Is there a natural salt source?

Discussion in 'General Bushcraft Discussion' started by Survive, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. Survive

    Survive Scout

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    Hi there,

    I was playing with the hypotheticals and wondered how one would get salt in the wild?
    Let's say we are in a cabin deep in the woods for a year...

    Salt.. well sodium is essential to keep the heart muscle beating properly. So this would make it an essential nutrient. I know that you can boil down hickory roots. The crystal stuff left over after you've boiled off the water is salt. But, here in eastern Ontario, hickory trees are hard to come by.

    I have asked several bushcrafty types of people question and it has only served to make them start inquiring themselves. So though I would run this question by you folks here and see if you have an answer to this question of mine that has my brain gears grind to a halt with a question mark!

    I know that blood has sodium in it, so I would think that technically, if you were to use the blood of fresh kill to cook or make sausage... it might help. My folks were in Europe during WWII and I know that not a single scrap was wasted, so they even made blood sausage from the freshly killed animals.

    Any suggestions would be most welcome.
    Would love to know any natural sources you guys/gals can think of.

    One of my friends suggested trying to rinse the gravel at the sides of highways, as salt is put on roads... I was looking for a more natural source.

    Are any of you Native? Am trying to figure out how the early Natives, would have gotten sodium in their diet. They obviously lived off the land, so it can obviously be done.

    Thanks!
     
  2. redrooster1700

    redrooster1700 Scout

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    ive thought of this as well to no avail other than bodies of water or the mineral deposits
     
  3. vakman

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    I've heard that salt was the first traded resource, but that before it was traded people did without it, in purified form that is. Like so many elements of our modern diets, I consider it to be superfluous, or directly substitutable, beat natural means. i imagine blood was the primary source.
     
  4. muerte69

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    I know I read about lewis and clark I believe boiling down salt water to get the salt.
    Also there are natural salt licks but I am not sure how to find them.
    There was a thread a while back about this that had some good links in it.

    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2
     
  5. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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    In many areas there are natural salt licks, and also often salt laden springs or streams. As a youngster we hunted on a ranch where the creek was slightly salty. It left crystals on the rocks when it went down from evaporation in the summer. A man with a large flat surface- metal or rock- could easily have gotten considerable salt by evaporation over a few days.

    In South America, there was a tribe in the Amazon who had no salt sources at all, and they learned to burn a particular types of wood and use the ashes in their cooking. It was found that the ash contained enough trace salt to satisfy minimum nutritional requirements.
     
  6. beeperboy

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    When you smoke meat, you add sodium nitrate. Not sure if that is an adequate source of dietary sodium?
     
  7. Zaveral

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  8. Ahnkochee

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    We get natural sea salt evaporated in higher tide pools along rocky coastlines. Secluded coastlines much better to avoid pollution from humans. Where I used to fish along the secluded Kahikinui coast of Maui where 4x4 was necessary to gain access good place to get this mineral rich sea salt. Also the wild goats and sometimes deer would come down to lick the salt off the rocks along the tide pools so I'd always have a rifle handy in the truck, and many times get to pop a wild goat. Surf & turf! :4:
     
  9. Dustin_J

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    Yeah, you wouldn't think much about it today but salt has been an immensly improtant commodity for much of human history. I read this book (Salt) a year or two ago and found it incredibly interesting.
     
  10. woodsmith

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  11. Tundra

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    That's a mind bender.

    Either your cabin is nearby a salt lake, or you wait for the next group of hikers to come along.

    I would imagine it's a lot of work to process salt if you don't have salt deposits to collect from (even then, you have to ensure it's non-toxic salt).
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2013
  12. Appomattoxoutdoorsman

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    There's a mineral in the wild called halite found in California , Utahs salt flats, and Death Valley and a few other places here's a picture image.jpg
     
  13. Dearborn

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    For decades, I have operated on the premise that salt - sodium chloride - is necessary to combine with water for the production of weak hydrochloric acid for digestion; without it, you cannot live. In years past, I corresponded with an author who said that salt was one of the world's most important trade commodities and cities grew up to promote the salt trade - Salzburg, Austria, for example. Roman soldiers were paid in salt - salarium, from which "salary" is derived. I know of a naural salt lick in eastern Kentucky and I'm certain there are many more around the country that supported a massive trade among native Americans. I need to research the salt trade a bit further.
     
