What’s so great about salt? Salt is salt—right? Although we usually perceive the crystal-like substance as a food additive found on the dinner table, salt is in fact one of the greatest gifts provided by nature. Originating from deep below the earth, crystalline salt serves many health, beauty and tasty purposes. Made up of chlorine and sodium, the substance is produced from the erosion of rocks and minerals that are carried by rivers to the sea. When water evaporates from the ocean, solid white crystals are left giving us salt.
In almost every culture, salt has been used as a source of purification. Our skin, which is a semi-permeable membrane, interacts with our nervous system in a bioelectrical manner when soaked or scrubbed with salts. Its remarkable purifying properties, just like the ocean, acts as an antiseptic to destroy dead skin and bacteria. The skin emerges, healthy and glistening as a direct result of the gentle stimulation that increases blood flow and causes new cells to regenerate. The true beauty of this spa secret is that it can be adapted as a daily ritual at home, a process that polishes skin appearance and improves overall detoxification while nourishing the soul with a tender touch.
The Mauna Lani Spa on the Kohala Coast offers an indulging treatment that caters to this health and beauty application. Using their signature red and white pa‘akai (sea salt) found in the Hawaiian Islands, the highly acclaimed spa created a luxurious treatment that would put the antibiotic and healing properties of salt to use. Their three-part Fire and Ice Pa‘akai treatment is intended to create both fiery and cooling sensations which envelope the skin in nourishing, natural sea salts mixed with warm, essential oils from the pīkake (jasmine) flower. The experience includes remedies like a cocooning body wrap and an invigorating scalp massage that leaves the body, mind and soul in total relaxation. An added salt scrub “exfoliates, enriches, draws out sweat and toxins and provides, as per our Hawaiian cultural heritage, a spiritual protection and cleansing from negative energies.” The result is a healthy and rejuvenating experience that clears residues from the past and present and leaves guests with head-to-toe improvement—physically, mentally and emotionally.
While natural sea-salts have inspired beauty and relaxation professionals like the Mauna Lani Spa, salt also benefits mankind in another essential manner. Roman historian Flavius once wrote that the salts from the Dead Sea could heal the body. Since then, many studies have been performed to seek the benefits of unrefined salts as remedies for the human body. The inhabitants of our planet have known salt from the dawn of time for its great uses as medicine, preservative, and disinfectant. In ancient times, salt was considered so valuable that it was traded ounce for ounce with gold. One such medicinal study was conducted by German doctor J. Arndt on patients that suffered from psoriasis, a skin disorder. Arndt advised patients to bathe or soak in 10 percent salt concentration, three to four times a week. In the first week, his patients noticed remarkable improvements—relief from itching, skin scaling and sleep disturbances. Imagine immersing ourselves into an all natural, nurturing treatment in order for our bodies to work properly!
Today, many doctors still recommend salt for a wide range of medical problems. Health professionals worldwide use salts to draw impurities from the skin, to exfoliate and aid regeneration, to restore moisture balance, to help scars heal faster, to soothe and soften itching, burning, and acne skin. Studies also show exfoliation is more important now than ever before and should extend to the entire body. The therapeutic values of salts also include relaxation, relief of stress, tension and improving the immune system, the hormone system, as well as other systems in our body.
And while the benefits of salt have pleasured the best of our beauty and health concerns, there is one everyday purpose on which salt serves that has not yet been mentioned— food! Executive Chef Matthew Zubrod of Monettes Restaurant at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel has been obsessed with salt since he met specialty food broker, Olivier Whitman, ten years ago. Whitman, originally from New York City, educated Chef Zubrod on various unrefined sea salts and their nutritional value for tasty dishes. Among some of the signature salts that Chef Zubrod uses is the ‘alaea (red clay salt), bamboo salt, sea salt, and smoked volcano ash salt—all from Hawaii. The unrefined Hawaiian Deep Sea Salts are found right off of the sea currents of Kailua-Kona. Some of the many creations that Chef Zubrod presents are his local Tomato Carpaccio Salad or the succulent Hamachi Sashimi served on grates of none other than rock salt. With a combination of powerful and distinctive flavors, Chef Zubrod always fuses dramatic presentations with mouthwatering dishes that gives Monettes its fine dining name.
So whether it makes you feel good, enhances your trance of relaxation or cures your appetite cravings, salt proves to be a substantial element in our everyday lives. Our ancient ancestors knew the significance of salt; and as it continues to grace our most intimate needs, it only makes sense that it is nurturing for our bodies because life would be quite impossible without it.