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Salt might seem pretty unimportant, especially with it being so cheap to buy, and easy to find almost everywhere. It’s one of those super basic kitchen essentials that everybody has, and not much thought is given, taking it for granted, so to speak.
But in reality, salt is an incredibly valuable resource and something that can become vital in more than one scenario. In fact, did you know that in ancient times people were paid in salt, rather than in money?
Anyway, you should absolutely always have enough salt stored at home, especially if you’re stocking up for emergency situations or scenarios! But the question is, why is salt so essential? And if you’re going to store a good amount for long-term use, how do you do that?
We can tell you all about it, from why salt is so important, to how much of it you should keep stored in the house, and exactly how to store it! Plus, we will tell you all about the best types of salts that we recommend you keep in your home.
Let’s get right into it!
Why Is Salt Essential?
Let’s start by talking about exactly why salt is such an important essential resource, and why you should absolutely always have some stored in your house, just in case.
Basically, salt is vital to survival. It is one of the most basic ingredients in our daily diet, and it is, therefore, necessary in order to stay healthy. Plus, it has many other uses that make it incredibly valuable.
To make it simple, we can pretty much summarize the importance of salt in three main purposes and uses:
For Health Benefits
Firstly, salt is essential because it is a necessary component of our diet, and we cannot live without it. In fact, the sodium in salt is what helps us have a good fluid balance, and it helps our muscles function, as well as our nerves.
Without enough sodium, we can suffer from fatigue, confusion, headaches, seizures, and more! And in order for our body to function healthily, we need that little bit of daily salt. Luckily most foods have a percentage of salt!
To Enhance Flavor
Okay so maybe this reason isn’t as essential as the other two, but salt is one of the main ways in which we flavor food, and enhance the taste of different ingredients and meals. Without salt, we would find most food very boring, and might not have as balanced a diet!
To Preserve Food
One of the main reasons why salt has always been considered to be an incredibly valuable resource, especially throughout history, is that it can help preserve food for longer periods of time.
This is because salt can kill bacteria, mold, and other organisms, allowing the food to remain safe for consumption for more time. It does this by essentially absorbing all of the moisture, and keeping the food dry.
It is also used to cure meat, and to preserve many different types of ingredients. Back in the day, when fridges were not a thing, it was salt that kept the food edible!
There are many more reasons why salt is important and useful, and at the end of the day, you can justify storing some in your house in many ways.
The fact remains that every household should have some salt stored away for when needed, especially since salt isn’t expensive, and also isn’t hard to store.
How Much Salt Should You Keep In Your House?
Salt is important, and a pretty essential resource to have on hand for when needed, which means it is a good idea to keep some in your house. But…how much salt should you keep stored? How much are you going to need at any given moment?
This, of course, depends on how much you are willing to store away, and on how prepared you want to be for different types of situations. As a general rule, food storage calculators recommend having around 3 pounds of salt a year.
However, that really isn’t a lot, and if you’re in a situation in which you cannot access more salt, you would very quickly run out. So instead, we recommend having around 10 pounds of salt in your house, per person, every year.
Let’s break down our reasons for this amount.
Firstly, the American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 500mg of salt per day, for an adult. (The maximum recommended amount per day is around 1500mg).
However, an average American will actually consume around 3400mg of salt per day, which isn’t healthy, but it goes to show how much salt there is in our everyday life, without us even noticing.
So, if we allowed for 1 teaspoon of salt per day, which is pretty average, and if anything, below what most people are used to, then a person would need 5 pounds of salt per year. (And that’s without taking into account using salt for things other than your diet!)
If it were a survival situation, in which you have no more access to salt, and have to make do with many things, then salt would also be used for preserving food, and for baking and cooking. So those 5 pounds per person per year? Definitely not enough.
That’s why we recommend 10 pounds, although, in all honesty, you could store a great deal more and it is justified! After all, it would be better to have salt to spare, than to run out of salt and still be in a situation in which you need salt and can’t access more, right?
How Long Does Salt Last When Stored?
Okay, now let’s talk about how long salt lasts when you store it away because it’s important to know whether there is a limit of time, and how long you can wait before you can no longer consume it.
Salt that is pure, that is, without any additives or extra ingredients, does not have a time limit. It simply does not go off, and pretty much lasts forever.
This is because Sodium Chloride (which is what pure salt is), is completely stable and does not lose flavor or potency over time. It is a natural preservative, and as such, it naturally preserves itself indefinitely, so long as it is stored properly.
However, salt that has additives in it, will not last forever, due to the added ingredients, and therefore has a date by which it will go bad.
In order for salt to actually last as long as possible, or forever, it needs to be stored correctly. The most important thing to know is that salt should be kept somewhere dry. And the reason is simple.
Salt is hygroscopic (which means that it attracts and absorbs water from its surrounding area), so it will absorb water and turn clumpy, not to mention that the water it absorbs could alter the taste. But if the salt is stored somewhere sry or airtight, nothing will be able to affect it.
So just to recap: pure salt will last forever, and its taste and strength will be unchanged no matter how much time goes by.
But salts that have additives (such as salts that have herbs or other seasonings mixed in) will have a limited shelf life, and will not be able to last for longer than what is indicated on their label.
But regardless of the type of salt, it should be stored somewhere dark and dry, with no moisture (as the salt absorbs any water in its surrounding area, which could lead to ruining its flavor).
How To Store Salt Long Term
If you want your salt to be usable in the future, at any given moment, when you need it the most, then it is vital that you store it correctly, so that it can truly last without issues. You should always store your salt in a cool, dry, dark place, preferably in an airtight container.
If you’re buying salt specifically to store it in your house long-term, then you will likely be buying the salt in bulk amounts, so that you get even more for cheaper.
However, the big bulk-buy containers and packs are not exactly super convenient for storing, as they can take up quite a lot of space, so instead, it is recommended that you move the salt into smaller containers!
For example, canning jars with lids, which can then easily be stored in a dark dry cupboard.
Storing salt in smaller containers is not only more convenient because it’s easier to stack up or put in small corners, but also because if the salt does accidentally come into contact with water, it is a smaller amount that is ruined, you know?
Plus, you can then grab one container at a time, instead of having to open the big container.
What Types Of Salt Are Best For Storing In Your House?
There are many different types of salt, and the different types will be better or worse at specific uses, and specific foods. There isn’t really one type of salt that is the absolute best compared to others, so we can’t say: “store a big amount of this specific type of salt in your home”.
Instead, we recommend that you have a few different salt options stored in your home, chosen based on your needs and preferences.
The most ideal types of salt, when it comes to keeping them stored a long time, are pure salts without additives, because these can last forever, and will not go bad.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid salts with additives, because some can be really useful, and quite tasty. So you should have some pure salts, and some salts with additives in more short-term storage, which you replace every so often.
But…which salts should you keep in your house? Or rather, which salts are the best to keep stored in your house, due to their uses and popularity?
Well, there are many salts that we recommend, but instead, we will compile a list of the most common salts that, as a general rule, all homes should have.
Now, we don’t expect you to have every single type of salt we mention, stored in your house. That would be a lot of salt!
But instead, take this as a list from which to choose the salts that you’re going to store in your house because all of the salts that we’ve included are extremely useful and common enough to be popular, and easy to find.
So without further ado, here are the salts we recommend, if you’re planning on storing some in your house:
Table salt is perhaps one of the most popular types of salt you ever come across, as it is basically the salt used in most homes and kitchens. It is an all-purpose granulated salt, with some anti-caking additives.
It is mined underground, and it is also heavily processed so that the minerals are eliminated from the picture.
- Uses: All-purpose, majorly used in the kitchen for food
- Shelf life: Most table salts have a recommended shelf life of around 5 to 10 years, however, it is also stated that this salt can probably last indefinitely, meaning it will be okay long term
- Important reminder: table salt cannot be used for canning or pickling (so technically it is not all-purpose), as it will cause the liquid to go cloudy
Iodized salt is very similar to table salt, with the main difference being that it has potassium added to it. There is also usually a small amount of sugar added, to stop it from going yellow!
Iodized salt is great for people that have an iodine deficiency within their diet, as iodine is a critical component of the human diet, and is essential in order to be healthy and functional.
Usually, you get iodine naturally from a balanced diet, but if you’re in an emergency situation, having iodized salt in your storage can help make up for this, making it a key resource to your survival.
- Uses: general use for food and kitchen, and as an iodine supplement
- Shelf life: it has an average shelf life of around 5 years
- Important reminder: iodized salt should not be used for canning or pickling foods!
Pink Himalayan Salt
Pink Himalayan salt is the favorite of many people and is often considered to be high-end or extra fancy. It is usually sold as coarse salt, but it can also be found fine or extra-fine.
Himalayan salt is 98% sodium chloride, but it also contains trace minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, copper, and iron. These minerals are what turn the salt pink, and are considered to be a good health supplement, as well as very tasty in all sorts of dishes.
- Uses: for culinary use in the kitchen, and as a supplement for minerals
- Shelf life: as a pure salt, it has an indefinite shelf life
Real salt is essentially just an unrefined salt that contains minerals that are harvested in an ancient ocean, in the region of Utah.
It is not more real than other salts, but it does have a unique blend of minerals, which are not only great as a health supplement but also give it a sweeter than usual flavor. It is available in many forms, ranging from coarse, to fine or powdered.
- Uses: general culinary uses in the kitchen, as a supplement for minerals, and for beauty products.
- Shelf life: it has an indefinite shelf life (aka, it lasts forever)
Celtic salt is an ocean salt that is 33% lower in sodium than table salt, and instead a lot richer in calcium and magnesium. It also contains other minerals, such as potassium, selenium, copper, iron, zinc, and more.