  14. Falstaff

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    There are some rather large salt deposits that are mined in the west, Utah for one, that produces a major portion of the salt used in the US. Most table salt comes from mines and was/is an important commodity, thus why prisoners were often sent to die working in salt mines.
     
  15. Akela

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    The mineral Halite (NaCl) is the geological name for common rock salt, which is washed and crushed to the smaller granule size that we then buy in the store to put in our salt shakers. Some pretty large areas of the continents were once lower than they are now and were submerged below the surface of the seas. As parts of the continents rose, the seas receded, leaving salt deposits like the salt flats behind in the basins.
     
  16. BRITT3175

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    I live in northern Utah 2 miles from the great salt lake I have never thought of this but I am going to look into how to process raw natural salt deposits.
    Thanks
     
  17. madmax

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  18. Survive

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    Thanks for all of the feedback. Up here, in the boreal forests of Canada, we have no access to salt licks, oceans, or salt mines. Southern Ontario has some salt mines, but that is a 7 hour drive....

    Was talking with someone else and they threw out the idea of "clay"... wondering if there is a natural sodium content in it??

    Well... off to church. Might have to inquire with the Big Guy on this one!
     
  19. Daveboone

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    Salt licks occur naturally, but were most likely exploiited early on by settlers. Nearby Syracuse NY was known as the Salt City, and was largely founded on the brine pools and wells in the area, some of which still exist. Fresh red meat has a fair bit of it in it, and of course, all sea/ocean water does, which is boiled down or evaporated to get it. You might look into your regional department of natural recourses for a mineral map, or multiple googles for salt production in your region. For hard times, it would be very inexpensive to stockpile a few 50 lb bags of rock salt Not the highest grade of salt out there, but it would certainly do.
    On a side note, the finger lake region of CNY is undermined by old ocean beds. There are huge salt mines far under ground, with miles of huge chambers where salt was dug out. I allways thought it would be cool to go inside of one. There are areas south of Syracuse where occaissionaly sinkholes appear, where the removal of brine has undermined the surface. I have friends who have found the old hollowed wooden log pipes once used to move the brine. Nearby my home is an old sulphur deposit.. I understand salt and sulphur are frequently found together. I obtained permission to explore it once, but never had a chance. I need to do that. 60 years ago, my wifes family owned the same land.
     
  20. DarkXstar

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    It's my understanding that additional salt would not be required for individuals where meat made up a significant portion of the diet. Most plants also contain trace amounts of sodium as the human body only needs 4 to 5 grams of sodium a day to remain healthy it shouldn't be difficult to get enough.
    I also read that coltsfoot plant was used as a salt substitute by some tribes by drying the plant and burning using the ashes for salt.
    Some native american tribes nomadic to some extent and would travel from place to place for different seasons frequently they would visit salt licks or springs to gather enough salt for the year Salt Rock WV was one of these encampments.
    From what i have read and have been told about civilizations forming around the salt trade the trade was more important for the preservation of food than it was for keeping people healthy.

    This is just my understanding of what i have read I very well could be wrong but i hope it helps
     
  21. muerte69

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    So a quick Google got me some neat things:

    Map of major salt deposits, mines and production in North America:
    http://www.saltinstitute.org/content/view/full/4229

    http://web.evs.anl.gov/saltcaverns/usdeposit/index.htm


    Another link I read said that Seafood, carrots, beets, poultry and most animals have high salt content.

    And this is a good read on it as well. It reminded me of a NatGeo or Discovery show years back where the tribe would bleed a cow to get a pitcher of blood then mix it with milk and drink it. Made a reddish congealed slurry looking stuff but I guess if they figured out how to safely bleed them every so often they could supplement any salt intake that way. Cows will replinish the blood and you get the salt you need.
    http://chriskresser.com/shaking-up-the-salt-myth-history-of-salt
     
  22. Easterner

    Easterner Banned Member Banned

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    You might be thinking of water hyacinth, they dried and burnt the leaves and processed it and then boiled the result down.
     
