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Salt: The Universal History. Allie Pierce, Elizabeth Horn, Lexa Barrott. Image from: What is Salt?.

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Salt the universal history

Salt: The Universal History

Allie Pierce, Elizabeth Horn, LexaBarrott

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What is salt
What is Salt?

  • By definition, salt is acrystallinecompound, sodium chloride, NaCl, occurring as a mineral, a constituent of seawater, etc., and used for seasoning food, as a preservative,etc.

    • Source:

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What makes salt
What Makes Salt

  • Sodium

    • Chemical Symbol: Na

    • Atomic Number: 11

    • Alkali Metal; has only one valence electron in its outer shell; making it very reactive.

  • Chlorine

    • Chemical Symbol: Cl

    • Atomic Number: 17

    • Halogen; has only one valence electron in its outer shell; making it very reactive.

Image By: Greg Robson

Image By: Greg Robson

Image By: Dennis S.K

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How does salt form
How Does Salt Form?

Ionic Bonds Formed



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Sodium: Reactive Metal

Chlorine: Reactive Gas

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Salt: Unreactive Chemical Compound

Both elements are posionous to humans on their own, but when combined they become a compound that is essential to all walks of life.

How salt affects other forms of life
How Salt Affects Other Forms of Life

  • Autotrophs

    • Halophytes have special membranes to limit the rate of diffusion of the salt in the roots.

    • Algae are photosynthesizing protists that have a body system equipped to decrease the salinity levels of the water they live in.

  • Heterotrophs

    • All domestic and wild animals need salt.

    • Cows and Sheep need salt so much that the location of salt becomes engrained in their memory so they know where to return when they become salt deficient.

    • Animals need salt more than plants

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How salt affects humans
How Salt Affects Humans

  • Too Much Salt:

    • Hypernatremia: Caused by an excess of salt.

      • It can cause high blood pressure, dehydration, osteoporosis, ulcers, and gastric cancer

  • Too Little Salt:

    • Hyponatremia: Caused by too little salt

      • One of the most common electrolyte disturbances.

      • Can occur when there is an excess of water and a deficiency of salt in the body.

      • Can cause swelling of the brain and/or death.

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A brief history of salt universal history
A Brief History of Salt: Universal History

  • Sodium and Chlorine were formed when stars began, and their hydrogen atoms fused their nuclei together to form heavier atoms.

  • Elements as heavy as sodium and chlorine formed in stars 4 times heavier than the sun.

Sodium and Chlorine form in stars with a similar mass to that of Betelgeuse, pictured above.

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Geological formation of salt
Geological Formation of Salt

  • Salt Lakes

    • Salt lakes occur when saltwater lakes evaporate.

    • Salt flats and other minerals remain.

    • Salt lakes most likely will occur in mountainous regions.

      • Example: The Great Salt Lake, Utah

  • Salt Domes

    • Salt is formed under the earth, and is pushed up to form salt domes.

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A brief history of salt geography
A Brief History of Salt: Geography

  • Salt has determined the location of many cities globally.

  • One of the many cities formed around salt deposits is Detroit, MI.

    • The salt in Detroit was a saltwater basin that covered nearly all of the state of Michigan. The water evaporated and left vast amounts of salt.

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Primary uses of salt health sciences
Primary Uses of Salt: Health Sciences

  • Salt has many health related uses:

    • Iodized Salt

    • Dead Sea Salt

    • Himalayan Salt

    • Lithium Chloride

    • Bath Salts: Actual Bath Salts (right)

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Primary uses of salt culinary
Primary Uses of Salt: Culinary

  • Salt has many culinary uses

    • Salt has been used as a preservative for many centuries.

    • Salt is also one of the most common seasonings.

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Primary uses of salt industry
Primary Uses of Salt: Industry

  • Salt also has many industrial uses.

    • Glass

    • Detergents and soaps

    • Chemicals and petrochemicals

    • Paper

    • Textiles

    • Ironworks

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A brief history of salt etymology
A Brief History of Salt: Etymology

  • Many phrases and words were coined by the use of salt in many cultures.

    • The word salary was introduced by the Egyptians, who paid their workers in salt.

    • The word salad was introduced by the Greco-Romans, who used salt to preserve their lettuce and other vegetables.

    • The phrase, “Not worth his salt,” was used by the Greco-Romans who traded salt for slaves.

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A brief history of salt old world history
A Brief History of Salt: Old World History

  • Humans have been using salt for many centuries.

    • The Chinese were one of many cultures to enforce a salt tax. They also were some of the first to use salt for pharmaceutical purposes.

    • The Egyptians also had a salt tax. They also used salt in the mummification of the dead, to embalm the corpses.

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A brief history of salt new world history
A Brief History of Salt: New World History

  • During the Revolutionary War(1775-1783), one of the British war tactics was to cut off all of the Americans’ salt resources. The Americans began to make their own salt to aid the Patriot soldiers.

  • The Erie Canal was built to transport salt from Syracuse, New York all around the world.

  • Gandhi Salt March

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A brief history of salt religion
A Brief History of Salt: Religion

  • Buddhism

    • In Buddhism, salt is used to ward away evil spirits.

      • For example, in Sumo Wrestling, the Buddhists sprinkle salt all around the ring to ward off the spirits during their wrestling match.

  • Christianity

    • Salt is mentioned in the Bible over 30 times.

      • For example, in the book of Genesis, Lot’s Wife turns into a pillar of salt when she disobeys God.

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Salt in the economy
Salt in the Economy

  • Salt is a multi billion-dollar industry.

  • Salt was used as both a tax and a form of currency for many centuries.

  • In ancient times, salt was traded ounce-for-ounce with gold.

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How salt is mined
How Salt is Mined

  • There are 3 basic mining techniques. The environment determines the method used to obtain the salt.

    • Solar Salt: we get sea salt from oceans and saline lakes.

    • Rock Salt: produced by excavating a shaft that allows miners to access salt deposits and break them into sizeable pieces.

    • Evaporated Salt (Refined Salt): by solution mining the underground deposit of salt and removing the water from the brine, the salt is pumped to the surface.

The future of salt
The Future of Salt

  • Shouldn’t the use of salt be regulated?

    • All walks of life rely on salt.

    • Example: oil

    • Nearly all people rely on oil, but there are only a few oil deposits globally.

  • The supply of salt is never limited.

    • Large supply of salt both underground and in our oceans.

    • Salt is very easily attained.

    • Salt is always in demand, but is never lacking in supply.