Hardly any topic from the old folk medicine has recently been as talked about as salt. The ancient salt, also known as rock salt, contains healing powers that have long been forgotten.
Ursalz – always a coveted commodity
Salt has always been an important factor in human history. It was food, served to preserve food and was used in early medicine, which is why a lively salt trade developed in ancient times, connecting peoples and cultures.
Since salt was only mined in a few regions, but was needed everywhere, the so-called “salt roads” were created, along trade routes that were used to transport salt from the mining areas all over the world. These connected already in the 5th century BC. BC the salt deposits of today’s Salzkammergut, Hallein, and Bad Reichenhall with the Adriatic Sea, the Black Sea, the North Sea, and France.
The white gold of antiquity
The exchange of cultural assets also flowed through these salt roads, so that salt was the decisive factor for peaceful communication between the peoples and regions of antiquity. Because of its high value (salt – the “white gold”), however, wars were also waged.
Such a salt war has been handed down from the time of the Roman Emperor Julian (331 – 363 AD). Alemanni and Burgundians are said to have fought wars over the brine springs of the Kocher Valley, which lay in the border area between these two tribes.
The salt deposits in the Salzkammergut were mined very early on and left their mark on an entire cultural epoch (Hallstatt period from 1200 to 400 BC).
The origin of the name “salt” is somewhat obscure. It is interesting, however, that the Indo-European word root “sal” can be found in the terms “salt” (“pale, gray”), hall (Germanic: “Salaz” = “house”), and soul (“salig” = “blessed” + “heavenly, holy”).
Although this connection is not undisputed, it is very probable, as it is found twice in the language: the Greek word “hals” (whose origin is assumed to be Celtic, the salt road sends its greetings) means “salt”, which can be found in the Place names of the salt sites documented: Hallstatt, Bad Reichenhall, Schwäbisch Hall, etc. and in today’s mineralogical name for salt crystals: “Halit”.
But here, too, there is suddenly an affinity to the term “hall” (Germanic: “half-open house”) and to the heaven of the gods (Germanic = “Walhalla”). What do salt and halite have to do with hall and hall, soul and heaven?
Salt – a symbol of friendship
The Norse Edda already advises: “You should not exchange words with unsalted fools!”, thus giving the indication that salt brings about wisdom or prudence, or that people who shy away from salt are up to no good.
Salt has always been a symbol of good, gods, life, happiness, wealth, and health. If you wanted to win these attributes, you could use countless rites and customs, the central part of which was salt. If you shared salt with others, you showed a willingness to share the properties.
Therefore, salt was also a symbol of friendship. Covenants were sealed with salt, including marriage. In many regions of Europe, the custom of treating a guest first with salt, bread, and wine in order to connect spirit (salt), soul (wine), and body (bread) has survived into modern times. As an ancient proverb says: “One does not know a person until one has eaten a bushel of salt with him!”
Running through all myths, from ancient to modern times and from the Mediterranean to the far north, are three basic qualities of salt: Its ability to protect, purify and heal.
Protection from negative influences
On all important occasions in life, at birth, baptism, marriage, while eating and sleeping, during Lent, when setting out on a journey, on the deathbed, or at a funeral, whenever people are particularly open and receptive Scattered salt as a protection against negative influences, witchcraft, and harmful spells, laid out in the air or thrown into the fire.
Particularly nice in this context is the custom of worried mothers, widespread in various regions, to put salt in their daughters’ clothes or to sprinkle salt afterward, so that they do not get involved with the young men or even fall in love. Salt was also strewn in the excavation pit before the foundation was laid, before moving into new houses and stables.
Salt protected the harvest during storage and the livestock during budding. Thrown out the window, it should protect against the approaching thunderstorm, and keep away evil spirits when baking and cooking. These customs are recorded in the oldest writings.
The Greeks and Romans used salt water as holy water and as a protective and defensive magic. In the Middle Ages, it was said to have the power to cast out demons, for which it was used in both the Catholic and later Protestant rites.
