Records and Facts Superstitions

A History of Salt and its Superstitions

Battered salt shaker by Helena Jacoba, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicensePhoto by  Helena Jacoba

Umm, Salt! What meal wouldn’t be complete with the wonderful flavor of salt. But did you know that salt is not only an ingredient in the foods we eat, but also has a great significance throughout history.

Salt, scientifically known as sodium chloride, has over 14,000 known uses. We won’t cover all 14,000 of them, but I can tell you it’s widely used as a preservative as well as being used for healing, fertilizing, cleaning and making medicines, dyes, cheeses and plastics.

Over the centuries there have even been roads constructed solely to transport salt and there have even been wars fought over this precious commodity. This substance will easily dissolve in water and reappear when the water is evaporated.

Salt, a Precious Trade

You may not know this, but it was actually the Phoenicians who were first involved in the trade of salt. The Egyptians also used this mineral in the mummification process. They would use what’s called natron, a mineral that contains sodium chloride. This natron would be used to keep mummified remains from decaying. A kind of preservative if you will.

Ancient Greeks referred to salt as a divine substance, and the Romans even used it to pay workers for their services. They called it salarium, which is the original term for salary that is used today.

Salt has even been used in religious rites and ceremonies due to it’s ability to reform after being dissolved. It’s been compared to God’s unchanging love.

Salt is a natural mineral that is found within rocks on Earth. Now we’re not talking about table salt like you would put in your shaker. But this is the natural element sodium. Deposits may also appear above ground in the form of `salt mountains`, or could lie deep underground so far that mines have to be dug in order to reach it.

Over long periods of time some of this salt is liquefied by the natural rain and gets carried out to sea through the rivers. Once it reaches this area it will build up into what’s known as salt pans. There the sun will bake away the water leaving the salt crystals behind.

Superstitions of Salt

Just like any thing else that has been around for such a long time, salt has formed many superstitions over time. The most common tradition of salt says it bring prosperity. This is why many times people will give it as a gift upon reaching a new year, or when moving into a new home.

Another tradition of salt says it will bring fertility and some say you should give a bride salt on her wedding day.

But probably the most common superstition for salt is that it will bring you great protection. I suppose this is all derived from it’s ability to preserve dead bodies and foods. Only sounds natural that if it can do all that, it should be able to protect you from evil as well, right?

Salt is also thought of as a defense against witchcraft and curses that have been brought upon by the evil eye, or “stink eye” as I like to call it. But on the flip side, it is also known to be extremely unlucky if you spill the salt. Maybe this is because it has great value and should not be wasted, or it could be because it may awaken demons if spilled. But if you do spill the salt it’s said you must throw a pinch of it over your left shoulder. This is supposed to get rid of all the evil spirits that have arrived due to the spilled salt.

Anyway I thought this might be some interesting information to share with you all. One things for certain, I couldn’t eat a bite without it…lol

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30 thoughts on “A History of Salt and its Superstitions
  1. I am interested in looking for more of such topics and would like to have further information. Hope to see the next blog soon.

    1. I try to post as often as I can, although I work 50-60 hours a week, I at least try to post every other day, so check back often I’ll keep the goodies flowing. 🙂

  2. I really used salt to my food it can really satisfies me the taste i wanted. Thanks for sharing your blog to us:)

    1. Oh I hear ya, I love salt and it goes on everything I eat. Most things don’t really need the extra salt, but I put it on them regardless!

  3. salt is useful in many way from ancient days.there are many form of superstitions in can be used as gift and used for preservative item.

    1. That’s true, many cultures use salt as currency as well, it’s a world wide commodity, plus tastes awesome in my book!

  4. I once brought my Nanna her dinner into her room. I was opt a young girl and I thought I would salt her meal with the salt shaker for her. She stopped me and she said “Self to Salt, Self to Sorrow” . To this day I’m not sure where the origin of that saying comes from and why she was extremely superstitious of someone salting her food. If anyone can shed any light that would be great.

    1. Wow Laura, that is a very interesting quote from your Nanna. I’m not aware of its meaning or origin at this time, but you can bet I will be doing research now that you’ve caught my attention. When I find out something I will reply again to this comment with my findings. 🙂

      1. Thanks Robert. Keep me posted if you discover anything about the saying…she lived with us in the same house in Australia that’s why I used to bring in her meals to her room. She passed away about 26 years ago, she was 93 and came from the north of England around Cumbria.

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