Table vs Rock Salt for Ice Cream
Name: David E. G.
Rock salt is used for making ice cream. We have found table salt actually lowers the
temperature of ice water several degrees more. Why is table salt not used?
It works quite well because it is more soluble than rock salt. It is not used much because it costs quite
a lot more than rock salt.
No reason. It "works" better because table salt is a much finer grain and so it comes to equilibrium with
the ice/water quicker. The only "ice cream maker's" reason might be that you do not want the temperature
to get too low. There is probably some differential in price, but both forms of salt are so inexpensive
for home-made ice cream compared to the other ingredients, that is not an important consideration.
I am not by any means an expert on making ice cream, but I am willing to make a guess. If it is correct
that table salt lowers the temperature even more, the water might freeze faster and create ice crystals in
the ice cream. I doubt most people want gritty ice cream. You could try an experiment--try one batch with
table salt and one batch with rock salt and see what happens.
Rock salt is cheaper.
Some ice cream makers do recommend using table salt, so there is obviously no operational reason not to use
it. But if rock salt will suffice, using table salt in an ice cream freezer is like washing your floor
with distilled water - too much added cost for not much added benefit.
Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois
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Update: June 2012