The Historical Power of Salt

Why we need salt

The human body needs sodium and chloride for respiration and digestion and without it, we “would be unable to transport nutrients or oxygen, transmit nerve impulses or move muscles, including the heart.”

Why we need salt

There are a lot of different salts (like potassium nitrate for gunpowder and sodium bicarbonate for baking) but only one that truly meets our dietary needs and satisfies our craving for that salty taste – sodium chloride (NaCl). Containing two elements necessary for our survival, its cultivation goes back thousands of years to the birth of civilization.

For those that are interested, the history of salt is absolutely fascinating.

Wikipedia certainly is thorough with its information and is well worth the visit here:


About that proverb that Roman soldiers were paid in salt, well it’s dead and buried: if it did happen then it was for an occasional period of time, somewhere about 4 or 5 hundred years BC, when  money wasn’t a currency. Certainly in Julius Caesar’s days and after, no soldier worth his salt (pardon the pun, couldn’t help myself) would ever give up his life for a bagful of the crystal.


Back in Africa, by the 6th century AD, south of the Sahara, “Moorish merchants routinely traded salt ounce for ounce with gold,” and in Ethiopia, salt slabs, called amoles, were used as currency. In fact, Ethiopians continued to rely on salt as a “common medium of exchange,” at least through 1935.