Low Microplastic Sea Salt: How to Choose a Safer Option

So Sea Salt has microplastic in it now?!? Do you want me to lick my armpits instead?

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that really sucks. Sprinkling some tasty salt on my avocado sandwich is just too good.

Here is a study I have come across from Greenpeace:

The study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, analyzed 39 salt brands globally, showing that plastic contamination in sea salt was highest, followed by lake salt, then rock salt – an indicator of the levels of plastic pollution in the areas where the salt was sourced. Only three of the salt brands studied did not contain any microplastic particles in the replicated samples.

That means when you sprinkle salt on your food, you are sprinkling plastic on it too.

Where does the plastic in my salt come from?

We throw roughly 13 million metric tons of plastic into the ocean yearly. Surely this will haunt us one day, and it is doing so in a very sneaky way, as microplastic pollution.

Microplastics in sea salt

On average, a drinking bottle is used for 12 minutes and then takes hundreds if not thousands of years to break down.

Since salt is usually sourced from the ocean, it is pretty evident that it will contain microplastic pollution.

Have you heard about the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”? The most famous of the five trash islands, the size of France.

Also known as the gyres, they are an accumulation of plastics and other trash that floats in the ocean, moved by currents and wind.

Since plastic breaks further down into “microplastic,” it eventually ends up in our food chain.

Hang on when you say break down, does it go back into natural resources?

Good question. I am glad you asked. To keep it short, it doesn’t break down like your banana peel that gets eaten by worms and bacteria and turns into soil.

No, plastic breaks down into smaller pieces of plastic. It never turns back into a natural product ever again. It only gets smaller and smaller. We have seen our impact on this planet since the first plastic bottle was created in 1947.

Every hour we dump a truckload of rubbish into the ocean.

This plastic waste has been found in the most remote places in the ocean. Since Sea Salt is a direct product of our oceans, it is no wonder it contains microplastic. The same goes for fish, muscles, and other seafood, which eventually find their way to our dinner plates.

The cycle of microbeads

How does it affect my health?

We are well aware of the adverse impacts of plastic particle pollution on our ecosystems and animals. But with humans, we run into a problem.

Unfortunately, there are few studies with humans yet; they say that plastic hasn’t been in our systems long enough to see the aftermath. However, we know that the chemicals used to make plastic can cause many health-related problems.

  • Plastics are hydrophobic, meaning they absorb chemicals from the environment, such as PCBs, PBDEs, and PAHs.
  • Plastics leach additives such as phthalates and BPA, which are endocrine disruptors.
  • Plastics are cytotoxic (toxic to living cells).

To sum it up:

Different human health problems like irritation in the eye, vision failure, breathing difficulties, respiratory problems, liver dysfunction, cancers, skin diseases, lung problems, headache, dizziness, birth effect, reproductive, cardiovascular, genotoxic, and gastrointestinal causes for using toxic plastics. Plastics occur in serious environment pollution such as soil pollution, water pollution, and air pollution. The application of proper rules and regulations for the production and use of plastics can reduce the toxic effects of plastics on human health and the environment. researchgate.net

That is a scarily long list of many health problems. We know that if ingested by birds and marine life, it usually causes a slow death. It fills up the animal’s stomach, and they starve to death.

We also know that in studies done on fish, microplastics contributed to metabolic disorders and toxic liver effects.

The science behind plastic pollution is quite worrying, which is why I have been filtering my water, and I don’t even drink much beer these days.

Find out if your tap water is drinkable here.

Yes, there is microplastic in beer, but that is another article.

How is Salt made?

These are the three main methods to obtain salt today:

  • Evaporation from seawater
  • Mining salt from the earth
  • Creating salt brines

Salt brines are the most common and cheapest methods, where water is pumped below the earth’s surface to dissolve salt deposits and create a brine. This brine is then pumped to the surface and evaporated to produce salt. The salty brine may be treated before evaporation to reduce mineral content, yielding a nearly pure sodium chloride crystal. Used for our standard table salt.

Like the name says is found under the earth’s surface from old underground waterways that dried up. It is mined via dynamite and then brought to the earth’s surface, where it is crushed and mainly used for non-food purposes. It is high in minerals but also other impurities.

It is made through the natural evaporation of shallow seabeds and bays, where the sun and wind do the work. Salty crystals are left behind and collected for sale. This method is the most ancient and can only be done in countries with little to no rainfall.

If you want to know more about this method, here is a two-minute clip from the Great Big Story.

Did you know; Of 220 million tons of salt produced, only 6% is used for human consumption?!?

Which Salts are safe to use?

According to a new study by researchers in South Korea and Greenpeace East Asia, Laura Parker writes in National Geographic that of 39 salt brands tested, 36 had microplastics.

The study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, analyzed 39 various salt brands globally, showing that plastic contamination in sea salt was highest, followed by lake salt, then rock salt – an indicator of the levels of plastic pollution in the areas where the salt was sourced. Only three of the salt brands studied did not contain any microplastic particles in the replicated samples.

Microplastic contamination

Salts to use are salts that come from wells or mountains, like Himalayan salt. Plastic particles are airborne, so we can find them in the most remote places worldwide.

Mined salts are relatively safe to eat. Because mined salts usually come from ancient seabeds that have not been in touch with plastic pollution. The difficulty in buying these salts is knowing where they actually come from.

There is evidence of plastic contamination in wells worldwide, but it is at a much lower rate than in seawater. So salt from a well is also safe to eat.

Then there is bamboo salt, which is supposed to contain no microplastic anymore due to the extreme heating process it has undergone. Not the cheapest option, though.

The three salts that were free of plastic came from Taiwan, China, and France.


When you get your next batch of salt, check and make sure it is either of the three options above.

If you live in America, perhaps this graph might help you a bit more with your decision. Personally, I would go with Hawaiian or Utah sea salt, but it all depends on how easy access you have to these products.


Salts you can buy from Amazon.

These salts contain no to minimal amounts of microplastics in them. However, I am no expert; these are purely products I consume and feel good about sharing.

Perhaps the best option here is to go to your bulk food store and bring your mason jars to get your salt the zero waste style.

Let’s go zero waste and stop more plastic in the sea.

So there you have it.

Should you stop eating salt altogether?

I don’t think so. But be more aware of what you put into your system. It’s like a car. It won’t run very long if you fuel it with cheap dirty fuel. Well, the same goes for our bodies. Fuel it with healthy foods, and your body will last a lot longer.

Let’s be the solution to this ever-growing problem and start by eliminating single-use plastic from our lives. Become a zero waste man! Or woman!

  • Try to buy clothes from natural fibers.
  • Make sure your cosmetics have no microbeads in them.
  • Use reusable items, such as food storage, coffee cups, and reusable bottles.
  • Say ‘no’ to straws, plastic bags, and any unnecessary single-use items.
  • Filter your drinking water and turn your life into a zero waste life.

Hey, what are your thoughts on this subject? How is your zero waste journey going so far? I’d love to hear from you, and I will answer all your questions below.