Beautiful alaea sea salt from Hawaii. Photo courtesy of



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September 2005

Last Updated September 2012

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Salts, Seasonings, Herbs & Spices

Different Types Of Salt: A Culinary Salt Glossary

Fine Sea Salts & Artisan Salt From All Over The World

Page 1: Alaea (Hawaiian Sea Salt), Anglesey & Other Salts With A & B




Master the terms in this glossary, and you’ll be able to use “salty” language with the experts. You’ll also discover delicious new salts to flavor your food and decorate your plates. We’ve provided an overview of some of the more readily-found sea salts and artisan salts. The category is burgeoning, and every geographic area from the Cayman Islands to Africa is offering up a sea salt.

While any sea salt is going to be tastier than supermarket table salt, it’s also much pricier. Just like “wine,” the label “sea salt” doesn’t mean the product is an outstanding sea salt. Any evaporated sea water will produce sea salt: It’s the particular mineral content and quality of the water that makes a great sea salt. For your first foray into the category, you might get a better handle on sea salt by sticking to some of the standards. A good “starter kit” would be one of the great French salts, Fleur de Sel de Guérande or sel gris; a flake salt like Anglesey, Maldon or the pink Murray River salt; a smoked salt; and if you love to present with flair, alaea red volcanic salt and one of the black salts from Cyprus or Hawaii. For an extensive selection of fine sea salts and artisan salts, visit

This is Page 1 of a seven-page glossary. After you’ve read up on sea salt, take a look at our other food glossaries—an easy way to get up to speed on almost every food category.

Click on a letter to get to the appropriate glossary page.

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A Hawaiian sea salt, alaea takes its name from the area’s red volcanic clay which give it a beautiful terra cotta color. On the island of what is now Kauai, the sediment of iron oxide-rich red volcanic clay, called alaea, seeped into the ocean from Kauai’s rivers. When this red ocean water became trapped in tidal pools, evaporation created alaea sea salt. The clay imparts a delicate, earthy, mineral flavor that is more mellow than regular salt. It can be saltier, too. Alaea adds a subtle crunch to dishes and can be purchased mixed with herbs for use on fish. Alaea, kala namak (Indian black salt) and sel gris are considered to be the most mineral-rich salts. A traditional seasoning in Hawaiian dishes, it can be used elsewhere in pork dishes, fish, prime rib and as a colorful accent on corn and potatoes.

  hawaiian sea salt
Finely-ground alaea. Photo courtesy of


Not to be confused with fine natural sea salts, American sea salts, often found in grocery and healthy food stores, are manufactured products that have been totally refined until they are no better than sodium chloride—ordinary table salt. Yet, because they originally derived from sea water, they can be labeled sea salt. It is because they are harvested from general sea water, not pristine sources like those of fine natural sea salts, that refining, bleaching, and additives are required.



Sea salt from the water off of the west coast of Wales, where it is freshly harvested from the Atlantic waters that surround the Isle of Anglesey. Anglesey has a soft, flaky texture. The salt is also smoked over 800-year-old Welsh oak chips, producing a Champagne-colored flake with a delicate smokiness. Salt sold under the Halen Môn brand is Anglesey. Crunchy in texture, it is also available in a spiced form with peppercorns, cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, chili and cloves. By itself, this can be an extremely salty, especially in what are large flakes of salt. The salt is available in pure white in smoked form.

  Halen Mon
Smoked Anglesey salt. Photo courtesy Chelsea Market Basket.


A salt that is produced more extensively than by simple evaporation of seawater. These include smoked salts and sea salts that are created in solar houses rather than evaporated naturally outdoors in evaporation ponds, basins or pans. Artisan techniques are popular in countries like Japan where where high humidity and/or frequent rainstorms preclude efficient natural evaporation.


A variety of unrefined mineral salts that range from dark grey to black in color, including Hawaiian volcanic sea salt (black lava salt) and Cyprus black sea salt. Indian black salt, or kala namak, is actually pink in color.


A Korean salt made by roasting sea salt in bamboo cylinders plugged with yellow mud. The salt absorbs minerals from the bamboo and mud, which in turn leach the salt of impurities. Sea salt can be substituted in recipes.

  Black Salt
Black salt. Photo courtesy


Salt that is mixed with other flavoring like herbs, berries or seaweed. As opposed to seasoned salt, which mixes different everyday seasonings with the salt for convenience, blended salts are more gourmet in concept.



Continue To Page 2: Salt Terms Beginning With Letter C ~ E

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