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How to Store Salt Long Term and Maximize Shelf Life
When it comes to planning for essential household items for a crisis, salt is one of the items that should be at the top of your list. Salt is versatile and can be used for much more than just cooking. Ancient cultures and people knew this. For this reason, it is important to learn how to store salt long-term so you can make use of this useful spice.
Fortunately for us, the shelf life of unrefined salt is indefinite so you can stock up on the product once and, if stored properly, make use of it well into the future. However, not all salts are the same, and it is important to be aware of the different varieties, their taste, and their benefits. Table salt, for example, is a refined salt and has a shelf life of 5 years. We will discuss the differences and some of the varieties below.
Our ideal food storage location will be filled with items that contain everything necessary to keep our diet healthy. Salts are essential for survival and can enhance most meals. Take a moment to imagine what your diet would look like without salt?
Why you should Store Salt Long Term?
Salt is needed for more than just making food more flavorful. In many ways, it’s an important part of a healthy diet and a properly functioning body. Our bodies need salt to operate well, as an abnormally low amount of salt in your body can actually lead to Hyponatremia.
Salt is also a key tool for food preservation if you want to preserve meats and other foods. In the ancient world, before people had refrigerators and freezers, salt was just as valuable as gold because of its ability to preserve meat, fish, and other foods and its difficulty in extracting. If your refrigerator or freezer stops working in a crisis, you can use salt to preserve the food for longer.
Probably the most important reason to store salt is that it’s a cornerstone ingredient for so many recipes. Without a bit of salt, most foods will be dull and hard to eat. To ensure you can continue to cook meals in a crisis, having an extra supply of salt will guarantee you won’t have to change your recipes.
Between helping our bodies function, preserving our food in a crisis, and enhancing our meals, we will need to store salt long-term for one reason or another. Now that we know why it’s important, let’s go into how to store salt long-term.
How to Store Salt Long-Term?
Storing salt is relatively easy. Still, to ensure it retains its quality, there are some good practices to be mindful of when storing salt. Know that:
- Salt should be stored at room temperature
- You should keep salt away from items with intense odors
- You should keep the salt away from heat because heat breaks down the ionic element
- You should always cover the lid or seal the package to prevent exposure to pests
Follow the three simple steps below to store your salt properly.
1) Select Your Salt
You can store different types of salt, but they should be kept separately in different containers to protect the flavors and odors of the salt. Pure salt with an indefinite shelf life is ideal for long-term storage purposes. So, refined salts, like table salt, should be avoided unless you expect to use the salt in less than 5 years.
We recommend storing Himalayan pink salt or sea salt because they can have an indefinite shelf life and has a higher concentration of minerals not found in other types of salts.
Non-iodized sea salt is cheap, readily available, and can last long. However, you may have to consider storing iodine supplements to replace the quantity that is needed in our diet, which you cannot get from pure sea salt.
2) Select the Right Containers
When it comes to storage of any kind, choosing the right containers is important. Salts are typically packaged in cardboard boxes or plastic bags, but the original packaging is not always suitable for long-term storage. Cardboard boxes absorb moisture, and plastic bags provide little protection against bugs and mice. Also, we do not want the chemicals from the plastic leaching into the salt.
For maximum protection over the long run, salts should be stored in airtight containers. Some ideas for secure packaging are:
Ideally, you should store salt in a food grade 5 gallon bucket as they can be sealed securely, block moisture, and keep lights out. They also provide rugged protective shells against rodents attacks. Another benefit is you can store salt in bulk, and it can hold over 60 pounds of salt. When it comes to handling, they are great. You can even stack them on top of each other.
You also get similar benefits when you store salt in mason jars. However, you must be extremely cautious when handling mason jars as they are made of glass which can break. Also, you should not stack them on top of each other when you put them away.
Note: Because salt is corrosive and absorbs moisture, it can cause metal containers to rust, contaminating the salt. For that reason, do NOT use metal containers to store salt.
Note: You do NOT need to store the salt with oxygen absorbers as it can harden the salt over time.
3) Store Salt Under the Right Conditions
When considering storage locations in your home, you should aim to store salt in a cool and dry place, away from sunlight, and at a consistent temperature. A basement is one such place you can store salt in your home. A shelf on a pantry is another place to store salt for mason jars.
How much salt should I Store in my Food Storage?
Since it’s better to go above than below, we’d recommend that you store 8-10 pounds of salt per person in a year. Because salt is used for other purposes aside from cooking, store these amounts across the different types of salts. The types of salts discussed below should cover your medicinal, preservatives, and flavoring needs. You may also be using salt to prevent snow from turning into ice or cleaning around your house. There are many uses for salt in the home other than cooking.
How Long will Salt Last in Long-Term Storage?
