Sea salt is crystallized from living bodies of seawater by an evaporation process that separates the salt from the water. Sold as either unrefined or refined, it is rich in minerals and more flavorful than everyday table salt. The trace impurities of unrefined sea salt may contribute to a fuller flavor. The darker the sea salt, the more minerals and trace nutrients it contains. Because it contains impurities, different sea salts have their own distinct flavor and color—qualities that can make a difference in dishes by bringing out various flavors.
There are early mentions of sea salt production in Buddhist scriptures from the 5th century BC. Today, common sources of sea salt include the Mediterranean and the Atlantic ocean.