We were asked what to make of the many claims circulating about Himalayan pink salt, whether there is any truth to the ideas that this salt will help respiratory illnesses, increase bodily hydration or strengthen bones. There are a lot of claims about Himalayan salt, but let’s start with its origin. Himalayan salt is mined primarily at the Khewra Salt Mine in Punjab, Pakistan, and is a result of ancient seas being covered by lava. All the water evaporated, the fish died, but the salt remained, covered by rock. Technically Himalayan salt is a sea salt, even though it’s mined like rock salt, as it is the result of ocean deposits.
The main claims about Himalayan salt speak to the various ways it is good for you due to its superior mineral content, when compared to sea or table salt. While it’s true that table salt is often baked and treated such that all minerals are removed, save sodium chloride, most sea salt is left untreated and also contains minerals. Pink salt enthusiasts claim that Himalayan salt had a lower sodium chloride composition than sea salt, meaning it has higher amounts of other minerals like sulphate, magnesium, calcium, potassium, bicarbonate, bromide, borate, strontium, and fluoride. The actual percentages in Himalayan salt depend on what article you read. This article claims 85.62% sodium chloride and 14.38% other trace minerals, where as this article claims 87% sodium chloride and 13% other trade minerals. In truth, the number is closer to to the high end, with sodium chloride content being 95-97%, leaving 3-5% composition for other minerals. It’s true that minerals are found in higher abundance in Himalayan salt, but when you factor in how little salt you tend to eat in a day (at least salt you directly add to your cooking or meals) the difference is unnoticeable. In the quantities consumed, minute differences in composition between sea, table and Himalayan salt just don’t matter.
Now to address the many other claims beyond increased mineral consumption. In truth, many of the claims have merit, but almost all of them are the same no matter the kind of salt consumed, and certainly all of them have been exaggerated. Articles claim that Himalayan salt will ‘create an electrolyte balance’, which is true, but so will sea salt, or even Gatorade. As for the claims that Himalayan salt will lower your blood pressure, that is quite the opposite of reality.
Outside of consuming Himalayan salt, there is some belief that inhaling diffused salt, or bathing in salt baths can be beneficial. There is limited evidence that salt inhalation may help certain conditions, largely due to the intrinsic drying properties of salts. For those suffering from conditions in which bronchial secretions are increased, like pleural effusion or COPD can benefit from salt drying these secretions. For those without chronic lung problems however, halotherapies are non effective, and can even aggravate asthma.
In the end, there’s no more health benefit to Himalayan salt than there is to any salt, and in general salt poses much more of a risk than a reward to our health. By all means however, continue to use pink Himalayan salt, it's no worse than sea salt, and much prettier!