The salt that you can typically find in a kitchen is the $\ce{NaCl}$, isn't this salt supposed to act as an antiseptic?

I find a lot of recipes that suggest the addition of salt when preparing the mix for the leaven of the bread.

Isn't the salt supposed to act against the formation and the culture of bacteria that are carrying forward the leaven?

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe this should go in the cooking SE? I think a cook would know better than a chemist why bakers add salt to bread dough. $\endgroup$ – qwersjc Apr 24 '14 at 1:38
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    $\begingroup$ I found a question that should answer yours nicely: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/41501/bread-with-no-salt/… $\endgroup$ – qwersjc Apr 24 '14 at 1:40
  • $\begingroup$ @qwersjc I asked this here because my focus was on salt and bacteria considering the antiseptic behaviour of the salt, I don't care that much about how to make good bread with this question. $\endgroup$ – user2485710 Apr 24 '14 at 1:43

Common table salt is not necessarily an antiseptic in the conventional "sterilizing" sense. What gives it weakly antiseptic properties in biological context is its ability to absorb water from cells through osmosis, should the concentration of the salt outside the cell be too high, the cell would lose too much water through its membrane and die.

However this is strongly dependent on concentration. For example, according to this source, a concentration upwards of 20% is required to kill bacteria; at lower concentrations the salt will only hinder growth, which is most likely the reason it is added (in moderation) to bread.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice answer, 1 thing though: Have you ever tried bread without salt? It tastes horrible. So it is likely that the main reason to add the salt is for the taste/texture, rather than any bacteria killing/reducing. $\endgroup$ – Michiel Apr 24 '14 at 5:33

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