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Salt is a mineral that consists mostly of sodium chloride (NACl). It is an essential nutrient for animals, yet it is toxic to most plants. In hernovel Tongue, author Kyung Ran Jo recounts  this legend about salt: “A long time ago, a princess told the king, ‘I love you as much as I love  salt.’ Believing it to be an insult, the king banished his daughter from his kingdom. But after a  long time, the king realized the value of salt and the depth of his daughter’s love for him.”
Saltiness is one of the basic tastes perceived by the tongue, making it an esteemed and  ubiquitous food flavoring. It also “retains vegetables’ vivid colors when parboiling, removes  astringency from salad greens, freezes ice cream, quickly cools boiling water, maintains the  freshness of cut flowers, removes stains on clothing, alleviates pain in your neck, is an ingredient  in soap,” according to Jo. Darlene McFarlane in her article “  Household Uses for Table Salt”  recommends testing an egg’s freshness by placing it in a cup of salt water. An egg that floats is  not fresh. Ants will not venture onto a salt-covered surface, according to McFarlane, so she suggests sprinkling it on windows ills and in doorways to repel them from your residence.  Salt’s historical distinction lies not so much in its taste or any of its aforementioned  amazing talents, however, as in its suitability as a preservative. Salt has been used as a food  preservative for centuries. One of the oldest documented saltworks is the Xiechi Lake near  Yuncheng in Shanxi, China. Salt was harvested from its surface as early as 6000 B.C. Salt, along  with salted birds and salt fish, was unearthed withfunereal offerings in ancient Egyptian tombs  from the third millennium B.C. Less than half a century later, Egypt instituted exportation of salt  fish to the Phoenicians, who in turn traded Egyptian salt fish with their commercial partners  throughout North Africa, engendering the establishment of wide-ranging trade associations
throughout the Mediterranean region. Similarly, in the first millennium B.C., Celtic people  exchanged salted meat for wine and other luxury goods from ancient Greece and Rome. The wide expanse of the Celtic salt trade is exemplified by the shared Celtic, Greek, and Egyptian root word for salt, hal, which is iterated in the names of saltworks throughout the region: Halle  and Schwäbisch Hall in Germany, Halych in Ukraine, and Galicia in Spain.
Throughout history, salt has been deemed a precious commodity. In fact, the word “salary” is derived from the Middle English salaire, from the Latin salarium, which means a  payment made in salt (sal) or for salt, from salarius which means “pertaining to salt.” Many  historians agree that the Latin word salariumis related to salt and soldiers, but stress that the original association is unclear. Some surmise that soldiers were remunerated in salt. Some postulate that the word soldier itself is derived from the word for salt. Even today, a hardworking employee might be said to be “worth his salt” or might be commended for “soldiering on.”

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