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Salt is a dietary mineral essential for animal life, composed primarily of sodium chloride. Salt for human consumption is produced in different forms: unrefined salt (such as sea salt), refined salt (table salt), and iodised salt. It is a crystalline solid, white, pale pink or light grey in color, normally obtained from sea water or rock deposits. Edible rock salts may be slightly greyish in color due to this mineral content.

Table salt is refined salt, 99% sodium chloride. It usually contains substances that make it free flowing (anticaking agents) such as sodium silicoaluminate or magnesium carbonate. It is common practice to put a few grains of uncooked rice or half a dry cracker (such as Saltine) in salt shakers to absorb extra moisture when anticaking agents are not enough. Whereas pure NaCl has a density of 2.165 gm/cc, table salt has a density of 1.22 gm/cc.

Sodium is one of the primary electrolytes in the body. All four cationic electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium) are available in unrefined salt, as are other vital minerals needed for optimal bodily function. Too much or too little salt in the diet can lead to muscle cramps, dizziness, or even an electrolyte disturbance, which can cause severe, even fatal, neurological problems. Drinking too much water, with insufficient salt intake, puts a person at risk of water intoxication.

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