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History Of Salt Use

Discover the History of Salt Use

Learn About the Importance of Mineral Salts With DPL-US

Salt is one of the most important minerals to civilization. It has been used for everything from currency to religious ceremonies. As one of the world’s leading producers of mineral salts and chemical manufacturing, DPL-US knows the importance of salt to the pharma, biopharma, and food industries. More than that, we would like you to understand the vital importance of salt throughout human history. Join us as we take a walk through the history of salt. We’ll start with some of the prehistoric and ancient uses of salt, and we’ll go all the way through to the modern use of salts by our founder Dr. Paul Lohman®.

Prehistoric Uses of Salt

Since the beginning of recorded history, humankind has used salt to preserve food and provide essential nutrients. This has led salt to be a valuable commodity. From a nutritional standpoint, early humanity would have gotten most of its mineral salts through nuts, meat, and fish, as well as from fruits and vegetables (although in smaller amounts). As early as 1,450 B.C., Egyptians recorded salt making in art. They were known for heavily salting foods not just to preserve them but also for the added flavor.

Early Civilizations Learn About the Health Benefits of Salt

The nutritional benefits of mineral salts have been known by humanity for more than 4,700 years. The first treaties on the pharmacological advantages of salts date back to 2,700 B.C. in China. This early exploration into the role salt plays in our physical health discussed more than 40 different kinds of salt and two different methods of extracting salt. While modern chemical manufacturing is much more precise and reliable, the foundations of today’s salt extraction methods can be traced back to this pre-ancient civilization. Unfortunately, the Chinese government at the time began taxing salt strictly, initiating a battle for this crucial commodity that we will see reoccur throughout history.

H3: Ancient World Begins Using Salt as Currency

Salt has been called “white gold” due to its immense value. In ancient Rome, salt was controlled, regulated, and used as a currency. In fact, the word “salary” is derived from the Latin term for salt. Many scholars believe the first salaries were given to Roman soldiers specifically so they could purchase salt. Even before that, the ancient Greeks used salt as a marker for value, inventing the phrase, “not worth his salt.” Simultaneously, ancient civilizations used salt in several ways, often as a symbol of purity, health, or good fortune. In Egypt, salt was heavily used in the process of mummification. In the far east, salt was used in Shintoism to remove impurity and in Buddhism to repel evil. The Bible itself has more than 30 references to salts, most notably Lot’s wife, who turned into a pillar of salt.

Salt Starts to Sculp the Globe in the Post-Classical Era

As time went on, salt became more and more valuable. Many of the world’s great cities have a history that involves the production of salt. Venice became the economic center of Europe due to its effective monopoly on salt production. Salt mines were often far away from the largest cities, though. As a result, many of the first roads and trade routes were established specifically for the transportation of salt. Some roads still show signs of their salt-based origins in their names, such as the Old Salt Route in Northern Germany.

The Many Wars Fought Over Salt

Many wars, revolutions, and international conflicts have been due to salt. Even more importantly, many military conflicts have been decided by the availability of salt. When the Dutch revolted against the control of Phillip II of Spain, the entire country was turned bankrupt due primarily to the Dutch blockade of Iberian salt. The high taxes on salt were responsible, in part, for the French revolution.

In 1777, during the American Revolution, the British Lord Howe saw it as a major success when he captured General George Washington’s salt supply. Historians also attribute much of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow to a lack of salt, which was needed to heal soldiers’ wounds. In the Civil War, Union soldiers fought a deadly battle for more than 36 hours just to acquire a salt processing plant in Saltville, Virginia.

Finding Mineral Salts Motivated Early American Explorers

American history, specifically, is incredibly intertwined with salt. The original motivation for Christopher Columbus’s voyage across the Atlantic was to find a more efficient trade route for goods and spices. Some of those spices he hoped to find would undoubtedly have been mineral salts. The American westward exploration conducted by Lewis and Clark was partially motivated by the hope of finding natural sources of salt. The construction of the Erie Canal, one of the most significant projects undertaken by the nation at the time, was intended to create a more direct route for salt transport. The Erie Canal was often called “the ditch that salt built.”

Mineral Salts Are in Everything Now

While salt has always had an influential role, it has possibly never been more critical than it is in the modern world. With increased technology and knowledge, we have been able to understand and use mineral salt for much more than just preserving and seasoning food. Mineral salts can be found in nearly every product, medication, and food. Today, various compounds of mineral salts are used in everything from the food we eat to the deodorant we wear.

1886: Dr. Paul Lohman® Opens His First Mineral Facility

One of the world’s most well-known chemical manufacturers of mineral salts, DPL-US, has a history that is integrally connected with salt production. Our founder, Dr. Paul Lohman, established the company on October 1, 1886. Since our founding in that small, abandoned chemical factory in Hamelin, Germany, we have expanded our production of mineral salts into many different areas. Our first trademark was for the extraction of iron to be used as a nutritional supplement. Over the next several decades, DPL-US expanded the production of mineral nutrients into calcium compounds. This came shortly on the heels of Rudolf Lohmann, Dr. Paul Lohman’s son, taking the reins of the company in 1919.

Expansion After a World War II Shutdown

Since our inception, the only prolonged halt of production was during World War II, when half of the 40 employees at the facility were involuntarily drafted into military services. It took five years before the company could resume production. However, when the war ended in the spring of 1945, our salt production facility was one of the earlier sectors asked to reopen. Production resumed as early as December 1, 1945, and the military government requested the maximum possible salt output due to the nationwide shortages. Only a year later, this increased demand required the opening of a second plant in Hamelin.

DPL-US Becomes the Leading Name in Chemical Manufacturing

In the modern era, DPL-US has expanded to become an international supplier of high-quality, high-purity mineral salts, with international expansions into Singapore and New York. We also took the lead in the research, development, and application field by establishing a new FEA laboratory in 2008. Just a year later, in 2009, we integrated our product lines with those acquired from Boehringer Ingelheim. On October 1, 2021, we proudly celebrated the 135th anniversary of the day Dr. Paul Lohman walked into an abandoned chemical factory with a dream of sharing nutritional minerals with the world.