Salt Taste – Types, Qualities, Health Benefits, Side Effects

Let us learn in detail about salt taste, what are the general qualities of substances having salt taste, how it affects health, mind, Tridosha and diseases, adverse effects on excessive intake etc.

Word derivation – Nirukti

salts

Lunati iti lavanam – the substance having piercing and cutting nature.

Effect of salt taste on Tridosha

Salt taste decreases Vata. It increases Pitta and Kapha Dosha.

Qualities of Lavana rasa

It is not too heavy, hot and oily.

Composition

There are different opinions regarding basic element composition of salt taste.
It is composed of
Earth and fire as per Sushruta
Water and Fire as per Charaka and Vagbhata and
Fire and water as per Nagarjuna.
Water and fire composition theory is the widely accepted one. (Earth and water = amla rasa)
Because of water element, it is heavy and unctuous. Because of fire, it has hot quality.
Because of its fire element, it increases Pitta Dosha.
Because of its water element (heaviness), it balances Vata and increases Kapha.

Effect of Salt taste on body and mind

Ashuvilayana – It melts and gets distributed in the body very quickly.
Kledana – It imparts moistness to the body.
Mardavakara – It imparts softness to the body.
Rochana – It improves taste
Chedana – has excising effect, breaks down particles
Vikaarasya adhaha sramsyavakaashakara – causes movement of Doshas in downward direction
Mukha vidahakara – causes slight burning sensation in mouth
Kapha praseka janaka – liquefies Kapha Dosha
Kapha Nissaraka – breaks down Kapha and causes its movement / excretion
Deepana – increases digestion strength
Pachana – carminative
Bhedana – causes break down of particles
As per Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 1st chapter, all types of Salts are –
Snigdha – unctuous
Ushna- hot
Teekshna – strong, piercing
Deepaneeya – improve digestion strength
They are used for alepana – anointment
They  are used in Snehana (oleation), Swedana (sweating treatment), in Niruha and Anuvasana basti  (decoction and oil enema), as part of diet, in nasya treatment, in surgical procedures, in rectal suppositories, etc.
Stambhana bandha samghata vidhamana – breaks down stiffness, tightening effect and obstructions
Sarvarasa pratyaneekabhutaha – can dominate all other tastes
Kapham vishyandayati – liquefies Kapha

Lavana Rasa (salt) relieves rigidity, clears the obstructions of the channels and pores, increases digestive activity, lubricates, causes sweating, penetrates deep into the tissues, improves taste.
Generally salts are bad for the eyes (vision) except Saindhava – Rock Salt.
Used in excess, it causes vitiation of Asra (blood) and Vata, causes baldness, greying of hair, wrinkles of the skin, thirst, skin diseases, effect of poison and decrease of strength of the body.

General qualities of lavana

लवणमन्नद्रव्य रुचिकराणाम् । (च. सू. अ. २५)
lavaṇamannadravya rucikarāṇām | (ca. sū. a. 25)

Lavana enhances the taste of food items.

रोचनं लवणं सर्वं पाकि स्रंस्यनिलापहम् । (च. सू. अ. २७)
rocanaṃ lavaṇaṃ sarvaṃ pāki sraṃsyanilāpaham |(ca. sū. a. 27)

Lavana increases the taset perception, aids in digestion of food, acts as laxative and pacifies Vata dosha.

Lavana along with Sneha (oil / Ghee) brings about immediate Snehana (internal oleation) effect.

Symptoms of excessive salt consumption

Excess of salt causes increase of Pitta and Kapha, leading to following symptoms –
Pitta prakopa – increase and imbalance of Pitta
Raktavruddhi – Vitiation of blood
Trushna – excessive thirst
Murcha – unconsciousness
Vidaha, Santapa – burning sensation
Darayati – causes erosion
Mamsakotha – muscle degeneration
Kushta – skin diseases
Krushnati mamsani – depletion of muscle tissue
Pragalayati kushtani – sloughing of skin diseases
Shopha – inflammatory condition
Dantachyuti – falling of teeth
Visham vardhayati – aggravates poison effects and symptoms
Napumsakata – infertility, impotency
Indriyanasha – depleted strength of sense organs
Vali,Palithya, Khalitya – grey hairs, facial wrinkles and hair loss
Shophan sphotayati – opens up swellings
Raktapitta – bleeding disorders due to high Pitta levels
Amlapitta – gastritis
Visarpa – Herpes
Vatarakta – gout
Vicharchika – worsens eczema
Indralupta – hair loss, alopecia

While taking food, Salt taste should be consumed next to sweet and sour foods in diet, in the early part of meals.