  23. Dadio

    Dadio Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    The area I live in is called "The Boonslick" after a local salt spring that was used by the Boone family to produce salt. They would boil the spring water in large iron pots and sell the minerals that were left. I've tasted the water from the spring, and it is very sulfurous (sp?), so I can't imagine the salt they produced would have been of the same quality as that which is commonly used today. There are references to natural occuring salts all around here in the name of creeks and even a county.


    If I recall correctly, there was a part of "My Side of the Mountain" where Sam processes hickory chips to produce some salty something. Never run across that in any other source, but I suspect the idea didn't start with Mrs. Craighead-George.
     
  24. darodalaf

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    I'm not Native American but I had three Native roommates for a couple of years, two Navajos from the rez and a Kewa (Santo Domingo Pueblo). They got most of their salt from potato chips, hot dogs, and the occasional rim of a margarita glass just like any other American. Truth hurts.

    But in seriousness, here in central New Mexico, much salt came from salt deposits located where pleisotcene lakes once stood, out on the plains at the foot of the Manzano mountains, and the Natives who lived nearby and gathered the salt did well in trade with their neighbors.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2013
  25. azone5

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    Many years ago in different books I read native Americans would make annual trips to salt sources to replenish their supplies. Also westward expansion could only go as far as they could be supplied salt.
     
  26. DuctTape

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    As was stated by others, sodium can be found in many different forms and not just NaCl. The sodium content of some vegetables is quite high. Some were already mentioned, but one that wasn't is celery. Celery contains about 35mg of sodium per stalk (as well as other vitamins and minerals). Many even use celery powder (not salt) as a flavor enhancement instead of salt.
     
  27. Spearo

    Spearo Banned Member Banned

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    Tamarisk, AKA Salt Cedar leaves a salt deposit in and around the ground where they grow. The salt levels are then too high for native plants. This is in part why this plant is so destructive. Wikipedia is the only place that had anything to say about anything useful with this plant, even then it is stated in incompletely.

    The tamarisk is used as an ornamental shrub, a windbreak, and a shade tree. The wood may be used for carpentry or firewood. It is a possible agroforestry species.[4] [5]
    Plans are being made for the tamarisk to play a role in anti-desertification programs in China.,[6][7]
    Salt cedars can be planted to mine salts, then be used in the production of fuel and fertilizer (although the latter will be somewhat salty).[8

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamarix
     
  28. PlowBoy93

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    Imo if there is game to be had there is some salt around. deer and other critters need salt just like we do and I ddqon't think they trade for it.
     
  29. Adam A.

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    Sodium (Na) is an essential nutrient. I believe it helps to maintain an alkaline environment.

    Salt, table salt, "white death" as I've heard it called (I'd like to call if beautiful), is Sodium Chloride (NaCl)...



    I'm interested in bush sources, now that you mention it. One that comes off the top of my head would be ocean water, left to evaporate in the sun. Sea salt would certainly be left in the pan.

    We should also be concerned with sources of Sodium. I believe cucumbers have a high level of Sodium... but how often do you find a wild cucumber?
     
  30. TerBear

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  31. TerBear

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  32. pure_mahem

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    I would say watch the animals I have a natural mineral/salt lick right behind my house the deer have completely scratched the ground clear of any vegetation and you can literally watch them come along and just start licking and pawing the ground. It's not a rub in the traditional sense like you see when they mark territory for breeding. Other than that if you want to be prepared in a sense you could always purchase a small salt/mineral lick that they sell for rabbits and such and keep it in your kit. When you feel the need you could just give it a lick.:4:
     
  33. Roamer

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    There are certain coastal plants that can live in salty water. As a result, their tissues become salty, and you can add salt to your diet by eating them. One example is pickleweed, a succulent common in many coastal areas:

    http://www.coastal.ca.gov/publiced/UNBweb/plants/pickleweed.html
    http://www.sfgate.com/homeandgarden/article/Native-pickleweed-offers-a-taste-of-the-wild-3298080.php

