Picture of different salts

The Difference Between Kosher Salt, Sea Salt, & Table Salt?

Secret ingredients. We all love them and we all want to be in the know. So I’ll let you in on a secret ingredient that professional chefs use all the time. Salt!  No, not just any salt. They know which salt to use to bring out the best in whatever dish they are creating.

There are all kinds of choices when it comes to salt but let’s take a look at the basics- Kosher, sea, or table salt.

Table Salt

Heavily processed to eliminate trace elements, table salt is mined from underground salt deposits and is bleached, heated and contains an additive, calcium silicate, to prevent clumping. Imparting a “sharper” flavor than kosher or sea salt, its fine crystals are considered *saltier than kosher salt.

Iodized table salt means that iodine has been added. When buying table salt I always recommend iodized (Read on to find out why.)

Kosher Salt

Kosher salt can be made by compacting smaller granular flakes into larger irregular platelet shaped flakes or grown this way via the evaporation process. Minimally refined and sourced from either underground deposits or evaporated seawater, kosher salt tastes “less salty” than table or sea salt.

Kosher salt originally got its name from the Jewish practice of koshering meats. When applied to butchered meat, its larger flakes allow the salt to easily draw blood without over-salting the meat.

These larger flakes also hold moisture in. That’s why it’s the perfect salt for meat. It keeps pork chops tender, steaks juicy, and chicken breast moist. See for yourself. Salt one chicken breast with table salt and another with kosher salt. The one with kosher salt will retain its moisture much better than the chicken breast salted with table salt.

Sea Salt

Sea salt is harvested directly from evaporated seawater or underground resources. If any processing occurs it is usually minimal. Sea salts from around the world are coveted for their unique flavors, colors, and trace minerals. Sea salt can be costly, so keep in mind that its flavor is lost in the cooking process and is best used after cooking, or in applications that do not require cooking.

Whether pink, gray, black or white, sea salts will contain different minerals and impart various flavors, depending on the environment from which they were harvested. Enjoy trying different kinds of sea salt over steamed veggies, on sliced tomatoes and salads, and around the rim of your favorite cocktail.

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced, natural alternative to table salt, I highly recommend Redmond Sea Salt for everyday use. (See next paragraph for further explanation.)

The Importance of Iodine

We can’t talk about salt without including iodine. Iodine is essential for normal thyroid function. In fact iodine deficiency is considered “the most common cause of preventable brain damage in the world.” Thus it is important to buy iodized table salt.

If you prefer to use all natural sea salt, then Redmond Sea Salt is an excellent choice. It is harvested in Redmond, Utah and is not processed or altered in any way. It contains trace minerals, including iodine (not as much as iodized table salt, however, Redmond Sea Salt claims it is more readily absorbed than the iodine we find in table salt) and can be found at many grocery stores.

Non-Iodized Salt

Table salt that does not have iodine is good for neti-pots and gargles. I keep a container in my medicine cabinet for these occasions.

Whether it’s on the rim of the glass of your favorite margarita, the finishing touch on your famous green beans or a sprinkle on top of those homemade caramels, salt can be the finishing touch that makes friends and family want to know your secret ingredient.

Special Cooking Notes

If a recipe specifically calls for “table salt” or “kosher salt” it is best to use what is called for, as a teaspoon of table salt is the equivalent of a tablespoon of kosher salt.

As a general rule, I always use Kosher salt on un-cooked meat. There is no easier way to turn out a tender and juicy piece of meat than generously salting with Kosher salt before cooking.

*By weight, sea salt, kosher salt and table salt contain the same amount of sodium. That being said, when salt is called for in a recipe, it is generally not measured by weight, but volume. 

Resources: Oregon State University | Mayo Clinic | Food.com | Saltworks | WiseGeek.com | Wikipedia

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  • Tim

    Not completely accurate with the claim “kosher salt contains less sodium per ounce than table or sea salt”. With the exception of the slight (very slight) variations in the amount and type of impurity in a particular salt (anything other than Na or Cl), all should have the same amount of sodium per unit weight.
    If the kosher salt has a finer grind than the table salt, it will have actually more sodium per unit volume (because the finer grind allow more salt crystals to fit into a given volume). If the kosher salt has a coarser grind than the table salt, you won’t be able to put as much salt into a given volume, thus, less sodium.
    Practically speaking, if you use 1 tbsp of a coarse Kosher salt instead of 1 tbsp of a finer salt, your food will have less sodium, but only because you essentially used less salt.

    • http://www.healthnutnation.com Alison

      A good point and a good explanation. Thank you

    • pauldavey18

      Irrespective of grain size if a gramme of coarse salt has x amount of sodium, you are suggesting that by grinding these coarse grains into smaller grains the sodium content increases? That is physically impossible!

      • http://www.healthnutnation.com Alison

        I think there’s some confusion because Tim is talking about weight and in my article I site Linda Carucci’s explanation, which is dealing with volume. I am working on clarifying that in my article, but please keep in mind that I am talking about salt in the context of how to use it when cooking.

      • Tim

        I was making the point that the amount of Na per unit mass of NaCl does not change with grain size. The amount of Na per unit volume NaCl will change with grain size. If you cook using weight measurements, there should be no issue, however most of the recipes that I use have ingredients listed by volume (quarts, cups, tablespoons, teaspoons). I made the error of assuming Alison was referring to an ounce as a volume measurement, when she could have very well been referring to weight.

  • pauldavey18

    Alison, you should look into himalayan (pink) salt and definitely celtic sea salt – the latter of which is the best salt for nutrient density in the world. Check out clive de carle on youtube and at http://www.ancientpurity,com

    • http://www.healthnutnation.com Alison

      I use both himalayan and celtic sea salt. Redmond sea salt actually has some really great things to say about both (their competitor’s) and explains the difference.http://realsalt.com/sea-salt/comparing-real-salt-to-himalayan-celtic/
      Salt is like wine or chocolate, there are so many wonderful options out there, it becomes a very personal choice!

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  • christina

    kosher salt is better in the neti pot, it doesn’t burn.

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