Over 90% of Sea Salt Contains Microplastics, but Not Pink “Ancient Sea Salt”

Almost all sea salts contain hundreds or thousands of pieces of microplastic per pound, studies show. But pink rock salt, buried in ancient sea beds in the Himalayas and Utah, remains untouched by plastic pollution.

Did you know you are likely consuming several tiny fragments of plastic every-time you sprinkle salt on your food?

Studies have shown unrefined sea salt is one of the largest sources of microplastics in our diet. The average person consumes over 2000 tiny pieces of plastic per year via salt.

A 2018 study found over 90% of table salt brands contain microplastics. Researchers tested 39 brands of sea salt, lake salt, and rock salt from around the world and found 36 of them contained as many as 6,000 tiny particles of plastic per pound.

The highest concentrations were found in sea salt sourced in Asian countries.

A 2019 study found microplastics in 128 salt brands.

While it may seem like our plastic pollution has contaminated every corner of the Earth, there are at least a couple of places it hasn’t touched – like the pink rock-salt formations under the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains in Pakistan and the Rocky Mountains in Utah.

These rock-salt deposits are the remnants of ancient seas that receded millions of years ago, before plastic existed.

The “Real Salt” brand from Redmond, Utah, calls it “ancient sea salt.”

“In prehistoric times, there was an inland sea covering what is now Redmond, Utah, known as the Sundance Sea,” it says on the company’s website. “That sea is gone, but it left behind a large, pristine, underground salt deposit … it’s protected from modern pollutants like microplastics by layers of volcanic ash and bentonite clay.”

Similar claims are made by Himalayan salt purveyors:

The 200-mile-long salt formation known as the Salt Range “was formed over 250 million years ago due to the evaporation of primordial oceans found in the foothills of the Himalayas. The ancient sea beds inside this mountain range were once covered by lava that served as a natural barrier, averting toxins and other pollutants from reaching the salt.”

While we are not aware of studies testing the pink salt companies’ claims that they do not contain microplastics, their logic makes sense. If microplastics are making their way into the world’s oceans via waterways like rivers (as well as being dumped into it directly, all of the interconnected bodies of water will be contaminated). But salt formations formed millions of years ago and buried under volcanic materials would be relatively protected from the pollution.

While it did not specify which brands it tested, the 2018 study mentioned above found the highest concentrations of microplastics in sea salts, with lower concentrations in lake salts and the lowest concentrations in dry-land-sourced rock-salts.

Below are the pink salt brands we like best for their purported purity. We most often buy Real Salt, as it comes from a single trusted source/mine, while Himalayan salt can come from an untold number of mines in Pakistan, India or China. Also, it’s more local, so you’re not paying to have it shipped across the world.