MENU
ConsumerLab.com Answers

Pink Himalayan salt pouring out of salt shaker
Question:
I'm interested in using Himalayan salt. What are the health benefits with it and other specialty salts? Are there contaminants in these salts?

Answer:
Himalayan salt and other specialty or gourmet salts from ancient mineral deposits, as well as Hawaiian, Mediterranean, and French sea salts, and Australian river salts, have become popular -- due to their flavor and suggested health benefits.

One of the potential health benefits commonly ascribed to these salts is that they have higher concentrations of essential minerals (like calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium, and chromium) than ordinary table salt (purified sodium chloride). In addition, if you have high blood pressure and are trying to limit sodium intake, these more flavorful salts may allow you to use less salt, therefore, consuming less sodium.

At the same time, there has been concern that specialty salts contain heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, and arsenic, which are toxic compounds — although it has also been claimed that salts mined from ancient mineral deposits may contain lower amounts of heavy metals which have entered the environment due to industrialization.   

To determine just how much of these minerals and heavy metals occur in specialty salts, a chemical analysis was performed on a dozen products including Himalayan Pink Fine Salt and Primordial Himalayan Salt, as well as Cyprus Black, Mediterranean Sea Salt, Sel Gris De Guerande, Aleaa Hawaiian Sea Salt, Hawaii Kai Black Salt, Murray River Pink Flake Salt, Sel de Mer, Kala Namak Black Salt, and Fumee de Sel Chardonnay Oak Smoked Salt. The amounts of minerals and heavy metals found in the salts may surprise you.

There is also concern about contamination of salts, particularly Himalayan salts, with fragments of plastic ("microplastics").

For the details about what was found in Himalayan salt and ConsumerLab.com's bottom line on what this means, see the full answer >> 

Become a Member
INSTANT ACCESS TO REVIEW OVER 1000 PRODUCTS!


Learn more about salt:



Is it true that there are bits of plastic in drinking water and specialty salts? How concerned should I be? >>

I have to be careful about my sodium intake. Could my glucosamine and chondroitin supplement contain hidden sodium?  >>



See other recent and popular questions >>
Comments
Add Comment

Jehoshua17264   October 26, 2018
What about plastic particles evident lately in ocean waters and consequently in the salt minned from those waters?
what is the damage that can be expected from those particles, small enouge to invade blood stream?

ConsumerLab.com   November 5, 2018
Hi Jehoshua - We've added information about microplastics in salt, including Himalayan salt, in the answer above. Please also see this CL Answer: https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/plastic-particles-in-drinking-water-and-salt/microplastics-water-salt/

Linda16645   March 28, 2018
When I was in my teens, my dermatologist told my mother to switch me off of Iodized salt to plain salt, which we did. At the time (early 60's) the Docs said that chocolate was an acne trigger too, so I stopped eating that as well. I've always wondered what was in tihe Iodized salt that was thought to be bad for teenage skin.

ConsumerLab.com   April 2, 2018
Hi Linda - Thank you for your question. We've now answered it here: https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/can-iodine-cause-acne-rashes-or-hives/iodine-acne/

Gerhard16632   March 26, 2018
Some Australian doctors have embarked on a campaign to add iodine to salt consumed in the Himalayas in an effort to wipe out cretinism that persists in many Himalayan villages due to the lack of iodine

ConsumerLab.com   March 27, 2018
Thank you for posting about this, Gerhard. We found an article about this at http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s1497255.htm. A very dramatic story and certainly emphasizes the value that iodized salt can play, and the fact that specialty salts are typically non-iodized.

Virginia16333   January 3, 2018
I am more interested in the study showing plastic particles in sea salt. We have no idea, as far as I know, what ingesting microparticles of plastic is doing to us. I started using land salt (Himalayan) for that reason.

Another thing I've wondered about is the difference in saltiness for foods seasoned with coarse salt as opposed to finer salt. It seems to me that the palate would get less salty flavor from the coarser salt -- you'd swallow more salt untasted, leading to higher sodium intake.

ConsumerLab.com   November 5, 2018
Hi Virginia - Please see the information we've added about microplastics in salt, including Himalayan salt, in the answer above.

