Bamboo Salt: the magical salt from Korea
Everybody has used salt in their food at some point. Or perhaps you’ve used bath salt. But have you heard of bamboo salt? A salt from Korea that is made with bamboo. It is known to be capable of many healing properties. But what exactly is bamboo salt?
Bamboo salt is being used in Korea for hundreds of years. There you can find it under the name Jugyeom. It originated from a century old tradition from Buddhist monks in Korea who searched a fast way to dry sea salt. They soon discovered the purifying properties during healing rituals. The salt that the Buddhists used is roasted 3 times. In Oriental medicine it has been known as an important healer. It is supposed to be good for almost anything: from ulcers to high bloodpressure, restless bowels or restless muscles. Perhaps even a cleansing of the eyes with a bamboo salt bath.
Central in the process is the “Qi”; the energy where all five elements come together. The salt from the sea (water) the red clay from the mountains (earth), when roasting they use pine wood (wood), and it is roasted in a cast iron pan (metal) on a fire with temperatures of more than 1700 degrees Celsius (fire).
This Korean tradition has stayed the same over the years. Until in 1920 someone was born who would change the process indefinitely. Doctor Kim Il-Hoon was the first to say: “Why only 3 times? Why not 9 times?”. That is because nine is known as the most sacred number in Asia. It symbolizes completeness and full health. That is how in the 80’s they changed the standard to nine times roasted bamboo salt.
They collect salt from the seawater (Fleur de sel). This salt will be dried for 3 years. Then they’ll cut down 3 years old bamboo and make even pieces on the nodes. These will be filled with the salt. Somewhere in the mountains of Korea they harvest the red clay. Especially this clay will be used to seal off the bamboo salt pillars. It is then time for these salt pillars to be roasted. The makers highly value the use of pine wood as fuel. The salt will solidify after the first roast. Therefore, it goes through a grinder to go in a new piece of bamboo and repeat the process. In total they do this eight times. The temperature gets boosted up the ninth time which results in a very dark salt that comes out as a molten lava. After the salt has hardened it gets grinded up into coarse bits. That is when it is ready to be packaged and sold.
This process enriches the salt with the bamboo minerals. There now is activated bamboo charcoal in the salt. There are large amounts of sulfur, which it also smells like. The salt has a high PH value. After this lengthy process it isn’t much of a surprise that the price is €250 for a kilo.
We have bought a small pot to test it. The most remarkable thing was the smell. There is no denying this strong sulfur smell. Not just the smell, but also the flavor was very strong. In Korea they take this as a kind of vitamin: let it dissolve under their tongue 3 times a day. Only a handful of colleagues wanted to try it after smelling it. The flavour got washed away with some chocolate.
Bamboosalt is more and more common in Europe as alternative medicine. For example, there are doctors in Germany who prescribe it. Having a bath with bamboo salt is supposed to be beneficial for people with sensitive skin or psoriasis. In the end it is important to remember: no matter how many people swear it to give health benefits, it is not an acknowledged medicine. There is no way of claiming any healing properties after trying it once. That is something you’ll have to see for yourself.
Wat do you think of bamboosalt? Did you already know it, or will you give it a try? Please tell us your experiences with bamboo salt on our social media.