You might have heard about Himalayan Salt and its supposed health benefits, but do you know where it comes from? The Himalayan Mountains? Actually, no!
A block of Himalayan Salt is considered a healthy alternative to table salt in our food, but it’s not the only fascinating thing about it. In fact, these pink salty crystals in your kitchen actually come from the other side of the world and are about millions of years old!
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Here’s everything you need to know about Himalayan Salt and its origin:
How was it discovered?
Pink Himalayan Salt is a rock salt (halite) mined from the famous Khewra Salt Mine – the world’s second largest salt reserve located in Punjab region of Pakistan. The local historian traces its discovery back to 320 BC, when the army of Alexander the Great marched through the territory.
But you know what? It was neither his troops nor his allies who discovered the rare salt mine of Pink salt Himalayan; actually, it was the soldiers’ horses who discovered the Himalayan Salt when they stopped and started licking the crystal rocks placed near the mountains.
However, the salt was there long before the troops of Alexander the Great came across it. Himalayan Salt is actually 600 million years old, formed when the ancient salt crystals from the seabed immersed into the lava eruption. These crystalline rocks were buried underneath ice, snow, and mountains for millions of years, protected from the impurities of outside pollution. Centuries later, when minors first dug through the tunnels, they found a pure pink-colored salt, enriched with minerals.
What does it take to mine 600 million years old Pink Salt from the Khewra Salt mine?
The extraction of the Himalayan salt from Khewra mine began in the 13th century, but the trading was still done on a small scale at that time. Proper mining started in 1872 when Dr. H. Warth, a British engineer, dug out the main tunnel.
He strengthened the existing tunnels and also introduced modern methods of mining. These changes to the Khewra mine ramped up the salt production, which forced the authorities to enforce separate rules to prevent illegal salt smuggling.
There are about 600 million tons of Himalayan Salt present at the Khewra salt mine, and only half of the mine has been extracted till date. During the British colonization in the South Asian regions, salt mining boosted to over 187,000 tons annually and— with the help of modern mining equipment and tunneling methods — that figure has now increased to around 385,000 tons of production each year.
Well, don’t worry, the Himalayan Salt will not be running out anytime soon, as it is estimated that Khewra mine will continue to produce pink salt for the next three centuries.
Himalayan Salt Benefits - What are the health benefits of Pink Himalayan Salt?
Himalayan Salt is known for providing numerous health benefits, and is believed to be healthier than refined salt. It contains around 84 different minerals including sodium chloride, calcium, iron and potassium.
However, the additional minerals exist in the pink salt in a very less percentage. According to a scientific research, it takes around 3.7 (1.7 kg) of Himalayan Salt consumption to achieve the recommended daily dose of potassium. And it goes without saying that it’s extremely unrealistic for a person to consume such an amount of salt in their daily diet.
Despite having a negligible quantity of healthy minerals, some people still claim that the pink salt can provide numerous health benefits such as regulating blood pressure, reducing signs of aging, regulating blood sugar, and curing respiratory diseases. But the truth is: there are no scientific research and studies that can support these claims.
Cultural impact of Himalayan Rock Salt
Why is Himalayan Salt Pink?
Himalayan Pink Salt rose to popularity in the 2000s because of its unique color and supposed health benefits. Today, the salt is not only used as a food additive but also to make beautiful decoration pieces such as sculptures, lamps, and statues.
The rising popularity of Himalayan Salt has given Khewra Salt Mine a significant place in the country’s culture, as it has become an incredibly famous tourist destination in Pakistan.
Khewra salt mine is the second biggest Khewra salt reserve— after Goderich salt mine in Toronto— attracting thousands of visitors from around the world every year and increasing awareness regarding benefit of Himalayan salt.
The visitors can travel into the tunnels through Khewra Salt Railway, where they get to see several illuminating pools of salty water, an ancient mosque built with multi-colored bricks about fifty years ago, other artistic carvings including a statue of Minar-e-Pakistan (a popular monument of the country located in the city of Lahore), a statue of Allama Iqbal (Pakistan’s national poet), a monumental model of the great wall of China, and other significant places of the country.
An enchanting pool with Christmas trees is also among the underground attractions at the salt mine.
This historic tourist destination promises to offer a unique sightseeing experience: visitors can travel deep into the tunnels to see the illuminating caves and enjoy a number of underground attractions such as statues made from salt, salt-built sculptures, the massive Assembly Hall inside the cave, and the Sheesh Mehal which sparkles with crystals of pink salt.
So, whenever you go to your local store to purchase Himalayan Salt, take a moment to realize the incredible journey these unique crystals have embarked on to reach you from the other side of the world— only to give a unique taste to your food. Isn’t it wonderful?
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