Let’s get ready to play a game called “Kitchen Scavenger Hunt.” Go to your kitchen cupboard to see if you can find some of the following items:
- peanut butter
Hungry yet? Before you decide to have a little snack, look at the box or bag of each item and read the list of ingredients. Do you notice one ingredient that shows up in each food? It’s salt! Salt is in many of the foods we eat—even in foods that don’t taste very salty! But have you ever wondered where salt comes from or why it is important? Take a quick bite of a snack from your cupboard and read on!
Where Does Salt Come From?
Salt can be found underground in many places around the world, but it is most commonly found in saltwater seas, lakes, and oceans. If you have ever taken a dip in the ocean, you may have accidentally tasted the super-salty water while swimming!
How Does Salt Get to Your Kitchen Table?
Underground salt is drilled and cut away from large rocks in salt mines. Some salt mines add water to break up the salt. The salt is then separated from the water by a process called evaporation. The salty water is boiled until it gets so hot that the water evaporates in the form of steam. When all the water is boiled away, all that is left is the salt!
Sea salt is collected from oceans and salt lakes and saved in shallow pools. The heat from the sun then evaporates the water into the air, leaving the salt crystals behind.
Why Your Body Needs Salt
Eating too much salt can be deadly. But including just the right amount of salt in your diet helps your body stay balanced and healthy. Have you ever noticed that your sweat and tears taste salty? It’s true! Salt helps your body take important nutrients into your small intestine and even helps your stomach digest the food you eat!
What Else Do We Use Salt For?
Most of us season our food with salt, but did you know that salt has many other uses too? If you live in a place that gets lots of snow in the winter, then you know that rock salt is used to melt the ice on streets and highways to make travel safer. Salt is also used in the manufacturing of products we use every day, including plastics, paper, rubber, soaps, and detergents. You definitely don’t want to eat those things!
What Does the Bible Say about Salt?
You might be surprised to find out that the Bible says quite a bit about salt. Genesis 19:26 tells a story about Lot’s wife. When she disobeyed God by turning back to look at the destruction of the cities Sodom and Gomorrah, she became a pillar of salt. Yikes!
The book of Leviticus, which includes many rules the Jews needed to know about worshiping God and gives instructions for everyday living, tells how they were to use salt in grain and burnt offerings to God (2:13). Even newborn babies were to be rubbed with salt!
But the two main uses of salt in the Bible were to season food and to keep food from spoiling. Food that was salted did not spoil as quickly as unsalted foods. Imagine how important that was in Bible times—long before refrigerators had been invented.
The “Salt” of the Earth
Salt in the Bible is mentioned as a special symbol for believers. In Matthew 5:13 Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” Does Jesus really want Christians to taste like salt? No! But the way we show love and kindness to others should “season” the world with goodness in the same way that salt seasons food. Being the salt of the earth means that the people around us will notice the joy and peace we have, and they’ll want to know more about the God we serve!
Super Salt Crystals
Make your own salt crystals by following the directions below. Don’t forget to ask an adult for help!
What you’ll need:
½ cup of table salt or Epsom salt
1 cup of water
Sturdy plastic or glass cup that can hold boiling water
Piece of string
Food coloring (optional)
What to do:
Tie one end of a piece of string to the center of the pencil and the other end of the string to a paper clip. Ask an adult to help you boil the water in a pot on the stove.
Next, ask an adult to help you pour the water into the cup. If you are using food coloring, stir a few drops into the water.
Then slowly pour small amounts of the salt into the cup and stir. The salt will quickly dissolve. Continue adding more salt to the pot, stirring constantly, until no more salt will dissolve in the water. (You will start to see salt collect at the bottom of the cup when no more salt will dissolve in the water.)
Carefully place the paper clip and string into the salt water, and lay the pencil flat over the top of the cup. Make sure that the paper clip is not touching the bottom of the cup. Place the cup on a windowsill undisturbed where the sun will shine on the salt solution. After a few days, watch to see salt crystals growing on the paper clip and string!