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Thread: Taoist/Buddhist Salt recipe

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    Taoist/Buddhist Salt recipe

    There is a method of treating (sea) salt that is used in East-Asian alchemy that may be interesting to some. I shall present it here.
    It is known in regions of China, Korea, Thailand, Tibet, Nepal, and India, and it known in those regions under various names. Some call it "alchemical salt", others call it "bamboo salt", others call it "9-times-burnt-salt", others call it simply "Taoist salt" or "Buddhist salt".

    It is made in most cases from pure, unrefined, natural sea salt. Often from traditional basins or beaches used for centuries. Some like the Nepalese and Tibetans use their rock salt mined from the mountains. (But that comes from a sea that used to be there millennia if not millions of years ago so technically it's also a sea salt).

    Here is the method:
    - take a piece of dry bamboo. If not yet hollow entirely, remove what's left inside to make it fully hollow. Some split in in two along the length and close it with string or more bamboo. One end is left closed, the other open. (bamboo has natural joints where the hollows are sealed off by a chunk of harder wood)
    - fill the bamboo tube with the sea salt. (Try to get it as clean as possible without sand in it)
    - Seal the open top end of the bamboo tube with a cover/lid made of yellow clay. A good dot of clay, don't be stingy.
    - put the bamboo tube in an iron oven (or container) and raise a fire under the iron box.
    - after the "burn", open the oven and take out the bamboo tube. It should now be carbonised. Remove the salt from the tube. (You can break the remains of the tube, you don't need it anymore.)
    - If the salt directly underneath the clay lid looks different than the rest (slightly different colour or more fine texture for example), some variants separate that and leave it aside, but others don't do that yet. Your choice.
    - Take the salt from the tube and wash it in distilled water (or rain water or dew depending on what variation you're following). Dissolve it in water, then evaporate off the water, then grind it back into powder/grains of salt.
    - Repeat the entire process another 8 times. So take the washed salt, put it in a new bamboo tube, seal it with yellow clay again, burn it in the iron oven again.

    - Directly under the clay cover, the salt is supposed to form a different type than in the rest of the tube. It is said to gain a colouration that some say is blue-ish, others say is purple-ish, others say is like violet, and others say its rosy-red-purple. It is said to be finer than normal salt and to have a much more delicate taste. Some variations say this salt forms during every "burn" step and must be collected every step, but others say this special salt only forms properly when all the salt is "burnt" 9 times and only then the stuff should be collected from the top of the tube.
    - the rest of the salt, although not as "magical" as the special stuff from the top of the tube, is considered to be elevated in chi/qi and have beneficial/medicinal properties, as well as being much more healthy than normal salt if used in cooking and food. It is used by some as remedy for all kinds of things from toothache to headache to muscle pains.
    - the special top salt is said to be the secret of the "alchemist" who makes the salt, and is usually kept and used by them instead of being sold or given to the public. I do not know what exactly they do with that "magic" salt because none of them would reveal it.
    - it was hinted that the special "magic" salt plays a role in Taoist and Buddhist rejuvenation/immortality methods, but questions about that were not answered or were answered with jokes about the mercury pills of Chinese history.

    Now chemically speaking the salt is burnt in a closed iron container and the bamboo turns partly to coal/carbon (at least the outer surface does), so we can expect sodium carbonate to form. This is more fine than normal salt and it does help with toothaches. But then, when we dissolve it and evaporate the water, we should be left with sodium hydroxide, which is not nice at all to ingest nor does it help with aches. So that's not the answer to what makes the salt special.
    Bamboo has a high silica content so it is likely that some silica from the bamboo is absorbed into the salt, and we know that helps with certain medical problems like joint problems and according to some even hair growth.
    The yellow clay to me seemed to be simple yellow ochre clay, so there's the typical things that are in clay like aluminosilicate and some iron oxide.
    All in all both the chlorides and the carbonates can absorb and migrate the various elements into the salt, and the top layer of special salt that forms would seem to have a direct link to the clay cover as it forms directly underneath that, so it probably contains iron compounds. It may also contain potassium chloride as the colour descriptions sound similar to "Persian blue salt" which gets its colour from Sylvinite which is KCl with NaCl. And of course there is potassium in the bamboo too.
    But all this is just speculation based on standard chemical compounds.

    As I indicated, there are several variations of this process where slightly different natural salts are used, or where the number of times the burn is repeated differs (5 times, 7 times, 9 times). As far as I have found, the bamboo and the yellow clay are the same in all the variations I have seen, read or heard of.
    Last edited by Mr Curious; 09-10-2018 at 02:08 PM. Reason: corrections

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