Is Celtic Salt the Same as Sea salt?

Written by: Pard Bharaj



Time to read 9 min

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Author: Pard Bharaj

I am a dedicated researcher with nearly a decade of experience in investigating health best practices. 

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle, especially if you have existing health conditions.


Since the ancient times, salt has been treated like a precious commodity. Civilisations from the Egyptians to the Romans prized salt not only as a seasoning but as a symbol of purity and an essential commodity for trade. The ancient Chinese, Greeks, and Romans even used salt as a form of currency, demonstrating its significant role in early economies and daily life.

Today, good quality raw salt is becoming quite important and popular again. Among the various types of salt available, sea salt and Celtic sea salt are often highlighted for their unique characteristics and health benefits. While both are derived from seawater, they are not identical. 

In this health blog we will discuss "is Celtic salt the same as sea salt", examining their origins, processing methods, nutritional profiles, and uses, to provide a clear understanding of what sets them apart.

Interesting Historcial Facts About Salt:

  • Venetian Empire: Venice's wealth and power in the Middle Ages were partly due to its control over the salt trade. Venetian salt was a crucial trading commodity in the Mediterranean.

  • Salt in the Bible: Salt is frequently mentioned in the Bible, symbolising purification and loyalty. The phrase "salt of the earth" describes someone who is valuable and virtuous.

  • Ancient Greek Salt Trade: In Ancient Greece, salt was such a valuable commodity that it was used to purchase slaves. The expression "not worth his salt" originates from this practice, implying that a person was not worth the price paid for them in salt.

  • Salt in Folk Traditions: Various cultures have folk traditions involving salt, such as throwing a pinch of salt over one's shoulder to ward off bad luck or using salt to draw protective circles.

  • Currency: In ancient Rome, soldiers were often paid in salt, highlighting its importance and value. The word "salary" derives from the Latin word "salarium," which was a payment made to Roman soldiers to buy salt. This highlights the importance of salt as a commodity valuable enough to be used as a form of remuneration.

Is Celtic Salt the Same as Sea Salt? Key Differences

1. Harvesting Methods:

The harvesting methods for Celtic sea salt and regular sea salt can vary significantly. Regular commercial sea salt is often harvested through modern industrial processes. Seawater is channelled into large evaporation ponds, where the sun evaporates the water, leaving behind salt crystals. This process can be very efficient, producing large quantities of salt with uniform characteristics.

Celtic sea salt is hand-harvested using traditional methods that involve raking the salt from shallow pools in coastal marshes. This method allows the salt to retain a higher moisture and mineral content. Other Artisan salts, which are also handcrafted, using traditional methods that ensure minimal processing, can also retain their natural minerals. Some examples can include a variety of speciality salts including the following:

Is Celtic Sea Salt The Same As Sea Salt? Different Artisan Salt Examples

2. Mineral Content:

One of the most significant differences between Celtic sea salt and other types of sea salt lies in their mineral content. Celtic sea salt is said to contain over 80 trace minerals, this could be very true although it has to find any information confirming this, the only study I found examined 68 elements (please see references and further reading). It does however include magnesium, calcium, and potassium. The salt is believed to compromise typically around 87% to 93% sodium chloride. These minerals and the pure clay manufacture process contribute to its distinctive grey colour.

Regular sea salt, if simply evaporated and not further processed, should retain many of its natural minerals. However, in some cases, additional refining steps are taken to remove impurities and enhance the salt's appearance, which can reduce its mineral content. In contrast, regular commercial sea salt can have a higher sodium chloride content.

Other premium handcrafted sea salts, on the other hand, also maintain a higher mineral content, similar to Celtic sea salt.

3. Texture, Flavour, and Appearance:

The texture, flavour, and appearance of Celtic sea salt and other sea salts can also differ. Celtic sea salt has a moist, coarse texture that comes from the residual water content retained during its traditional harvesting process. This moisture contributes to its unique briny, flavour, which can enhance the taste of various dishes. The salt's grey hue is a result of the minerals and clay from the salt marshes where it is harvested.

Similarly, premium handcrafted salts can have unique textures and flavours, influenced by the specific methods and locations of their harvest. These salts may also exhibit variations in colour and texture, reflecting their mineral content and the natural environment in which they were produced.

Regular industrially processed sea salt, on the other hand, usually has a drier, more uniform texture due to its processing. It is typically white, lacking the distinctive coloration found in Celtic and other premium sea salts. The flavour of regular sea salt can typically has a sharper, cleaner taste compared to Celtic sea salt. This sharper taste comes from its relatively pure sodium chloride content,

Why is it Said That Celtic Sea Salt Has a Lower Sodium Chloride Ratio?

Celtic sea salt is said to have a lower sodium chloride content (87% to 93%) compared to regular sea salt. This difference is primarily due to the way Celtic sea salt is harvested and processed.

As mentioned earlier, Celtic sea salt is hand-harvested using traditional methods that involve raking the salt from shallow pools in coastal marshes. This method may allow the salt to retain a higher moisture content, which may dilute the sodium chloride concentration. Additionally, the presence of many other minerals in Celtic sea salt, including magnesium, calcium, and potassium, contributes to a lower percentage of sodium chloride overall.

Similarly, other premium handcrafted sea salts harvested using artisanal methods are often collected from the surface of salt ponds or by careful hand-raking, which minimises processing and helps retain natural minerals and moisture. This traditional approach preserves the delicate structure and mineral content, and may lead to a slightly lower concentration of sodium chloride.

Is Celtic Salt Better Than Sea salt?

