Salt is a dietary mineral essential in small quantities for animal life, composed primarily of sodium chloride. Salt flavor is one of the basic tastes, and salt is the most popular food seasoning. Salt is also an important preservative.
Salt and health
Many of us eat more salt than we should. Overconsumption of salt increases the risk of health problems, including high blood pressure and more. A lot of the time the problem isn't the salt we add when we're cooking, it's the salt in processed food we buy. All of us can end up with too much salt that way if we're not careful.
I was recently surprised when I found out how much salt there is in Hash browns I ate as a treat once a week or so. 7 hash browns give me 2.1 grammes of salt, that's a large proportion of the 6 grammes I should eat daily.  I have to take care that I don't eat too much salt or proecssed food the rest of the day when I've had them. (Since I wrote this I found out many potato based foods make it hard for the body to regulate blood sugar.  I'll be eating these hash browns less often and eating smaller portions in future.
Another example. One large pack of Jacobs Crinklys Cheese Onion gives you 12.25 grammes of salt and that's as much as you should eat in 2 days. There are 7 smaller packs inside the large pack. Unless you're sure you have the will power to avoid eating all 7 packs at once this is best left on the supermarket shelf. A small pack gives you a bit under 2 grammes of salt.  You can manage that if you aren't eating much other salt that day, still there must be tastier and more nourishing foods you could eat with the same salt content. 
Those cheap salty snacks you buy away from home may not even save you money. All that salt can make you thirsty, so you're off buying some coffee, some tea or a sugary drink you wouldn't otherwise need. If it's cheap and salty it will be made with potato or refined grain, processed, white flour, processed, white rice which is also unhealthy. 
What about foods like olives preserved in salt? Do you need to do without them? You can add small amounts of such ingredients to soups or stews and use the salt from the ingredient to flavour the dish. If you do that you don't add further salt. If you buy a large jar of olives you can freeze them, if you use them in soups or stews they come out fine. What if you eat them after freezing uncooked as they are? I wouldn't try that, too salty.
Below is what the UK NHS website recommends.
Salt recommendations On average, people in the UK eat about 8.1g of salt (3.2g sodium) a day. This may not sound like much, but to reduce the risk of disease, adults should not be eating more than 6g of salt (2.4g sodium) a day. Salt levels should be much lower than this for babies and children. Babies should have less than 1g of salt a day. The daily recommended maximum amount of salt children should eat depends on their age:
1 to 3 years – 2g of salt a day (0.8g sodium) 4 to 6 years – 3g of salt a day (1.2g sodium) 7 to 10 years – 5g of salt a day (2g sodium)
11 years and over – 6g of salt a day (2.4g sodium) 
Baked beans, bread, cereals and sweet things like biscuits, have added salt. The only way you can be sure what you're getting is to check the packet.  Even if you read the label things can stay confusing because some products state the sodium content rather than the salt content. Less than half of salt is sodium so you have to double the sodium content and add a bit more to get the salt content.
Of course there's also take away food where the supplier doesn't have to tell you at all what's in it. You can easily end up with far too much salt, sugar, bad fat from take away food and it's best to cut down hard on those foods.
Salt for human consumption is produced in different forms: unrefined salt (such as sea salt), refined salt (table salt), and iodized 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.
Chloride and sodium ions, the two major components of salt, are necessary for the survival of all known living creatures, including humans. Salt is involved in regulating the water content (fluid balance) of the body. Salt cravings may be caused by trace mineral deficiencies as well as by a deficiency of sodium chloride itself.
Forms of Salt
Unrefined Salt: Different natural salts have different mineralities, giving each one a unique flavor. Fleur de sel, natural sea salt harvested by hand, has a unique flavor varying from region to region.
Some advocates for sea salt assert that unrefined sea salt is healthier than refined salts. However, completely raw sea salt is bitter due to magnesium and calcium compounds, and thus is rarely eaten. The refined salt industry cites scientific studies saying that raw sea and rock salts do not contain enough iodine salts to prevent iodine deficiency diseases.
Refined Salt: Refined salt, which is most widely used presently, is mainly sodium chloride. Food grade salt accounts for only a small part of salt production in industrialised countries (3% in Europe) although world-wide, food uses account for 17.5% of salt production. The majority is sold for industrial use. Salt has great commercial value because it is a necessary ingredient in the manufacturing of many things. A few common examples include: the production of pulp and paper, setting dyes in textiles and fabrics, and the making of soaps and detergents.
Table Salt: 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.
Salt intake can be reduced by simply reducing the quantity of salty foods in a diet, without recourse to salt substitutes. Salt substitutes have a taste similar to table salt and contain mostly potassium chloride, which will increase potassium intake. Excess potassium intake can cause hyperkalemia. Various diseases and medications may decrease the body's excretion of potassium, thereby increasing the risk of hyperkalemia. If you have kidney failure, heart failure or diabetes, seek medical advice before using a salt substitute. A manufacturer, LoSalt, has issued an advisory statement that people taking the following prescription drugs should not use a salt substitute: Amiloride, Triamterene, Dytac, Spironolactone (Brand name Aldactone), Eplerenone and Inspra.
- Hash Browns
- Carbohydrates and the Glycemic Load
- Jacobs Crinklys Cheese Onion 7Pk
- Do you feel like potato crisps where you can enjoy a large pack containing 6 smaller packs without getting any salt? In the UK you can get Walkers Salt And Shake Crisps. Salt is provided in a separate blue packet and if you don't want it you don't have to add any. They're a bit more bland than standard salted crisps till you get used to them. They provide small amounts of protein, some fibre and a lot of calories. If you're hungry away from home and don't feel like junk food from a takeaway these crisps can keep you satisfied till you get home. They don't give you very much except calories so they aren't cool if you're trying to lose weight. Still provided you're getting the nourishment you need from the rest of your food an occasional treat of these crisps without any salt won't harm you like salted potato snacks. I've just come across Acrylamide in Food and Cancer Risk and it seems potato products cooked at high temperatures like crisps may be risky, the scientists don't know yet. Also many potato snacks make it hard for the body to regulate blood sugar so even these should be an occasional treat. (Potato crisps in UK English are what Americans call potato chips, it can get confusing.)
- How much salt is good for me?
- "Sea Salt is Good for You."
- Iodine in Non-Iodized Sea Salt.
- European Salt Producers' Association
- Roskill Information Services.
- Nutritional analysis provided with Tesco Table Salt, from Tesco Stores Ltd (UK) states 38.9% sodium by weight which equals 98.9% sodium chloride.
- LoSalt Advisory Statement (PDF)
- Department of Health, Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the UK: Report of the Panel on DRVs of the Committee on the Medical Aspects of Food Policy , The Stationery Office.
- Kurlansky, Mark. Salt: A World History. New York: Walker & Co., 2002.
- Laszlo, Pierre. Salt: Grain of Life. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.