The Deadly Truth Behind “Healthy” Kosher Salt and Commercial Sea Salt – And How To Tell If Your Salt Is Refined.

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Articles, Nutrition

I eat a lot of salt.

On most days, I eat 2-3 teaspoons a day sprinkled over food or into smoothies, soups and salads – and on days that I sweat heavily, visit the sauna, or sleep on my infrared Biomat – I often increase my salt intake to up to 6 teaspoons per day.

That's kinda drastic, considering the CDC recommends sticking to about 1/2 to 1 teaspoons of salt per day, maximum.

So why do I eat so darn much salt?

In the article Is That Grain Of Salt Really Killing Your Insides?, I give four reasons for my salt fanaticism, including:

1. There is zero evidence to support a drastic reduction in sodium intake.

2. Reducing sodium intake can have unintended health risks.

3. Your total potassium levels and your “sodium to potassium ratio” are what is actually important for heart health.

4. Big food industry’s interpretation of public health recommendations to reduce sodium intake can have a dangerous impact.

I'd highly recommend you go read that article to delve into the details of each of those four reasons listed above.

In this article, you're going to discover the truth behind “healthy” kosher salt and commercial sea salt, how to tell if your salt is refined, and what kind of salt you should be eating.


mineral contentThe Deadly Truth Behind “Healthy” Kosher Salt and Commercial Sea Salt.

You may have heard how “sea salt” is better for you than regular, refined table salt – but what about kosher salt?

The term “kosher salt” comes from its use in making meats kosher by removing surface blood. So in truth, nearly all salt is kosher salt, including ordinary, refined table salt.

Kosher salt is usually manufactured with a grain size larger than table salt grains – and is otherwise completely identical to refined table salt. Rather than cubic crystals, kosher salt has a flat platelet shape. Salt crystals are forced into this shape under pressure, or grown flat in an evaporative process. Then the kosher salt is dried in order to absorb the moisture in koshering and allow the salt to flow freely.

This is why most big brand kosher salts you see in the store are refined – and they taste like it too.

What that means is:

Kosher salt (and most other commercial sea salts) have had all minerals and moisture stripped away (see table to the left for all the minerals not found in Kosher and commercial sea salts).

Kosher salt  (and most other commercial sea salts) manufacturers use sulfuric acid and chlorine to bleach the salt white.

Kosher salt  (and most other commercial sea salts) are made in a way so that it is an impossibly high 99.7% “purity”. 

Now, you may be wondering – what’s wrong with “99.7% purity”? Isn’t that good?

refined saltNot really. When you strip salt of its minerals and then you eat it, your body doesn’t “get it”. Refined salt is toxic without its minerals. It’s unnatural. So your body treats it like a foreign substance, generating all the health issues I talked about in my last article on salt.

Ironically, salt manufacturers would actually make salt 100% pure but that last .03% is for the anti-caking agents. That’s the stuff that makes table salt flow out of your saltshaker.

The problem is that anti-caking agents are essentially heavy metals – which are extremely toxic to your body. Just take a look at their names: sodium ferrocyanide, ammonium citrate and aluminum silicate (did you notice the poison “cyanide” and the chemical people clean bathrooms with, “ammonia”?)

Why do the big name salt makers do this? In two words: “shelf life.” In one word: “profit.”

What’s more, the FDA allows them to have as much as 2% of your table salt be comprised of anti-caking and free-flowing agents! But that’s not all – the worst part is that some of them have caught on to America’s “health craze” and now put the “sea salt” healthy label on their boxes.

However, this is all just a marketing ploy. Commercial “sea salt” may come from the sea, but ultimately it has been refined just as much as regular table salt.

In contrast, real, unrefined salt is moist, soft and clumpy. Sure, this is inconvenient for our modern salt-shakers and fancy store bought tubes and canisters – but ultimately, if your salt isn't moist, soft and clumpy, you shouldn't be eating it.

So how else can you tell if your salt is unhealthy and refined?


How To Tell If Your Salt Is Refined

There are three simple salt tests you can do in the comfort of your own home.

Test #1: Look At The Salt.

Is the salt an unnatural, perfect uniform white? If so, it was probably chemically bleached in some way. Natural salt has an off-white color due to the trace minerals found in it.

Test #2: Shake It Out.

Is the salt fine and free flowing? If it comes out of a saltshaker effortlessly, it’s safe to assume the salt was processed with anti-caking agents. Real salt is moist, soft, and doesn't pour when it rains.

Test #3: Is It Sold In A Box Or Tube?

Salts sold in a cardboard box or tube are dry and probably have had anti-caking agents added so that the salt won’t absorb moisture and ruin the package.

The truth is that most big brand salts in the store are indeed refined and won't pass those three tests above.


