Say Aloha! To Hawaiian Red and Black Salts

Hawaaian Red Salt (Alaea)

Indigenous Hawaiians have used sea salt, pa‘akai (“to solidify the sea”), for many generations and for many purposes. Hawaiian sea salt was traditionally used to season and preserve food, as well as for religious and ceremonial purposes, and as medicine.

In Hawaii, sea salt could be collected from rocky shoreline pools. People also cultivate and harveste sea salt on a larger scale through the use of man-made shallow clay ponds, where seawater slowly evaporates, leaving behind crunchy sea salt. Hawaiian red salt is mixed with red ‘alaea clay. The red color comes from iron oxide in the clay.

Hawaaian black salt (sometimes called black “lava” salt) is also made from solar-evaporated seawater. The salt is coated with activated charcoal. There is no actual lava in the salt. The charcoal gives the salt a black color and smoky flavor.


Hawaiian red salt, also known as alaea salt, is sought after for its unique color and texture, richness in minerals, and mild earthy flavor.

Harvested via evaporation from Pacific seawater, gathered from the isolated Hawaiian archipelago, Hawaiian red salt is derived by combining sea salt with native alaea clay. The alaea clay in Hawaiian sea salt contains more than 80 minerals, including the iron oxide [FeO2, ferrous oxide, if you can remember back to high school chem class] that gives Hawaiian red salt its color.

Used as an everyday table salt in Hawaii, Hawaiian red salt ($7.50 for a 1/2 Cup jar) is used in traditional Hawaiian dishes like poke. Hawaiian red salt also goes well with animal proteins like fish, prime rib, and pork loin – and looks lovely when sprinkled on cooked vegetables.

Combine Hawaiian red salt with your favorite herbs, and sprinkle on fish, grilled meats, and vegetables.

Hawaiian black salt, sometimes also called Hiwa Kai, is an excellent finishing salt. It has a slightly nutty flavor, and its coarse crystals add a delightful crunch and subtle saltiness to most dishes.

Harvested via evaporation from Pacific seawater gathered from the isolated Hawaiian archipelago, Hawaiian black salt is derived by combining sea salt with activated charcoal. Hawaiian black salt has a stunning appearance – black and sparkly – and adds a subtle but distinctive flavor to your cooking.

Be careful, when choosing black salt, not to confuse Hawaiian “black lava” salt [which this is] with the sulphuric black salt used in Indian cooking.

Try Hawaiian black salt ($7.50 for a 1/2 Cup jar) as a finish on seared halibut or salmon, or on any dish where its surprising dark crystals [not controlled by Muppets http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083791/ ] would bring a color and taste contrast.

Alaea salt photo credit: via wikimedia, by Glane