Salt is the new black. But then black salt might refer to sea salt that is mixed with activated charcoal or to Kala Namak, the deep purple salt from India with an odor telling of its sulfur content. Whether it’s pink salt from the Himalayas or matcha green tea salt, recently I’ve seen a number of recipes that call for a specific salt pedigree.
Despite it’s routine presence at my dinner table, salt actually has a more vibrant history than most cuisine elements. It’s been the best-known food preservative for meat, for thousands of years. Ancient salt mining operations have been discovered from Romania to China and salt was often an offering in ancient Egyptian tombs. It is the source of the name for Salzburg, Austria meaning literally the “salt city” and for everyday English words such as salary (money paid to a Roman soldier for salt) and salad (from the ancient practice of salting leafy greens).
My two middle school sons are quick to remind me that salt elevated the Indian Independence movement from an elitist battle to a national struggle when Mahatma Gandhi led at least 100,000 people on the “Dandi March”. The protesters made their own salt from the sea which was illegal under British rule, as it avoided paying the “salt tax“.
As a child, I remember my grandmother having me gargle with warm salt water when I had a sore throat although admittedly, it was never enjoyable. As an adult, I’ve learned the virtues of the netti pot and have dissolved salt in warm water to run through my nostrils during a sinus infection. I suppose it’s because of these uses that I wasn’t entirely skeptical when my tour guide, Romulo suggested that I dissolve a pound of salt in water and bathe in it as a cleansing before visiting Machu Picchu. This idea is not uniquely Peruvian as salt has been used in spiritual practices around the globe for centuries.
Salt’s first known appearance in literature is in the old testament book of Job (Job 6:6) where Job asks, “Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the slime of the purslane?” In one of the narrations of the prophet Mohammed, we are told that together with fire, water and iron, salt was a gift handed down from the heavens. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all invoked their gods with offerings of salt and water.
Peruvian pink salt comes from Maras, a natural spring located higher than 12,000 feet in the mountains of Perú. Warm spring water seeps into terraced salt ponds where it has been hand-harvested for over 2,000 years. The crystals have a high moisture content and a light pink color.
- 1/8 cup of Ginger (either fresh grated or powder from the supermarket)
- 1 cup of Epsom Salt
- A Vegetable brush (optional)
- Hot bath water
- 30 minutes
Before you jump into your hot salt and ginger bath, brush your skin with a vegetable brush (purchased at any health food store). Brush all parts of the body toward the heart.
Stir one cup of Epsom salts and the 1/8 cup of ginger together first then add to running warm water in bath. Get in the bath and increase the water temperature to as hot as you can bear it. Do not remain in the tub for more than 30 minutes. After about 15 minutes you will likely be sweating. This may get quite uncomfortable so have a glass of drinking water handy.
After 30 minutes, get out of the tub, dry yourself off vigorously with a clean towel. Wrap up in a large towel or sheet and crawl into your bed and. You will then usually sweat for approximately an hour and feel really “hot”, but you will likely fall asleep. If you happen to wake up later on and feel the need, you can place a dry towel under you or put on a robe so that your cover sheet isn’t damp.
It’s important not to apply routine post-bath lotions and creams before you go to bed. This includes the face and scalp areas as well. It’s also recommended to remove nail polish from both fingers and toes while detoxing as your nail beds absorb toxins from the paint.