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Thread: Taoist/Buddhist Salt recipe

  1. #1

    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.

    Notes:
    - 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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    Nice recipe, not known to me. I would say that the "life force" of the bamboo evaporates due to the reductive atmospehre in the pot and then is absorbed into the salt. You have my vote on this, it seems plausible.

    Where are those people practicing this method (some kind of monastery?). Is it open for everyone to learn it, or the details are secret? How did it came to your attention, is it in some book or site? And finally, instead of bamboo could someone use other type of wood? I might add more questions later
    Last edited by theFool; 09-10-2018 at 04:20 PM.

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    With some more thinking, we know that heating herbs in a closed vessel, produces acids and volatile tar leaving behind clean coal. So, I wonder how can the salt come out clean and not contaminated with tar? Maybe their pot has some special design that allows the tar to escape? It would be nice to find some diagram or picture of their device.

    I guess Mr z0 K who has lot of experience in plant carbonization might find this recipe interesting.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by theFool View Post
    Nice recipe, not known to me. I would say that the "life force" of the bamboo evaporates due to the reductive atmospehre in the pot and then is absorbed into the salt. You have my vote on this, it seems plausible.

    Where are those people practicing this method (some kind of monastery?). Is it open for everyone to learn it, or the details are secret? How did it came to your attention, is it in some book or site? And finally, instead of bamboo could someone use other type of wood? I might add more questions later
    This is practised in several Buddhist and Taoist monasteries and by non-monastic Buddhist and Taoist alchemists. They tend to be located in less touristic and hard to reach places but some are in more accessible and more public locations. If I recall correctly there is a Buddhist monastery or temple complex in South Korea that does it with the special sea salt found in the Korean "bay". In India I only know of Siddha and Brahman practitioners who perform it as part of their "alchemy" of Rasayana, the making of "elixirs of life".
    It is not technically a secret and I was allowed to observe the practise once. They don't really teach it to outsiders but they also don't keep it very secret. Some groups do act as if it is a secret and will not talk about it, others don't have a problem with it but they don't like talking to ignoramuses so you'll have to be able to follow their jargon and chi-based reasoning before they open up.
    I suppose there are actual official manuscripts with the process that include detailed philosophic descriptions held in the temples and monasteries and those may contain "secrets" that are not for the uninitiated and/or more details.

    It first came to my attention many years ago when I spoke with a traveler who had visited many Buddhist and Taoist temples in a search for "immortality" secrets.
    He pointed this method out to me after we had discussed the mysterious "red snow powder" the Tibetan/Nepalese monks use for longevity/rejuvenation.
    Later I found a few variations of the method mentioned in more or less detail in some books about Taoist "longevity" foods and methods, and also a few out there on the internet. It's been a while but when I searched for it years ago I found several places that offered special "Buddhist", "Taoist", or "Bamboo" salt for sale and some provide a very scant version of the process, others don't but they sent me the process when I asked for details. I also spoke with a man who lived in Indonesia most of his life and had family in Malaysia and Korea, and he knew of it from his relatives in Korea who had sent him some of the salt.
    I spoke with various people in Buddhist temples or retreats who had been in Asia for years and some of them knew it. One demonstrated it to me once. Well, he didn't demonstrate the entire process, he showed me how the bamboo was filled, fired, and the salt collected for washing. He did confirm that the top layer of the salt is supposed to be the most powerful and the most "magical" part of it, and he was told that it was to be used with care and this was the main reason why it wasn't given out. But he was not initiated in the use of the special powder, he only knew how to perform the process.

    I was told that other wood can be used but not just any wood, that some wood types give undesired effects, and that Bamboo was best.
    But I am not sure why exactly. I do know that bamboo silica is used in India as Ayurvedic medicine and since Buddhism branched off from Hinduism in northern India that may be a reason.
    Or perhaps bamboo doesn't produce as much tars or terpenes as other types of wood do?

    The process I was shown was done in a rather rinkydink sort of iron "oven" that was just an iron cylinder approximately 30-40cm tall and about 20-30 cm diameter,
    cast iron, with somewhat badly fitting hinges and a door that didn't actually seal off the entire thing air-tight as fumes did escape during burning. It was placed over a wood fire, propped up on a few bricks. I did not see any special design features but the thing may have had some ridges or shaping on the inside.
    I did once speak to someone who claimed to know of this process too but he said the bamboo was simply placed in the fire without iron container.
    Since some of the descriptions of the process omit the iron oven part and merely talk of "burning it in the fire" he may have been telling the truth.
    And to be honest the "iron oven" is something that comes up regularly in Taoist alchemy, both in the elemental/practical/lab approach and in the body/mind/exercises approach. (They tend to mix the terminology and analogies for their lab alchemy and their yogic alchemy all the time. Nice and confusing.)
    I cannot say for certain if the iron oven is a true requirement or if it was taken from the Taoist path of thought, but it seems like it may simply be a cleaner and more sophisticated way of "burning" than just tossing the thing into the fire.

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    Thanks for your detailed answer. The term "bamboo salt" you gave leads to this webpage:
    http://koreasalt.com/en/bamboosalt-introduction.php

    We learn there that:
    A Korean Oriental doctor named Kim Il hoon (1909~1992, the picture of below) is the man who discovered the process of bamboo salt
    There is a lot of information and pictures on the manufacturing process. They sell it too.

    There seems to be other versions of bamboo salt in other sites made by inferior processes. The original process is found in a book written by this man. There are chemical tests that can distinguish this salt from ordinary salt.

