I had never heard of Himalayan salt until this weekend, when three separate people told me about it. It sounded like a total crock, but eventually curiosity got the better of me and I had to look it up. Unsurprisingly, after looking it up online, I quickly and easily determined that... it's a total crock.
What Is Himalayan Salt?
This is, in Wikipedia's words, "a marketing term" for rock salt, much of which is mined out of Pakistan. Other versions of rock salt are mined throughout the world. Frequently this salt is slightly pinkish, thanks to iron oxide contamination. This is the source of "pink Hawaiian salt" which is so beloved by foodies that it practically counts as a fetish.
Salt is technically known as sodium chloride. This is a mineral which forms large crystals. When in its crystalline form it is known as Halite (or rock salt). Salt mines tap veins of salt which were laid down when prehistoric pools of salt water dried up, leaving only the salt behind. These veins often have other mineral contaminants and trace elements, as you might expect would be left behind by evaporated sea water.
However, it must be said, none of these trace elements is magic. And for the most part, Himalayan salt is about 99.8% chemically identical to the regular old table salt that you buy at the grocery store.
Himalayan Salt Health Claims
There is a claim being floated (by sellers of Himalayan salt) that it reduces blood pressure. This is an interesting claim, because salt actually increases blood pressure. And sure enough, it turns out that there are no formal clinical studies which support this claim for Himalayan salt. Given the reality of chemistry as we know it, this claim practically debunks itself.
It is true that there are some differences between Morton's salt and natural salt. Not a chemical difference, because both of these things are sodium chloride. It is what it is. But natural salt lacks the chemical additives that normal table salt includes. Many people (myself included) feel that natural salt tastes quite a lot better than regular table salt.
However, "tastes better" is one thing. "Cures blood sugar imbalances" and "supports libido" is quite another. These claims are as absurd as they are unsubstantiated. Quite frankly, if you are taking salt in any form in order to do anything other than make your food saltier (i.e. taste better), you are being taken for a ride by hucksters.