Difference between Canning salt, Kosher salt, and Himalayan Salt

By Charlotte King

Canning salt, pickling salt, kosher salt, regular salt and Himalayan salt– which is which? All the salt choices can be quite confusing. This article breaks it down for you so you know exactly which salt jar to reach for depending on your needs!

One key ingredient in the process of pickling is salt. Does it matter what kind of salt you use? Some recipes call for canning salt or pickling salt. What makes these types of salt different from regular salt? Can you use a substitute? Here is everything you need to know.

Canning Salt and Pickling Salt

Is there a difference between canning salt and pickling salt? There is no difference between canning salt and pickling salt, they are the same. Depending on what recipe you are following, these terms are the same.

Sometimes called preserving salt or canning salt, pickling salt brands include Ball and Morton. This type of salt features fine granules and is pure sodium chloride. The size of the granules makes it dissolve in brine with ease. You will find pickling salt under the Ball or Morton brands in the salt section in the grocery store or right next to jars for canning at the hardware store.

While pickling or canning salt is ideal to use for making pickles due to its finer granules and no added ingredients, it is not the only salt you can use. A great alternative is a Kosher salt as long as it has no additives either. A good brand of Kosher salt is Crystal. You can also use pure sea salt to pickle various ingredients. Even if it is safe to use table salt, this is not recommended due to the pickle quality suffering from all the additives.

Pure And Natural

The purest and most natural form of salt, pickling or canning salt is not processed like other salts. Unlike table salt, pickling or canning salt has no additives. Pickling or canning salt is a fine-grained salt used for processing pickles and for canning food. As you prepare food to be canned or pickled, this salt prevents the brine from getting cloudy. All the hard work of grinding up kosher or sea salt has been done.

Pickling or canning salt is used for manufacturing and canning pickles. Just like table salt, it is sodium chloride. However, unlike most table salt brands, canning salt does not have anti-caking agents. Anti-caking agents prevent lump formation for easy flow-ability and packaging. Anti-caking-agents sometimes have negative effects on food nutrition such as the degradation of added Vitamin C to food.

However, manufacturers do add anti-caking ingredients to table salt so that when you shake the salt out of the salt-shaker, it pours freely. When you put pickling or canning salt into a salt shaker, be sure to add it in with grains of rice. The reason is that grains of rice absorb moisture and act as the anti-caking agent for canning salt, without going through the holes due to their size.

When using pickling or canning salt, you have the added benefit of knowing that there are no other chemicals other than Sodium Chloride (NaCl) in the salt. Without the additives, pickling or canning salt won’t turn pickles and vegetables a dark color. You can tell that something in your pickles turned bad when bacteria become present and the liquid becomes cloudy.

That is another reason why pickling or canning salt, which keeps the brine clear, is useful. You can also use pickling or canning salt to preserve meat such as salt-cured sausage or ham. Some folks who don’t realize the importance of pickling or canning salt use iodized salt for canning and wonder why their pickles got dark and they can’t see anything due to the cloudy brine!

Clear Brine Each Time

Pickling or canning salt dissolves in water easily, which results in a clear brine. When exposed to moisture, however, it tends to form clumps or “cake.” Aside from being used for canning, this type of salt can be used for other purposes such as seasoning food like French fries and popcorn. You can also use this for baking.

People use canning salt with confidence for creating their preserved food because when they use iodized salt, iodine causes pickles to become dark and the pickling liquid or brine cloudy due to regular salt’s anti-caking additives. Do you see how pickling aka canning salt has the advantage in these cases? This is why for making pickles, canning salt is the preferred choice.

Remember that it is not iodized, and thus cannot provide iodine. Folks with thyroid problems and suffer from iodine deficiency will not be able to get this from canning salt. On the other hand, iodine inclusion may not be necessary if your diet is rich in seafood.

Kosher Salt

Also known as kashering salt, koshering salt, rock salt, flake salt, cooking salt or kitchen salt, kosher salt is edible, coarse salt with no iodine or other common additives. Kosher salt consists primarily of sodium chloride and sometimes include agents for anticaking. Kosher salt is not used on the table but instead, is a staple in the kitchen. In various countries and cultures globally, the name of kosher salt varies.

