Day by day most of us are getting passionate about crystalline pieces of trendy pink rocks called Himalayan Salt. Some people wonder how a salt that is meant for sprinkling over dinner can be aesthetically so appealing. This is the miracle of nature.
- Shades of Himalayan Salt
Color of commonly available Himalayan salt vary from shades of pinks and oranges, although rare , white crystals of Himalayan rock salt do exist.
- Where does Himalayan Salt get its distinctive color
Salts are ionic compounds that consist of negatively and positively charged ions, arranged such that on the whole the product is electrically neutral. These constituents ions are of different types. Mostly transition metals when present in salts give colored hue to them.
Now why transition metals can give salts a color? To understand this we have to go back to our school days where our science teachers had a tough time teaching us about arrangement of electrons around the central nucleus in an atom. These electrons are arranged around nucleus in circles or shells. Very complex for us to understand is that in these shells, electrons are arranged in sub-shells called ‘orbitals’ designated as s, p, d, and f. Every orbital can hold varying number of electrons. As a rule “s” can hold 2 electrons, :p” 6 electrons, “d” orbital can have a maximum of 10 electrons while “f” can hold up to 14 electrons. Transition metals are distinctive as they are the only elements that contain partly filled “d” orbitals. These partly filled “d” orbitals are the reason for color they impart to compounds and complexes they form. The color they give depends on many variables so different transition metals will give different colors.
Himalayan salt is also a salt which is excavated from deep underground mines in Khewra, Pakistan. This salt is made up of about 98 percent sodium chloride while the remaining 2% of the salt comprises of trace minerals. These minerals are mostly transition metals. It is reported that around 84 different minerals in trace amounts give Himalayan salt its characteristic color. These minerals include potassium, magnesium and calcium but the major element that gives pinkish to orange color is Iron oxide.