Heating, Using, Cleaning & Storing Your Himalayan Salt Block

I don’t intend to spill an inordinate amount of ink on Himalayan salt blocks at the expense of other fine saline subjects, but there are enough inquiries from customers these days that a short series on the practical side of working with plates of Himalayan salt seems warranted.

There are dozens of ways to use Himalayan salt blocks, as plates, platters, skillets, curing bricks, freezing slabs, and more. Cooking, however, is an important one to get under your belt as soon as possible.

And by the way, I personally like to use one Himalayan salt block for cooking, and keep a separate Himalayan salt block/plate for room temperature uses such as curing, serving, and otherwise presenting food. That way, your cooking salt block benefits from the patina and structural changes inherent to cooking, much as a cast iron skillet benefits from careful use and cleaning. At the same time, the purity and simplicity of the unheated Himalayan salt block can be emphasized when used for presentation at the table..

So, with regards to heating and cleaning: Himalayan salt blocks like to be pampered, especially at first. So, as a rule, be especially careful the first few times you heat up your salt plate. The first few times you heat up your salt block, fissures and cracks will appear, and the color may change from its original pink to a whiter color. This is normal. However, after successive uses, you may find that the salt block regains some of its original hue, largely as a result of washing.

1: When cooking, be sure to use only Himalayan salt blocks that are at least 1 inch thick, and preferably 1.5 inches or more.

2: Pre-heating:

a. Using a gas range: put the your salt block on the stove top.  Do not use an oven. Set heat to low, give the salt brick 15 minutes to heat up. You may notice moisture accumulating at the edges. As the salt block heats, this will evaporate off.  The slower you do this, the better.

b. Using an electric range works even better than gas, as there is less moisture and more even heat distribution. If heating on the stovetop, use a pastry ring or wok ring or metal object to elevate the salt slab slightly above the burner. Again, start at very low temperature, for about 10 minutes.

3: Heating: Turn up the heat to medium, and wait another 5 to 10 minutes.Infrared Thermometer

4: Really heating: Set heat on high, and allow 5 to 10 minutes to achieve desired temperature. You can use an infrared thermometer.

Burnt Himalayan Salt Block5: Cook your food, don’t burn it.  Salt picks up things like color fairly easily, so the more care you take with your cooking the better your salt will look (see my earlier comments about A Portrait of Dorian Gray).   Here is an example of one of my mostDetail of burnt Himalayan salt plate brutalized Himalayan salt plates.  I use this one for experimentation and any application where rough handling is used.  It may be beat up looking, but I love this salt block for all the amazing uses it  has provided me.   To the right you see a magnified image of the surface.  The color has penetrated the salt crystals, but it still cooks very well.  Also note above the small crack in the bottom of the salt brick.  This crack appeared some time ago, but the salt plate nonetheless remains very stable and sturdy.

6: When done using your Himalayan salt brick, let it cool.  This will take time.  A lot of time.  Maybe until tomorrow.  be sure the piece is fully cooled to room temperature before washing.

7: Rinse your Himalayan salt brick under warm water.  Remove from water and then scrub vigorously any areas where food has stuck of any glazing (as from fat) has developed.  Rinse with water again to wash clean.

8: Dry your Himalayan salt block with clean rag or paper towel.  Clean rags to the best job, as they don’t get chewed up by the salt’s surface.  When nicely dry, set on drying rack, or any place where it can air dry.

9: Store in any location where humidity is at a minimum.  I keep many of mine on the window sill.

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93 Responses to “Heating, Using, Cleaning & Storing Your Himalayan Salt Block”

  1. on 04 Mar 2012 at 10:47 pmDot

    Someone bought me a salt block for my birthday, I am so excited but need help in how to heat it. I only have an electric induction stove top, no gas…so can I grill it on a rack?
    thanks

  2. on 08 Mar 2012 at 7:48 pmJim B

    If I were to purchase six similar-sized, thin slabs of salt blocks, then build a ‘box’ (one on the bottom, one on top, and four sides), could I age a cut of beef in there? that would work, right?

