It is very common for a hot sauce to use salt as one of the ingredients. It is actually very common in many condiments and prepared foods as well. Consumers love salt in many different foods and for many of the same reasons…salt makes food taste good!
Salt will enhance the flavors of hot sauce, add some additional expenses and raise the sodium level. Salt is a common ingredient in hot sauce but recently there have been brands making low sodium or “no salt added” hot sauces.
There are many brands of hot sauce available with little salt, no salt or reduced amounts of salt. These are usually offered to the consumer concerned about their level of sodium intake, and there are many, but do these sauces miss out on the added flavor of salts? Ironically among the popular and best-selling commercial hot sauces available there is moderate to high salt content, but don’t let that discourage you from enjoying them.
Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce has one of the highest salt contents at 240 milligrams. That does not necessarily mean it is bad for you, just eat it in moderation. On the other end of the spectrum there are many brands of hot sauce that boast no sodium or low sodium, so if you are concerned with your salt intake, choose with one of these low sodium hot sauces.
It is more typical to find hot sauces that are low sodium as opposed to no sodium. There must be a reason why these popular brands of hot sauce are adding salt to their recipes? To understand what salt does to hot sauce you must also understand what it does to food in general.
What does salt do to food?
Salt acts as a flavoring enhancer in foods and helps bring out the natural flavors in foods that may not be as pronounces without salt. It also can embellish the aroma which can influence the flavor as well. Some salts such as sea salt and flake salt can add textures to foods, and this can also enhance the eating experience. This texture is not evident in a hot sauce because the salt will liquify.
Salt is one of the most sought-after flavors in foods and is amazing how well it combines with other flavors that you may not expect. Salt can intensify sweetness and also reduce bitterness in foods you would not imagine. If used in large amounts it can suppress the bitterness of food or heighten sweet flavors.
Salt on hot peppers
Just like salt applied to other foods, salt on a hot pepper will enhance its flavor but it will not reduce the heat and we explore this more below. There are methods of reducing the heat of a hot pepper or hot sauce but simply sprinkling salt over top is not one of them.
Salt taste good by itself but also is used to highlight the flavor of other foods. Use it in excess and it can ruin or overtake the food it is trying to enhance and over salting is much more difficult to get rid of, so start out with small amounts in your home made hot sauces.
Salt helps with the aroma of food and this can enhance the acuity of taste. Although this may apply to salt that is added to dishes after they are prepared it helps with perception of taste of prepared foods, such as hot sauce as well.
What does salt do to hot sauce?
Similar to what salt does to other foods it also performs the same magic on your taste buds as it does to a hot sauce. Adding salt to hot sauce makes it taste better if applied in the right amount although this statement could be a preference for salty foods.
Salt is a preferred taste unlike bitter or sour which are often not as favored as salt is. These preferences are developed early in the human body and are individualized. These taste preferences are influenced by genetics and upbringing and will usually last your lifetime as well.
Saltiness is one of the five primary taste sensors. Heat or spiciness from a hot pepper is not one of them although some may argue that it is. Salt is also used to preserve food but, in this case, adding salt to hot sauce is minimal and doesn’t act as a preservative. However, salt does act as a preservative in the brine solution used to make a fermented hot sauce.
Salt does to a hot sauce what it does to most foods…enhances the flavors of the ingredients but it will not reduce the heat. Eating spicy food can increase sensitivity to salt and lead to less consumption of or the need to add salt to your foods.
Does salt reduce the heat of a hot sauce?
Yes and no! You can certainly drown out flavors by adding too much salt and having the salt take over, but salt does not reduce the heat of a hot sauce.
Soaking peppers in salt water will help “cool” them off but it is only slightly. Salt in a hot sauce is not intended to reduce the amount of heat or capsaicin. However, it has been my experience that peppers that are fermented (soaked in a salt and water solution called brine) will have less heat to them.
Why put salt in hot sauce?
The simple answer to this is that it makes food taste good or enhances the flavor. It does the same to a hot sauce and the ingredients it is made with. It is also a marketing tactic as salt is a preferred flavor by many consumers.
What does salt and vinegar do to hot sauce?
