the world’s greatest cities and it has created and destroyed empires; it has been a contributing factor in the development of civilization.

Salt was very important in the Roman Empire and it was also of high value to Hebrews, Greeks, Chinese and other peoples of antiquity. It is commonly believed but completely wrong, that Roman soldiers were paid with salt. The word salary derives from the Latin word salarium, supposedly referring to the payment in salt given to the soldiers; also the word salad literally means “salted,” and comes from the ancient Roman practice of salting leaf vegetables.

Since medieval times, salt has been treasured and used around the house. Before salt was added to food, this was bland and insipid. Salt has been the best-known food preservative, especially for meat, for many thousands of years. But the importance of salt in history was much greater in the past than it is today, when salt is cheap and easily obtained. Canning and artificial refrigeration have taken over as the main means of preserving foods for the last hundred years or so, and salting foods to preserve them has lost some of its importance at least in urban communities. It has become more profitable to sell foods already salted than pure salt. Nowdays, with modern production methods, salt is the most common and readily available mineral on the planet and also the cheapest; in fact, the world’s supply of salt is inexhaustible.

There is no more versatile and useful mineral on earth. It is believed that salt has more than 14.000 uses, many of which involve helping us with our daily chores. Our grandmothers were probably familiarized with a lot of these household uses for salt, since there weren’t so many chemical products available to them. Many of these uses are still valid today and they are a lot cheaper than using more sophisticated products. Salt is indeed an amazing product and it has some unbelievable applications. So before you run off to the store to buy the latest cleaner you see advertised on TV, give good old salt a try.

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