Contraindications

Gastritis, high BP, body swelling, high fever.

Salts in Ayurveda

Group of five salts:
1. Saindhava Lavana – Rock salt
2. Souvarchala Lavana – Sochal salt or black salt (Primarily Sodium chloride with traces of Sodium sulphide, Sodium sulphate etc)
3. Bida / Vida Lavana – A type of black salt / Sodium sulphate
4. Samurda Lavana – Common salt (Sodium Chloride)
5. Romaka / Sambhara Lavana – Earthen salt.

salt types - Ayurveda

General consideration:
In any Ayurvedic text book,
If the term Lavana is mentioned, then Saindhava Lavana (rock salt) is considered.
If the term Dwi lavana is mentioned, (combination of two salts) then, Saindhava and Souvarchala are taken.
If the term Tri lavana or Lavana Trika or Lavana Traya is used (combination of 3 salts), Saindhava, Souvarchala and Bida lavanas are considered.
If the term chaturlavana is used, Saidnhava, Souvarchala, Bida and Samudra lavanas are considered.
If Panchalavana is used, then Saindhava, Souvarchala, Bida, Samudra and Sambhara lavanas are considered.
According to Rasa Ratna Samucchaya (A text book about the usage of minerals in Ayurveda), there are six types of salts.

Reference verses

The Six Lavanas – according to Rasaratna Samucchaya.
Samudra, Saindhava, Bida, Souvarchala, Romaka and Chullika Lavana (Navasadara – Ammoium chloride) together are called as Shadlavana according to Rasaratna Samucchaya.
Of all the substances that improve taste of food, salt is the best.

Effect on Dosha: Mitigates Vata. Increases Pitta and kapha.
Salts along with Sneha (oil / Ghee) brings about immediate Snehana (internal oleation) effect.

Characteristic features of salt taste

Salt gets quickly dissolved in the mouth resulting in stickiness (kleda),
Vishyanda – moistness
Mardava – softness
Mukhasya Vidaha – produce burning sensation in the mouth.

Reference: Ashtanga Hrudayam Sutrasthana 10th chapter

Types of Salts

Saindhava Lavana (Rock Salt)

Synonyms of Saindhava

Sheetashiva, Sindhuja, Naadeya, Manimantha

It is obtained from the mines of Punjab. There are two varieties of Saindhava –

1. Shweta– White in colour

2. Rakta Saindhava   – Red in colour

Chemical composition

Sodium chloride – NaCl.

Qualities

रोचनं दीपनं वृष्यं चक्षुष्यमविदाहि च|
त्रिदोषघ्नं समधुरं सैन्धवं लवणोत्तमम्|| (च. सू. २७/३००)
rocanaṃ dīpanaṃ vṛṣyaṃ cakṣuṣyamavidāhi ca|
tridoṣaghnaṃ samadhuraṃ saindhavaṃ lavaṇottamam|| (ca. sū. 27/300)

rocanaṃ – enhances the capacity of taste perception,
dīpanaṃ – digestive,
vṛṣyaṃ – aphrodisiac,
cakṣuṣyaṃ – good for the eyes,
avidāhi – does not cause burning sensation,
tridoṣaghnaṃ – pacifies all the three doshas,
samadhuraṃ – sweet and
saindhavaṃ lavaṇottamam – considered to be best among the group of Lavanas.

According to Sushruta –

चक्षुष्यं सैन्धवं हृद्यं रुच्यं लघ्वाग्निदीपनम् ।
स्निग्धं समधुरं वृष्यं शीतं दोषघ्नमुत्तमम् ॥ (सु. सू. ४६)
cakṣuṣyaṃ saindhavaṃ hṛdyaṃ rucyaṃ laghvāgnidīpanam |
snigdhaṃ samadhuraṃ vṛṣyaṃ śītaṃ doṣaghnamuttamam | (su. sū. 46)

cakṣuṣyaṃ – good for the eyes,
hṛdyaṃ – cardiotonic,
rucyaṃ – enhances taste perception,
laghu – light,
agni dīpanam – improves digestion strength,
snigdhaṃ – unctuous,
samadhuraṃ – sweet,
vṛṣyaṃ – aphrodisiac,
śītaṃ – cold in nature and
doṣaghnam uttamam – best to pacify doshas.

