Salt has long occupied a prominent place in human history. But do you have the all the facts on sodium?
For thousands of years, people who didn’t live near the ocean would travel great distances to trade for salt. Salt has been the center of many battles, often referred to as The Salt Wars. And a few British towns that end in “wich” (like Droitwich, Middlewich, Nantwich, Northwich, and Leftwich) were named for and associated with their salt works (the cognate wic sometimes related to salt works, although wic’s usual meaning was “dwelling, place, or town”). Isn’t history neat?
Our esteem for salt goes back to Biblical times. When you call someone “salt of the earth” to indicate that they embody integrity and composure in difficult situations, you’re actually quoting from Matthew 5:13. Salt was valued so highly that it was equated with currency, as you can hear in our modern word “salary,” or “payment in salt.”
But why? What made salt worth journeying, sometimes killing, and occasionally dying for throughout history?