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What makes sea salt coarser than other salt?

I have tried checking online but no one seems to discuss this. It seems that the grain of sea salt is larger, but I don't understand since the salt is dissolved in the sea water so how does it become coarse.

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    $\begingroup$ Hard to see what comparison you make. Is other salts a short for other table salts? By the way this would be an entire treatise of precipitation / crystallisation and they role in table salt production. Generally slower the formation bigger are the solid pieces one get. $\endgroup$ – Alchimista Apr 19 at 8:47
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    $\begingroup$ Different production methods of salt will give different crystal types and sizes. Sea salt is usually produced by slow evaporation of salt ponds in the open air; some table salts will come from a much more controlled industrial precipitation process probably producing more regular, more compact crystals. $\endgroup$ – matt_black Apr 19 at 14:07
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The method of production of sea salt usually involves bulk evaporation of seawater. This allows the salt to crystallise and due to it's bigger size it is sold without much processing. On the other hand, the table salt has much smaller size and is processed a lot more than we could assume before it is sold. This could be one reason why sea salt has coarse texture. See also: Maxine Builder and Maxine Builder. What's the Difference Between Kosher Salt and Sea Salt? (via the Internet Archive)

I was interested to answer this question because I have always thought that both the salts are just the same. The tiny size of salt grains just seems less coarse but it essentially is having the same texture is what I would believe.

But then I looked at sugar as well. The tiny grains of sugar or a little bigger sugar diamonds seem smooth compared to the rough textured bigger blocks of sugar. And so I was convinced that it was due to it being processed. But then think of powdered sugar? That appears to be smooth.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, but I have seen that river salt that is also made by bulk evaporation seems to have a different texture. For instance, river salt from Australia is I quote "Produced using the pristine mineral brine water from the ancient saline aquifers of the Murray Darling Basin in Australia. These are light, flakey pink salt crystals. Not coarse Himalayan pink salt. So there seems to be something that makes the salt coarse. $\endgroup$ – Avrohom Apr 20 at 5:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Avrohom I would suggest you should place your observations like you mentioned in this comment in a new structured question. Place your observations, possible differences between the two salts and a community member with expertise in this could help? We didn't realise the level of the question. I would believe the difference in texture is due to various minerals that different sources of salt could contain and hence alter the crystal lattice. $\endgroup$ – Desai Apr 20 at 9:25
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    $\begingroup$ Please do not link through google, but instead provide a link to the target page itself. I have replaced the link with a more stable version to the Internet Archive. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Apr 20 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ Sugar can be obtained in various grain sizes, from 0.02 mm to 0.75 mm. whatsugar.com/refined-cane-sugar And then, of course, there's rock candy $\endgroup$ – James Gaidis Apr 21 at 14:17
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Because it is not ground as fine , unless a customer wants finely ground sea salt. It is passed over screens to separate it into sizes after grinding, just like table salt. Fun fact ; table salt that is too fine for traditional marketing ,is sold as "popcorn" salt.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes. Short answer to question is 'because nobody ground it up'. $\endgroup$ – Michael Harvey Apr 19 at 11:49
  • $\begingroup$ I think it is a little more complex than this. For instance, river salt from Australia is I quote "Produced using the pristine mineral brine water from the ancient saline aquifers of the Murray Darling Basin in Australia. These are light, flakey pink salt crystals. Not coarse Himalayan pink salt. So there seems to be something that makes the salt coarse. $\endgroup$ – Avrohom Apr 20 at 5:47
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Sea salt is usually sold as coarse crystals because, as others have noted, it is separated by crystal size before packaging. Sea salt, along with Kosher salt, is desirable by chefs and food enthusiasts because it allows one to see how much salt is actually put a piece of food, let's say a steak, without dissolving as smaller crystals would do. And it gives a desirable crunchy mouth feel which many people like. With some foods it is desirable to add salinity to saliva as the food is about to be chewed. This causes more saliva secretion and enhances the food's flavor as it's broken down by chewing. It's important to know if you're using Kosher or sea salt or regular table salt when measuring salt for a recipe because salt with large crystals will take up the same volume but weigh less than salt with small crystals, such as common table salt. So a teaspoon of one contains less salt than a teaspoon of another.

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  • $\begingroup$ But what makes the crystals to be larger or smaller $\endgroup$ – Avrohom Apr 23 at 13:50

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