Is Basalt Salty? (The Answer Might Surprise You)

No, basalt is not salty.

Let us explain.

Is Basalt Salty? (EXPLAINED)

What Is Basalt?

Basalt is one of the most common rocks on the Earth.

It is dark and heavy, and usually forms volcanically.

Basalt is a big part of the earth’s crust, usually boiling around underneath the crust in it’s melted form.

When it comes forth (slowly or in big bursts), it cools quickly.

While many people have heard of basalt, they do not realize that basalt is just the name for a volcanic rock that could contain many different substances or materials, such as: magnesium, iron, silica (like quartz), feldspar, pyroxene, olivine, plagioclase and more.

Depending on the location of the basalt, the material could be rich in metal oxides, or weak in them.

There might be many different kinds of basalts that came together during a volcanic event and cooled together quickly.

In general, people identify basalt based upon what they observe with their eyes.

They see stone that is: dark gray or black, dull (not shiny), hard, and without bright colors, drops, or other materials mixed in (like you’d see with granite).

Some dramatic examples of basalt formations can be found as the cliffs around the world, such as Los Organos in the Canary Islands of Spain, Takichiho Gorge in Japan, Giant’s Causeway in the United Kingdom, and along the Columbia Gorge in the United States.

What Is Salt?

Salt is a compound composed of two kinds of elements bonded together: sodium and chlorine which make sodium chloride (NaCl).

We generally experience salt in its granular form, on our dinner table.

Or perhaps when we get a bit of ocean spray in our mouths or eyes.

Salt also is also found in colorless cube shaped crystals, known as halite (aka rock salt).

Salt does wonders for cooking, as it is thought to stimulate taste buds to make them more sensitive.

Why Isn’t Basalt Salty?

Basalt generally doesn’t contain salt (sodium chloride).

Without sodium chloride, when we lick basalt, we won’t have the same experience we would if we were to lick an equivalently sized piece of rock salt.

There’s no chemical in basalt (in sufficient quantities or that we could actually ingest in sufficient amounts) that stimulates our human taste buds.

To be fair, if we pulled a piece of basalt out of the ocean and allowed the seawater to dry on the surface of the stone, the basalt would taste of salt if it was licked.

But the salty taste would be the result of the dried water on the surface, and not from anything inherent in the basalt.

Could Basalt Contain Salt?

Sure, it is entirely possible that basalt could contain salt.

After all, basalt usually begins as melted rock, and it is inevitable that when the melted rock spews over the land or into the ocean that some of the materials in the way (like seawater) wouldn’t get absorbed into the molten rock in some way.

But even if basalt contained some salt, it is unlikely that we humans wouldn’t be able to taste it just by licking it, or even if we ground up some basalt rock finely to put on our tongues.

(Which, by the way, we do not recommend, as salt dissolves in water and our saliva and basalt most definitely does not).

Why Does Basalt Have It’s Name Then?

Basalt doesn’t get its name from it’s saltiness.

Instead, basalt was derived from a misspelling of a latin word for ‘very hard stone’ in the 1500s.

Want to learn more about the world we live on? Check out our blog for our latest Earth Science articles on curious topics.

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