Why NO Salt?
by: Cody Ruch, Spice Science
People often ask why I make NO SALT versions of my seasonings and rubs. It first began as a request from my mother, but soon I realized some other important reasons to both continue and promote this trend.
The first reason is the one most people assume. Renal diets, or kidney diets, are low in sodium. This is because sodium helps the body retain fluids, and some people’s kidneys have trouble balancing fluid levels. For people like my mother, and myself, being able to control the amount of sodium we consume is very important.
Salt should be applied based on weight, whereas seasonings and dry rubs should be applied based on surface area.
The second reason is much more interesting, and was something I learned about while delving into the science behind making the perfect steak. To fully understand this, let’s shrink down to the molecular level and see what happens when we season our meat!
Salt, or Sodium Chloride (NaCl) is a relatively small compound.(1) When it dissolves in water, the sodium and chloride molecules separate.(2) This is a subtle difference between salt and sodium. Both the sodium and chloride molecules are very small, enabling them to permeate deep into the tissue of meats and other foods. Other spices’ compounds are comparatively large, preventing them from passing through the tight knit tissues. This becomes apparent when experimenting with how deep the flavor of spices permeates over time. No matter how long you leave the dry rub on, or how long you marinate your meat, the flavor only gets 1/8 – 1/4 inch into the cut.(3)
I tested this thoroughly and found it to be true. The flavor of seasonings tend to be close to the surface, but salt can get deep inside. Salt should be applied based on weight, whereas seasonings and dry rubs should be applied based on surface area. I find about a 1/2 teaspoon (or about 3g) per pound of beef to be a good balance of salt flavor. Some people may prefer a little more salt, others prefer a little less. Another fun fact is that pork naturally has more salt present in it than beef does, and chicken has less. This means pork requires a little less salt, and chicken requires quite a bit more. (4)
So now you know why Spice Science has NO SALT rubs and seasonings. These are good things to keep in mind if you want to elevate your culinary skills to the next level, and be able to grill the perfect steak every time!