All About Salt

All About Salt

By Catherine Lamb

This article is brought to you by our friends at Electrolux as part of an ongoing series focusing on seasonal ingredients. This month we're talking salt.

Today: A primer on one of our favorite chemical compounds: good old NaCl.

As ubiquitous as salt is in our kitchens and diets, when you start examining it closely, things can start to get a little unclear. What exactly is kosher salt? And when should you use it? Is that familiar container of Morton's ever okay to use, or should you chuck it in favor of something fancier? Is sea salt really worth the hefty price tag?

First, let's step back a bit. All the way to high school chemistry. Salt is made of two elements: sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl). Together, they become sodium chloride -- the salt you know and love. We need sodium to survive, so our bodies are hard-wired to crave salt. NaCl also works as the ultimate team player, enhancing all of the other flavors in every dish. Suffice it to say, a life without salt would be a difficult life, indeed -- and most certainly a blander one.

Though we know we love salt, we're not always clear about when we should be using each type. As J. Kenji López-Alt of The Food Lab writes, "chemically there is virtually no difference between table salt, kosher salt, and fancy sea salt." So why should you use different salts for different purposes, and why do they carry such varied price tags? Let's break it down: Here are the three most common types of salt, and when to use them.

Check out the slideshow above to discover the three most common types of salt and when to use them.

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This article originally appeared on All About Salt.