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What's the Difference Between Sea Salt and Table Salt

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 01, 2021

People assume that sea salt is healthier than table salt, but they actually share the same basic nutritional value.

The key differences between sea salt and table salt are the source of the salt and the methods of extraction and processing.

Eating too much of either can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.

How Are Sea Salt and Table Salt Made?

As the name suggests, sea salt is made by evaporating seawater. The salt left over from evaporation is not processed, or processed very little, so it retains traces of minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. The crystals are bigger than in table salt and add some crunch when sprinkled on food.

In contrast, table salt is mined from salt deposits. Table salt is processed to make it both purer and finer, thereby removing any natural minerals it may contain. Table salt is then fortified with additives to prevent it from clumping together. One important additive in table salt is the mineral iodine, which helps make thyroid hormones and thus contributes to thyroid health.

What Is the Nutritional Value of Table Salt and Sea Salt?

Sodium is a mineral your body needs to maintain the normal function of its muscles and nerves and to balance body fluids. Sodium is found in many foods, including salt, which is made up of sodium chloride. 

Both table salt and sea salt contain around 40% sodium by weight. Some kinds of sea salt have bigger crystals than table salt, so there's usually less sodium in a spoon of sea salt compared to a spoon of table salt due to their different-sized crystals. For example, a teaspoon of table salt contains around 2,360 mg of sodium compared to 2,000 mg in a teaspoon of sea salt.

Although 1,500 mg of sodium per day is enough for adults, most people have much more than this amount: The average American consumes more than 3,400 mg of sodium each day. A diet high in sodium can raise your blood pressure, leading to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

What Are the Health Benefits of Table Salt and Sea Salt?

Table salt is fortified with iodine, an element needed to make thyroid hormone. Your body can’t make iodine by itself, so it has to come from your diet. If you don’t get enough iodine, your body won’t make enough thyroid hormone and your thyroid can become enlarged as a result, leading to a condition called goiter. Table salt, therefore, helps prevent goiter.

Sea salt benefits include helping calm skin irritation and flare-ups in people with eczema when used as part of a warm bath. Sea salts with high levels of magnesium can also help increase hydration and reduce the roughness of skin in people with dry skin. 

Show Sources

SOURCES:

American Heart Association: "Sea Salt vs. Table Salt" 

American Thyroid Association: “Iodine Deficiency.”

EatRight: "Is Sodium the Same Thing as Salt?" 

FoodData Central: "salt, table, iodized," "Sea salt."

Food & Nutrition Research: "Natural sea salt consumption confers protection against hypertension and kidney damage in Dahl salt-sensitive rats."

International Journal of Dermatology: "Bathing in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution improves skin barrier function, enhances skin hydration, and reduces inflammation in atopic dry skin." 

Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: "Efficacy of bolus lukewarm saline and yoga postures as colonoscopy preparation: a pilot study." 

Mayo Clinic: "What's the difference between sea salt and table salt?" 

National Eczema Association: "Eczema and Bathing." 

NHS: "Salt: the facts." 

Walk George: "Sea Salt vs Table Salt."

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