It is very popular for culinary purposes, especially for seasoning meals, and it is available in many forms. However, it contains moisture, so this salt does not last a long amount of time in storage.
- Uses: general culinary uses, as a supplement for minerals, and for beauty products
- Shelf life: as it contains moisture, it will not last as long as other types of salt, so the recommended amount of storage time is between 5 to 10 years
Canning And Pickling Salt
Canning and pickling salt is a type of pure salt that does not contain any iodine, additives, or anti-caking elements. It is the absolute best option for preserving food, and this is why it is used mainly for canning and pickling different foods.
It dissolves very easily in liquid too, and will not make it cloudy.
- Uses: food preservation, and culinary use in the kitchen
- Shelf life: it has an indefinite shelf life and lasts forever, however it is important to keep it away from moisture as it clamps easier than other salts
- Important reminder: this is the best type of salt for preserving food, and therefore one of the best for emergency situations
Kosher salt is known to be very coarse and flaky, and the name comes from its original purpose, of preparing kosher meats. It dissolves very slowly, and depending on the brand, it can be pure or contain additives.
This is why it is important to always read the label for kosher salt, before using it or deciding how to store it, because each brand will vary on the ingredients included.
- Uses: general culinary use, preserving and seasoning meats, canning and pickling
- Shelf life: it depends on the brand, pure kosher has an indefinite shelf life, but kosher salt with additives will not last as long
- Important reminder: always check the label to know what kind of kosher salt you are dealing with!
Powdered salt is essentially just kosher or sea salt that has been ground to be as fine as possible, resulting in a soft powder. Often, it is used to be mixed with herbs or spices, in order to create a flavored blend ideal for certain seasonings and meals.
It can be purchased powdered or made at home with a coffee grinder or similar.
- Uses: as a flavored seasoning, or to be sprinkled on food
- Shelf life: without additives it has an indefinite shelf life, once other ingredients are added in depends on their shelf life
Sea salt naturally contains many different minerals, making it a very healthy option of salt, as well as very tasty. It can be purchased in many forms, and although it can sometimes discolor the food it is added to, it is one of the most popular salts for seasoning meals such as salad dishes.
- Uses: general culinary use, and as a supplement of minerals
- Shelf life: it has an indefinite shelf life
Curing salt is mainly used for preserving meat and fish, as it kills microbes and prevents any diseases or bacteria from forming. It can contain a few different additives, depending on the brand, so you should always read the label for exact information.
It works by absorbing the moisture and keeping the food dry, so it is the absolute best at allowing the meat to last longer. It is also the reason why cured meat has a red or pink tinge in color!
- Uses: Curing and preserving meat and fish
- Shelf life: it depends on the brand and the additives, always check the label for expiry date and throw it away if it smells rancid in any way
- Important reminder: due to the preservative additives, this salt is not good for general culinary use in the kitchen
Also known as ice cream salt, rock salt comes in large crystals, and it is able to very quickly lower the temperature of the things around it, especially water. This is why it is mainly used in the making of ice cream!
This might not seem like a necessary type of salt in survival situations, but it is great at chilling the food around it!
- Uses: making ice cream and chilling drinks
- Shelf life: it has an indefinite shelf life
- Important reminder: this type of salt is not intended for human consumption or use in food!
Epsom salt is not actually salt at all, it is magnesium sulfate, so you can pretty much ignore the name. It is used as a magnesium supplement, or to relieve constipation. And it is also used in bathwater in order to relieve muscle pain and fatigue!
And…we can definitely see relaxing baths as necessary during a stressful emergency.
- Uses: for health, beauty, and as a magnesium supplement
- Shelf life: it has an indefinite shelf life
- Important reminder: it is not actually salt!
Also known as safe-t salt and sometimes rock salt, halite is a type of salt that is majorly used on walkways and roads, to melt snow and ice. It is not safe to eat at all, and should not be used in the kitchen.
But if you are snowed in, it is definitely something that will come in handy for safety reasons!
- Uses: for melting snow and ice
- Shelf life: it only lasts an average of around 2 years or so
- Important reminder: do not eat this salt!
There are salt substitutes that are made from different metal salts such as potassium chloride. They should never be used in food preservation or for cooking, as they are not going to taste good, but they can come in very handy.
- Uses: as a substitute or alternative to salt
- Shelf life: it depends on the brand, always check the label for an expiry date
- Important reminder: do not use it on food!
Salt is a vital part of the human diet, and it is necessary in order to be healthy and functional. Salt is also very important for other uses, for example, its role in food preservation, and how it can be used to store food for longer periods of time if you do not have access to a refrigerator or similar.
So basically, you should definitely have a good amount of salt stored in your house, just in case an emergency occurs.
When storing salt, it is important to keep it in a dry and dark place, preferably in an airtight container, to make sure that moisture doesn’t get in! If the salt is pure, then it will last forever.
But if the salt contains other ingredients and additives, then it’s important to check the expiration date on the label.