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A Twist on Salt

Consumer Conscious

There it is in your kitchen, right next to the pepper shaker. You shake it on popcorn and hamburgers. You use it everyday. But unless you use it for thousands of other things, you're not taking full advantage of its magical properties.

Who knew salt is so much more than a seasoning for food? In fact, salt has more than 14,000 uses. According to the Salt Institute, an Alexandria, Virginia-based organization that represents the Salt Industry, salt can be used for everything from thawing ice to relaxing tired muscles.

Salt Shaker While most of us think of salt in terms of seasoning our food, salt is an essential ingredient in a wide variety of consumer and industrial products, ranging from foods and animal feed to chemical feedstock and highway deicers. Life cannot exist without salt.

Salt was recognized as a necessity in human and animal nutrition more than 4,700 years ago in one of the earliest medical reference works found in ancient China. In the centuries since then, salt has been used as money, has ignited wars and was essential to preserving foods as recently as 100 years ago - before refrigeration. Salt even garnered more than 30 references in the Bible, including the infamous moment when Lot's wife looked back on the destruction of Sodom and turned into a pillar of salt.

But what about around your household? Can salt play a more versatile role than simply another ingredient in a favorite cookie recipe? You bet. Cargill Salt's Diamond Crystal brand of iodized salt (recognized by its classic red-and-white canister) can be used in dozens of applications around the home. So can other types of salt that are common to many households, including kosher salt, low-sodium salt, canning and pickling salt and sea salt.

Salt is extremely versatile. It can be used to clean kitchens and bathrooms, remove stains in clothing, relieve stress when added to a warm bath, or even extend the life of brooms and sponges.

Tricks of the Trade

As most people know, there are some foods that simply wouldn't be the same without salt - like french fries, steak or popcorn. And although most people use it every day, it still holds some surprises for food and beverages.

For instance, when enjoying a glass of red wine, sprinkle some salt into the glass to bring out the fragrance and taste of the wine. Or try adding a pinch of salt on top of citrus fruits and you will notice the fruit has a crisp taste immediately.

Around the kitchen, you may want to try boiling eggs in salted water; it makes eggs easier to peel. And to test for freshness, place an egg in a cup of water and add a couple teaspoons of table salt - a fresh egg will sink, a spoiled egg will float. Table salt is good for preventing mold on cheese (add a pinch of salt the next time you wrap your cheese in plastic wrap) and keeping milk fresher longer (add a pinch to the carton or bottle). Salt also can eliminate the burned food odor from an oven and stovetop burners, and can cut odors and prevent grease build up in sinks.

Healthwise, gargling regularly during the winter months with an iodized salt and water mixture will alleviate sore throats. For fresher breath, blend equal parts of salt and baking soda in warm water and swish. Apply cotton pads soaked in salt water (one tablespoon of salt in a pint of hot water) to reduce puffy areas around the eyes.

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