Additional qualities mentioned in Dhanvantari Nighantu –

vraṇ arocaka nāśanam – cures wounds and anorexia,
vibandhaghnaṃ – releaves constipation
sukhadaṃ – eases life 
Read more about saindhava Lavana here

Samudra Lavana (Sea salt)      

Synonyms – Samudra, Saagaraja, Vaashira, Dadhisambhava

Samudra lavana, as the name suggests is originated from Samudra or sea. It is produced from the sea.

Chemical composition

Sodi muras – NaCl

Properties of Samudra Lavana

सामुद्रं मधुरं पाके नात्युष्णमविदाहि च ।
भेदनं स्निग्धमीषच्च शूलघ्नं नाति पित्तलम् ॥ (सु. सू. ४६
sāmudraṃ madhuraṃ pāke nātyuṣṇamavidāhi ca |
bhedanaṃ snigdhamīṣacca śūlaghnaṃ nāti pittalam || (su. sū. 46)
madhuraṃ pāke – sweet in taste and post digestion effect,
na atyuṣṇam avidāhi – not very hot and do not produce burning sensation,
bhedanaṃ – breaks down the hard mala or feces,snigdham īṣacca – slightly unctuous,
śūlaghnaṃ – relieves olicky pain and 
nāti pittalam – do not aggravate Pitta to a great extent.
Read more about Sea salt here

Sauvarchala lavana (Sochal Salt or Black Salt)

Synonyms of Sauvarchala Salt – Ruchaka, Akshapaka, DHatumat, Manyapak

Sauvarchala lavana is black in color with a special odor. It is available both in artificial and natural form. Artificial variety has an aroma, but natural one does not have any aroma.

For the reparation of artificial Sauvarchala Lavana – equal quantities of Sarjika kshara and Saindhava lavana are mixed properly and water content should be dried.

Chemical composition

unaqua Sodium chloride

It contains rock salt, sarjika kshara, iron and sulfur.

Properties

लघु सौवर्चलं पाके वीर्योष्णं विशदं कटु ।
गुल्मशूलविबन्धघ्नं हृद्यं सुरभि रोचनम् ॥ (सु. सू. ४६)
laghu sauvarcalaṃ pāke vīryoṣṇaṃ viśadaṃ kaṭu |
gulmaśūlavibandhaghnaṃ hṛdyaṃ surabhi rocanam || (su. sū. 46)

laghu – light,
pāke kaṭu – post digestion taste is pungent,
vīryoṣṇaṃ – hot in potency,viśadaṃ – clear,
gulma śūla vibandhaghnaṃ – cures abdominal tumor, colicky pain and constipation,
hṛdyaṃ – cardiotonic,
surabhi – aromatic and
rocanam – enhances capacity of taste perception.
Read more about Sauvarchala lavana here

Romaka Lavana

Synonyms – Sambhara, Gada lavana, Shakambhareeya lavana

This salt is available in Sambhar district of Rajsthan. Hence it is called Sambhar salt.

Chemical composition – It contains Sodium chloride, Sodium carbonate and Sodium sulfate and Iodine in traces.

रोमकं तीक्ष्णमत्युष्णं व्यवायी कटुपाकि च ।
वातघ्नं लघु विष्यन्दि सूक्ष्मं विड्भेदि मूत्रलम् ॥ (सु. सू. ४६)
romakaṃ tīkṣṇamatyuṣṇaṃ vyavāyī kaṭupāki ca |
vātaghnaṃ laghu viṣyandi sūkṣmaṃ viḍbhedi mūtralam || (su. sū. 46)

tīkṣṇam – penetrative,
atyuṣṇaṃ – very hot in potency,
vyavāyī – spreads through out the body,
kaṭu pāki – pungent in post digestion,
vātaghnaṃ – pacifies vata dosha,
laghu – light,
viṣyandi – produces exudation,
sūkṣmaṃ – penetrates into minute channels,
viḍbhedi – breaks hardened fecal matters and mūtralam – diuretic
Read more about Romaka Lavana here

Vid lavana (Ammonium chloride)

Synonyms – Chullika lavana, Navasara, Navyasara, Nrisara, Nasara, Nrisaadara, Narasadara, Kittakshara, Gaja, Gomla

There are many opinions regarding this kind of opnion. This is a special type of salt prepared artificially. Due to being made from the excreta of various animals, it is called Vida lavana. Apart from this, special types of soil and trees like Karir, Peelu etc. are also obtained by burning ashes.

According to Rasatarangini, 10 tola of Amalaki should be mixed with 80 tola of Romaka lavana. This mixture should be boiled in intense heat to obtain Vida Lavana.