In North America, the common term is kosher salt, referring to its use in the practice of dry brining meats or kashering, done by the Jews. The salt, of course, is not manufactured under any guidelines of religion, as some mistakenly think. Some brands even identify kosher salt on the label as “kosher-certified” for approval by religious groups.

When kosher salt is manufactured, it has a plate-like, flat shape rather than cubic crystals. Sometimes, it also comes in the shape of a hollow pyramid. The flat form is made usually when the crystal cubes are forced under pressure into this shape. This is done between rollers. Generally, the crystals shaped like pyramids are created in a process of evaporation called the Alberger process. Usually, salt is made with a larger grain size than the grains of table salt.

Cleaning Is Kosher

Due to the size of its grain, kosher salt is sometimes used as an abrasive cookware cleaner such as skillets made with cast iron. When you mix kosher salt with oil, it does not melt and retains its abrasion. After cleaning, however, it gets dissolved easily. Unlike calcium carbonate or pumice cleaners, ti does not leave a residue of grit on the pans and can be rinsed away thoroughly.

Kashering/Brining Meat

A dry brine is created by coarse-grain salt. This increases flavor and succulence. It also satisfies some requirements for religion. Sometimes, flavor additions such as sugar, spices, and herbs are included. Typically meat is soaked in cold water, drained and covered completely in a thin salt layer. It is then allowed to stand on a board or a rack for more than an hour.

The granules of salt remain on the meat’s surface and do not dissolve. It also renders out the meat fluid, drawing it outwards, before becoming re-absorbed along with added flavorings with the salt. In essence, you brine meat in its juice. Before cooking, the salt rub is then rinsed off and discarded.

Due to the lack of fluoride, dextrose, and iodine, which can taste bitter or metallic, kosher salt’s flavor is pure. often, it is used in cooking recipes rather than put in a shaker on the table. Thus, table salt flavors are not introduced to food as it cooks. When hand-salting, estimating salt amounts tends to be easier with kosher salt because of its large-sized granules.

There are even recipes that call for kosher salt volume measurements. The salt has a lower density and thus weighs less. Because of having less density, kosher salt is not as salty compared to an equal measured volume of table salt. There are huge variations in density among all the different salt brands. Certain brands may measure the same volume but contain twice the amount of salt by mass as another brand.

Kosher salt can be used as a canning salt substitute without changing the appearance of your pickles. When using this type of salt to substitute canning salt, make sure you use more because kosher salt is not as dense or compact as canning salt. You can also make your kosher salt more compact when you grind it in a salt grinder.

Primarily composed of NaCl or sodium chloride, salt is a mineral and a chemical compound that belongs to a broader class of salts. In its most natural form, salt is a crystalline mineral known as halite or rock salt. Present in vast seawater quantities, salt is the primary mineral constituent. Per liter of water from the sea, the open ocean contains about thirty-five grams of solid salt per liter.

Essentially, alt is necessary to sustain life. One of the basic human tastes is “saltiness.” Salt is the most ubiquitous and oldest among food seasoning varieties. In preserving food, salt is an important method.

Some earlier salt processing evidence dates back to 6000 BC when people who lived in Rome extracted salt by boiling spring water. In China, salt works dates back to about the same period. Also, salt was priced by the ancient Indians, Egyptians, Hittites, Byzantines, Romans, Greeks and Hebrews.

In trade, salt became an important article and went by boat across the Mediterranean and on camel caravans in the Sahara along salt roads specially built for this purpose. The universal need and scarcity of salt have caused nations to use it to raise the revenue of taxes and to go to war over it. In religious ceremonies, salt is used extensively. There are many other traditional and cultural significance of salt as well.

Essential for human health, sodium is a necessary nutrient through its role as an osmotic and electrolyte solute. Excessive consumption of salt increases the risks of cardiovascular disease including adult and child hypertension. The recommendation is that adults should eat less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium daily which equals five grams of salt.

Table Salt

Woman salting food

Essential to animals and human health, salt is one of the five basic sensations of taste. Around the world, many cuisines use salt and are found on restaurant or dinner salt shakers for personal use to season your food. In many processed food, salt is also a popular ingredient.