    Other tidal marsh plants deal with salty water by excreting the salt like sweat. I learned about a native grass with this ability at a local park recently. So I noticed there was fresh dew on this grass and decided to taste the dew. Sure enough it was salty from the salt the grass blades had "sweated out." Unfortunately I can't remember the name of this particular grass species. :15:
     
  34. rolandsilvajr

    rolandsilvajr Banned Member Banned

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    Can salt be evaporated from sea water and used.
     
  35. riverrat2012

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    If all else fails, you can eat the eyeballs of fresh killed game, like rabbits, for the salt content. I think I would have to be pretty desperate to eat raw rabbit eyes, thankfully we do not need near as much salt as one may think.
     
  36. woodsmith

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    It can, but it's not easy. It takes a lot of time and a lot of energy (muscle power, firewood, etc).

    Sea water isn't that salty. Sea salt is generally harvested from tidal pools that are only flooded at very high tides. As the seawater evaporates the salt becomes more concentrated until finally it falls out of solution into the mud/sand below. You still have to do a lot of purifying - up to and including dissolving the mud/sand in water, filtering it, and re-evaporating it.

    I haven't tried it, but from what I've read you can make salt from seawater in areas without the proper tidal pools. You just need a big flat container, lots of sun, a cover for the container, a bucket, and a fire. It's very ancient technology.

    You fill the flat container with seawater and let it evaporate. If it looks like it might rain you have to cover the container so you don't end up starting the process over. As the water level drops you add fresh seawater. Keep this process up until salt crystals start to form and precipitate out of the solution. You can build a fire under the container to help. The container can be metal or ceramic (or even wood).

    That's it in a nutshell, but keep in mind seawater isn't "pure", there's lots of other stuff suspended in there, some of which you may not want. There are different methods of refining/purifying the salt, if I remember correctly ox blood was used and later replaced by an egg.

    Here's a link with one prehistoric method: http://archaeology.about.com/od/foodsoftheancientpast/qt/Making-Salt.htm

    EDIT: Adding more links:

    Another good text on early methods: http://www.seillevalley.com/Production.htm
    Methods in England, mostly post-medieval (historic period): http://www.citcem.org/encontro/pdf/new_01/TEXTO - Jeremy Greenwood.pdf
    Archaeological study on salt production at a Danish site: http://rdgs.dk/djg/pdfs/110/1/GEO_110_1_JensMortenHansen.pdf

    Last edit: A few more tidbits:

    Seawater has an average salinity of 3.5%, but it can be significantly lower in coastal areas where freshwater is introduced, particularly at river mouths.

    "Salty enough to float an egg" is about 10% salinity.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2013
  37. amusin

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    yup! all ya need is a shallow pan and some sunlight what ya scrape off the rocks in the spray zone works fine too.

    salt harvested this way sells for a pretty penny as natural sea salt
     
  38. amusin

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    our dietary need for salt is seldome the issue though the real value of refined salt in quantity is for preserving both by pickling and drying, and for a flavor enhancer. That made packing a 40 pound bag out to the farmstead from town once or twice a year worthwile for the early american rural types. Some also reused pickling brine over pretty long periods.
     
  39. Itegorm

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    From what I have read and remember from various biology courses all the sodium a human needs can be had from the ingestion of animal protiens (meat). So if you are eating meat on a regular basis you would be set as far as what you need to survive. From a food preservation stand point salt would be a great help but foods (noatably meat) can be preserved by dryong and smoking without the benefit of salt. From a flavor stand point there are naturally occuring licks and salt springs found in many places and processing salt from them is just a matter of evaporating the water out, boiling being the quickest and easiest method, takes a few hours but not to hard to do if hou have a container to boil in. Additionally as someone already pointed out there are a few plants with pretty high salt levels that can be extracted. Coltsfoot is one i have used, dry the leaves out then burn them on a flat surface, the ashes are fairly salty, not to the level of regular table salt but enough to give a salty taste. I would be interested in trying out the hickory chip thing but as I currently live where there are no hickory trees I will have to wait on that one. On another note.getting back to Native American salt consumption, in my area (Upper Great Lakes) some of the discriptions in the 17th and 18th century writers make a note that the Natives never used salt and found it to be repellant when used in food in they tasted from their Euro visitors.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2013
  40. justin_baker

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    What about those big salt flats out in the desert? Is that stuff safe to eat?
     
