In common usage, salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl). When used in food, especially at table in ground form in dispensers, it is more formally called table salt. In the form of a natural crystalline mineral, salt is also known as rock salt or halite. Salt is essential for life in general, and saltiness is one of the basic human tastes. Salt is one of the oldest and most ubiquitous food seasonings, and is known to uniformly improve the taste perception of food, including otherwise unpalatable food. Salting, brining, and pickling are also ancient and important methods of food preservation.
Some of the earliest evidence of salt processing dates to around 6000 BC, when people living in the area of present-day Romania boiled spring water to extract salts; a salt works in China dates to approximately the same period. Salt was also prized by the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Hittites, Egyptians, and Indians. Salt became an important article of trade and was transported by boat across the Mediterranean Sea, along specially built salt roads, and across the Sahara on camel caravans. The scarcity and universal need for salt have led nations to go to war over it and use it to raise tax revenues. Salt is used in religious ceremonies and has other cultural and traditional significance.
Salt is processed from salt mines, and by the evaporation of seawater (sea salt) and mineral-rich spring water in shallow pools. The greatest single use for salt (sodium chloride) is as a feedstock for the production of chemicals. It is used to produce caustic soda and chlorine; it is also used in the manufacturing processes of polyvinyl chloride, plastics, paper pulp and many other products. Of the annual global production of around three hundred million tonnes of salt, only a small percentage is used for human consumption. Other uses include water conditioning processes, de-icing highways, and agricultural use. Edible salt is sold in forms such as sea salt and table salt, which latter usually contains an anti-caking agent and may be iodised to prevent iodine deficiency. As well as its use in cooking and at the table, salt is present in many processed foods.
Sodium is an essential nutrient for human health via its role as an electrolyte and osmotic solute. However, excessive salt consumption may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, in children and adults. Such health effects of salt have long been studied. Accordingly, numerous world health associations and experts in developed countries recommend reducing consumption of popular salty foods. The World Health Organization recommends that adults consume less than 2,000 mg of sodium, equivalent to 5 grams of salt, per day.
Ullmannwas invoked but never defined (see the help page).
USDA2015was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
CDCwas invoked but never defined (see the help page).