Many hot sauces will use vinegar as a base for the sauce. Some science experiments are done mixing salt with vinegar together and it will shine a penny. This creates sodium acetate and hydrogen chloride and is used for some common home remedies. So what does salt and vinegar do to a hot sauce?
The addition of the hot peppers and other ingredients will neutralize the chemical combination of vinegar and salt. This is a great combination used in many condiments and on foods such as french fries and potato chips.
Too much salt is bad for you
Too much of anything is bad for you. Hot sauce is considered a healthy condiment, so the addition of salt partially negates that principle. Although I eat a lot of hot sauce there are still probably only minimal amounts of salt in the sauces I eat. So my intake of salt from hot sauce is minimal.
Although some brands of hot sauce that are top sellers in the market have a lot of salt. Franks Redhot has 190 milligrams per teaspoon. That’s 1 serving. I love Franks so I know I eat a lot more than 1 serving at every sit down.
The simplest way to avoid salt intake from hot sauce is to not eat as much hot sauce. No Way! However, there are several brands of sodium free, no salt or low salt hot sauces.
Does salt have nutrients?
Salt is a mineral and does not contain any nutrients but the human body does need salt. Sodium is a trace minerals or micro minerals found in salt. Between .2 and 15 milligrams are recommended everyday. According to Michigan Medicine the sodium in table salt contributes to fluid balance, nerve transmission and muscle contraction.
Some varieties of salt may contain calcium, potassium, iron and zinc but in very small amounts (Healthline). Sea salts in particular have high mineral contents that many believe reflect on its flavor (Online Library). According to Harvard School of Public Health salts only contain a minimal amount of minerals that don’t contribute much positive health benefits to the human body.
Sodium vs Salt
Sodium and salt are not considered the same thing. Sodium can be found in other substances and many vegetables such as beets, celery and sweet potatoes. Salt or table salt is a combination of sodium and chloride and is what is typically added to foods to give a “salty” flavor.
If you use vinegar as a common ingredient in your hot sauce it will not change the level of sodium. However bottled water and tap water will have small amounts of sodium levels in them. These sodium levels can be as low as 5 milligrams per 8 oz of water. Depending on how much water you are using (if any at all) in your sauce, the sodium levels shouldn’t be very high per serving of hot sauce.
Does salt changes the pH of hot sauce?
The pH of salt is about 7 similar to water. Due to differences in salt the pH has a range from 7 to 8. 1M sodium hydroxide (NaOH) has a pH of 14. Table salt will not alter the pH of water, which is considered neutral. However, any salts that have additives could alter the pH of a hot sauce.
Adding salt to a hot sauce could increases costs
Adding almost any additional ingredients to a hot sauce will increase the costs, some slightly more than others. The amount of salt that you will be adding to your sauce is minimal but if you use factors of multiplication because you plan on selling hot sauce for years…it can add up.
Although salt is very inexpensive adding any ingredients to your hot sauce will increase costs. Table salt is generally only about $.02 – $.03 an ounce.
Types of salts…and do they taste different?
Although there may be many different varieties of salt only a few are typically used in hot sauce. Keep in mind that the salt will dissolve (or should dissolve) so anything coarse will not have the texture show through. This texture is a feature of some salts such as Himalayan, flake and sea salts. Other salts such as Black Hawaiian Salt is mixed with other ingredients to give it its unique flavor.
Iodized table salt
This is the most common salt used in hot sauce primarily because of its availability and costs. According to a report by ign.org there is almost 3,000 tons of iodized salt used for chili sauce in Indonesia alone.
Himalayan pink salt
Himalayan pink salt is a rock salt that comes from a region of Pakistan known as Punjab. There isn’t any research that acknowledges the health benefits of Himalayan pink salt over other types of salt. For beliefs in health benefits people will use this type of salt in other ways aside from adding it to foods.
Check out these salts that use Himalayan pink salt!
Kosher salt is commonly found in many hot sauces. It is processed without iodine and is a coarser grain than table salt. This salt is typically used in the koshering process of meats because of its larger crystal size. Dissolved in a hot sauce it is not much different than table salt.