Robert15352   August 2, 2017
Regarding iodine in salts, I've read that when sea salt retains its original ocean moisture it still retains some iodine, but if it is dried the iodine "gases off". Is this accurate?
( there was also some speculation of trapped algae or kelp and some sea salt but I think that's pretty rare.)

ConsumerLab.com   August 2, 2017
Hi Robert - We don't know the answer to your question but, most important to us is what is in salt as it sold. Kelp will certainly contain iodine -- see our report at https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/Kelp/.

Robert15359   August 2, 2017
Fortunately more and more people have access to whole, wet, 'unrefined' sea salts, not enough people as it's mostly in small and large 'health food' stores but many more in recent years (maybe Trader Joe's and Costco have caught up, they eventually do).
The same can be said about availability of "complexed" or "mixed" antioxidant and carotenoid supplements and many other more "whole" foods and nutrients.
Over purification of just about anything in nutrition seems to be a tricky road to follow (see the botched Beta-Carotene and Alpha-Tocopherol studies that actually might have led to the deaths of some of the test-subjects.)

Elo16954   July 11, 2018
With scientifically verified rising levels of ocean pollution - sea salt cannot be assumed to be as pure as first thought

Robert15350   August 2, 2017
I would speculate that the immediate solubility of salts and the very quick availability of the ionic trace minerals, as compared to other foodstuffs, could be an important factor in why these trace mineral balances are important even though they are seeing at these relatively low levels compared to other food sources which seem to require many more complex steps to make their nutrients available. They also provide trace elements but, I would guess, in a delayed fashion in comparison to salts and perhaps at other, later stages of digestion rather than the immediate and continued absorption and interactions from, especially, "whole" salts.
(I'm excited to see if there are opinions and answers to my speculations here on this highly informed forum of wonderfully interested people!)

Robert13946   April 23, 2017
When I found the 5 lb container of Himalayan Pink Salt I purchased had a lot of grit in it the company sent me a replacement which seems to be better so far.

Pearl11699   February 14, 2017
what about the 'trace minerals'?

ConsumerLab.com   February 14, 2017
These are discussed in the full answer.

Shyer11693   February 13, 2017
It is disappointing that you compare Sea Salts etc. to the minimum daily requirement and not to purified Sodium Chloride.

ConsumerLab.com   February 14, 2017
If you read the full answer you will see that table salt (which is processed to reduce amounts of compounds other than sodium chloride) was also tested and is compared to the specialty salts.

Gail11691   February 13, 2017
What about Yellowstone Natural salt hand harvested from pure mineral spring water any reviews just started using. Company Est. in 1957

gloria16641   March 28, 2018
The important thing is, does the salt contain added iodine? If not, you may risk developing an iodine deficiency and subsequent health consequences.

Frank11690   February 13, 2017
I have been using Real Salt for about 10 years now and i am also interested in knowing if i am wasting my $$

Kent14051   May 21, 2017
If you enjoy the salt and it's flavor compared to table salt then your not wasting your money. The Real Salt or any other specialty salt is obviously going to test similar. I personally like the less processed salts.

Stan11683   February 12, 2017
Regarding the iodine need that you mention- is kelp an adequate source for those who avoid salt for whatever reason? What dosage ?
Also I have read recently that sometimes perople who try to avoid salt (in whatever form) may be harming themselves if they do not have a medical condition that warrants salt reducion. It's confusing!

ConsumerLab.com   February 12, 2017
Kelp can be a good source of iodine. ConsumerLab.com is currently testing kelp supplements for iodine and will publish results in 2017. However, as noted in the full answer above, you may already be getting adequate iodine form your diet, even without salt.

ConsumerLab.com   July 17, 2018
CL's Review of Kelp Supplements is found at https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/kelp/

Patricia11682   February 12, 2017
I also am interested in your evaluating Real Salt when you do this again. Thanks for addressing this topic.

Chris11742   February 21, 2017
Me too!

Karen12824   March 13, 2017
I use Real Salt, also. Would be interrsted in report on it. Thanks

Rona16646   March 29, 2018
Yes, I also use Real Salt and would be interested to know what the test findings would reveal. I do like the salt and have been using this brand for about 5 years. Thank you.

