The Salt, A Universal and Infinite Compound
Have you ever asked yourself where does salt come from? This substance is present in the daily diet and is known by all people; perhaps for that reason we have not stopped to think where it comes from.
According to some historians, the Chinese were the first to use it. In the Roman Empire it was gaining such a prominent role that routes were creating for its marketing. It has been used as currency and was given in exchange for slaves. There was even a tax on salt. It is also known the Salt March led by Mathatma Gandhi in the twentieth century; a peaceful protest to demonstrate his rejection to the British monopoly of this substance in India.
But what is the salt? It is a chemical compound known scientifically as sodium chloride (NaCI) which provides salty taste to foods. Therefore, it is mainly used for seasoning to enhance flavors. Its consumption causes a greater appetite. But it is also used as a preservative in pickles and salted fish and meat. The latter role is played less today due to the onset of cooling and freezing systems. Other uses are as a stain remover, decalcifying agent, road de-icing, as well as in the pharmaceutical or chemical industry, among others.
Although it is currently advisable to reduce daily dose, the total absence of salt in the diet is not recommended, as it is essential for the body to work properly. In addition, when it is enriched with fluorine or iodine it helps to prevent cavities or diseases such as goiter.
How the salt is produced? Its origin is diverse: from saltworks (sea salt and spring), mines salt (rock salt) or as a result of boiling a gramineae plant (vegetable salt).
The saltworks are places where salt water is evaporated in order to dry the salt. It may be seawater (marine salt) or springs, as the water passes through underground salt deposits. In both cases, the water is conducted through a network of channels to horizontal platforms called farms, where the water is distributed in rectangular plots or threshing floors. Evaporation will concentrate the brine until the salt precipitates to the bottom as crystals. After that it is ready for drying and harvesting. The salt can be dried in the sun and air or terrazzo (deposits protected from rain).
In marine or coastal saltworks, it is made good use of plain ground at sea level, usually marshes; meanwhile, in the springs, the threshing floors may be at different levels or can be built on artificial platforms.
Another means to obtain the salt is through minerals crushing, which are extracted from salt deposits or mines. This mineral is called halite. Also water can be pumped and once it is dissolved with minerals it forms a sort of saline iodine which is dried by evaporation method later. The salt mine is called 'white gold'.
The salt extraction is done treating the environment with respect by using natural and clean energy sources such as solar heat or kinetic air.
Pure salt is odorless and colorless or white. The crystals final shape is an indicator of the methods used for its production. Thus, if the crystals are cubic and regular, their evaporation has been rapid, while if shape is triangular the process has been slower. In addition, we can classify salt in refined salt, table salt, black salt, rose of Himalaya, flower of salt, sea salt according to geographical origin or obtaining method, among other issues...
Universally usage, its reserves are considered inexhaustible because of it is obtained from, to a greater extent, sea and ocean waters. Spanish colonization brought to the Dominican Republic, the salt industry, being the town of Montecristi the largest producer. As elsewhere, the salt was a cause for fighting and a key element in some moments of the history of the country at economic, political or social levels.
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