  3. on 13 Mar 2012 at 2:04 pmMark Bitterman

    @Katherine – I would recommend giving it a hard scrub with lightly-wetted steel wool to remove as much as the material that stuck on the salt block as possible, and perhaps a tiny bit of soap as well to kill any residual bacteria that are clinging on. It is hard for bacteria (which cause the smell) to live on your block for long.

    Hope this works for you!

  4. on 13 Mar 2012 at 3:12 pmMark Bitterman

    @Dot – Do you mean a rack on a grill, or in your oven? We do not recommend heating salt blocks from room temperature in your oven. As a general principle, the block should be pre-heated over a stove burner. Once at a temperature of 300 or more degrees, it can be transferred to a hot oven.

  5. on 14 Mar 2012 at 9:02 amMark Bitterman

    @ Jim B – The box could be suitable for dry aging, assuming the temperature and humidity were adjusted to whatever is appropriate. If you are doing something that would normally need curing, such as with natural salt and/or curing salt, that cure would still need to be applied.

  6. on 10 Apr 2012 at 6:10 pmBill B

    Mark –

    Enjoy your input to so many aspirants here! No mention of pepper in the equation. Any tips on adding it to the process – especially grilled steaks? Before? After? THX!

  7. on 15 Apr 2012 at 5:17 amLinden

    Like Dot, I have an induction hob and so can’t put my salt block on the hob. It’s about 1.5 inches thick and about 9″ in diameter – would heating it from cold really slowly in the middle of the oven and gradually increasing the temperature to 240 degrees work ok – maybe over a couple of hours for example?

  8. on 30 Apr 2012 at 4:29 pmMark Bitterman

    @ Linden – Heating your salt block in a closed space like an oven is not something we typically recommend. One thing you may want to try is heating a large iron pan on your induction stove top, and then put a wok ring or pastry tin on top of it, and then set the salt block on top of that. This will then work similarly to how you use a salt block on an electric stove-top.

    You can read more about cooking with salt blocks on atthemeadow.com

  9. on 02 May 2012 at 11:24 pmGARY

    HI,

    I AM IN THE PROCESS OF MAKING AN ALCOHOL BURNING FIRE BASKET FOR USE INDOORS.
    COULD LARGE LUMPS OF ROCK SALT BE USED INSTEAD OF FALSE COALS OR PEBBLES, OR WILL THE HEAT BE TOO MUCH.

    CHEERS, GARY.

  10. on 08 Jun 2012 at 7:57 pmKristen

    Hi. I was wondering if I can use the salt block on a charcoal grill

  11. on 05 Jul 2012 at 12:48 pmMark Bitterman

    @Kristen – Yes! Saltblocks work very well on charcoal grills. I recommend keeping the coals on one side, and then moving the salt block between sides to help regulate temperature and make sure the block doesn’t heat up too quickly.

  12. on 20 Aug 2012 at 11:22 amJim

    Mark,

    Could you please clarify why heating a block in the oven is not recommended. I have also read that the heat source, like flames on a cooktop, should not touch the salt block. If I use the stovetop method on my cooktop, the flames will touch. Please advice.

    Thanks for all your tips and tricks.

  13. on 30 Aug 2012 at 3:15 pmMark Bitterman

    @Jim – Heating in a closed environment, like an oven, is bad for your block because it makes it harder for any moister on the block to escape. Salt is hydroscopic. If you put a block out on a humid day, water will pool on it. This doesn’t stop in the oven. As the block heats, the water evaporates and becomes liquid over and over again. This wears at the block, and can cause it to crack or even explode, risking damage to your oven.

    In our experience, there is nothing wrong with having the flame touch the block. What you want to avoid is heating the block too fast – start on low and slowly increase the heat to medium. Once the salt block is hot, you can turn it to high if you want, though its rarely necessary. On many stoves, the flames will only touch the block on high.

