We’ve conducted many tests and occasionally find naturally-occurring lead in trace amounts.
We’re grateful you care so much about the ingredients you put into your body, and we’re right there with you. We’re extraordinarily careful about lead exposure in our lives too. We also know that lead is a fairly abundant element in the earth’s crust and is naturally found in trace amounts everywhere, including our soil, water, veggies, fruits, and other foods. Since it’s ultimately unavoidable, we consider the amount of lead and what form it’s in when making food and water choices. That said, everyone’s journey is unique and you’ll need to decide what approach to take for you and your family.
Lead in Food
You’ve probably seen news reports about contaminated water and may be familiar with the FDA’s action levels when lead is found in drinking water. Less well-known is the fact that lead is pretty common in vegetables, fruit, juice, animal products, candy, and even baby food. There are a lot of facts about lead and lead testing that can get overlooked or muddled in online reports and research. So, we’d like to explain a few important things about lead and our lead testing process that should put your mind at ease.
First, here’s a little background on lead testing. When seeing test results and limits, you usually see one of two measurements: parts per million (ppm) or parts per billion (ppb). 1 ppm is equivalent to 1,000 ppb. The EPA’s action level for lead in drinking water is 15 ppb. The FDA's (and California's) limit for lead in candy likely to be consumed by children is 0.10 ppm, which is 100 ppb.
Why the difference? We haven’t talked to the government’s scientists, but the likely answer is that we ingest a lot more water than candy. For example, an 8 oz. glass of water at 15 ppb would give you about 3.6 micrograms (µg) of lead (8 oz. of water weighs 236 grams, multiplied by 15 ppb). In contrast, if a 4-gram piece of candy (a typical “fun size” candy bar is around 4 grams) had 100 ppb lead, you would only get 0.4 micrograms of lead. Your daily intake of water is much higher than your daily intake of candy, so the limits for water need to be lower. Thus, when looking at the amount of lead in food or drink, we should consider how much of that food or drink we eat every day.
Elements in Real Salt
Unlike refined salts and processed foods, Real Salt is 100% created by Mother Nature, which means there is natural variation in different sections of the mine and even within one chunk of salt to the next. The mineral analysis on our website is based on 30 years of analyses to give customers an idea of what they might find in Real Salt, but it is not a guaranteed analysis; every sample will be a little different.
Most of the numbers are an average of what we typically find, with asterisks to note what we rarely find and what we've never found. For lead, we note that we find it only occasionally, and instead of listing an average, we list the highest amount we’ve ever found, rounded up, which is 200 ppb.
At first, 200 ppb in salt may sound high when compared to the 15 ppb action level for lead in water. But, as in the candy example, you should consider the amount of water you drink versus the amount of salt you eat in a day.
A 150 lb. person likely drinks about 75 oz. of water per day. At 15 ppb, they’d be getting about 33 micrograms (µg) of lead per day, and at 5 ppb, they’d be getting 11 micrograms. If salt has 200 ppb, someone who consumes 6 grams of salt per day (which is probably more than most people consume), would only be getting 1.2 micrograms (µg) of lead.
Even if you ate a whopping 10 grams of salt per day (which we do NOT recommend) at 200 ppb lead, you’d be getting 2 micrograms (µg) of lead, which is much less lead than if you were drinking water with only 5 ppb. As noted earlier, lead does not always show up in elemental scans for Real Salt, and when it does, it has always been less than 200 ppb.
In summary, lead is naturally found in trace amounts everywhere, including our soil, water, salt, vegetables, fruits, and other foods. Fortunately, our bodies have the ability to deal with the trace amounts of these elements found in our earthly environment. That doesn’t mean we should seek it out, but we also feel that a trace amount appearing naturally in foods is not the big issue when it comes to lead.
We hope this helps you feel confident about the safety of Real Salt. We take our customers’ well-being very seriously, and we would never sell a product that wasn’t properly tested and proven to be safe. That said, if for any reason you are not comfortable with the small levels of any of the elements found in Real Salt, there are a lot of other great salts out there that may be a better fit for your needs.
We’re standing by if you have any other questions or concerns on this issue. Just reach out and let us know! And here's a copy of our latest mineral analysis in case you want to take a closer peek at it.