What Kind Of Salt You Should Be Eating

So if our body needs salt to live, but table salt, commercial “sea salt” and even koshering salt has toxins in it…what’s left?


We go back to how salt was made 150 years ago – before it became industrialized.

We eat unrefined sea salt made the way it was meant to be.

aztec sea saltNow, you may be thinking that “unrefined sea salt” means gourmet, expensive and hard-to-get, but the fact is that I keep my pantry chock full of silver and black bags of AztecSeaSalt.

This salt comes from La Laguna de Cuyutlán – the same place in Meixco where the Aztecs got their salt over 500 years ago. Traditional salineros (salt farmers) continue to harvest this salt using an organic, 100% renewable process (evaporated naturally by the sun) to protect the environment and wildlife.

Yes, it's slightly “off-color”.

Yes, it's soft, it's moist and it clumps.

And yes, it tastes far different than any other salt. It literally explodes with flavor.

But I know when I'm eating this stuff that it I'm avoiding toxins, I'm avoiding chemicals, I'm eating clean, real stuff and I'm getting over 80 trace minerals for metabolic function, adrenal recovery and athletic performance.

If you want to dig into the nitty-gritty science or go read the details on AztecanSeaSalt, you can click here to study up on the actual minerals, the ethical harvesting process, and more of the truth behind Kosher salt and commercial sea salt.

In the meantime, leave your questions, comments and feedback below and I'll be happy to answer.

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

60 thoughts on “The Deadly Truth Behind “Healthy” Kosher Salt and Commercial Sea Salt – And How To Tell If Your Salt Is Refined.

  1. Rebecca says:

    Could you please update the link for the Aztec Sea Salt?

    1. Ben Greenfield says:

      It’s now called Colima Sea Salt:

  2. Robin says:

    I just got your cookbook and ordered some black Hawaiian sea salt both course and fine… I need to read this whole article and podcast to see if the link from your site took me to the right one!

  3. Julie says:

    The above link is not working for me. What is the brand name of this salt? It blurs when I try to enlarge the photo of the salt.

  4. Jason Jeffrey Hays says:

    Hi Ben,
    With your recent podcast revealing plastics in most salt, what salts don’t have plastics and where can we buy them?

  5. With all due respect to each of the post, comments and replies my greatest desire is to choose only the best products when consuming and natural is the only way. From what I’ve read above I am confident that Ben has done his best to represent what he feels is the best salt option. I have matured in my decision making when it comes to healthy choices. Between traveling and playing ball in 67 countries and almost every state in the US coupled with rubbing shoulders with some of the finest researchers on what is naturally best to eat I have learned to remain open minded and never assume I’ve finally found the best product and not consider another.

    My father is now 87, retired and under the care of my family as we make sure he is given the best treatment. His health has not been the best for years therefore this also has created a desire and drive to find the best options for him. I am also a full time athlete even though now 53 I still compete on a high level and the demands on my body are much higher than the average when it comes to minerals needed.

    Having said all of that leads me to my point, I am going to do some more research on Aztecan salt. I am all for good taste but my greater interest is to always digest the highest grade and or form of any food type. Sometimes what is best does not taste the best compared to other options. I also know that for many individuals they have to change their diet and once they do some of the foods that used to not taste good become more palatable. Regardless, it is always BESt to choose the highest grade possible. And I agree with Ben, you get what you pay for, which means, you pay now or you pay later when your health is shot.

    Thanks Ben for making others aware of Aztecan salt. I’ll dig deeper and see where I land. I’ve gone from Celtic Salt to Himalayan but your information has wet my mental appetite.

    Healthy eating matters!

    Jamie Johnson

  6. Hajes says:

    I second that. I use to live in Salzkammergut and there is oldest salt mine in the world (at least Austrians claim it :-) It has been mined ever since Celtic came there.

    It is old deposits of sea salt from dried seas and preserved by volcanic activity. It is said that natural form is still mined by hand and it costs accordingly. If I recall correctly…about 30€/kg compared to street salt (read table salt) ;-)

    Commercial form is mined by water pressure, transported as brine (30% of natural salt in water) into processing plant in Ebensee (infamous concentration camp during Nazi era). It is stripped of everything, washed out, bleached so it looks “pure”.

    Then they add preservatives (unsure why because salt was able to preserver miner in salt-mine accident and he looks darn good after few thousand years in salt :-) and iodine for good feel ;-)

    I’m not surprise there is “salt is bad” propaganda because in “pure” form it is as deadly as sugar the second most deadly invention of humanoids right after that mysterious guy born about 5000years ago that nobody saw so far but everybody wants to be like him !!!

    Pure natural “steinsalz” as germanic civs call it is copper/pink/iron color full of “rubbish”. It is mild and you need five times more amount for cooking as its “pure” form but it has got everything that we need ;-)

    It is sad how humanoids try to re-invent the wheel…over…and over…again. There are even groups of people who do it for purpose so that this planet is occupied by brain dead sheep, which follow the alpha sheep.

