Since salt is just a mineral, it can’t go bad because there is nothing organic about salt to be spoiled. This doesn’t mean you can just leave salt lying around on the counter, however, as there are still ways to ruin it.
Salt has an indefinite shelf life and will never go bad since it is a mineral with antibacterial properties, meaning it can’t rot or become infested with mold. At the same time, salt is very sensitive to any kind of moisture or strong smells, and needs to be kept in a secure place to make sure it isn’t contaminated and ruined.
Despite its incredibly long shelf life, there are still things you need to know about how and where to store salt.
Does Salt Go Bad? How Long Does Salt Last?
Salt will never go bad because it is a mineral, however there can be problems with your salt depending on how and where you keep it.
How Long Does Salt Last Outside
Salt is not an organic food item, meaning that it can’t go bad so you can safely store salt in a pantry, cupboard, or cabinet without having to worry about it spoiling.
Even iodized salt, which is required by law to have a best-by date, has an indefinite shelf life since salt is not only a mineral but has antibacterial properties that protect it from spoiling.
This does not mean, however, that you can just leave salt open on your counter since salt can still be contaminated by other food items, pests, and water, all of which will ruin the salt.
How Long Does Salt Last in the Fridge
Refrigeration helps to preserve food by causing the food to decay more slowly due to the colder temperature inside the appliance, meaning that refrigerators are useless in keeping salt fresh.
Salt does not age, decay, or spoil, and has no moisture that needs to be kept cold in order to keep itself fresh, so the cold temperatures inside a refrigerator have no effect on salt’s shelf life.
In fact, keeping salt in the refrigerator can be a bad idea, since salt picks up aromas from other, nearby food and it can be contaminated by other foods while inside a sealed refrigerator.
How Long Does Salt Last in the Freezer
There are many reasons not to bother putting salt in the freezer, the most relevant being that it won’t help preserve salt since there is no moisture in the mineral to freeze.
Due to its chemical nature, salt not only can’t be frozen but causes ice to melt on contact, so salt is completely immune to any form of freezing, regardless of how cold its surroundings are.
In fact, if salt spills in the freezer it can partially defrost other items in the freezer, and if your freezer container isn’t airtight the salt inside will begin to taste and smell like other items in your freezer.
Salt has an indefinite shelf life and doesn’t need refrigerator or freezing to survive, it only needs to be kept in the right type of container.
How To Tell If Salt Has Gone Bad / How To Know Salt Is Fresh
Salt can’t go bad, since it is a mineral with antibacterial properties, meaning it can’t rot, spoil, or become infested with germs or mold. There are, however, other ways to contaminate salt and make it either difficult or dangerous to use, so if your salt is showing any of the following signs you should throw it out.
Odd Smells. Salt has a tendency to absorb odors and tastes from whatever it is exposed to, so salt can develop some very unpleasant aromas depending on where it is kept and what it is kept with. Bad smells are not necessarily a sign that your salt is bad or spoiled, but they can ruin the flavor of the salt.
Bugs. Insects can be attracted to salt and will break into salt containers to live off the mineral, so you need to look for signs of pantry bugs regularly. Live or dead insects, empty shells, eggs, and webbing are all signs that common kitchen pests are infesting your salt and it needs to be dumped.
Clumps. Non-iodized salt can form small clumps under the surface due to pressure, but if you have large or sticky clumps in your salt then you have another problem. Large or sticky clumps are a sign that something is leaking into your salt and contaminating it, so you should throw the salt out.
How to Store Salt?
While salt can’t go bad due to its chemical structure, there are ways for salt to be contaminated or effected by other nearby items, so it needs to be stored properly. Moisture, pests, other spices, and even strong smells can radically affect how salt tastes or ruin the salt outright, so you need to take protective steps.
Use a water and airtight container. Light and temperature have less of an effect on salt than other food items, but salt is still affected by moisture, strong smells, and other contaminants. To protect your salt you should keep it in a container that is both water and airtight to make sure nothing will get inside.
Can You Freeze Salt? How?
The reason freezing food helps to preserve it is because it slows down all the chemical processes that cause organic food to break down, letting the food last longer. The trouble with salt is that it not organic, meaning there are no processes to slow down so trying to freeze salt is not only useless, but can be damaging to both your salt and your other frozen foods.
Salt melts through ice. The chemicals that make up salt absorb and break down water, including ice, which is why rock salt is used to defrost frozen streets. Because of this, putting ice in your freeze puts all of your frozen food at risk, since any spilled ice will react with the ice on your frozen food and start to defrost parts of it.
Salt is sensitive to smells. Salt tends to pick up tastes and smells from anything it is stored with, so keeping it in the freezer or refrigerator can change the aroma of the salt. To avoid this issue, everything in your freezer would have to be either odorless or sealed in an airtight container, neither of which would be easy.
How to Thaw Salt?
Salt can’t be frozen, being a mineral with no moisture inside itself and no set shelf life, meaning that it also can’t be thawed out again.
In fact, certain types of salt like rock salt are used to thaw ice since salt breaks down and absorbs ice, causing it to melt.
Frequently Asked Questions About Salt’s Shelf Life
In terms of its actual shelf life, salt is easy to understand since its chemical nature prevents salt from aging or spoiling over time, meaning that salt can only be ruined if something else contaminates the mix.
What makes iodized salt different? The difference between iodized salt and regular table salt is that iodized salt has been treated with iodine, which is an anti-clumping agent. This keeps the salt from forming clumps or blocks in the container, but over time the iodine can dissipate and turn iodized salt back into regular salt.
Why is my salt turning yellow? Sometimes, as table salt ages, it starts to turn yellow and become slightly clumpy as if going bad. This is actually a sign that the iodine in the salt has worn out, meaning the salt has returned to a more natural color and is still perfectly safe to use on your food.
Salt is not only incapable of going bad but it also has an infinite shelf life, since salt is a mineral that can’t spoil, mold, or decay over time. All you have to worry about with salt is contamination, which can be easily prevented with an airtight container.