Why was salt so valuable in ancient times?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “why was salt so valuable in ancient times”, and discuss the different benefits. 

Why was salt so valuable in ancient times?

Salt was the most valuable ingredient for preserving food like meat and fish. Hence it has a demand on a large scale for this. Also, there is abundant salt in seawater which is heated and used for more processes. 

What is salt?

For ages, salt has been used. It’s possible that it’s been present for so long that a portion of our tongue is dedicated to detecting it, and that it’s an evolutionary trait that takes millennia to develop. 

Regardless. Despite the fact that this material, also known as sodium chloride, has been around for a while and is still an important element of our diets, it has a negative reputation due to excess consumption. 

What are the types of Salt in different civilizations?

It has been an important source on which life depended majorly and made it an expensive trade commodity. It was also adopted as a type of currency by some early societies.

Some of the data also relates that the chronology of human civilization is inextricably related to the history of salt, from ancient China to Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

Chinese history

The background of salt can be studied from 6,000 years ago in ancient China. The Dawenkou culture in northern China was already manufacturing salt from subterranean brine reserves and utilizing it to augment their diet during the Neolithic period. Historians suggest that salt harvesting took place at Lake Yuncheng during the definite time period, in what is now the province of China known as Shanxi. 

Many conflicts were fought over control of the area and access to the lake’s salt flats because salt was such a valuable commodity. In 21-century China has now become the world’s largest exporter and importer of salt, majorly for industrial purposes.

Asian history

Another sort of salt with a much earlier history was identified and distributed in the area that has become present in Pakistan. The loss of appearance of seas and saline lakes, which formed dense beds of sodium chloride and other minerals, produced rock salt, which is scientifically known as halite.

More than 500 million years ago, Himalayan rock salt was intentionally laid down, which after 250 million years stressed huge tectonic plates that drove up the Himalayan mountains. 

However, early societies living in the Himalayan region are believed to have discovered and utilized rock dissolved salts much earlier, Alexander the Great began the search for rock salt in the Himalayan region in 326 BC. 

Ancient Egypt 

Salt plays a significant role in Egypt’s history, which dates back over 5000 years. It was the source of the wealth of many Egyptians and was considered the center of their most important religious practices.

Early Egyptians gathered and evaporated salt from saltwater and mined it from dried lakes and riverbeds. They were considered the first salt traders in recorded history, and they took off the benefits handsomely.

The Egyptian salt trade, particularly with the Phoenicians and the early Greek Empire, considerably boosted the prosperity and power of ancient Egypt’s Old and Middle kingdoms.

Furthermore, the Egyptians were one of the earliest nations to use salt to preserve food. Salting was used to preserve meat, particularly fish.

History of Europe

Researchers recently uncovered a salt mining town in Bulgaria which historians say is Europe’s oldest settlement. The village of Solnitsata was 6,000 years old and was founded more than 1,000 years before Greek civilization began.

 Scientists suggested that salt production at the site may have started as early as 5400 BCE.

Solnitsata might have been a prosperous community, supplying salt most of what used to be Balkans have.  This focuses on the importance of salt in the development of early human civilizations.

What are the Benefits?

1. Salt helps in the activity of digestion

2. It is essential for good heart conduction

3. Helps to prevent iodine deficiency

4. Help in rehydration

5. Helps to reduce diabetes

6. Gargles of saltwater lead to good oral health.

7. Can improve respiratory health

8. Decreases your appetite

9. Remove toxins

10. Maintains normal blood pressure

11. Maintain normal pH

12. Maintain cholesterol

13. Can improve skin health

Other FAQs about Salt that you may be interested in.

Why is salt white?

Why is the ingestion of salt and water beneficial?

Why put salt in beer?

Why salt in bread?


Even if the majority of its significant reports pertain to it causing hypertension and nothing else, it would be a mistake to overlook the relevance of salt in our diets. 

Everything should be consumed in moderation, and salt is no exception. It might be one of the healthiest components in your diet if you follow dietary standards.

Thus, I have discussed the question “why was salt so valuable in ancient times?” its history and benefits.

I hope you liked it and please comment below if you have any questions.


The History of Salt in Ancient Civilizations (history cooperative.org)

15 Amazing Health Benefits of Salt – Natural Food Series