  14. on 31 Aug 2012 at 5:49 amKelly

    Hi Mark…My husband was resently asked to build some wooden holders for a restaurant to put salt blocks in, in order to cook food on the salt blocks. He was unsure of what kind of wood to use for this. Apparently the restaurant is heating the wood and the salt block in the oven and then taking to the table and cooking the food on the salt block at the table. From what I am seeing, no one uses wood as a salt block holder to cook on. Would you have an insight on using wooden holders for salt block cooking? Is this a good or bad idea? What kind of wood would one use if you can do this? Thank you!

  15. on 06 Sep 2012 at 3:30 pmMark Bitterman

    @Kelly

    Most salt block cooking applications take place at temperatures that will burn wood, or at least char it. I would not recommend using wood the way they are planning to use it. If the holder and the block are both being heated, then why have the holder? We have carried wood holders in the past, but they were for displaying a block at room temperature.

  16. on 28 Sep 2012 at 11:13 amCharity

    What is the life of a 1.5-2 inch salt block? 50-60 cooking sessions? I gather that if you cook wetter foods, more salt is imparted and thus the salt block would wear down faster, but I’m just trying to figure out how to know when to replace it and I haven’t seen this addressed here. Does it wear evenly or does it form depressions where it is used most? Also, if cooking on the stove does it make a huge mess due to drippings, etc? Mine doesn’t have a lip of any sort at the edge to keep any liquid from getting all over the place. I’ve been scared to use it. Thanks for your help!

  17. on 16 Oct 2012 at 4:04 pmMark Bitterman

    @Charity – Salt blocks are unpredictable, and there is no way to say for certain how long a block will last. Wetter foods will wear the block faster, but if you heat it slowly and hot enough, this will help maintain your block. The most common way of knowing you need to replace the block is when the block breaks into pieces too small to use effectively. When I use a grill, I sometimes just put two broken pieces next to each other and cook on those. Liquid will run off your block sometimes. Keep a damp towel on hand to wipe drippings as they run off.

    I would recommend checking out our Guide to Himalayan Saltblocks Guide to Cooking Steak on a Saltblock. Follow the steps in these guides, and you’ll be fine. If you don’t like steak, the same principles apply to cooking vegetables or any other food.

  18. on 02 Nov 2012 at 5:10 pmJoy

    Any suggestions on how to store if you live in the tropics? High humidity for around 6 months of the year.

  19. on 30 Nov 2012 at 3:13 pmMark Bitterman

    @Joy – Portland can be pretty humid as well. Try wrapping your block in a dry towel and putting it away in a cabinet or drawer.

  20. on 03 Jan 2013 at 3:02 pmRenee

    Mark,
    I just bought a 2″ Himalayan salt block, planning to heat it in my oven per the vendors instructions. However, after reading the information on this site, I am concerned about how to heat the block since I have an induction cook top. Any suggestions? Or should I plan to return the salt block? Thanks much!

  21. on 16 Jan 2013 at 12:35 pmMark Bitterman

    @Renee – Induction ranges work only with vessels made of a ferromagnetic metal. Salt is not ferromagnetic, so they simply won’t work heat on the range. The only way one could possible heat a block on an induction burner would be to put the salt block in a metal skillet or pan and put that on the range. However, that has proven to be a sketchy prospect at best: the block may break due to hotspots where it contacts the metal, and the hot salt pressing on good skillet can erode the surface of the skillet as well. The good news is that most induction ranges come with an electric oven. While we don’t recommend heating blocks in ovens in general, electric ovens are far better than gas. They can put the cold block in a cold oven, turn the oven up to the desired temperature, and allow the block to heat up with the oven. While not as reliable as heating on a stovetop, it works. If you have a gas or charcoal grill, that’s probably your best option. If you only have a gas oven and an induction range, the best solution is to go out and purchase a $25 catering burner like the ones I use in classes.

  22. on 23 Mar 2013 at 3:07 pmElvin

    Ok, I just got a salt block brick, but I have a glass top stove. What can I do. Also, would this work on a coil stove? Please, someone answer me, I want to surprise my wife? Haha!

