The two most popular types of bamboo salt are 9 times roasted bamboo salt (purple bamboo salt) and 3 times roasted bamboo salt (grey bamboo salt). The primary difference between these two salts is the number of times they are heated and the temperature at which they are roasted. This results in different coloration and alkalinity. Here are the specific differences between these two medicinal salts.
Both gray and purple bamboo salt are made honoring ancient Buddhist monk tradition. This means they are both prepared with sea salt from the Western Korean coast that's been hand-harvested, sun-dried, and then deposited into 3-year-old bamboo pillars, sealed with red clay collected from deep in the Korean mountains. The bamboo pillars are placed in an iron kiln and roasted over a pinewood fire at 1472°F until the bamboo is incinerated and a white salt pillar remains. Here's where they differ:
Number of Roasting Times
Traditionally, bamboo salt was roasted three times, but in the 20th century, a renowned Korean herbalist and healer, Kim Il-hoon, determined that roasting sea salt nine times removes more toxins, maximizes mineral potency, and optimizes bamboo salts’ healing potential.
The 9th Time is a High Heat Firing
Kim II-hoon also determined that melting the salt on the ninth time with a resin fire at (above) 2732 into liquid, will actually produce the most medicinal bamboo salt possible. You can find bamboo salt that's been roasted one to nine times.
Three times roasted bamboo salt has an alkalinity of 10.10 pH, whereas 9 times roasted bamboo salt has an alkalinity of 11.5 pH. Compared to table salt's neutral pH of 7, both salts are remarkably alkaline.
Three times roasted bamboo salt is grey whereas nine times roasted bamboo salt is purple.
The internal lining of bamboo shoots is very rich in sulfur. Therefore, the more times sea salt is roasted in bamboo, the more it absorbs the bamboo's juices, minerals, and trace elements (including sulphur). Sulfur is an essential mineral for humans that's been used therapeutically for centuries. Some people may find the distinct sulphur taste of purple bamboo salt an acquired taste, which is why grey bamboo salt, with its mild sulphur flavor, may be more ideal for seasoning food.
Bamboo Salt Uses
All Korean bamboo salts are highly alkaline, free from toxins, and rich in bioactive minerals. If you're interested in the medicinal value of the salts, dissolve a few crystals of purple bamboo salt on your tongue several times per day. If you're interested in cooking and seasoning with minimal sulphur flavor, opt for the grey bamboo salt. Both make excellent choices for mouthwash, toothpaste, foot soaks, and personal care.
Greta Kent-Stoll is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner (NAMA), as well as a writer, editor, and Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher.