The formation of rock salt often dates back millions of years. Remains of long-gone and dried-up seas and salt lakes are stored underground at a depth of several hundred meters, where they form rock salt reservoirs, also called salt domes. They were formed by the separation of estuaries from the oceans, by changes in sea level, and by tectonic shifts. Salt has always had great importance for people because it is essential for life. In mythology, therefore, it was even considered as a divine gift. Sharing bread and salt is a sign of friendship. But salt plays a role not only as an essential food ingredient: it has always been a means of preserving perishable foods and thus a safeguard against disease. Today, rock salt is also used for various industrial purposes.
The Origin of Our Rock Salt
We source the rock salt for our BERTRAND drinking meals from Germany. The high-purity, white rock salt comes from raw material sources at a depth of 400 to 750 meters. Our supplier has been extracting high-quality rock salt from the productive salt dome between Wesel and Xanten since 1925. The area with the salt layer up to 200 meters thick is known as the “Lower Rhine salt pan”. The salt is so pure that it is used not only for food but also for pharmaceutical applications. It is classified as an organic-biological product, and also bears the “kosher” and “halal” seals. Our supplier is GMP-certified (Good Manufacturing Practice) and works according to quality management guidelines (DIN EN ISO 9001). By using rock salt from Germany, we keep transport distances low and thus the CO2 footprint low.
Extraction and Processing of Rock Salt
Rock salt is in contrast to sea salt. The main difference between the two types of salt is the method of extraction and age. Sea salt is “young” salt: it is “harvested” over and over again in so-called salt marshes, as skimming is called. In the process, seawater is channeled through a widely ramified system of basins and canals, the water evaporates on the surface due to solar radiation, and the salt concentration steadily increases. Finally, the crystalline salt can be removed from the surface. The highest quality sea salt is the salt flower, sold as “Fleur de Sel.”
On the other hand, our rock salt is an “old” salt because it often waits several hundred years in the earth, completely untouched by environmental influences, to be “mined”. And this is how it works.
DRILLING AND BLASTING METHODS ARE USED
Rock salt can be extracted in different ways. Salt from contaminated deposits – as the salt domes are also known professionally – is extracted in what is known as “wet mining”. However, the rock salt used for our BERTRAND products is a high-quality, absolutely natural salt; therefore, “dry mining” can be used. This is also known as mining, as the process takes place underground. Drilling and blasting methods are used for this purpose, which free the rock salt from the mountain in large blocks or lumps.
THE SALT IS BROKEN INTO SMALLER PIECES
To process the large chunks of salt further, the salt is roughly broken into smaller pieces in the first stage while still underground. Only then is it possible to bring it up to the surface of the earth via conveyor systems.
SHOULD BE AS DRY AS POSSIBLE
After extraction, drying is important, and for all salts. While sea salt is often still very moist, rock salt usually has a residual moisture content of less than 3 percent. High-quality rock salt should be as dry as possible so that it is free-flowing even without chemical additives (anti-caking agents).
DIFFERENT GRAIN SIZES
Depending on the usage, the rock salt is crushed into different grain sizes. In the process, it passes through various grinding stages, whereby it is also repeatedly passed through special sieves. In this way, grain sizes from 0.1 millimeters up to 16 millimeters can be produced. The rock salt for our products has a very fine grain size.
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PACKAGING
PACKAGING AND TRANSPORT
Since salt is hygroscopic, i.e. it attracts moisture, it is important to choose packaging that is as environmentally friendly as possible but at the same time ensures that the product remains dry. Therein it can then be stored and finally transported to us.
Why Rock Salt?
The rock salt we use is highly pure, not chemically or mechanically processed, not bleached, and contains no additives of any kind. Because the underground deposits are shielded from all influences, no microplastics can reach the salt, as can be the case with sea salt. We at BERTRAND add this absolutely natural product to our products because it is an essential part of our diet.
Chloride is one of the most important electrolytes in the human body. It is a component of gastric acid and thus important for digestion. Chloride also repels pathogens that enter the body through the stomach. Together with other factors, it ensures a balanced acid-base balance. In the human organism, chloride is largely bound to sodium.
Together with potassium, the alkali metal sodium is responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses. This means that muscle contractions, including those of the heart, are also controlled by it. The regulation of blood pressure is also related to this. Sodium activates a variety of enzymes, which in turn perform numerous tasks in the body. It also transmits electrical impulses to the cell walls. Above all, however, together with potassium, it regulates the body’s water balance. Deficiency is associated with muscle cramps, increased pulse, listlessness, and low blood pressure. Since sodium is secreted with sweat, among other things through heavy perspiration, a sufficient supply is important in summer and after sports.
Like sodium, potassium belongs to the alkali metals. Potassium regulates the water balance of the body. In addition, potassium is involved in the transmission of nerve impulses. Potassium is very well bio-available, more than 90 percent of it is absorbed by the organism. However, a deficiency can cause serious problems, such as disturbances in cardiac activity, muscle weakness and even muscle paralysis and intestinal obstruction.
The role of salt for our body
Something most people are not conscious of: Our body fluid consists of saltwater to a large extent. Although the salt content is only 0.9 percent, this fact makes salt an essential part of our organism. By the way, you can even taste this salt content: our tears and sweat taste salty. The role of salt thus goes far beyond that of a mere seasoning.
The water-soluble compound between positively charged sodium ions and negatively charged chloride ions is responsible for a balanced fluid balance in our organism. Salt, also known as “sodium chloride” or NaCl, supports the nutrient balance inside and outside the body cells, with a constant exchange of water through the cell membrane. As a result, minerals and trace elements reach the body cells. This mechanism, which depends on the salt concentration, is known as osmosis.
So, humans would not be able to survive without salt intake. A severe salt deficiency would lead to seizures and fainting. A long-term low salt intake causes the cholesterol and adrenaline levels to rise, which can be unfavorable for the heart and vessels. However, if you ingest too much salt, this can also have an unfavorable effect. The kidneys have to excrete excess salt and are thus unnecessarily burdened. The DGE (German Society for Nutrition) recommends a maximum daily salt intake of 6 grams.
Table salt obtained from rock salt usually has this typical composition: 59.9 percent chloride, 38.8 percent sodium, 0.25 percent calcium, 0.15 percent phosphorus, 0.12 percent magnesium, 0.02 percent sulfur, and traces of potassium. While the minerals and trace elements – except for potassium – are negligible in this case, chloride and sodium certainly play a noteworthy role.
As we can see, salt is one of the main sources of sodium and chloride supply. Untreated rock salt is the good alternative to normal table salt due to its absolute purity. The latter is processed and chemically treated so that it consists only of sodium chloride, while rock salt contains all natural minerals and trace elements. Rock salt is pure, intense and harmonious in taste. At BERTRAND, we use German rock salt for our drinking meals to ensure the supply of sodium, chloride, and, to a small extent, potassium, and at the same time to give our products a pleasant taste.