  23. on 04 Apr 2013 at 10:13 amMark Bitterman

    @Elvin – If your glass top stove uses a coil below the glass, we recommend using a metal ring such as the ring in a spring-form pan to raise the block off of the glass. You can do the same with a coil stove. It is important to raise the block off of the heating element so the heat is transfered through the air. However, if your glass-top stove is an induction stove, it will not work for heating salt blocks.

  24. on 03 Jun 2013 at 4:58 pmSusan

    Cooked salmon with the salt block on the grill last night. Didn’t have enough room for all of the salmon so cooked the extra salmon on foil on the grill. The difference was amazing. The salt block salmon was fantastic. Re: cleaning the salt block-a youtube video from a salt block supplier said to scrape of food particles, wipe with a damp cloth and run under hot water for a few seconds. Unfortunately, the salt block cracked along one of the marble like lines in the block. So upset. Now what! Can it be repaired?
    Was it the water that caused the crack? Help

  25. on 04 Jul 2013 at 9:12 amMark Bitterman

    @Susan – I’m sorry to hear of your cleaning experience. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to repair a Himalayan salt block once its cracked. You can try cooking on the individual pieces if they’re large enough, or use them for serving at room temperature.

    It’s hard to say what caused the crack, but we do strongly recommend against running your block under water for any length of time. The less water, the better. We recommend cleaning with a damp sponge and/or scouring pad, and no soap. This will ensure the longest life possible for your block.

    Here is an article about how to cook with your block and clean it: How to Cook Steak on a Himalayan Salt Block. For even more detailed instructions, check out our new book Salt Block Cooking.

  26. on 04 Aug 2013 at 2:53 pmAndy

    I just got a salt block and was trying to grill some tilapia on it. Tilapia is a little fragile when cooked and it stuck to the block – it turned into a mess as all of the lightly salted exterior ended up staying on the block leaving us with pretty bland fish. I tried oiling a piec lightly but it didn’t change much – by the time it was well seared it was Adhered to the block.

    How do I avoid this?

  27. on 05 Aug 2013 at 5:11 amNancy

    Instead of having one salt block for cooking and one for room temperature uses. Is it possible to use one side of the block for cooking and the other for room temperature uses or are you only supposed to use one side of the block?

  28. on 31 Oct 2013 at 11:27 amMark Bitterman

    Nancy, when you heat the salt block up it changes it’s character on all sides, not just the side that’s heated. So the color and consistency of the block will slowly change after used for cooking. This is why we recommend a separate block for serving. You are able to serve on a block that’s been used for cooking, but it won’t have the same presence and beauty as a block that has never been heated.

  29. on 09 Dec 2013 at 4:38 pmAnna

    Hi, I have purchased some salt blocks as gifts but just wondering, they are obviously no good for ceramic tops – what about on BBQ’s. Do you still need to sit it on a metal plate on a BBQ?

    Look forward to hearing back on this.

    Kind regards
    Anna

  30. on 22 Dec 2013 at 5:23 pmjustin drappi

    hey, i just got a salt block. the instructions on the stone said i can use it in the oven as well as on the stove top. can i preheat in the oven and then use it on the stove top?

  31. on 03 Jan 2014 at 12:07 pmMark

    Great site!

    Will heating a block work better in a convection oven? I have gas burners, but would prefer the ease of heating in an oven. Your comments on heating in the oven seem directed at moisture, so I thought perhaps the convection oven would overcome that due to the air circulation.

    Thanks.

  32. on 03 Jan 2014 at 1:38 pmMark Bitterman

    Hi Mark! Good question. I have heated many blocks in commercial convection ovens and had ZERO problems. However, there is still more trapped humidity in a convection oven than on a stovetop. If you have an electric oven, you are quite safe. If you are using a gas oven, you have a considerably more humid environment (check out the explanation why, and further information on cooking in ovens, on pages 30 – 32 of Salt Block Cooking. For gas ovens, convection or otherwise, I definitely recommend heating it the first time on the stovetop, to temper the block. After that, you shouldn’t have a problem. In fact, after you temper the block on the stovetop you can use a regular, non-convection oven. Hope that helps!