Salt is pure with zero additives. NaCl, or Sodium Chloride, is a stable chemical that will never lose any flavor or potency with its use of it. Salts serve the purposes of natural preservatives and, if stored correctly in a cool, dry place, can ensure an elongated life expectancy. Pure salts, like Sea Salt, Pink Himalaya Salt & Pickling Salt, can last nearly forever if properly stored. Some salts, including iodized salts, have a limited shelf life because of additives. Salt is hydro-physical, meaning they are drawn from a source and stored. Salt can become clumpy in storage due to steam and can absorb odor that may impact the taste.
Different Varieties of Salt for Long-Term Storage
There are different types of salts to consider for storage, with each serving a different purpose. However, if you are considering storing salt long-term, choosing the salt with the longest shelf life may be your top consideration. Fortunately, most salts, when properly stored, can remain usable indefinitely. Allowing you to store it and forget about it until it is needed. There are over 50 types of salt that are edible. With the exception of refined salts, unrefined salts have an indefinite shelf life.
Let’s analyze some of the best storage candidates one by one.
Refined salts, such as table salt and iodized salt, are the most common types of salt. They are similar in taste, texture, and appearance, but table salts contain sodium chloride and some anti-caking agents, while iodized salt has iodine in addition to the anti-caking agent. The shelf life of iodized salt and table salt is around 5 years. Once the salt has gone bad, it will turn yellow.
Iodine is an important nutrient that might be difficult to get on an emergency diet. Purchasing salt with iodine is a simple way to get the required essential nutrient into our bodies during an emergency. However, since iodized salt is not a pure salt, it has an expiration date.
Sea salt is extracted from evaporating seawater. Also, it can be received from the underground salt deposit left by an ancient sea. Depending on the composition of seawater, the resultant salt will contain various mineral elements. Because of these minerals present, many consider sea salt to be healthier than table salt. Still, it should be mentioned not all sea salts are the same. Given the pollution in the oceans, finding sea salt without traces of toxins, pollutants, and heavy metals may be difficult.
When it comes to long-term storage, the shelf life of sea salt is indefinite. However, many sea salt brands do add iodine to their products, making the product expire after a certain amount of time. Fortunately, the shelf life can be as far as 10+ years for some brands. For storage purposes, pure sea salt is better because it can last indefinitely.
Himalayan Pink Salt
Normally, the shelf life of Himalayan pink salt is indefinite, which would make it a good option for long-term storage. Himalayan pink salt comes from the Himalayan mountains in Pakistan and is said to be the purest salt in the world because it hasn’t had the same exposure to pollutants and toxins.
Furthermore, Himalayan pink salt is considered to be a healthy food ingredient because it contains a small number of natural minerals such as Potassium, Iron, Magnesium, and Calcium. These additional minerals account for 16% of the makeup of the pink salt, compared to the 3% found in regular table salt. The remaining 84% of the pink salt is Sodium Chloride.
Kosher salt is a thick, flaky, and coarse salt originally used for Jewish religious practices. The salt was used to remove the blood from the surface of meats, allowing it to become kosher.
Kosher salt is typically extracted from salt mines or evaporated sea water, much like table salt. However, unlike table salt, kosher salt is not iodized and typically does not have anti-caking agents. Occasionally, manufacturers will add anti-caking elements to the salt, preventing lumps from forming in the package.
Hawaiian Red Salt
Red alaea salt, but popularly known as Hawaiian red salt, gets its distinct brick red color from absorbing the high iron oxide from volcanic rocks. The volcanic rock is filled with over 80 minerals that are absorbed into the salt.
This salt is a cornerstone of traditional Hawaiian dishes and was regularly used by native Hawaiians to purify and cleanse food products. Furthermore, Hawaiian red salt has major cultural significance to native Hawaiians as well. It was regularly used in prayer ceremonies and to bless weapons, canoes, and people. This salt has a distinct sweet taste to it that enhances savory meals.
This salt, although flavorful and useful for culinary purposes, is expensive. The high price point makes it a poor candidate for long-term storage. However, you can store a much smaller quantity in mason jars and use it for special occasions.
Celtic Sea salt originates from France, off the coast of Brittany in the Celtic Sea. One of the unique characteristics of Celtic Salt is that it is naturally wet and has a grayish appearance. Due to the moistness of the salt, it’s not recommended to put the salt in a grinder or a shaker.
Celtic Salt has many of the same nutritional benefits as Himalayan pink salt. Compared to other salts, it s has a high concentration of Potassium, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium, making it a good source of minerals.
Hawaiian Black Salt
Hawaiian black salt, or simply pa’akai in native Hawaiian, is made from the blending of activated charcoal and sea salt extracted in proximity to volcanoes. This salt has a distinguishing earthy, smoky flavor to it because of the naturally occurring charcoal elements in the salt. Hawaiian black salt is commonly used to enhance the flavors of fruit, vegetables, barbecue, and seafood.
The activated charcoal in the salt gives it unique properties of removing toxins, fighting premature aging, and treating fluctuation and bloating.