Red Hawaiian salt
Red Hawaiian salt or Alaea salt is mixed with volcanic clay that is rich in iron oxide. It is the clay that will give it a rich reddish color. These salts are mixed with additives and are generally not used in hot sauces and are mostly used as a finish.
Black Hawaiian salt
Like red Hawaiian salt black salt is mixed with something but it is not clay it is volcanic lava charcoal. Unlike red salt this will have a smoky flavor to it and offers additional health benefits such as treating gas and bloating.
Sea salt comes from evaporated sea salt. Like many there are beliefs that this taste different than other salts. Sea salt comes in large crystals but like all salts in hot sauce this dissolves and the texture is not present.
Here’s some popular sauces that use sea salt
This is considered a type of sea salt and contains some water so the consistency will be a mushy texture. Celtic salt comes from the sea coast of France. It is used similarly to the way any sea salt would be used. Differences or similarities to other sea salts may be subtle.
Fluer de Sel
Fluer de Sel is sea salt in a different flake form. This is the thin crust that form during the evaporation of sea salt. The pyramid shaped crystals make it great finishing salt but is another version of salt that only dissolves in the hot sauce.
Flake salt is a general term for salts that are in form of shavings, large crystals or chips. These makes great garnishes and are also typically referred to as a finishing salt. You can find these in many shapes.
Smoked salt is exactly what the name implies…salt that has been smoked like some meats may be. This offers a unique and aromatic flavor that could carry throughout the hot sauce, depending on the amount of smoked flavor and quantity of sauce.
Hot salt is a salt that is mixed with hot pepper flakes and sprinkled on foods. It instantly gives food a combination of delicious hot pepper and salty flavoring. Hot salt or chili salt can be made with dried peppers powder or peppers flakes and is usually mixed with a coarse flake salt.
Perform a taste test
A super easy and inexpensive way to test how salt reacts to your hot sauce is with a taste test. This requires several small batches without salt (obviously) so you can decide the amount of salt your sauce may need.
This is my favorite way of experimenting with different ingredient combinations in your sauce. Salt and other strong flavors will have the most prevalence in changing the overall flavor. These small portions of sauce can also be pH tested as salt is added to each one.
Low salt and no salt hot sauces
Like many condiments available there are many brands of hot sauce available with low sodium or no salt added. I don’t believe the elimination of salt has anything to do with the flavoring of these sauces. Advertising low sodium or “no salt added” can also be a marketing campaign for many condiments.
Read your hot sauce labels as this can sometimes be deceiving to the consumer…but not on purpose. According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) a food can be labeled “no sodium” (or other terms closely related to “no sodium”) if it contains less than 5 milligrams of per labeled serving.
This is a very small amount of sodium intake but I would be willing to bet that the average consumers eat more than one serving or every condiment. I know I do.
Low salt and low sodium hot sauces
|Sauce Bae Skinny |
Lists pineapple as the first ingredient. All natural, vegan and gluten free. Buy it here from Amazon.
|Tia Lupita Hot Sauce|
Toasted spices and no added sugar. Try all four sauces and chips too? Get this sauce from Amazon.
|Tabanero Original |
Medium heat hot sauce is also gluten free. No vinegar or water. Amazon carries this product here.
No salt and salt free hot sauces
|Doc’s Original Salt Free|
All natural and gluten free. Get Doc’s from Amazon at this link.
|Mr. Spice Tangy Bang |
Organic, vegan and gluten free. Try the salt free curry sauce at Amazon here.
|Mrs Taste Zero Sodium|
Unique creamy sriracha sauce Yum! Get Mrs. Taste Creamy Sriracha here!
The negatives of too much salt in hot sauce
Aside from your own personal diet there are not too many negatives that can be said for the salt intake from a hot sauce. The human body does need a certain amount of sodium from several sources. Too much of anything can be unhealthy for you. Bad tasting hot sauce would be the number one factor in having too much salt in a hot sauce.
Salt is a powerful mineral and offers some great benefits to condiments and hot sauces. Use it to your discretion in your own hot sauces but use it with caution so you don’t over salt your sauce. Don’t overlook some of the less popular salt and hot sauce combinations…you may find a unique flavor combination.