    As Ben, I take a “lot” of natural salt and if I sweat…even more.

  7. Stuart Campbell says:

    Hi Ben I only recently heard about Pink Lake Salt after driving past and admiring the beauty of the lake for years.…

    Interested in your thoughts.

    cheers Stuart

  8. Federer says:

    What about Iodine? Most salts like the one recommended has none. Recommendations on how to get iodine in the diet?

    1. Seaweed. I do metal free nori like this: http:s//

  9. Maarten says:

    Sorry, sodium ferrocyanide, ammonium citrate and aluminum silicate are not heavy metals.

  10. John says:

    How does the Aztec salt compare when using in a recipe. Do you still use 1 teaspoon if that amount is called for in a recipe?

    1. You don't need to use as much, but you'd want to use 1 teaspoon at least if you are cooking with it.

  11. Emerson Boxill says:

    Good afternoon. I’ve read every single article, and checked out every single link. It’s great to have access to information about products that are better for your health. I am interested in buying this, although I have one question. Are there certain foods that are better or worse for using Aztec Sea Salt, or is it compatible with everything?

    1. It is compatible with everything. Especially a juicy ribeye steak. ;)

  12. Nathan Watkins says:

    Where are you with unrefined Himalayan salt by comparison?

    1. Definitely a better option than Kosher and refined sea salt, but still not as good as this:…

  13. Jeanne says:

    I know this is an older post, but what do you think of Celtic sea salt? It is moist and not bleached looking. It is touted as having the minerals.

    Just curious,


    1. Celtic Sea Salt is a great salt, but it differs form Aztec Sea Salt in 2 ways.

      1. The water used for making Celtic Sea Salt is ocean water. Aztec Sea Salt uses rain water that has been filtered through a ancient dry salt lagoon, dissolving essential minerals along it’s journey. It is then pumped to the surface and evaporated in the hot Mexican sun.

      2. The flavor is different because it comes from different water source and a different geographic location.

      1. Tony says:

        You guys rock! Thanks!

  14. Going to have to give this one a try! Thanks again Ben!

  15. Andrew says:

    I was curious, what salts are best for pickling?

    1. I hate to sound like I am selling something, but that is exactly the kind of stuff we cover in the but you can also take a look at this…

  16. Patricia says:

    Ben, can you get Vogel’s Herbamare in the US? That’s what I’ve been using, it tastes great and quality is supposed to be excellent. Thanks for great article!

  17. tariq_hossenbux says:

    Interesting article. I never knew that all the salt i have been eating was bleached. I'll take this with a grain of salt though because people have been eating this bleached stuff for a long time. Also I don't eat that much salt anyhow. However I did go and buy some Himalayan Salt at an organic food store today. It has a much stronger flavour than the salt I am used to!

    1. People have been drinking soda for a long time too… doesn't make it healthy.

  18. Lars Andersson says:

    Thank you for a very interesting article about salt. Most people do not know this facts.

  19. Amit says:

    Hi ben,

    Thanks for the article.

    It all sounds great, but looking better at the link i see you are affiliated with these salt guys, so you get a commission each time we – your readers – buys it – which makes it:

    1) not ethical in my eyes – since you didn’t mentioned you are an affiliate

    2) less apealing – as money tends to blind judgement.

    So i’m asking myself if the recent change from the himalian salt was due to this affiliation?

    I hope you see this is a real concern and i would realy like to hear your comment regarding what i said here.



    1. I got my hands on this salt many months ago and have discussed many times on podcast prior to any type of affiliate promotion Amit. I only promote products that I have personally tried and had a very positive experience with. Taste this vs. Himalayan and you will see what I mean.

  20. kathyb108 says:

    I'm not sure ALL brands of Himalayan Crystal Salt are the same. The one I use says on the bottle that it's hand mined and hand-processed. It even comes in a canvas bag because they don't want the energy disturbed. ;-) No plastic or metal allowed. LOVED how it made me feel the first time I took a pinch of it.

  21. danco1212 says:

    Jack Kruse talks about fluoride being in both red and black salts along with teas and to avoid. Green tea made with RO water is to be about the best tea for being free of most fluoride. How does this tea rate with fluoride content? Am I safe to say sense it does deliver white it is void of most fluoride?

    Thanks again!

    1. The dose makes the poison. My friend Mark Sisson says: "It’s in tea leaves, with black having the highest levels and white having the lowest. Although one woman even developed severe skeletal fluorosis from drinking two gallons of tea each day for thirty years, tea consumption has reams of epidemiological and clinical evidence for its benefits that can’t be thrown out simply because of the fluoride content. Moderation is key, and longer brewing times increase fluoride release."

