As our name implies, Real Salt is, well, real. When you eat Real Salt you know you’re getting salt exactly as nature made it–no minerals stripped out, nothing added, no gimmicks. We stick with what’s real, and you get a healthy, natural salt you can trust.
Sticking with what’s real is a great way to produce salt, and it’s also a great way to market salt. Our message is a lot like our product — simple, real, and easy to swallow. We know some people who use salt will never be Real Salt customers, and that’s just fine. We can only be who we are, so we don’t spend money marketing to people who don’t value the things we value.
It makes sense for us to keep our marketing messages as simple and real as our products are, but some salt companies have a tendency to complicate things with a little marketing trickery. For the most part they’re good companies producing good salt, but their marketing material can be a little misleading. We’re going to talk about it today, not because we want to point fingers, but because our customers sometimes ask and we like simple answers.
If you’ve done research on sea salt you may have seen a bar graph that makes you think certain brands of sea salt have ten to 15 times more trace minerals than others. (The chart has even appeared in a book or two, and it looks a bit like the image below–without the blurriness we added to avoid embarrassing anyone.) At a glance, you might think that brands like Real Salt are woefully lacking trace minerals, but the company who makes the chart is actually employing a little marketing wizardry by combining brine (sea water) and trace elements into a single number.
Combining water and trace minerals creates a dramatic chart for their marketing materials, but all it really means is that salt from modern oceans is comparatively very wet. The percentage of water across sea salts can vary quite a bit (Real Salt is 0.6% water, while one modern ocean brand is 14.3%) but if their chart were to compare trace minerals alone instead of combining minerals with water, the differences would be less exciting — and more relevant. Of the brands we’ve tested, trace mineral content ranges from 1.36% to 2.46%. (Indeed, the FDA and World Food Standards won’t allow you to call your product “food grade salt” if it isn’t at least 97% sodium chloride, so if someone leads you to believe their salt has more than 3% trace minerals, you can be reasonably sure they’re spinning the truth.)
So far we’ve explained how some companies create confusion about the percentage of trace minerals in sea salt. There’s also confusion about the number of minerals in sea salt, but this seems to be a little less deliberate.
All salt, regardless of whether it is harvested from modern or ancient oceans, came from the sea at some point. All sea water has the same complement of minerals in about the same ratio, so unless the minerals have been stripped away during processing (like that nasty table salt), all salts will contain roughly the same 60-65 trace minerals.
When you see a company advertising 80 trace minerals in their salt, there are two possible explanations. It could be marketing spin, or it could be poor communication between the testing laboratory and the marketing department. (I’m an optimist, so I like to believe most companies simply misread the lab results.)
Here’s how it works. All salt companies hire independent labs to tell us which minerals are in our product, and at what amount. We might contact them and ask them to test for 85 minerals, and the results look something like this. (This snippet comes from a Light Grey Celtic sample.)
There are eight elements listed here, but only six of them were found in the sample. It can be a little confusing, so here’s a primer that explains why some companies wind up claiming 85 trace minerals in their salt.
The excerpt above includes two trace elements, gold and antimony, that are reported with a “less than” prefix. Some companies believe that means their sample contains those elements in tiny amounts, which seems like a sensible conclusion. But they’re wrong. When a lab reports <.00001% of gold it doesn’t mean they found a tiny amount of gold, it means the lab equipment can’t detect amounts of gold lower than .00001%. In plain English, a technician looking at the excerpt above would say, “our equipment didn’t detect gold or antimony.” Whenever you see the “less than” sign in lab results, it is the same as saying “not found in this sample.”
It’s a little confusing, perhaps, but whoever said scientific labs were user friendly? Even companies with the best of intentions get confused–Dr. Mercola’s website frequently claims that his private-labeled Himalayan salt contains 84 trace minerals. I doubt he’d intentionally mislead anyone, so we’re left to curse those pesky “less than” signs and try to educate customers about lab results when we can.
Keeping it real
There are a lot of ways to produce salt, and a lot of ways to market salt. We keep production and marketing simple and straightforward because that’s the way we are, and we think it’s the way our customers are. We tell you Real Salt has 60 trace minerals because that’s what the independent lab reports. We could make it 85 by including the “less than” minerals, but that wouldn’t be real. It would be spin. Real Salt is real, and it seems like a good idea to use real numbers to market it, too.