Therefore, the original rite of baptism was not just a water baptism, but a purification with water, a process of opening and blessing through the anointing with oil, and finally the restructuring and protection through salt. As a protective symbol and thus as a guarantor of luck and wealth, salt has always been considered sacred.
Spilling it carelessly brought bad luck, spilling it deliberately against it or tossing it over one’s shoulder brought good luck and saved from harm. This belief has also survived to this day and is still found in most children’s rooms with the “Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn” (Mark Twain).
Salt as a cleaning agent
Just as negative influences were to be warded off by the salt, existing difficulties could be resolved with salt: to rid the atmosphere of a house of strife and discord, a salt circle was drawn around it, or the room was sprinkled with salt and then swept out.
Even deceased souls were to be freed from their bondage to earthly existence so that they could leave apartments and houses. The release of attachment is a major theme in the mythology of salt. To facilitate a peaceful death, salt was thrown on the fire when a relative was on their deathbed. It should help him say goodbye and find his way to heaven.
But also the letting goes of habits, fears, worries, and depressions, all “tormentors” of the people, the salt should bring about. These customs continue to this day, and the cleansing power of salt is repeatedly referred to in modern esoteric literature. Especially for minerals and gems, it is recommended to put them in salt or salt water to rid them of negative energy.
Salt as a remedy
Since salt has the property of protecting the dead from decay and decay, it has always been assumed to have a special preserving and life-giving power. Even the Germans saw salt as the otherwise impossible combination of two opposing elements: fire and water.
For them, salt was something immediately divine. In the Germanic tradition, salt springs were places of prayer “close to heaven”, where wishes were granted and illnesses were healed. We find this element again in the Middle Ages, where salt is described as a “transmitter of divine blessing power”, as well as in the Christian baptismal rites, which speak of the “salt of wisdom”.
Salt was also considered an oracle for illnesses: If the salt in your hand quickly got wet when entering the sick room, this was considered a sign that the illness could not be cured; if it remained dry, on the other hand, speedy recovery was certain. Salt was considered a general remedy for all diseases.
It was used for baths, footbaths, rubbings, ablutions, and wound disinfection. Thrown over the sick, it should drive away fever. Taking it internally helped against fainting and dizzy spells, externally it was used against itching, ulcers, and rashes.
Worn in a pouch for protection, it should prevent contamination. Saltwater footbaths were used to treat headaches, absent menstruation, and impotence, and when eating, it helped relieve homesickness and lovesickness. This may be the root of the old wisdom that concludes from oversalted food to a chef in love.
The salt in the sea
Regardless of the source from which salt comes today, whether from saline washouts (brine), artificially created evaporation basins for seawater (salt gardens), or mines, the salt always comes from the sea. The huge salt deposits of today go back to sea deposits of past epochs, e.g. B. Best qualities come from the Zechstein period (280 – 220 million years). Seawater contains a large number of dissolved elements, over 40 different ones have been detected so far.
However, only a few elements or compounds are found in large quantities. Four positively charged metal ions (sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium ions) are essentially opposed to three negative ions (chloride, sulfate, and carbonate ions).
Rock salt consists of sodium and chloride ions and, with a share of approx. 78% (percentage by weight), forms the main part of the salts dissolved in seawater. To get an idea of the massive amounts of salt dissolved in the oceans, imagine that all the seawater evaporated. A 60-meter thick salt crust would then remain on all seabeds!
But how does this huge amount of salt get into the sea?
This question has not yet been fully clarified scientifically. While the origin of the positive metal ions is largely clear, the origin of the negative chloride, sulfate, and carbonate ions remains a phenomenon that has been debated to this day. The metal ions originate for the most part from the mainland rocks, which consist of more than 75% silicates, mainly feldspars, which contain plenty of the necessary positive metal ions.
Washed out by weathering, these reach the seas via the rivers. In the case of negative anions, their origin is suspected both in the earth’s primordial atmosphere and in submarine volcanic eruptions.
Salt deposits cannot arise from the open ocean; You need flat seas and a warm, dry, drier climate so that the dissolved salts can be separated by the evaporation of the seawater.