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    That is an interesting processing of sea salt, especially when Mr. Curious reported that:

    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.
    The central practice of Taoist Alchemy is the rotation and evolution of the Three Treasures within the Inner Circulation. The Three Treasures being manifestations of Qi/Jing/Shen. Shen is the most refined condensation of the Three Treasures. It takes much practice to circulate or rotate Qi through the basic Microcosmic Orbit instigated or initiated by controlled directed breathing. Once that is mastered it becomes easy to move Qi throughout your body. That Qi is gentle and light in its effect and can be made tangible by practice but it is still light and gentle.

    Jing is more concentrated and is instigated by redirecting the sexual practice to prevent ejaculation. The physical process of holding back initiates the mechanisms in the groin and abdomen (cauldron) that one can then use to further concentrate the Qi by Sublimation into Jing. After that the sexual practice method is no longer required to concentrate Qi into Jing. One can draw Qi in from the Universe around you through the groin area on the breath or without it. That Jing is denser than Qi and rises up the spine and can be felt in the ventricles of the brain.

    Shen is the most refined manifestation of Qi and very difficult to distill and condense. Hardship, austerity and disciplined practice may instigate the initial distillation. That is the hard long way and may not be successful. An alchemical Quintessence will initiate the spontaneous distillation of Shen from the prepared Quintessence if one is practiced in the Inner Circulation of Qi and can Sublimate Jing. The Shen will distll from the Quintessence into the Central Channel of the Inner Circulation condensing into the CNS saturating the CSF lighting up GOD in that inner sea all the way to what the Taoists called the Supreme Ultimate and the Indomitable Spirit in the Ventricles. It is euphoric and enlightening.

    The Water of Life is the Ocean of salty sea water. Sea salt like Celtic gray is slightly moist if it was made and packaged properly. From a Philosophical point of view sea salt is a living salt like an alchemically prepared salt from plants. Once the alchemical salt has been purified of its feces by rotation with its water it is concentrated or multiplied in effect by changing state several times. This is accomplished most often by melting then coagulating. So I can see Philosophy in the cooking of the salt in a bamboo tube though I've never heard of it before.

    Also the preparation of the "clay" stopper is more than likely essential to the process effectiveness since the alchemist keeps the portion nearest the clay for himself.

    Thanks for posting this information. I see experiments on the horizon.
    Last edited by z0 K; 09-10-2018 at 09:32 PM. Reason: clarity

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    Quote Originally Posted by z0 K View Post
    Also the preparation of the "clay" stopper is more than likely essential to the process effectiveness since the alchemist keeps the portion nearest the clay for himself.
    I'm thinking the same. Aluminosilicates show up again. I've thought a lot about "baking" my clay before making a dark matter from it, but the salt may be acting as a catalyst to draw something out. Suavely, and with great ingenuity.

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    Yes i've heard of this process. There is a special place in the very center of Korea where they make the salt; aiming to achieve balance in the 4 elements.

    They use feng shui to draw more energy into the salt.

    It is somewhat alchemical, in that they viewed the essential parts of the process (ie: clay, bamboo, salt) to corispond with the four (or 5) elements.

    It was believed that the balancing and fusing of these elements was the philosophical reasoning for the medicinal effects.

    You can buy this salt online. (Perhaps not the epic purple crystal as has already been suggested).

    What would happen if you just had repeating layers of clay and salt inside the tube? Would it all be purple then?

    I'd love to get my hands on 1 tonne of Persian Blue salt aswell. Yummy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by elixirmixer View Post
    Yes i've heard of this process. There is a special place in the very center of Korea where they make the salt; aiming to achieve balance in the 4 elements.

    They use feng shui to draw more energy into the salt.
    I'd be very careful with everything that concerns Feng Shui.

    Feng Shui is a modern invention and a profanation of one of ancient Eastern (non-Chinese) teachings.

    It seems that people in Korea openly make and sell this salt, but it doesn't look like it has any miraculous effect on people who use it. Sellers might hide "the best part" of it or they might use it as a marketing trick.

    And if that salt would have Alchemic properties, why would makers of that salt spend their lives selling it offline/online stores when they could just use the best parts of it to make a lot of gold or (if salt has only healing capabilities) cure son of some oligarch from some lethal disease and be generously rewarded to live without having to become some shady sellers of "not the best part" of salt?

    And just to point out that specific trick with salt, fire and clay: clay contains various elements depending from places, most often it is metals like iron and copper, sometimes in very small quantities some other chemical elements. When we apply fire, some of it interacts with salt and forms various ferrum/cuprum/whatever compounds (hence also the change in color), which, of course, will form right where clay and salt touch each other. And as with any metallic salts, eating them is recipe for extremely torturous death.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warmheart View Post
    It seems that people in Korea openly make and sell this salt, but it doesn't look like it has any miraculous effect on people who use it. Sellers might hide "the best part" of it or they might use it as a marketing trick.

    And if that salt would have Alchemic properties, why would makers of that salt spend their lives selling it offline/online stores when they could just use the best parts of it to make a lot of gold or (if salt has only healing capabilities) cure son of some oligarch from some lethal disease and be generously rewarded to live without having to become some shady sellers of "not the best part" of salt?
    Sounds like an example of the type of paradoxical activity of a type of conman that was commonly labelled as a "betrüger" in the 16th-18th century German-speaking world:

    http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showt...4115#post44115

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