Neither Celtic salt nor other sea salts are inherently "better" overall; it depends on what you're looking for in terms of flavor, texture, and mineral content. If you value a salt with higher moisture and a rich mineral profile, Celtic salt might be the preferred choice. Additionally, if you want something that has been hand-crafted with love, Celtic sea salt and other artisan salts may be the best option for you.

Both types of salt are healthier alternatives to highly refined table salt, but should still be used in moderation.

References and Further Reading:

1. Authentication of Culinary Salt: Challenges and Opportunities

The study concludes that elemental composition and strontium isotope ratios can authenticate the regional origins of culinary salts and detect food fraud; Celtic sea salts have sodium chloride content ranging from 87% to 93% with significant amounts of magnesium, potassium, and calcium, while other salts like Himalayan and Flor Blanca exhibit distinct elemental profiles. A total of 68 elements analysed, (like sodium and chloride as well as trace elements like magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, etc.), noting that composition can vary significantly even within salts from the same region.

Author: Gabriel Wong Degree: Master of Science in Forensic Science University: University of California, Davis Year: 2018

2. Salt as an ingredient in meat: Are all salts created equal? 

The study examines the various types of salt used in meat products, their roles in preservation, binding, and flavor enhancement, and compares high-purity sodium chloride with specialty salts like Himalayan Pink salt, Maldon salt, and Celtic sea salt. The study highlights the differences in mineral content among these salts and discusses the limited research on their functional properties in meat processing and their nutritional implications.

Sodium Content in Different Types of Salt

  • Table Salt : 391,000 ppm (39.1% Na)

  • Maldon Salt : 383,000 ppm (38.3% Na)

  • Himalayan Pink Salt : 368,000 ppm (36.8% Na)

  • Celtic Sea Salt : 338,000 ppm (33.8% Na)

Publication Details: "Salt as an Ingredient in Meat: Are All Salts Created Equal?" by Shiqi Huang and Benjamin M. Bohrer, published in June 2017, Department of Food Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario.

3. Microplastics Contamination in the Environment

Summary: The study reveals contamination of various sea salts with microplastics, highlighting potential health risks from daily consumption due to the accumulation of these harmful particles. Specifically, the Pacific sea salt showed the highest contamination (806 particles/kg), followed by Himalayan rock salt (367 particles/kg), Silician sea salt (220 particles/kg), Celtic sea salt (187 particles/kg), Atlantic sea salt (180 particles/kg), Baja sea salt (173 particles/kg), Mediterranean sea salt (133 particles/kg), Utah sea salt (113 particles/kg), North sea salt (66.6 particles/kg), and Hawaii sea salt (46.71 particles/kg).

Celtic sea salt's lower microplastic contamination may be due to its geographical location, production methods, ocean currents, and local environmental practices, although the study does not specify the exact reason.

Publication Details: "Microplastics Contamination in the Environment" by SS Rakesh, V Davamani, R Murugaragavan, PT Ramesh, and SR Shrirangasami, published in The Pharma Innovation Journal, 2021; 10(8): 1412-1417.

4. Studies on the Quality and Heavy Metals in Common Salt Production Using Sea Brine and Sub-Soil Brine in South Tamil Nadu, India

The study found that salt produced from sea brine has a higher sodium chloride content (up to 94.01%) compared to salt from sub-soil brine (as low as 85.9%), due to better climatic conditions and management practices.

5. Sea Salt vs. Table Salt: Nutritional Insights by the American Heart Association

Summary: Despite common perceptions, sea salt and table salt contain similar amounts of sodium, approximately 40%. While sea salt is less processed and retains trace minerals, these are also found in other foods. Both salts should be consumed in moderation, and neither offers significant health advantages over the other.

6. Understanding Artisan Salt by Mayi Salt

Summary: Artisan salts are high-quality salts crafted through specialised, labor-intensive methods to create unique flavors and textures. They are free from additives and rich in minerals, making them a preferred choice for gourmet dishes. Types include flavored salts, smoked salts, and black salt (Kala Namak), each offering distinct taste profiles. Artisan salts elevate culinary experiences by adding unique flavors and enhancing the quality of dishes.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What is the difference between Celtic sea salt and regular sea salt?

Celtic sea salt is hand-harvested using traditional methods, retaining higher moisture and mineral content, giving it a grey hue. Regular sea salt maybe more processed (each brand can differ), resulting in a drier, uniform texture and higher sodium chloride content.

2. Why does Celtic sea salt have a lower sodium chloride content?

The traditional hand-harvesting methods and higher moisture retention in Celtic sea salt may contribute to its lower sodium chloride content (87%-93%) compared to regular sea salt.

3. Is Celtic sea salt better than regular sea salt?

Whether Celtic sea salt is better than regular sea salt depends on personal preferences and nutritional needs. Celtic sea salt retains more trace minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium due to its traditional harvesting methods and higher moisture content. It has a distinct briny flavor and a lower sodium chloride content. Regular sea salt, depending on the brand maybe slightly more processed, and can have a higher sodium chloride concentration and a uniform texture. Both can be healthier alternatives to refined table salt, but the choice depends on desired taste and mineral benefits.

4. How does potassium effect sodium levels in the body?

Potassium counteracts the effects of excess sodium, by promoting the excretion of sodium through urine, and relaxing blood vessel walls. 

While natural salts like Celtic or Himalayan salt do contain potassium, it's probably more effective to increase dietary intake of high-potassium foods such as such as avocados, apples, oranges and bananas. leafy greens. These foods provide potassium in much higher concentrations, which can help offset the effects of sodium more significantly.

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