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What is red salt and should you use it?

Red salt, which gets its unique colour and taste from the minerals found in the volcanic clay where it’s harvested, is gaining popularity for its flavour and perceived health benefits. But does the science support these claims? And is it worth the expensive compared to much cheaper sea salt alternatives?

Himalayan pink salt has been widely touted for its myriad health benefits for many years, but a more recent arrival on the sodium scene is red salt. Predominantly sourced from Hawaii and the Himalayas, it is coloured by the natural minerals and volcanic clays found in these regions.

Alongside other alleged health-promoting dietary additions, such as apple cider vinegar and creatine, as well as new types of nutritional supplements, including collagen gummies and peptides, slimming gummies and vitamin D gummies, and greens powders, including the globally popular AG1, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to know which you should prioritise in your shopping basket to provide the biggest wellbeing benefits.

Here’s everything you need to know about this special sort of salt to make the best dietary decisions for your health.

What is red salt?

Red salt, also known as Hawaiian Red Alaea salt or Himalayan Red salt, is a natural sea salt mixed with volcanic clay rich in iron oxide, which gives it a distinctive red colour. This type of salt is traditionally used in Hawaiian cuisine for preserving and seasoning a variety of foods. Its unique colour as well as its mineral content set it apart from regular sea salts.

Where does red salt come from?

It mainly comes from Hawaii and the Himalayan mountains. Hawaiian Red Alaea salt is harvested from the Pacific Ocean using traditional methods in which seawater is evaporated and then mixed with volcanic red clay. Himalayan varieties, while similar in appearance, is mined from ancient salt deposits in the Himalayan mountain range and naturally contains minerals that give it a pink to reddish hue.

Red salt gets it unique colour and taste from Hawaii’s volcanic clays that are high in calcium, magnesium and potassium

What makes it different to other salts?

It differs from other salts primarily because of its unique mineral content from the presence of volcanic clay, which enriches it with iron oxide. This not only gives this type of salt its distinctive colour, but also adds a slight mineral-type flavour that is not found in regular table salt or even most sea salts. It also often contains trace amounts of other minerals, including calcium, magnesium and potassium, contributing to a more complex flavour profile.

Is red salt healthy?

Red salt is often claimed to be healthier than regular table salt thanks to its unique mineral profile, that includes iron, magnesium and potassium. Advocates of this type of salt claim that these minerals can help balance electrolytes, aid hydration and even support better digestive function and gut health.

Does scientific research support these health claims?

Robust scientific research on this type of salt is fairly limited and while it’s true it contains additional minerals compared to ordinary table salt, the concentrations are typically too low to have a significant health impact. As with other gourmet (AKA expensive) salts, the biggest benefits are more culinary than nutritional.

Is red salt dangerous?

It’s no more or less dangerous than any other type of salt but excessive intake can lead to the same health issues associated with high sodium consumption, such as increased blood pressure and a higher risk of heart disease. Those with hypertension or heart issues should use any type of salt sparingly.

How much do red salts cost?

It tends to be more expensive than standard table salt because of where it comes from and the traditional time-consuming methods used in its production. Prices can vary widely based on the brand and the region from which it is sourced but expect to pay a premium for authentic varieties.

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