Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Pass the salt, please!
For centuries salt has been really important. Yes, it makes food taste good. It makes roads safer to drive on during the winter months. It even can make energy! I’m sure you are wondering why I am writing about salt. Doesn’t really seem that important, does it? Well, I’ll lay out a few facts for you. There are over 14,000 uses for salt. Everything from making windows and plastics, to sensitive experiments involving physics and astrophysics. That’s right, even space thinks salt is important, just ask the astronauts who would die if there wasn’t any salt for their space suits!
There is salt somewhere in there.
First of all, I’ll get to the history of salt. It goes way back. And by “way back” I mean over 4 thousand years ago, and it’s been recorded much further back than that. The Great Wall of China was literally funded by salt! The Emperor of China (Still the leading country in salt production) actually made enough money from trading salt to Europeans to keep the Mongols out of his back yard. Without salt, China would be riding horses and shooting arrows at everything and anything in sight. The Chinese aren’t the only ones that built stuff because of salt. The Eerie Canal, one of the most important trading routes in North America was built partially because of salt!
"Salt?! Are you kidding me... SALT?!"
It doesn’t stop at building stuff either. Roman soldiers were given a salary of salt, they called it "salarium argentums”, which has become the word Salary.
A whole month's worth of war.
We all know that one! During the 13th-16th centuries, salt was of major importance in West Africa. So important, it was actually traded ounce-for-ounce for gold. That’s right, the Saharan salt trade caravans are still cameling around Africa, but they don’t trade it for gold anymore, probly just children…
One child for every block of salt.
Ghandi even marched to the sea at one point, he wanted to make salt tax free from the British Empire. Oh that Ghandi.
All he is eating, is salt.
Today China is the leader in salt production of the world. That and cheap toys painted with lead… They produced over 59 million metric tons of salt in 2007... Million metric tons. That is a whole shitload of salt. There are many different ways to produce salt. Ranging from mining salt using blasting and pulling it out of the ground, to chemically treating brine, a liquid comprised of water and salt. Evaporating sea water is an up and coming way to produce it, although the energy required could top over 10 million dollars per facility… One way to combat that, would be using molten salt to produce energy… That’s right, they can actually use salt to make energy. And it won’t run out like oil. Suck on that you oil execs!
"You're trying to tell me, salt is more important than us?"
Salt can be pretty pricey. There is one type of salt, called Viking Salt, that sells for over 150 dollars… per pound.
"They did what for salt? Blew up a subway?!"
There are over 40 different types of salt, each with it’s own distinctive flavor, texture, and use. Some of it is even used in explosives. Imagine if we were still to consider salt in such a high regard? It is probably the most important mineral ever discovered, and the most abundant. It’s a reusable natural resource, that’s right, you can reuse it with certain applications. Next time you’re reaching for the salt, don’t forget how important it really is. There are over 14,000 uses for salt. Basically everything in your house has had salt involved with it at one point or another.