The Simple Test To Tell How Your Colored Salt Was Made

Salt can give even a seasoned chef pause when it comes to its hue. How did that perfect pastel Himalayan pink salt or that brilliant red Alaea salt get its beautiful color? These sodium situations require a little ingenuity and, thanks to a Cooks Illustrated Instagram post, there is an easy trick you can use to figure out an answer to this question.

Simply take a teaspoon of your colorful salt and dissolve it in a cup of water. One of two things is going to happen: Either the salt is going to dissolve and leave behind a faint shade of its color (meaning it is made of soluble minerals) or there is going to be a separation where the salt dissolves but leaves behind sediment at the bottom of the water. An example of the latter is lava salt. Lava salt is an essential in Hawaiian cooking that gets its rich ebony color from a coat of activated charcoal. When you try to dissolve this seasoning that is often used to finish a dish or rim the glass of a cocktail, the activated charcoal sinks to the bottom of the water, indicating that the hue is not natural.

Soluble salt is best

At the opposite end of the fancy salt spectrum are those that are soluble and dissolve completely in water without leaving any residue. Try the same experiment with the popular pink Himalayan salt, and it will dissolve and leave behind only a faint blush-tinted water. Himalayan salt has over 80 trace soluble minerals that help to create that light shade of rosy pink. These minerals also influence the taste of this sodium. Celtic salt is another version of this seasoning that has a gray appearance that comes from soluble minerals and will dissolve completely, leaving only a gray hue behind in the water.

Why should you care about how the color of your salt is made? Most fancy salts are meant to be used when finishing a dish. If you add them like you would table salt and they are not comprised of soluble minerals, you may want to prepare your family for some unintentionally colorful dishes. For example, if you use lava salt in your mashed potatoes, they could turn gray.