  41. amusin

    amusin Guide

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    probably not after all the speed trial related wrecks
     
  42. alannguyen

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    Yes , I heard that before too
     
  43. WoodsJack

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  44. muerte69

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    So after reading all the post so far it got me thinking and so I had to whip out the Google-fu and look into some things.
    After much reading, fuzzy logic, possibly miscalculated math and a slight bit of insanity here is what I got.

    So from what I can garner the human body can exist off about 500mg of sodium a day and recommended minimum of 4700mg of potassium.
    From the reading we generally get an average sodium intake range of 2400 mg to 5175 mg of sodium per day in developed cultures and approximately 3,200 mg per day in men and 2,400 mg per day in women of potassium.
    Going off the reading a good idea for daily intake is 1500mg of sodium and I will stick with the 4700mg of potassium...
    We all think about salt but forget the potassium that goes hand in hand with it. Both are needed for nerve function and alot of other things. I should know as I have a genetic condition that messes with my potassium and can cause me to become paralyzed due to the imbalance.

    So taking those numbers into account we get the following:
    Sodium needed per day: 1500mg
    Sodium needed per week: 10.5 grams
    Sodium per month: 46.5 grams
    Sodium per year: 547.5 grams
    41.42 years of salt in a 50 pound bag...

    Potassium per day: 4700mg
    Potassium needed per week: 32.9 grams
    Potassium per month: 145.7 grams
    Potassium per year: 1.71 Kg

    Morten Salt 26oz container has 491 servings at 590mg per serving for 289.69 grams of sodium per container (Iodized or plain are the same).
    This means you can live easily off of 2 of the regular salt containers for a year with nothing else adding salt to your diet.

    Morten Salt Substitute 3.125oz shaker contains 74 servings at 610mg of potassium for 45.14 grams per container.
    So you would need 38 of these containers to meet your yearly need for potassium.

    So what about if you are living off the land...
    Well here we go:
    Food Serving Sodium(mg) Potassium(mg)
    Chicken 3 oz - 70 - 235
    Eggs 1 - 60 - 65
    Fish 3 oz - 85 - 390
    Turkey 3 oz - 70 - 330
    Veal 3 oz - 40 - 260
    Liver 3 oz - 155 - 310
    Pork 3 oz - 60 - 235
    Venison 3 oz - 48 - 338
    Broccoli 1 Cup - 64 - 457
    Sweet potato 1 Cup - 72 - 950
    Spinach 1 Cup - 126 - 839
    Beet greens 1 Cup - 346 - 1310
    Banana 1 - 1 - 422
    Carrots 1 cup - 88 - 410

    Average of 73.5mg of sodium per 3oz meat/egg. (Remember to eat that liver and let nothing go to waste)
    Average of 116mg of sodium per vegetable per serving. (Beet greens are danged high, guess they would be a good one to keep around to plant)

    From the looks of it getting your potassium in a day with regular meats and vegetables should be a non issue but it is something to think about.

    From a sodium standpoint saying you farmed/hunted/foraged enough for 1 meat serving and 2 veg servings a meal you get the following:
    1 meal a day gives you: 305.5mg Sodium Per Day
    2 meals a day gives you: 611mg Sodium Per Day
    3 meals per day gives you: 916.5mg Sodium Per Day

    So regular food intake will not get you to the recommended 1500mg per day but there are instances of peoples surviving off 500mg a day so you may be alive just not happy about it.