Properties of Vida Lavana

सक्षारं दीपनं सूक्ष्मं शूलहृद्रोग नाशनम् ।
रोचनं तीक्ष्णमुष्णं च विडं वातानुलोमनम् ॥ (सु. सू. ४६)
sakṣāraṃ dīpanaṃ sūkṣmaṃ śūlahṛdroga nāśanam |
rocanaṃ tīkṣṇamuṣṇaṃ ca viḍaṃ vātānulomanam || (su.sū. 46)

sakṣāraṃ – slightly alkalie,
dīpanaṃ – carminative,
sūkṣmaṃ – penetrates into minute channels,
śūla hṛdroga nāśanam – cures colicky pain and heart disease,
rocanaṃ – enhance the capacity of taste perception,
tīkṣṇam – sharp,
uṣṇaṃ – hot,
vātānulomanam – causes normal downward movement of Vata
Along with these Charaka mentioned vyavayi – reaches all channels very quickly.
Read more about Vida Lavana here

Audbhida Lavana (Sodium carbonate)

Synonyms – Pamshu lavana, Kacha lavana

It is available from dry areas. It is dirty coloured, prepared from alkaline soil. The alkaline soil dissolved in water, filtered and the obtained liquid part is dried in sunlight to obtain Audbida lavana. Previously it was used by the cloth washers to wash the cloths.

Properties of Audbhida Lavana

सतिक्तकटु सक्षारं तीक्ष्णमुद्क्लेदि चौद्भिदम् । – (च. सू. २७)
satiktakaṭu sakṣāraṃ tīkṣṇamudkledi caudbhidam | – (ca. sū. 27)
satikta kaṭu – bitter and pungent in taste,
sakṣāraṃ – slightly alkaline,tīkṣṇam – sharp,
udkledi – may cause vomiting sensation

Read more about Audbhida Lavana here

21 thoughts on “Salt Taste – Types, Qualities, Health Benefits, Side Effects”

  1. Doctor,
    Can different types of salts (sea salt, rock salt,black salt, saindhava etc.) be used in combination to alleviate the bad effects of each other? If so please advise the right combination.

    Reply
    • Hi, For regular use, only Saindhava lavana (rock salt) is quite useful.
      It is the salt of choice for daily use.
      For regular use, there is no need to mix all the salts.

      Reply
      • According to ayurved..how sainda lacvan should be used? क्या हम इसे कच्चा प्रयोग मे ला सकते है जौसे कि सलाद के साथ या फिर दही के साथ । या फिर इसे पकाई गयी सब्जियों में ही काम मे ले ।

        Reply
    • Hi, Rock salt itself can not be used as a standalone medicine for asthma.
      Its specific Kapha balancing effect is a minimal. It is Tridosha balancing in nature.

      Reply
  2. Hi, I have pictured the rock salt in this home remedy -https://www.easyayurveda.com/2012/10/16/home-remedy-for-bloating-and-gas-trouble-using-buttermilk/
    It is same as Himalayan salt. I will write about rock salt and other salts in future.

    Reply
    • Hi sorry for the confusion. Rock salt and Himalayan pink salt are same.
      in USA, even small amount of processing or packaging is considered as part of manufacturing. So, if some company takes raw rock salt and does some processing like removing impurities or packaging / re-packaging then..

      Reply
  3. Very good article.I am aware of all these salts. My daughter in law uses black salt which is named in english potassium……….salt. I think it will not pollute blood rather if used in small doses will clear pollution of blood.

    Reply
  4. Gud nd informative article. I request you to kindly visit vaidya narayana murty at narsipura near anandpura on sagara route shimoga its only 200kms from manglore . THIS man is doing grate job in saving/increasing terminaly ill ppl without any charge patients come from all over world to him for medicines he is doing d noble cause curing cancer by tree barks. He gives medicines on thursdays and sundays he treats nearly 500 patients in a day.

    Reply
  5. Very informative article Doctor.
    How about Black salt.Can that be used as substitute to Our regular Saindhava Lavana ?
    I was told that it is used to remove impurities of Liver and Digestive tract.Pl share more Details.
    thanks

    Reply
    • Black salt is used in treatment. But I haven’t seen its reference for regular daily usage.

      Reply
  6. What is Jawakhar.What are the benefits.If some body is having Liver and Kidney Trouble which is best salt?

    Reply
    • Hi, Umami is not recognized as a taste as per Ayurveda. It is considered as the richness effect that is felt in the mouth and mind. It can be considered mild sweet + astringent or just mild unrecognizable sweet

      Reply

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