Why Was Salt Valuable in Ancient Times?

Salt has been a valuable commodity for centuries, used for everything from preserving food to currency. It’s hard to imagine something so common being so valuable, but in ancient times, salt was worth its weight in gold. Let’s explore why.

The Importance of Salt in Ancient Times

Salt was essential in ancient times because it was the only way to preserve food. In the days before refrigeration and canned goods, salt was used to keep food from spoiling. Meat, fish, and vegetables were salted and dried for long-term storage.

The Role of Salt in Civilization

Salt played a significant role in the development of civilization. In fact, many cities were built around salt mines or trade routes. The demand for salt led to the creation of trade networks across vast distances and helped to stimulate economic growth.

The Origins of Salt Trade

The origins of the salt trade date back thousands of years to the ancient world. The Egyptians were among the first to use salt as a form of currency, trading it with neighboring nations for gold and other precious metals.

Salt as Currency

The value of salt was so great that it became a form of currency in many ancient societies. Roman soldiers were sometimes paid with salt, which is where we get the word “salary” from today.

The Health Benefits of Salt

In addition to its value as a preservative and currency, salt also has important health benefits. Sodium is an essential nutrient that helps regulate blood pressure and fluid balance in the body.

Dangers of Too Much Salt

While sodium is necessary for proper bodily function, too much can be harmful. Excess sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure and other health problems.


In conclusion, while we may take salt for granted today, it was once a valuable commodity that helped to shape the course of human history. From its role in preserving food to its use as a form of currency, salt has played an important role in our lives for thousands of years.