Why is there plastic in my salt?
Updated: Jul 16, 2021
Not all salts are made equal and most of them contain plastic!
It has been estimated that the average adult consumes about 2,000 microplastics per year through salt alone.[i] . Since salt is used in just about every homecooked meal, added to most fast food takeout’s and an undoubted ingredient in all processed foods, its seemingly minimal pinch quickly packs a punch.
The most common commercial salt found in grocery stores and restaurants is refined, bleached salt, which contains microplastics, chemicals, and anti-caking agents like aluminium.
New research by Greenpeace East Asia, found that 90% of all table salts worldwide contain microplastics.[ii] The highest percentage of plastic in salt is found in sea salt, followed by lake salt, and then rock salt.
How does plastic get into salt?[iii]
We throw roughly 13 million metric tons of plastic into the ocean every year. Every hour, a truckload of rubbish is dumped into the ocean.
The effects of plastic consumption by humans have not been researched sufficiently to deduce conclusive data on its outcomes. Very clear health-related side effects have been documented and proven. However, regulation around plastic production and use is still lagging. Plastic is a proven cytotoxin – which means it is toxic to cells[iv].
Known health and environmental side-effects to plastic exposure:
Which salt contains the most plastic?
Salt is named and made in three distinct ways:
Evaporation from seawater – also known as “sea salt”
Mining salt from the earth – also known as “rock salt”
Creating salt brines – also known as “table salt”
The density of microplastics found in salt varies dramatically by location and brand. Salt produced in Asia, Indonesia specifically, has the highest quantities of microplastics in the world. Asia is a hot spot for plastic pollution and so invariably the oceans in this region have a far higher density of microplastics.
Why do we even use salt?[v]
Salting is an ancient practice used to preserve and store food reliably. Over time, we have come to appreciate its flavour-enhancing attributes. Salt does this by diluting the water molecule in the food, and therefore naturally enhances its flavour.
Which salt is the best to buy:
A pinch of good quality salt is loaded with healthy minerals in trace amounts such as potassium, iron and zinc, calcium, and magnesium.
If you are craving salt, perhaps your body is calling out for these minerals too?
“Iodized salt” is commercially processed with added iodine, and one to probably avoid.
Since plastic particles are airborne, they can be found in just about every location on the planet.
The best salts to buy come from mountains like Himalayan salt.
Mined salts from ancient seabeds have unlikely come into contact with plastic pollution, and well salts have a much lower rate of plastic contamination than seawater.
Bamboo salt supposedly contains no microplastic due to the extreme heating process it has undergone, however, it is expensive.
The "best" option for you depends on so many factors - cost, brand, source, packaging and health risk.
If you avoid chemically treated table salt, opt for himilayan rock salt in a glass container (refillable is best).
Herewith a list of brands that popular salt-blogger recommend: