Nowadays, rock salt is one of the cheapest products we can find in the market, although, a long time ago, things weren’t like this.
A long time ago salt was a highly valuated good, even used as an exchange currency, and had many applications in common people’s life.
Rock salt had an important role on religious ceremonies in many cultures, as a representation of what is pure. For example, in the Bible, we may find more than 20 references about rock salt.
Another easy reference for exemplifying the attributes of rock salt would be mummification in ancient Egypt, which required big quantities of salt for the conservation of the bodies that, to this day, we can still appreciate in Cairo’s museum.
Commonly, salt was already being used before 2.700 A.D. The earliest manuscript on rock salt was located in China, and is 4,710 years old. It’s a writing that talks about more than 40 different types of salt. Even the Great Wall of China benefitted from rock salt sales during construction.
Greece was one of a handful of countries that made some trade exchanges using salt as a currency. Their trade consisted in the exchange of salt for slaves. The idiom “not worth a pinch of salt”, originated with this interaction.
In Rome it was also used as a part of the salary paid to soldiers. Rock salt was a really expensive good and was also used to differentiate between rich and poor people. During medieval times and the Renaissance, salt was positioned on the table close to the richest people in the society. Only rich people were considered honorable enough to consume this good.
In France, monarchs implemented a monopoly on salt production, and lack of salt was one of the main causes for the French revolution.
Many years later in history, what was once considered a currency by old cultures, as well as one of the main causes for the end of European monarchies, rock salt, is today readily available for everyone at the table.
On the next article, which deals with rock salt uses we will see how rock salt is applied in many different fields.