Salt Block: The History
Even more badass than the flavors the Himalayan salt block infuses into food is how far back it goes. It's time for history class kids, but don't worry, no need to take notes.
Himalayan salt blocks come from the Khewra Salt Mine of Pakistan, the second largest mine of its kind in the world. Thought to have first formed more than 600 million years ago when the sun dried up a prehistoric ocean, the mines were discovered during the 4th century when Alexander the Great’s army horses strangely gathered in certain areas and would lick the ground. The action did not go unnoticed by Alexander’s soldiers, and the salt trade began. As the region changed rulers - from the Mughal empire, to the Sikhs, and eventually, imperial Britain - the salt mine expanded, and its salt moved around the globe.
(Sort of) Recent events
Though salt blocks formed over many millennia in certain areas surrounding the Himalayas, mining the salt is a very recent innovation. And it’s done the hard way - down a dark and long mineshaft, at great cost, and with tremendous human effort.
The earliest known human use of Himalayan salt blocks dates back to around the 16th century, when a chunk of the translucent pinkish salt broke from within a mine and was then carved into food-bearing blocks and other household items by locals.
Himalayan salt blocks have since been put to good use in cooking. In addition to grilling, the ancient blocks have been found to have uses for curing, baking, sautéing, and chilling, among other things.
History in the making
The history of the Himalayan salt block is still being written, since their use has only been introduced in places like the United States over the past few decades. What we now understand is that the many benefits of cooking on a salt block are due in large part to the way salt’s crystal structure holds in heat for a sustained period. The result is excellent heat distribution, facilitating evenly cooked eggs, venison, beef, poultry, and veggies.
The history of Himalayan salt blocks now continues above ground - and, more importantly, on your grill.