Fleur de Sel, table salt, gray salt: a quick guide to the world of culinary salts

Although it is recommended to minimise our salt intake to protect cardiovascular health, sodium is an essential mineral. As we naturally eliminate sodium through sweat, tears or urine, we need to consume a minimum of five grams per day. The main challenge is monitoring our salt intake when consuming processed foods.


Salt composition depends on the extraction process and the origin.

Each marsh or mine comes with a different mineral and biological composition, which gives each type of salt a unique flavour related to the harvesting method.

Crystallized salt may be obtained by natural evaporation, by grinding and drying, by a chemical process called thermocompression, or by mining.

Traditional processes such as natural evaporation by wind and sun in salt marshes help salt retain most of its minerals and marine components, except for iodine which is volatile.

Thermocompression is an extraction method by vacuum evaporation from brine, which removes impurities, then dries, solidifies, and crystallizes salt into small fine grains.

Table salt

Table salt comes from rock salt, a compact crystallized material found in the bed of ancient dried seas. The impurities are removed up to 98.8% pure sodium chloride. Calcium silicate (an anti-caking agent) and iodine are added. Occasionally, some sugar may be added for an even iodine distribution. In some countries, fluoride is added. Almost 85% of salt sold in Canada is table salt.

Sea salt

Sea salt is obtained by natural evaporation. It is less refined than table salt. Seawater is directed to ponds for natural wind and sun evaporation. The resulting brine is moved from one pond to the next, until it reaches the crystallization tank. Sea salt retains its trace elements and minerals like iron and magnesium, but it no longer contains iodine, which promotes healthy thyroid function.

Fleur de Sel

Fleur de Sel is made of the salt crystals that form a fine crust on the surface of marshes. It is a scarcer and completely natural product. It is harvested by hand at a specific time of day. Its cost can be fifty times higher than that of table salt.

Coarse gray salt

salt may also contain certain minerals and microscopic algae or plankton from evaporated seawater. The quantity of iodine in the algae residues is minimal and variable.

Himalayan pink salt

This unique salt comes from a 500-million-year-old fossilised ocean bed. It is mined 600 meters deep in the heart of the Himalayas, in northeastern Pakistan, in a pollution-free environment. It is considered the purest salt in the world. It is made of almost 80 minerals and trace elements, including iron, which gives Himalayan pink salt its beautiful color. It may be combined with seaweed flakes as a iodine supplement.

To minimise the volatilisation of iodine in iodised salt, we recommend adding salt after cooking.
Mussels, shrimp, mackerel and lobster are great sources of iodine and selenium, two essential minerals for the thyroid gland. In this case, iodine is fixed by protein and no longer volatile.

A little bit of history

Where does the word “salary” come from?

In the 1st century, salt was a prized commodity used to preserve meats and fish. At the time, soldiers of the Roman Empire were paid with salt portions named “salarium”.

Tibetans and the Ethiopians also used salt as currency or as a reward.









Barbara Demenex, Le cerveau endommagé, Éditions Odile Jacob, 2016, pages 77-84.