Middle school girls laugh while they use rock salt to make ice cream in a bag. (AP)

Middle school girls laugh while they use rock salt to make ice cream in a bag. (AP)

A 15th century engraving shows salt being measured out as a form of money.

A 15th century engraving shows salt being measured out as a form of money.

A truck spreads a mixture of salt and sand on icy streets in Atlanta, Georgia. (AP)

A truck spreads a mixture of salt and sand on icy streets in Atlanta, Georgia. (AP)

A butcher checks sides of beef. Salt used to be the main way of preserving meat. (AP)

A butcher checks sides of beef. Salt used to be the main way of preserving meat. (AP)

Sports drinks contain salt, an electrolyte that keeps the heart beating steadily. (AP)

Sports drinks contain salt, an electrolyte that keeps the heart beating steadily. (AP)

Salt of the Earth

Posted: May 1, 2017

People once considered salt so valuable they used it for money. Imagine finishing your workday and your boss handing you a bag of salt! We even get our word salary (how much someone is paid in a year) from the Latin word salarium, which means “salt money.”

We don’t pay a lot for salt today. But we still value it. Here’s why.

Salting Roads, Making Ice Cream. God made salt with an unusual trait. It makes water freeze at a lower temperature than usual. Water normally turns to ice at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If you replace 10 percent of the water with salt, the mixture won’t freeze until the temperature sinks to 20 degrees. The more salt you add, the colder it has to be to freeze. Salting snowy roads keeps them from getting icy. People use rock salt to make ice cream for the same reason. Ice cream makers pack a rock-salt-and-ice slush around their ice cream mixer. Regular ice would melt before it could freeze the ice cream. But the rock-salt-and-ice slush stays much colder, so it can freeze the ice cream's thick mixture of sugar and milkfat.

Preserving Food. Before people had refrigerators, they relied on salt to keep food from spoiling. That’s where we first got the salt-cured foods we still eat, like corned beef, bacon, and salt fish. Salt keeps bacteria and other microbes from growing on food. Imagine salt that’s been rubbed on the outside of a piece of beef. The salt travels into the beef and draws water out of it. Suddenly, the piece of meat isn’t such a nice home for microbes anymore. They need water to live!

Making your body work. Salt isn’t just tasty. It’s absolutely necessary. Salt helps make your nerves and heart work. Without it, people and animals would die. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus says: “You are the salt of the Earth.” God’s people carry His life-giving good news—what the world needs most!