You See It on the Grocery Store Shelf Under Many Different Names: Canning Salt, Pickle Salt, Kosher Salt, Sea Salt, and Table Salt. Are They Interchangeable for Your Canning Needs?
It goes by many different names, NaCl, Halite (also known as rock salt), sodium chloride, or salt.
This crystalline mineral has been used for over 8,000 years in food flavorings, trade, religious rituals, and has caused wars because of its scarcity and benefits.
It has been used to preserve meats primarily for many thousands of years. It hasn’t been until the last 100 or so years that salt has been used in preserving other foods.
Salt is procured from a salt mine, shallow mineral rich spring pools, or from evaporating sea water.
Fun fact: Did you know that the word “salary” is derived from salt? It is because, during the Roman Empire, Roman soldiers were often paid in the then-scarce salt.
Table Salt v. Sea Salt
So what’s the difference between table salt and sea salt? If not extracted from a mine, table salt is essentially the same thing as sea salt. Both types of salt maintain the same basic nutrition value and contain comparable amounts of sodium when taking into account how much each salt weighs.
The only real difference – aside from sea salt being touted as a healthier alternative to table salt – is that table salt is processed down into smaller granules and has iodine added.
Because table salt has been processed into a much more compact salt crystal, it has a stronger salty flavor than other salts.
Sea Salt v. Kosher Salt
The difference between sea salt and kosher is that kosher salt has much larger crystal flakes. So, you have to add more kosher salt crystals to get the flavoring strength of table salt.
There is no difference between rough sea salt and kosher salt because both are minimally processed from their natural state. Kosher salt has no additives in it and is typically used for brining poultry, salt rubs for meat, or rimming your margarita glass.
Fun fact: Kosher salt got its name from the Jewish people’ s ancient practice of dry brining or “koshering” meats with it, namely removing all blood from the meat before meal prep. So, kosher salt’s more accurate name would be “koshering” salt.
Canning Salt v. All Other Salts
So what’s the difference between canning salt and all the other salts?
Canning and pickling salt is the purest form of salt. There is no removal of other minerals during processing like in regular table salt, although canning salt may be more refined than sea salt or kosher salt.
More importantly, there are no additives in canning salt; this means there are no added anti-caking agents or iodine. It also means it’s incredibly important to store your canning salt in an airtight container to keep out moisture and avoid clumping.
Canning salt is also an excellent substitute in baking. Check out our Baking Substitutions post to see Preparedness Mama’s favorite alternatives to the most common baking ingredients. Spoiler: Many of the substitutes are budget- and vegan-friendly, too.
Because canning salt is pure, there is less sediment that will be left at the bottom of you canning jars after processing.
Fun fact: Only 6% of all salt manufactured is actually used for consumption. Twelve percent is used in water conditioning processes, 8% is used for deicing highways, 6% is used in agriculture, and 68% is used for manufacturing and other industrial processes
So What’s the Bottom Line? Can I Use Any Salt for Canning?
Table salt is the worst salt to use in your cans, but in a pinch, it will do the job.
If you do use it in canning, avoid iodized salt as iodine tends to give canned goods some unnatural, funny shades of color that aren’t normal.
Also know that if you use fine grain table salt, the brine might get cloudy because of the anti-caking agents in this type of salt.
Bottom line – table salt: yes, if you don’t mind the cloudiness. Steer clear of iodized salt, unless franken pickles are your thing.
There are lots of different types of sea salt; I like coarse grain sea salt best, as it gives a nicer flavor to my homemade foods (the moisture retaining factor is higher in coarse grain salts).
Because sea salt is a very natural form of the salt crystals, it may take some time to fully dissolve the salt while canning if you don’t grind it up. It’s also important to consider how much salt you need to use in its different forms.
Typically course sea salt is measured 1 for 1 with table salt, but fine sea salt needs the addition of an extra teaspoon or tablespoon. (Find out more at the Morton Salt Conversion Chart.)
Bottom line – sea salt: yes, but you’ll need to grind it into smaller grains before use. Plus, it’s one of the most expensive alternatives to canning salt, so take that into consideration.
One preparedness blogger, Jane at MomWithaPREP.com said you could make your own canning salt, by grinding up some of the kosher salt you have on hand. She used it the same way as canning salt.
This is a practical and simple way of resuming your canning without pausing and dashing out to the store for canning salt. Although depending on the brand you buy, some companies also put additives like anti-clumping agents into this type of salt as well.
Bottom line – kosher salt: yes, but you’ll need to grind it into finer grains before making that brine.
Simply put, since it is the purest form of salt around, no additives are introduced. Plus, all the hard work of grinding up sea or kosher salt is done for you.
While having canning salt on hand would be ideal, you need to store it properly in an airtight and waterproof container.
Bottom line – canning salt: a definite yes, since it is the most natural salt out there. Store it properly for long shelf life.
Salt Shelf Life
In case you were wondering, salt in all of its forms has an indefinite shelf life. It should be stored in non-metal containers and kept away from excess moisture.
Keep those two things in mind, and you can be certain that in 10 or 20 years your salt will still be there, ready for your next canning session.
So are all these different types of salt a marketing ploy to squeeze more profit and to fill your pantry shelves with up to four different kinds of salt? You decide.
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Hi, I’m Gabriela and I’m a prepping freak with a knack for frugal living – as if you could have one without the other. I’m also interested in all things DIY, green living, and homesteading. I’ve been dreaming of a self-sufficient, one-acre organic farm ever since I realized how fragile urban life really is. It takes one push of a button for millions to be left without running water. It takes no more than a four- to seven-day disruption in a city’s food supply for complete mayhem to break out. So, I’m now dutifully working toward keeping my loved ones safe when the brown matter (inevitably) hits the oscillating ceiling device, but I also like to share what I’m learning with fellow likeminded folks as I go.