Halite Facts For Kids: Rock Salt Formation And Uses | Kidadl


Halite Facts For Kids: Rock Salt Formation And Uses

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Have you ever wondered where rock salt has come from?

Well, in the chemistry class you may learn about halite crystals, which are isometric crystals formed of sodium chloride. These mineral bonds that have been formed inside sedimentary rocks not only look good but are known to carry trace minerals essential for our body.

As there's a rise in popularity for consuming different types of rock salts, it's high time that everyone knew about halite. The great part is that abundant rock salt deposits are found in the USA and Canada, especially in the Sifto Salt Mine. Moreover, rock salt is known to enhance the taste of meat and can even help in the preservation of meat for a long time.

So, do keep reading to know more fascinating halite facts.

Meaning Of Halite

Halite is a word derived from the Ancient Greek word 'háls' which means 'salt.' It's simply the mineral name of rock salt.

As you may know, rock salt is derived from mining salt deposits present in caves or inland lakes, where the salt is through the evaporation of saltwater. Halite crystals are nothing but isometric crystals of sodium chloride, much like the common salt, you have with your food. Halite deposits are usually transparent or white. You can also find it in shades of blue, pink, yellow, orange, and purple due to the presence of different minerals or impurities in the pure salt.

Formation Of Halite

Halite crystals are known as evaporite minerals that are found in salt domes, caves, and near saltwater lakes. Halite is typically found in sedimentary rocks and is formed with the evaporation of saltwater and seawater.

At times, halite can be formed when entire saltwater lakes or enclosed lakes dry up to leave behind salt deposits. Halite salt beds can also be formed in areas where there's low precipitation, such as in areas like the Badwater Basin located in the Death Valley National Park. When the pressure of overlying rocks gets too high, salt domes can be formed that look like pipe-like structures. At times, halite is found in a rare geological structures like salt glaciers, which are especially present in arid Iran. Moreover, halite is often associated with being found in areas with limestone, shale, and dolomite, along with areas with petroleum. What makes halite unique has to be its structure of crystal formation. And, like any other form of salt, halite crystals dissolve in water.

Halite crystals can often be colorful.

Other Names And Varieties Of Halite

As we have already been told, halite is commonly known as rock salt. It's pretty similar to table salt in composition as both are mineral crystals of sodium chloride, but it lacks iodine.

You should keep note of the fact that halite found around the world are quite similar. However, the difference may lie in the impurities, bacterial remains, or other minerals found in the crystals that may give it a color. In the supermarket, you may see rock salts being sold as Himalayan pink salt. This salt is usually harvested from the halite found in the Khewra Salt Mine of Pakistan. The usual streak color of halite is defined as white. But, in some regions of France, you can find halite with purple fibrous veins, while rare stalactites of halite are found in the Nullarbor Plain of Australia, and the Quincy native copper mine of Michigan.

However, the rock salt that you consume with your food is processed before it reaches you. While harvesting the halite, drilling is done in the salt deposits are water is fed into it to form a brine. This brine is then extracted and evaporated to create the salt that reaches you. Halite deposits are pretty important in everyday life as the rock salt extracted from them is used in food, it helps to clear snow in winter due to the lower freezing point, and it can even give your body some essential minerals. Halite has also long been used as a part of food preservation, especially to cure bacon and fish. The simplest use of halite can be in the form of the pricey salt shakers that you get at the supermarket to add a salty taste to your food.

Common places where halite is found in the USA, include the Great Salt Lake, Utah, and Salton Sea, California. In a place like the Dead Sea, salt deposits are slowly being formed.

Physical And Chemical Properties Of Halite

When it comes to the physical property of halite, it forms isotropic crystals and is usually transparent or white. The chemical property of halite is NaCl, as the fine crystals are formed by sodium and chloride.

If you happen to lick halite, it will have a salty taste as the composition is pretty similar to any other salt such as sea salt and common table salt. Even though companies typically market rock salt as being something greatly different from other salts, the truth is that the salt produced from salt beds of the Great Salt Lake or the Salton Sea is nothing different. There's particularly no reason for the salts to taste different, but some people do claim to detect a noticeable variance. Like any other sodium chloride salt, the chemical property of halite is easy to understand, as it's formed by sodium and chloride ions. If you did not know, chloride is created when chlorine can gain an electron and bond with other elements. Apart from sodium chloride, other naturally occurring salts can be potassium chloride and calcium chloride.

Description of other physical properties of halite includes its luster being classified as vitreous or a glass-like appearance. The crystal gets a score of 2-2.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, and halite has a specific gravity of two. You can detect halite by checking its cleavage, solubility, and salt taste. But, direct tasting is discouraged as the salt might be contaminated. The average price of rock salt in 2018 was $58.00 for 2000 lb (907 kg).

<p>With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature.&nbsp;</p>

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