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  • Narrator: This is standard sea salt.

  • But after 30 days, it'll become this.

  • High-quality bamboo salt costs almost $100

  • for an 8.5-ounce jar,

  • making it the most expensive salt in the world.

  • So, what is bamboo salt used for?

  • And why is it so expensive?

  • For hundreds of years,

  • Koreans have used bamboo salt for cooking

  • and as a form of traditional medicine.

  • It's made by placing sea salt inside of bamboo

  • and roasting it at a high temperature.

  • The goal is to infuse the salt with minerals from the bamboo

  • and to remove any impurities.

  • But the premium compared to other types of salt is steep.

  • Nine-times-roasted bamboo salt,

  • sometimes referred to as "purple bamboo salt,"

  • can cost over 10 times the price of pink Himalayan salt.

  • Most of that cost comes from the labor-intensive process.

  • Every single step is done by hand.

  • Narrator: The process starts by cutting 3-year-old bamboo

  • into uniform trunks,

  • leaving one side closed as a container for the salt.

  • Sea salt from the west coast of Korea

  • is densely packed by hand into the bamboo.

  • Workers load filled bamboo onto a cart

  • and push it into a kiln.

  • Traditionally, only pine logs are used.

  • This process takes around 12 to 14 hours.

  • Baking everything at over 800 degrees Celsius

  • burns away the bamboo, leaving a column of salt.

  • But the process has only just begun.

  • Narrator: The ninth and final roast is the hottest,

  • at over 1,000 degrees Celsius.

  • It's fired in a special kiln and operated by an expert.

  • Shin Tae-joong has been making bamboo salt

  • for over 20 years.

  • That experience is extremely important,

  • because any error at this stage

  • could result in wasting a month of work.

  • At this temperature, the salt and bamboo completely melt

  • and drain into a mold.

  • After a few days of cooling,

  • a blackened rocklike structure remains.

  • This is nine-times-roasted bamboo salt.

  • Workers carefully break this down by hand,

  • trying not to waste any material.

  • After a month of work,

  • it's ready to be packaged and sold.

  • Narrator: The final price varies

  • depending on where you buy it and what form it's in.

  • But nine-times-roasted bamboo salt doesn't come cheap.

  • Narrator: The health benefits of food

  • have always played an important role in Korean culture.

  • For centuries, bamboo salt baked two to three times

  • has been used in traditional Korean medicine.

  • But in the 20th century,

  • the nine-times-roasting process was developed.

  • Manufacturers say this process has the lowest toxicity

  • and highest mineral content.

  • Today, it's used for cooking, toothpaste, soap,

  • and various remedies.

  • Narrator: Proponents of bamboo salt say that it can help

  • with everything from digestion to oral health,

  • skin care, and inflammation

  • and that it even has anticancer effects.

  • The proposed medical benefits have likely helped it

  • maintain its high price.

  • But there hasn't been enough scientific study

  • to fully back up all of these claims.

  • Studies have shown that bamboo salt contains higher levels

  • of iron, potassium, and calcium

  • compared to regular sea salt

  • and that it could improve your immune system.

  • But these beneficial minerals constitute

  • only a small percentage --

  • the majority of bamboo salt is sodium chloride.

  • Even with lower toxicity,

  • it's unclear how potent the health benefits are.

  • In 2016, the WHO wrote in a report

  • that "the composition of specialty salts

  • poses no toxicological risks

  • but does not offer any relevant

  • nutritional benefits either."

  • The full benefits of bamboo salt compared to sea salt

  • have yet to be extensively researched.

  • But despite that, bamboo salt continues to be popular.

  • Insanga, a popular bamboo-salt maker,

  • earned around $24 million in sales in 2017.

  • And the traditional labor-intense process

  • isn't likely to change anytime soon.

Narrator: This is standard sea salt.

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Why Bamboo Salt Is So Expensive | So Expensive

  • 9 1
    joey joey posted on 2021/05/23
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