Choosing the right salt between curing and pickling salt is not an easy task. Picking up the wrong salt can create a big mess for you. That’s why it’s important to know the differences between the two.
So, what are the differences between curing salt vs pickling salt?
For starters, curing salt and pickling salt are different in color and cost. Then curing salt can cure and preserve meat better than pickling salt. But it can’t be used to pickling veggies. Lastly, curing salt is more harmful to humans than pickling salt.
This is just the short teaser. You need to know more to understand which salt to use. Thus, we’ve discussed the two in detail.
Now, let’s start sprinkling the details-
Curing or Pickling Salt: Sneak Peek
Even though both are salt, curing and pickling salt aren’t the same. Just how you’ll see differences between high temp vs regular cheese.
Now, to know which salt will work for you-
You need proper knowledge of them. Or less you might suffer while using them.
For example, you can’t use pickling salt to cure meat. To cure a lump of meat properly, you’ve to pick the curing salt. Otherwise, the bacteria will still be present in the meat.
See? Knowing the two salts is necessary. But before filling your head with the details, you need a sneak peek.
So, on that note, we’ve provided the basic differences between curing and pickling salt-
Pink in color
White in color
Cost & availability
Cost varies and is sometimes kind of hard to find
Cost varies and is easy to find
Useful for curing and preserving meat
Useful for pickling and preserving vegetables
Salt storing process
Store in a cool and dry place
Store in a dry place
Toxic to humans
Can be harmful only if consumed too much
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to jump into the details. