You are currently viewing <strong>Kala Namak – Himalayan Black Salt</strong>

Kala Namak – Himalayan Black Salt

  • Post comments:0 Comments
  • Reading time:9 mins read

What is it?

Kala Namak is a type of edible salt that is made in India. It is black or dark purple in colour, has a slight savoury taste, and a sulphurous pungent (or a rotten-egg gas) smell. The name “Kala” means black and “namak” means salt, hence it is commonly called “black salt” or “Asian black salt”. More recently it has been marketed as “Himalayan Black Salt”. 

How is it made? 

Kala Namak is made from natural halite (or rock salt) that is mined in the Indian, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh Himalayan Region (IHR). The rock salt is also harvested in places such as the Sambhar Salt Lake, which is India’s largest inland salt lake located in Sambhar Lake Town in Jaipur (Rajasthan). 

Traditionally, after harvesting, the colourless rock salt is taken through a reductive chemical process that transforms it from colourless to black. The reductive process involves putting the salt in a ceramic jar along with charcoal and small amounts of :

  • harad seeds – edible seeds from the Terminalia chebula, a tree native to India.
  • amla – also known as the Indian gooseberries harvested from the Phyllanthus emblica tree.
  • baheda – also known as Bibhitaki, which means the one that keeps diseases away. Scientifically it is called Terminalia bellirica, a large deciduous tree in the Combretaceae family.
  • babool bark – the bark of thorny acacia or Egyptian acacia, scientifically known as Vachellia nilotica
  • hydrated soda ash – also known as natron.

The ceramic jar containing all these ingredients is then placed in a kiln, oven, or furnace for 24 hours.

The oven or furnace melts the salt and a reductive chemical reaction occurs that transforms the naturally occurring sodium sulphate into a pungent hydrogen sulphide and sodium sulphide. After 24 hours the salt is taken out of the oven and allowed to cool. Upon cooling black salt crystals are formed, usually they are ground to a powder that appear purple and allowed to age before being sold in the market.    

With improvements in technology and quality standards, newer methods are developed and employed in the production of Kala Namak, much of these methods involve synthetic production methods. Other methods include reductive heat treatment of salt in the presence of sodium carbonate, sodium sulphate, and sugar.  

The quality of the Kala namak varies based on the manufacturer. Different manufacturers use different methods of production, they also use different quality of ingredients, and the method used to age the product may also vary. 

What does it consist of?

Kala Namak is still salt so it primarily consists of sodium chloride, which provides salinity (or the saltiness). It also has iron sulphate which gives the salt its dark colour. The acidic sodium bisulphate and sodium bisulfite give Kala Namak its savoury taste. The pungent smell comes from the hydrogen sulphide. Even though hydrogen sulphite is considered poisonous, the amount present in the salt is so small that it is basically harmless. 


Kala Namak is a versatile salt with a wide range of uses:   

  • It is used as an ingredient when making toothpaste. Kala namak was previously mixed with fluoride and used as toothpaste to prevent tooth decay among school children.
  • It is used as a condiment that adds flavour to food. For example, it is used in the making of foods and spices such as:  
    • Kala namak rice is a type of naturally scented rice produced in India that is rich in nutrients such as iron, zinc, and vitamin E. 
    • Chaat masala a spice mixture of asafoetida (a type of gum resin), black salt, black pepper, coriander, chilli powder, cumin, ginger, mango powder.
    • Raita a yoghurt based dish made using besan boondi, brinjal, cucumber, curd, onion, gourd, and tomato.
    • Chutneys.

It is also used in ayurvedic medicine:

  • It is used as a mild laxative
  • It is used to treat diarrhoea
  • it helps aid digestion 
  • It relieves flatulence and heartburn
  • It is used to prevent putrefaction (decay or rotting of organic matter including the human body)
  • It is used to reduce tissue swelling
  • It is often used by people on a low sodium diet as it contains less sodium than table salt
  • In the past, Kala Namak was also used to reduce swelling in the neck caused by an enlarged thyroid gland. And It was used in the treatment of hysteria. But after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US warned the makers of the product to stop marketing the product using unproven claims, the manufacturers started selling the product as a dietary supplement.    

Kala namak is often confused with The Hawaiian Black Lava Salt, the two types of salt might look a bit similar but they are not the same. They do not taste the same and they are not used for the same things. Hawaiian black lava salt is sea salt that is blended with activated charcoal from coconut shells and kilned. It is typically used as a type of gourmet salt that is added to ready-to-serve dishes. 

Safety precaution:

The use of traditional medicine in prescribed dosages will yield good results. Misuse and abuse may lead to complications. To learn about correct dosage, consult a traditional healer or a herbalist. You can also visit or email: to learn more about traditional medicine.  

References and further reading:

  • Carapeto, C., Brum, S. and Rocha, M.J., 2018. Which table salt to choose?. Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences, pp.1 – 4.
  • Jadhav, R.D. and Mali, H.B., 2018. A search for the source of high content of sodium chloride (NaCl) at Crater Lake Lonar, Maharashtra, India. Int. J. Adv. Res. Ideas Innov. Technol, 4, pp.255-261.
  • Kalanamak, R.S.R.C., Singh, U.S., Singh, N., Singh, H.N., Singh, O.P. and Singh, R.K., 2005/ Asian Agri-History Foundation Research. Reproduced from Asian Agri-History. Vol., 9(3) pp. 211 – 219
  • Kumar, V., 2019. Kalanamak Rice: Importance of cultivation and their Uses. AGRICULTURE & FOOD: e-newsletter, 21530, p.13.
  • Kumar Singh, S., Patel, A.K., Singh, K. and Singh, P.N., 2020. Buddha’s gift – heritage kala namak rice. Krishi Science – eMagazine for Agricultural Science. Volume 1(5), pp. 22 – 25. 
  • Matters, S., Matters, B.S. and Sights, S., 2022. Artisanal salt and culinary expectations. Available from: (Accessed on: 11 May 2023)

Leave a Reply