  33. on 08 Jan 2014 at 2:02 pmCindy

    Hi there. Got a Himalayan salt block for Christmas. used it for scallops the first time and clearly was too tentative (aka chicken) in getting it good and hot. the scallops became almost inedible due to too much salt. now I have this rock hard residue stuck to the block which I am not sure how to safely remove. also, the block smells TERRIBLE, had to put it in a plastic bag and set it outside. suggestions for cleaning/fumigating?

  34. on 30 Jan 2014 at 2:06 pmMark Bitterman

    @Anna

    Yes, you can absolutely use your salt block on the grill. Check out this article on our website, which explains in more detail the different cooking methods and instructions: http://www.atthemeadow.com/shop/Resources/How-to-Cook-on-Pink-Himalayan-Salt-Blocks

  35. on 30 Jan 2014 at 2:08 pmMark Bitterman

    @Justin

    If you’re planning to use your block to cook on the stove top, I recommend simply heating it up from the start on the burner. You don’t need to preheat it in your oven. You can read more about how to cook with salt blocks on our website: http://www.atthemeadow.com/shop/Resources/How-to-Cook-on-Pink-Himalayan-Salt-Blocks

  36. on 30 Jan 2014 at 2:19 pmMark Bitterman

    Hi Cindy! Every type of food will react uniquely to your salt block. The effect of the salt on the food will depend on a variety of factors – moisture, fat content, thickness, and the temperature of the block. Moisture in the food will pick up salt faster (scallops), especially if your block isn’t properly heated up to optimal temperature prior to cooking. I recommend trying again, this time bring your block up to a very high temperature (don’t be scared, I promise it’s easy!), and then see if you encounter the same problem. If you’re still finding that your food is too salty for your taste, apply a thin layer of oil to the block, as fat will repel the salt. For cleaning, I recommend moistening the salt block with a damp sponge (no soap). Scrub with a soft brush or green scouring pad to remove any stuck matter, and wipe clean with the sponge. Try to keep the block as dry as possible – the less water the better. Repeat until the block is free of any cooked on food. Tamp dry with a paper towel or clean cloth, and set on a drying rack. This process removes only a very thin layer of the salt and preserves a relatively smooth surface. Hope this helps!

  37. on 01 Feb 2014 at 5:40 amBev

    Hi Mark, any further info on sodium absorption into the food when cooking on the salt block? I do understand searing and less cooking time are the best.
    Thank you,
    Bev
    Calgary, AB
    Canada

  38. on 25 Apr 2014 at 10:19 amScott Tucker

    Scott Tucker…

    Safe Heating and Washing Tips for Your Himalayan Salt Block. | Salt News…

  39. on 21 Sep 2014 at 3:24 pmgerald

    on the bbq is it ok, the next time flip it and cook on the other side too.

  40. on 22 Sep 2014 at 12:28 pmAnna

    Hi. I just got my first salt block. YAY.

    I have an electric oven. How can I heat the block using this, which is my preferred method. Our electric stove is very old and not really the best.

    Anna

  41. on 24 Sep 2014 at 1:50 pmMark Bitterman

    @Anna – you can heat your salt block on an electric stove, you will just need to make sure to keep it off the element. One way to do this by placing a wok ring over the range, and then placing your salt block on the ring. Remember to heat your block slowly! We recommend fifteen minutes on low, fifteen minutes on medium, and then fifteen minutes on high.

  42. on 25 Oct 2014 at 12:51 pmDiane

    Just received my salt block. Can I use it on my electric cooktop? I thought maybe I could place it on top of my metal trivet which is about 3/8 of an inch. Or maybe could I just use one of my racks from the oven and place it on my cooktop.
    Thank you !!

  43. on 03 Nov 2014 at 1:54 pmMark Bitterman

    You can use it on an electric stovetop but you don’t want to place the block directly on the heating element, but right above. We recommend using something like a wok ring to position the block right above the range.

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