Round solution to a salty problem

Have you ever been frustrated by salt in humid weather? The little cubic grains get all sticky and clump together and won’t leap on to your seaside fish and chips no matter how hard you shake the salt shaker. The simple solution is simply to not use salt, after all they repeatedly tell us too much salt is bad for us.

Indian chemists worried that was too simple a solution of have come up with a way to make round salt that could be a boon to consumers and industry. According to an ACS news release, round salt represents a dream come true for researchers who have strived for years to smooth the shape of common salt.

Table salt (sodium chloride) adopts a cubic close-packed crystal structure and so the crystals themselves normally exist as cubes. Pushpito Ghosh, P. Dastidar and colleagues at the Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute in Bhavnagarwere not happy with this and have devised a method for making large quantities of salt in an almost spherical, bead-like, form. They describe how in the July 5 issue of Crystal Growth & Design. They use glycine to modify the crystal growht process and effectively force the sodium chloride crystals to grow at different rates on different crystal faces, so they end up with a different symmetry.

In this novel round form, rhombic dodecahedral, to be strict, salt can flow much more freely, without caking, that claggy effect of humid summer weather, which is great news for fish and chip fans. A bigger market may be industries that store and use sodium chloride by the tonne to make everything from bulk chemicals to dyes, fertilizers, paper and pharmaceuticals. For these companies, non-caking salt would flow more freely on the production line.

Free flowing or not, it doesn’t round off the problem of whether or not salt is good or bad for you.