    So to meet your 1500mg a day requirement taking the previous numbers you get:
    At 1 meal a day you would need to supplement by: 1194.5mg a day or 436 grams of salt extra per year. (50lb last 52 years)
    At 2 meals a day you would need to supplement by: 889mg a day or 324.5 grams of salt extra per year. (50lb last 69 years)
    At 3 meals a day you would need to supplement by: 583.5mg a day or 213 grams of salt extra per year. (50lb last 106 years)

    So is salt important to have handy... YES but a little of the stuff should go a long way.
    Was this way to many numbers and stuff to say that... Extremely
    Do we all know a little more about electrolytes... YES we do...
    Can't say this will help or anything but once I had the idea I had to follow through with it.

    Sources:
    http://www.livestrong.com/article/485688-how-much-sodium-is-needed-for-a-person-to-live/
    http://chriskresser.com/shaking-up-the-salt-myth-the-human-need-for-salt
    http://www.rsc.org/get-involved/hot-topics/Salt/how-much-salt.asp
    http://www.nwkidney.org/nutrition/potassiumsodiummeat.htmhttp://www.livestrong.com/article/256561-foods-containing-potassium-sodium/
    http://www.mortonsalt.com/for-your-home/culinary-salts/food-salts/1/morton-table-salt-plain-and-iodized/
    http://www.mortonsalt.com/for-your-home/culinary-salts/food-salts/5/morton-salt-substitute/
    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sodium-potassium-balance/
    http://healthyliving.msn.com/diseases/osteoporosis/potassium-and-sodium-the-dynamic-duo-1
     
  45. tleek

    tleek Scout

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    the ocean of course for coastal peoples
    I know many cultures made contraptions, sometimes simple wholes filled with sea water and let the water evaporate and the salt was left behind. Very minimal amount of work, but a very minimal amount of salt and not an option for many people.

    Not practical for thelone group of woodsmen, but the ancient chinese located salt veins ( or whatever they would be called) and built massive percussive drills, all man powered of course, and dug deep trenches to excavate salt, and later even oil. Europe later caught on. before the drills they simply gathered salt from the surface of these deposits or from shallow holes.


    You got me interested in this. Spring breaks over, so maybe ill ask one of my professors how native americans and other native groups got their salt
     
  46. FreeMe

    FreeMe Guide

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    Some sources I've read give 1500mg a day as a maximum recommended sodium intake, with the minimum being 500mg (yes, I know that government agencies give much higher numbers - "we're here to help"). Lots of people have done some fairly long stretches of eating foods with no salt added.....and survived. If there are any processed foods in your diet, I'm pretty sure you could go without any other source of sodium indefinitely. BTW - one teaspoon of salt is about 50% more than 1500mg of sodium.
     
  47. Tundra

    Tundra Scout

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    Thanks for this thread. I picked up some Himalayan pink salt to add to my food prep in my bag.

    The food I pack is generally salty, but always good to have a little at your disposal.
     
  48. borego

    borego Scout

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    Mainly from the sea is where your going to get salt
     
  49. muerte69

    muerte69 Scout

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    Yeah the 1500mg is the max from the American Heart Association I believe with one of the others saying it's like 2300mg or so...
    I figured I would use that number since it wasn't too low or too high and if your needing salt and have to have an alternative method to get it you will probably need enough to replace what you sweat out while working to get it.
    I think a serving of chicken soup is like 1200-1300mg of salt so not hard to get more than enough with processed foods for sure.
     
  50. OrienM

    OrienM Scout

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    This thread has got me looking around for natural salt sources in my area....yesterday I was walking along the river and came across a spot where a whitish, crystalline crust had formed along the bank. I tasted a tiny sample, and...you guessed it....it was a salt lick. The spot was below a paved roadway, so I figured it was probably not food-safe, but it was interesting to see a natural salt formation just the same (they don't salt the roads here, either). In a less-traveled area I wouldn't be afraid to collect and use some from a source like this.

    Last year someone gifted me a little jar of Zuni salt (from the salt pan on the Zuni reservation in N. central NM). It was delicious, bright white salt, with no mineral overtone or other off flavors. Commercial iodized salt tastes a bit funny to me now in comparison.
     

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