Anthony15085   June 12, 2017
You can contact Redmond and ask for a chemical analysis of their salt. I had an analysis about two years ago, it's somewhere in my closet of files. I've been using their Real Salt for just about everything since then. I also have turned many customers onto using their salts as opposed to pink salt, celtic, etc (not like anything is wrong with those options) with satisfactory results.

Julie11678   February 12, 2017
Dairy products only have iodine in them if the cows udders are cleansed with iodine, which isn't used much for that purpose anymore.

A.16964   July 17, 2018
consumerlab, is this true? should those of us who use non-ionized salt no longer rely on dairy for daily iodine? clarification would be immensely helpful.

Dorothy11676   February 12, 2017
Can you comment on Celtic Sea Salt? Thank you.

ConsumerLab.com   February 12, 2017
Hi Dorothy - We currently only have information on the salts noted above. However, we'll keep this product in mind if we conduct future testing. Please see our response to Natalia below.

D J11731   February 16, 2017
I am also interested in Celtic salt, thank you.

Cheryl15178   June 20, 2017
Yes, please test Celtic salt. My doctor told me to use it instead of Himalayan - he thinks it's less likely to have contaminants. It is very widely sold in health food stores and online. Thank you.

Vaughan16239   November 26, 2017
Sorry but you should ask why your doctor thinks that. As studies have shown the sea to contain more toxins due to us humans pretty much flushing everything out to see, far more so than rocks that have been untouched. I remember reading this as well somewhere but can't remember where, but common sense dictates there is truth to it.

I remember Celtic sea salt only became more popular because it was ever so slightly more in trace elements than Himalayan Salt, but as Consumer Labs have shown between them all there is really all no difference. Just go for the cheapest and least contaminated.

Warren16640   March 28, 2018
Celtic is basically the same as Sal Gris De Guerande. I went to Guerande, France back in 1997 to check out the salt works. I was annoyed that Celtic was so expensive as compared to other salts. I was in France that summer so decided to investigate. Here's how it was then:

There is a vast number of salt collecting pools to collect the sea water. The ponds go on as far as the eye can see. These pools are tended to by people (individuals and couples) who then sell their salt to the 2 wholesalers in the area. One was a company called Bordic, the other was a communist (really) co-op. Celtic was buying from the co-op then and repacking as "Celtic" and making a healthy profit in the process. I found a place in Canada that was importing Bordic's salt at a much cheaper price and used to buy from them. Now of course with the internet and more of an interest in salt in general one can find salt from that area easily and at a reasonable price. Bottom line: I would not pay the premium Celtic carries; it's all the same stuff coming from the same ocean at the same location.

One more thing: At that time some of the salt from the Guerande pools was being sold as organic. All "organic" meant was that the pools were located a certain distance away from the roads. Sounds good but is truly meaningless and not worth paying extra for. The roads (at least back then) were few and one lane such that if a car was coming the other way you had to drive over on the shoulder. Traffic was minimal, like really minimal. Also, the place was so windswept that what little car fumes there were got totally dispersed in a nano-second. I would not pay extra for "organic."

PS - The different colors of the different sea salts, such as the red of the Hawaiian (the pools of which I have seen also) and the grey of the Guerande, is from the color of the clay collecting pools, not from the sea salt itself. You can get pure white salt from Guerande. It's called "fleur de mer" (flower of the sea), and it's the salt that is collected from the top of the pool. It usually sells at a premium. Also, fine sea salt has usually been heated so it can be ground fine without clogging up the grinder. Course sea salt has usually just been dried naturally and so is still somewhat "wet."

Robert17278   November 4, 2018
I completely agree with you on the obscene price is that “Celtic“ was charging for their salt's. Very ironic since the French revolution was started do to salt taxes, no?
Coincidentally I was a stones throw from those regions in Guerande where you discovered those beautiful salt gathering techniques however I was unaware at the time but within a week or so ended up on an island just off the coast of la Rochelle, they make some of the best sea salt in France, I had my life changing experience buying 2 kg of that salt which I believe the French consider to be “Le crem de la crem”, it's not a fancy fleur du sel but just a simple gray salt however highly balanced and very lively!