Table salt is a salt that is refined, containing up to ninety-nine percent NaCl. Anticaking agents are usually added to make it flow freely. These anticaking agents include magnesium carbonate or sodium alumino-silicate.

Potassium iodide-containing iodized salt is available widely. Some folks but a saltine cracker or some uncooked rice grains as a desiccant in a salt shaker. These are meant to absorb additional moisture and help in breaking up clumps of salt that could form otherwise.

 Some additives are contained in table salt meant to be consumed. Various health concerns have been raised concerning this. From one country to the next, the amount and identity of additives widely vary. For humans, iodine is an important micro-nutrient. Element deficiencies in humans cause endemic goiter or enlargement of the thyroid gland. It can also cause hypothyroidism or less thyroxine production.

Since 1924, iodized salt has been used to correct conditions such as these. It also consists of table salt with minuscule amounts of sodium iodate, sodium iodide or potassium iodide.

Dextrose in minute amounts could also be added to help the iodine become stabilized. Around the world, iodine deficiency affects billions of people. It is the lead preventable mental retardation cause. In countries in which iodized table salt is used, it reduces iodine deficiency disorders significantly.

Due to the large consumption of salt, health risks are involved. For this reason, the World Health Organization recommends that adults don’t eat more than two thousand milligrams of sodium daily, or five grams of salt.

Table salt serves a vital purpose in the human body. It contains the vital electrolyte sodium which helps muscles and nerves to function correctly. It helps fluid balance in body organs as it is involved with osmotic water regulation. Most of the Western diet’s sodium comes from salt. The Western diet consumes more salt than Asia or East Europe. The vast amounts of sodium in food processing impact the total consumed amount of salt.

Himalayan Salt

 Mined from modern Pakistan’s Punjab region, Himalayan salt is often tinted pink due to the impurities of minerals. Primarily, it is used as a food additive, just as you would use table salt. however, it is also used for spa treatments, decorative lamps, food presentation and cooking. The salt is advertised with claims of health benefits but there is no scientific evidence for claims such as these. Mined from the Salt Range mountains, Himalayan salt is similar chemically to table salt.

In the Himalayas, some mined salt is not suited for industrial or food use without becoming purified due to their impurity. Some crystals of salts from this location have a transparent or off-white color. In some veins, the impurity gives a beet-red, reddish or pink color. Himalayan salt is about ninety-six percent NaCl with the remainder consisting of typical, minute chemicals. Though it does not have iodine, Himalayan salt is similar nutritionally to table salt.

Used to flavor food, you will know that salt is Himalayan when there are distinctive pinkish hues. The color alone has led to many misconceptions that compared to common table salt, it is healthier. These assertions have no support or evidence. Mainly, the cost of advertising has brought the price of Himalayan salt to be twenty times more expansive than sea salt or table salt.

Salt blocks of Himalayan salt are used as griddles, baking stones or serving dishes. The FDA in the United States made warnings about advertising Himalayan salt as a diet supplement without real evidence.

Salt lamps are also made with Himalayan salt in which hollowed out chunks of this type of salt are inserted with light bulbs to radiate a pink hue. Used as decoration in many spas, the health claims of Himalayan Salt Lamps have no basis, either. However, that is not to say that they are not decorative.


Knowing which salt to buy will depend on what you need it for. When you use table salt, make sure you keep it on the dinner table. Don’t use table salt for pickles unless you are prepared to consume large amounts of dark pickles in cloudy brine. For canning and pickling, use canning/pickling salt. When you see the words “canning” or “pickling,” keep in mind that these mean the same thing.

They are the same variety and you are not buying two different things. Thus, if you are embarking on a canning or pickling project, go to the salt aisle in the grocery and find something that says either “canning” or “pickling” salt. If your grocery store does not have it, use “kosher” salt which will still give you a clear brine, even if it has a larger-sized granule.

Thus, you need more kosher salt to use for canning/pickling for the same amount of saltiness. As with everything else, practice makes perfect and with enough canning and pickling attempts, you will be a certified salt expert in no time.

Be sure to check out our guide on canning spinach.

Affiliate Disclosure

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We are compensated for referring traffic and business to Amazon and other companies linked to on this site.

Read More