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Salt From Plants 56

Makarand writes "Researchers in India have been able to extract salt from a plant source for the first time. The plant salt comes from a salt-loving leafless shrub, salicornia brachaita, that grows under high-salt conditions accumulating salt in its tissues. This plant's cultivation was being studied as a possible solution to reclaiming salty soil along coastal areas. While regular sea salt is predominantly NaCl, this plant salt has salts of potassium, calcium, magnesium and also nutrients like iron and hence could be marketed as a health salt."
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Salt From Plants

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  • mmm... (Score:4, Funny)

    by ddd2k ( 585046 ) on Sunday May 18, 2003 @03:56PM (#5987048) Homepage
    a salt-loving leafless shrub
    you mean a potato?
  • Health salts? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Viqsi ( 534904 ) <jrhunter@menager i e . tf> on Sunday May 18, 2003 @04:00PM (#5987074)
    Out of curiosity, what is a "health salt"? I've never heard of such before...

    (oh, and for some reason, this keeps coming to mind: [].)
  • Salt bush? (Score:5, Informative)

    by srn_test ( 27835 ) on Sunday May 18, 2003 @08:29PM (#5988583) Homepage
    There's an Australian plant called Salt Bush that does this - the leaves actually have salt crystals on them.

    They can be used to reclaim over-irrigated soil...
    • From the article:

      "Our interest in salicorni cultivation was mainly to reclaim salty soil," said JB Pandya, coordinator of the project. India has around eight to 10 million hectares of salt-affected soils of which Gujarat's share is nearly 25 per cent.

      The article also mentions that the plant they're using is a "leafless shrub". I don't think they're exactly the same plant, though. The "salt bush" is apparently Atriplex halimus (or at least something in that genus, anyway), whereas these guys are dealing

  • by Bowling Moses ( 591924 ) on Sunday May 18, 2003 @08:52PM (#5988701) Journal
    There's lots of cool stuff going on right now with bioremediation. My roomate's looking for a postdoc position and one of the labs he was looking at was using bacteria to gather up heavy metals. It was pretty slick: the bacteria were engineered to express proteins designed to bind metal ions on their cell surfaces. They'd eventually have so much metal bound that they would begin to fall to the bottom of your sludge pond or whatever your body of contaminated water was in and they could be harvested. For at least one metal (Mercury? Cadmium? Gonna hafta ask him.) it was looking like the settled-out engineered bacterium-laden sludge from a contaminated site was more enriched in the metal than mined ore!
  • They should try to extract salt out of the plant "lucern". This plant grows well in salty soil, and is used to combat soil salinity here in Australia.

    Apparently cows eat it too :-)
  • Potassium (Score:5, Informative)

    by barakn ( 641218 ) on Sunday May 18, 2003 @09:35PM (#5988874)
    The word potassium is derived from the word potash, literally meaning "pot ashes". The word alkali comes from the Arabic qalay, "to fry or roast in a pan", and al-qalay , "the substance that had been roasted." The English word soda is derived from suwwad, the Arabic name of a plant of which the ashes are rich in sodium carbonate (paraphrasing from the bottom of this reference []). This most recent effort is most certainly not the first time salt has been extracted from plants, and in fact is such an ancient practice that it has given rise to the names of some of the alkali metals.
    • I think the interesting thing is that they have a plant now that collects salt in its seeds, which perhaps is new (I honestly don't know). The distinction, of course, is that one could harvest the seeds without necessarily destroying the entire plant. Further, the seeds may have significantly more salt per volume or be substantially easier to extract salt from than, for example, reducing the plant to ashes. Pity the article doesn't provide comparisons to other methods or any explanation of why this is inter
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) * on Sunday May 18, 2003 @10:58PM (#5989220) Homepage Journal
    I could remove the salt from my own urine and market it as a "health salt" - the health food industry is one of the biggest scams out there.

    All I have to do is make a few vague claims, and dream up some useful obfuscation ("... extracted from the very life process that it is intended to promote, our exclusive uri-salt promotes healthy kidneys....") and I'm rolling in money.

    • Chuckle.

      Just the other day I saw a gift someone sent my mother. A package of Dead Sea Mineral Mud. You can buy it here, [] $22.50 for an 8.5 ounce package, plus shipping.

      Or you can get it here [] for $6.25, plus shipping. Chuckle.

      I started laughing hystericly when I saw it. It's a freaking bag of MUD! And the Dead Sea is called the DEAD sea for a reason. Nothing can live in it.

      It makes me think I should go into bussiness selling Love Canal Mineral Mud. (For those who aren't familiar with Love Canal, [] it is the
  • to the list of useless oxymorons, which I guess is an oxymoron itself.
  • Really useful (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Cackmobile ( 182667 )
    THis would be really welcome in Oz, where something ridiculous like 45% of arable land is affected by rising salt. And it would give the farmers an alternative source of income while there land is regenerating. Win - Win
  • You can buy fresh salicornia at Gentle Strength, a bit west of ASU. It is really quite salty. They suggest adding it to salads, etc.

    (Disclaimer: I don't work there)
  • The thing is, if this plant extracts all salts from the soil, then there's no particular reason that the salt from the plant will be particularly healthy; there will be sodium chloride, some other stuff that might be healthy, and perhaps also some salts which aren't. Which salts accumulate from chemical fertilizer use? Probably something other than sodium chloride, right?

    Maybe the thing to do when reclaiming tracts of farmland is to gather up all the salicornia and throw it in the ocean; this is nature's
    • Hang on a minute! If you say that dumping Salicornia bushes at sea *won't* harm the environment, how will putting it into the sewers (where it will, eventually, find its way to the sea) be harmful to the environment?

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