Fresh salt water flows in through a natural barrier (e.g. a coral reef) that separates the shallow sea area from the main ocean, and with additional slow lowering of the bottom due to movements of the earth’s crust, one layer of salt is deposited on top of the other, accompanied by the separation of others as well Minerals such as lime, dolomite or gypsum (anhydrite).
Due to the shifting of the continental plates and the resulting folding of the mountains over the course of millions of years, some of these salt deposits have gotten deep below the surface of the earth. The enormous pressure of the rock layers on the salt causes it to “flow” underground, it gives in to the pressure and moves to where there is still space, i.e. into crevices, cavities, and cracks in the rock – not only horizontally, but above all upwards, so that the characteristic salt domes are formed in this way.
If the salt penetrates the surface of the earth, it swells out like a dome, then it forms salt domes.
Aboveground, “young” salt deposits are the salt lakes of Utah (USA) and North Africa, large underground deposits can be found in the USA, Pakistan, and in the Alps, and salt domes in northern Germany and Poland.
Mineral glass and chemistry
Halite is sodium chloride (NaCl) with embedded traces of potassium, calcium, bromine, iron, zinc, iodine, and magnesium and belongs to the mineral class of halides. Iron is the primary coloring element (reddish shades). Salt belongs to the cubic crystal system, i.e. its inner structure resembles the geometric figure of the square and thus embodies a maximum of symmetry and order. It forms cube-shaped crystals.
The most perfect halite specimens – transparent and with cube edges up to 20 cm long – represent the highest salt quality, analogous to the pure, clear rock crystal specimens within the quartz family. However, such collectibles are very rare. Coarsely crystalline to fine-grained masses are found much more frequently, colorless, and in the colors white, yellowish, pink, orange, and brown to black due to organic inclusions. Seldom one find salt in the colors blue and violet.
Use and trade
Rock salt is extracted by mining from various salt mines. Another method is pumping out the brine from the salt deposits and evaporating the brine. In both cases, the main further processing takes place in the chemical industry to obtain chlorine, hydrochloric acid, soda, fertilizers, caustic soda, PVC, paints, detergents, and countless other products.
beneficiary pharmaceutical industry
The pharmaceutical industry is also a beneficiary and winner. 93-95% of the world’s salt production is used for industrial purposes. Remaining parts of it as road salt in winter, regeneration salt for water treatment, and livestock salt.
The waste product sodium chloride (NaCl) is produced from rock salt in the refining processes of the chemical industry. It is used in this form as a preservative and seasoning in almost all finished food products. Less than 5% of it ends up on the shelves of our shops under the name of (refined) cooking salt, table salt, or table salt.
Table salt with questionable ingredients
Cooking salt and table salt no longer has anything to do with the biological quality of the original natural rock salt. Depending on the manufacturer, various chemical substances are also added to the refined table salt or sodium chloride for pourability and processing. Likewise, fortification with inorganic iodine is rejected by many nutritionists. From a health point of view, this is a scandal and a chapter in itself.
Natural salt is basic
Natural primary rock salts have a basic character. Alkaline organic salts help to neutralize body water and thus maintain the acid-base balance. Ursteinsalz of the Zechsteinzeit z. B. an average pH of 7.0 ± 0.1, which is below the ideal blood pH of 7.35 and is bio-friendly dextrorotatory (radiaesthetically speaking).
Medicinal effects – centuries-old wisdom
Natural rock salt helps to dissolve attachments to thought and behavior patterns and to change unconscious mechanisms through conscious actions. It lifts the mood and has an encouraging effect on melancholy and depression. Some primordial rock salt on the tongue helps to overcome attacks of weakness and fainting. Brine baths relieve skin diseases, improve blood circulation in the skin, stimulate metabolism and harmonize the vegetative nervous system, which controls the internal organs. Salty atmospheres are in many cases good for the skin and healing respiratory problems.
Cures in salt mines have long been indicated as particularly suitable in these cases.
There are healing tunnels in Germany, Austria, and Poland.
All specialist authors recommend internal and external salt applications for many symptoms of illness to get well and, above all, to stay healthy.