      I'll find out more about the fluoride in this particular salt from the manufacturer.

      1. Dan says:

        Thanks Ben

    2. Owners say: Our salt does not have any fluoride added and has a minuscule % naturally. .001% since I know your audience will ask.

  22. Spinergie says:

    I have been using Sel de Guerande for the last 6 years. This is grey damp unrefined salt from the mud flats of Northern France. Have you tried it? It is said it has a full spectrum of minerals and trace elements. It is very cheap in France and can be found in the UK as well. I swear by it. I imagine this is similar to your recommended one?

    1. I have not tried this salt but it sounds unrefined and artisanal which is good. I am in favor of all artisanal salts. Each artisanal salt is unique in flavor due to the seawater that is evaporated, the “pans” they evaporate in and the process they use. I think Aztecan salt tastes amazing, but again each salt is unique. It’s ok to have 5 different salts in your kitchen, just not the refined crap.

    2. Spinergie says:

      Hi you can find it in France for very little money as imagine, it is considered a lesser salt. Its is very similar to your Aztec salt. Similar full spectrum minerals and trace elements. Thank you very much for all the useful info and articles and podcasts big fan of fat adaptation. Am reading through your books also.

  23. Jason94121 says:

    What is the shelf life of the Aztec Sea Salt?

    1. Salt is a mineral. It does not have a shelf life.

      That being said, I’d say after 10 years, toss it and get a new bag.

      Now, if it is left open, it will absorb or lose moisture depending not the climate it is in.
      It’s best to keep it sealed to prevent this.

      1. Jason94121 says:

        Thanks Ben. Question popped up in my head due to the following on the Aztec Site’

        Why do the big name salt makers do this? In two words: “shelf life.” In one word: “profit.”

        Regardless, I put my order in!

  24. Aaron says:

    Okay, that site looked a little shady. I recently heard you on the Rich Roll podcast and i trust him so i’m trusting you. Thanks for the information.

  25. Dan says:

    Do you get water retention or bloating on that much salt? does a better quality salt have a different effect?

    1. None. Even at 6g/day. It's because the sodium is so balanced with the other minerals.

  26. Josh says:

    What about pink Himalayan salt?

    1. Same answer I gave to John R ;) except I’ll also throw in a link –…

  27. John R says:

    what about himalayn pink salt? the stuff from Pakistan. Isnt that an unrefined, ancient sea, (albiet mined) salt? I use it and seems to tase great as I dont use “regular salt” I cant find any info on your site about that.

    1. Go for the Aztecan stuff if you want the absolute BEST. Himalayan is best used for delicate dry foods and fancy presentations.

      1. acemanx says:

        ok I get it you guys are insane about this aztecan stuff but its overpriced, he had an awesome question, to just disregard it and just tout the aztecan like a fanboy doesn’t help, it’s not going to be THE ONLY one in the world…

  28. Melvin says:

    Went ahead and bit the bullet. Bought me a bag, just waiting for the next batch, patiently. Just couldn’t shake the feeling that I knew I was using subpar salt everyday. I’ve heard you can dry it out in the oven in small batches and that makes it easier to use in a grinder.

  29. blather says:

    $50 a lb on sale for $25 plus shipping?

    1. You get what you pay for. You will never find salt like this anywhere else.

  30. Thom Meyers says:

    Wow!….about 60 days ago…I ordered a sample bag…Loved it….not cheap!..@20 plus per bag….Yes; I now use more salt than I had….


  31. Mary says:

    This is particularly relevant because I bought some sea salt recently at the grocery store. Almost all the brands of sea salt were ‘iodized’ and had a list of ingredients that I didn’t recognize..I did find one little bottle hidden among some spices, it came with a built in grinder and the only ingredient listed was sea salt. Would this kind of product be safe for me and my family to consume?

    1. Probably OK, but I have found NOTHING that compares to the Aztecan stuff in terms of flavor explosion.

      1. Margaret says:

        Thanks for the informative post, I’ll try that salt out; you’ve sold on the flavour exploxion!

    2. Vijith says:

      Any kind of sea salt is not good for your health, it is used for industrial purposes.Free flow IODISED varities are the worst enemies of your health as it is banned in 40 countries . Use rock salt which is found in natural forms. You can also use black salt but it is not mostly used in food due to smell of sulphur. Your region might have this or it must be importing.94 minerals are present in these.IODISED salt has only 3 minerals. Long term use of free flow salt causes impotency and paralysis.

      1. I love black salt and it is good for you. Good in yogurt and on fruit and in curries.

  32. danco1212 says:

    Got this stuff based off your recommendation and love it…. Hard time grinding it or sprinkle out of a shaker…. Any tips?

    1. I just pinch it out with my fingers and sprinkle it on. I don't use a grinder or shaker.

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