Although there are numerous benefits to this salt, it is not a salt typically used for everyday purposes. In addition, it is more expensive than other salts, so if you were to use this salt, it’s best to store it in a mason jar.
Pickling salt is similar to table salt, with the exception that it does not contain anti-caking agents or iodine. Pickling salt is often used to preserve food in mason jars. In many recipes for canning food, people would use kosher salt and pickling salt as substitutes for one another. If this salt does not contain additives, it can be stored indefinitely.
Himalayan Black Salt
Himalayan Black salt, known in South Asia as Kala Namak, is salt sourced from Northern India, Pakistan, and Nepal. It is known for its distinct color that turns purple when grounded to powder. Its color is a characteristic of the high iron and sulfur content of the salt.
To the people of the region, it is an important type of salt for its spiritual, medicinal, and culinary significance. In traditional South Asian medicine, black salt was seen as a laxative and digestive aid. It was also used to treat heartburn and flatulence.
Best Type of Salt for Long-Term Storage
If you are looking to store salt that can be used consistently, reliably, and is easy to store, it’s best to go with sea salt, kosher salt, Celtic salt, or pickling salt. It is best to avoid refined salt since its shelf life is 5 years compared to the indefinite shelf life of pure salts.
Hawaiian Red and Black Salts and Himalayan Pink and Black salts are nice to have to enhance your culinary dishes in the kitchen. However, they are more expensive to buy in bulk, and they are not meant for everyday usage. If you would like to store these salts, we suggest storing them in a mason jar in smaller quantities.
Uses of Salt
Salt was a prized spice for cultures in the ancient world because of its versatility and usefulness. Whether you want to store salt for enhancing meals, medicine, or food preservation for when the power goes out, there are numerous ways to use salt. Some uses for salt are in:
- Medicine: To ancient cultures, the medicinal benefits of salt were well known. Salt can alleviate bug bites, help close wounds, reduce swelling, treat a sore throat, and so much more.
- Melting Ice: Ice around your home is a legitimate concern during the winter months. Fortunately, salt can be used to prevent the snow on your property from turning to ice. If you are short on road salt, you can use table salt. The main difference is that edible salts have fewer impurities making them safe to consume.
- Killing Weeds: A 3:1 mixture of water to salt can kill pesky weeds in your vegetable garden. Just use the mixture on the target plants daily until it starts to wither away.
- Cleaning: Salt can be used as a non-toxic cleaning ingredient, and when combined with vinegar or detergent, it can boost the cleaning properties. Some creative ideas are to clean greasy pans, brass and copper, stain glasses, and remove blood stains.
- Food Preservation: Salt has been used for thousands of years for food preservation. Since it dehydrates food products and kills bacteria in the process, it makes preserving fish and meat products much more effective.
As long as the unrefined salt is kept in an airtight container, away from moisture and direct sunlight, it can last indefinitely in your food storage location.
Will Salt Lose its Flavor in Storage?
Unlike most foods, unrefined, or pure salt can retain its flavor over time. Pure salt consists of sodium chloride that does not deteriorate when properly stored. However, refined salts, such as table salt, contain iodine, anti-caking agents, herbs, and other flavorings elements that will lose their taste as the food product degrades over time.
What happens when we don’t eat enough salt?
Salt is an essential part of the human diet, and when we do not get enough of it, we can get Hyponatremia. Hyponatremia occurs when the concentration of salt in our blood is abnormally low. Some symptoms of Hyponatremia are:
- Muscle weakness, spasms, or cramps
- Loss of energy, drowsiness, and fatigue
- Restlessness and irritability
How to Store Salt in a Humid Climate?
Humid climates have an abundance of moisture in the air, and as we discussed previously, moisture will interfere with your long-term storage goals. Fortunately, mixing a small number of certain food items with your salt, will absorb any moisture in a container and protect your salt storage. Some dry goods that are effective in absorbing moisture are:
- Dry long grain rice
- Dry kidney Beans
- Coffee Beans
Note: the salt may absorb the odor and taste of the coffee beans, Parsley, and Cloves. Rice and kidney beans do not give off odors that are absorbed by the salt.
Just remember that when storing salt long-term in a humid climate, it is important to store salt in an airtight container such as a mason jar or a food grade 5 gallon bucket. This will keep the moisture out of the container, ensuring your salt is properly stored and protected.
Now you know how to store salt for long term storage and which are the best varieties of salt for preppers. What is most important is that unrefined salt has an indefinite shelf life. So by taking the right steps today to store salt, you will be prepared for a future crisis.
Salt is cheap, plentiful, and very easy to store. If you choose the right type, the right container, and the right location, there’s no reason why you and your family should lack salt if the need ever arises.
Related Article: 11 Supplies You Need for DIY Food Storage
Related Article: 6 Best Grains for Long Term Storage
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If you are looking to buy cookware, you probably came down to ceramic cookware vs stainless steel cookware. Learn to see which is better for you.