Salt was important in the development of human civilization, and for many years it was considered to be a precious material. Before industrialization, curing meat and preserving it in general was difficult. Salt was a means to do so. However, it took centuries for people to have the ability to mine the salt mines that ran like white vines through the Earth, often reaching thousands of feet deep.
Salt routes were even sometimes used as a form of currency it made the mineral even more precious than it really was. However, the main reason was because most people just couldn’t mine the salt from the salt mines to get enough of it. Boiling seawater doesn’t actually produce much salt, as little as three ounces per gallon. This process didn’t just yield very little salt, it also took days if not weeks to harvest salt from seawater properly.
Since salt had so many other uses as well, as seen below, salt was considered to be a precious material from food to military to religion. Salt was worth something to many people, and cultures soon started to discover that salt was necessary to keep the body healthy as well.
Salt was also considered to be pure, making it a great religious asset, and it had many superstitious qualities. Tossing salt inside of a coffin was considered to help to keep the devil away because of its purity. Spilling salt, because of its purity, was considered to be a sign of approaching misfortune, and so on.
PURPOSE FOR SALT OTHER THAN FOOD
Salt wasn’t just for food. It was used in countless civilizations, including Egypt, for other purposes. Salt was important to Egypt because it was often a religious offering or used in trade. The Egyptians also used salt as a way to preserve the body after death, making it important in yet another religious ceremony. The production of salt was actually restricted, legally speaking, in ancient times because it was often used as a type of currency for many cultures. Salt also caused bitter warfare across the globe many times in the days of old.
It was considered standard etiquette in some cultures to offer both bread and salt to visitors. Salt was often used in pottery. There is recorded history of over forty different types of salt and various methods of harvesting it. The methods that were recorded are actually amazingly similar to the same methods that salt is harvested from the ocean today.
Salt was often used in religious ceremonies because it was considered to be pure. There is actually over thirty references to salt in the Bible, and many other religious texts also refer to salt frequently.
Salt mines now are considered to be great tourist attractions, making money for the countries they’re in, including countries such as Turkey. Not to mention that making money off of salt has actually caused outcry in many countries. The salt tax was one of the reasons for the French Revolution. There was necessary for everyone to consume salt for their health.
Salt was also used in old militaries to place over the wound. This would keep infection at bay and often save the lives of the wounded soldiers. In war the other side would try to deny salt to their opposition, and if this didn’t work they’d try to capture the opposition’s salt supply.
SALT IN HUMAN DIET
Salt was needed to keep body healthy, and in ancient times there was no worry about salt being over processed, such as our table salt. The salt that was used was what is now considered to be natural and healthy salt. However, the amount of salt needed in the diet was significantly less, as humans had salt-rich game to eat most of the time.
Salt would later be more commonly used to flavor food, especially as humans turned away from a mainly meat diet and more towards vegetables and eventually processed foods. Salt, for the longest time, was considered to be an extremely valuable commodity, but still necessary to the human diet. Eventually, it stopped being currency and became an additive to food, as it is today.
WORDS & PHRASES DERIVED FROM SALT
: The word salary is derived from salt because salt was quite commonly used as a currency throughout history. It especially comes from the time when Roman soldiers were given salt rations.
: The word salad comes from the word salt, as many Romans would actually salt their leafy greens, giving birth to the term.
“Not worth your salt”:
Greece used to have an exchange, salt for slaves. This is where the expression “not worth your salt” comes from, denoting that a slave was not worth what the master paid for him.
: Corned beef was called such because the grains of salt used to preserve the meat were called corns.
“Rub salt in the wound”:
This comes from soldiers salting their wounds, as it caused more pain. However, the phrase is also supposed to show that someone is causing more pain but lacks to mention that in times of old rubbing salt in the wound was actually helpful.
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