Robert17277   November 4, 2018
I'm not 100% positive but I think that all of the salt produced along the Celtic current could be called Celtic salt. That ocean current doesn't restrict itself to that one region where a brand of salts has been branded as “Celtic“, that current is quite extensive. They were charging extremely high and frankly I've seen prices for their salt branded with that name. All the more ironic since so many revolutions including the French revolution were fomented from salt taxes and unfair restrictions on producing salts such as in India.

Natalia11671   February 12, 2017
Can you comment on the following:

HAIN iodized sea salt evaporated from the Pacific Ocean
and
REDMOND REALSALT from an ancient sea bed located in Utah which professes to contain more than 50 trace minierals including iodine.
How safe are these salts.

ConsumerLab.com   February 12, 2017
Thanks for suggesting those products, Natalia. It is likely that they do, in fact, contain trace amounts of many minerals; however, it is also likely that the amounts would be within the range found in the salts tested, yeilding that same conclusion regarding their health benefit and safety. We will keep these products in mind should we conduct future testing of speciality salts.

Deborah11687   February 12, 2017
I, too, would like information on Redmond Real Salt. Looking forward to your review.

Thanks so much!

Roger11688   February 12, 2017
I think Consumer Lab is being very gentle and diplomatic in the comment below. This testing is not easy, and they looked at multiple brands already. The results were quite consistent, and it's not at all likely that 3 more products would show much difference.

Mike11696   February 14, 2017
I respectfully disagree. If the products tested don't include the product used, especially when (in the case of Redmond Real Salt) they come from a different part of the world, you can draw absolutely no conclusions from the test results with respect to that product.

Victor R.11708   February 15, 2017
I completely agree with Roger regarding the salt testing results. A "fancier" salt may taste a little different, but i'm not at all surprised that there is no major difference in the composition/health benefits. i'll stick to regular table salt (from a known brand) and spend my money on good quality dark chocolate. Thanks, and keep up the great work Consumer Lab.


micheline11739   February 19, 2017
I use Himalayan salt and it makes everything taste so much better. I even take some with me when I travel.

This CL Answer initially posted on 2/11/2017. Last updated 11/3/2018.

Add Comment...

Share your thoughts and comments about this topic in the space below. Please abide by the following rules:
  • If you make a statement of fact, such as whether a type of treatment does or does not work, state your basis -- such as personal experience or a published study.
  • If you make a positive or negative comment about a product, note whether or not you have a financial interest in the product or in a competing product.
  • Please be respectful in your tone.
  • Please do not submit any type of HTML markup or scripting as it will not be accepted.
For your privacy, only your first name (from your account) followed by a random number will appear with your comment. Your last name and email address will not be displayed.
Comment:

Add Comment...

Share your thoughts and comments about this topic in the space below. Please abide by the following rules:
  • If you make a statement of fact, such as whether a type of treatment does or does not work, state your basis -- such as personal experience or a published study.
  • If you make a positive or negative comment about a product, note whether or not you have a financial interest in the product or in a competing product.
  • Please be respectful in your tone.
  • Please do not submit any type of HTML markup or scripting as it will not be accepted.
For your privacy, only your first name (from your account) followed by a random number will appear with your comment. Your last name and email address will not be displayed.
Comment:

Edit Comment...

You can modify your comment below. Please be aware the comment will have to approve the changes before they will be shown:
Comment:
THANK YOU FOR SUCCESSFULLY UPDATING YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS!

PLEASE BE AWARE that the email address is now your sign-in email address, replacing any previous username. Your password has not changed.

If you do not receive our newsletter at this new address within one week, please contact support@consumerlab.com or call us during business hours at 914-722-9149 ext. 2#

ConsumerLab.com Customer Support

THANK YOU FOR SUCCESSFULLY RESUBSCRIBING TO THE NEWSLETTER!

If you do not receive our newsletter within one week, please contact support@consumerlab.com or call us during business hours at 914-722-9149 ext. 2#

ConsumerLab.com Customer Support