22 Comments

  1. Your paycheck is salary.
    Salary is money to buy salt
    Salt is sodium chloride
    Sodium is half of salt.
    So a block of sodium costs half your paycheck.

    Doesn’t sound likely, but that’s all I got.

    And despite the popular folk etymology, salt was always cheap. Roman soldiers were never ‘paid in salt’, nor given money to buy salt. The connection between salt and salary is a mystery.

  2. Stadium food is both loaded with salt, and expensive – with reference to “sodium” rather than salt, because sodium is the stuff that we’re told is bad for us.

  3. I’ve always been confused about how we’re supposed to be watching our sodium intake, not our salt intake. If I recall correctly from ninth grade chemistry class, elements completely lose their properties when they become part of a compound. Thus, hydrogen and oxygen, both gases (at room temperature), become a liquid when they form water. So, sodium and salt are two different substances, and no food, no matter how salty, contains any sodium at all, right?

  4. @Dysfunctional – The NaCl we ingest as salt or salty food breaks up into free ions early in the digestion process — really pre-digestion for that matter, just a matter of dissolving. The free sodium ions are not explosive sodium metal! The health concerns have to do with how sodium, calcium, potassium ions cooperate and compete in how they open or close osmotic “channels” in cell walls.

  5. @dysfunctional, you’re sort of correct. The sodium in salt is in the form of sodium IONS, not sodium atoms. So it still contains sodium, but in a different form, with (as you correctly pointed out) different properties. But sodium ions come from sources besides sodium chloride, such as baking soda and MSG. The focus on “sodium intake” focuses on sodium ions from any source, not just salt. Same for other minerals we need in our diet, like calcium and magnesium.

  6. I’m giving my +1 to the first @Pete. Like @Philip I know he’s wrong, but the logic is sound.

  7. Nutritionists are always telling us to be careful about how much sodium we consume.

    And at the ballpark, one of the worst offenders of sodium are hotdogs (not to mention just about anything else ballpark vendors sell).

    So instead of a nice meal, the ballpark vendors are essentially selling us sodium bombs… er… sodium bricks.

  8. How soon we forget?

    Remember the whole discussion about the “Loaf of Bread, a pound of meat and all the mustard you can eat– five cents” discussion on the Mutt and Jeff strip a few months ago?

    This is just modern day-truth in advertising version. A hot dog nowadays is just a brick of sodium and it’s bloody expensive.

  9. I have to admit, I have something like that same confusion regarding carbon footprint, carbon emissions, carbon offsets, and all the similar phrases where carbon is standing in for greenhouse gasses — which makes sense since carbon dioxide and methane are prominent on the list of those greenhouse gasses and both are simple molecules with carbon atoms playing a major role.

    But is it actually the carbon atoms themselves that do the damage? Or the physical effects on heat transfer and so on, thatg the gasses produce, still in their molecular form? And since the lists of the gasses also include nitrous oxide high on the list and sulfur hexaflouride lower down, which do not have carbon in their molecular formulas, are they not part of carbon emissions or do we just take that to stand for greenhouse gasses emissions?

    I don’t want to take this kvetching too far. If we credit trees with carbon reuptake it’s because that reduces the carbon dioxide free in the atmosphere, not simply carbon — but the uptake is not really of carbon dioxide since there is a lot of chemistry going on and the carbon dioxide gets broken down and the carbon recombined into other forms, so it does seem best to go with simple carbon reuptake.

  10. Isn’t it the sodium and the carbon that are the major culprits in each case? Potassium chloride is supposedly a less harmful substitute used to lower sodium content, so presumably it’s not the chloride, and other things like MSG and baking powder could also contribute sodium in one’s diet. Similarly, carbon dioxide is likely the most significant greenhouse gas because of the amount we produce, regardless of how the same amount ranks against any other gas.

  11. Actually, as Brian says, it’s carbon dioxide that is the greenhouse gas most watched, because we are producing more of than has been in the atmosphere in literally millions of years. It’s abbreviated to “carbon” because we humans are lazy. If you burn any carbon-containing fuel, it adds CO2 to the atmosphere. This is one reason my employer (I work for an electric utility) burns almost all methane to generate electricity. Coal is all carbon, when you burn it you get all CO2 as your exhaust (minor components including sulfur compounds can be ignored for this purpose.) If you burn methane, you get one CO2 molecule and two water molecules for every methane molecule, which is much less greenhouse-intensive.

    Methane is indeed a powerful greenhouse gas, so you want to be sure to burn it all.

    We are also eliminating sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), currently used as a gaseous insulator, because it’s an even MORE powerful greenhouse gas.

  12. Don’t forget – a good way to store away meat and keep it going from bad is do so in salt (such as ham) – so be sure to salt it away.

  13. Speaking of chlorine…
    In the sauna the other day I overheard someone claiming he doesn’t go to the steambath because it’s chlorinated water they use there (our city water is chlorinated), and who wants to be breathing chlorine?
    This struck me as one of those things that should be provably wrong from basic principles, but I couldn’t quite come up with how, other than you’re basically distilling the water in a steam bath — evaporating it is one way of purifying it — but I get stuck at the step of it happening automatically. Sure, you evaporate everything, and different things evaporate at different temperatures, but unless you are adding in some step to shunt those various things in various directions (H2O here, everything else there), then the various stuff is just being blown into the streamroom…? You have to then plead that the quantities are so minimal as to be harmless, but wouldn’t it be a better argument to make that it is provably pure water steam? I would hope the manufacturers of steam baths would be smart enough to do the extra step of shunting off the impurities, since they’re most of the way there anyway, but I don’t know enough of the practicalities to imagine how easy or difficult this is to do…

    Anyone with practical knowledge, or more thorough theoretical knowledge, want to chime in?

  14. I remember as a kid reading a book about keeping pet goldfish, and it said to fill a container with tap water and let it sit somewhere for a day before putting it into the fishbowl in order to let the chlorine escape, in case it happens to be chlorinated city water. I guess when you drink city water you drink a small amount of chlorine with it; I don’t know.

  15. Meryl A: “Don’t forget – a good way to store away meat and keep it going from bad is do so in salt (such as ham) – so be sure to salt it away.”

    My preferred method, however, is to only stow it long enough to get it home, and then eat it. I’m a pretty low-tech (but high-weight) kind of guy.

  16. Mark – I remember my kid sister having to do that with the water for her fish.

    Shrug – The advantage to your system is that when stuck in the house for a long period of time (say well over a year) and your significant other is sure that in addition to not having enough TP and paper towels (though not tissues for some reason) and you will be running out and not being able to get replacements and he feels the same way about food you will eat the food quickly and not have to be checking the meat and cold foods weekly (in my case on Mondays) to see what has to be frozen (if there is room to do so) as it will go past date by the following Monday. Plus having to figure out how to fit it all into the freezers.

    We still have almost all of the paper goods as we had just short of year’s worth in the house when he bought more in March 2020. And we are eaters also – but with his system I lose about 10 lbs during the worst of the pandemic (which have come back to live since he let up on limiting the food).

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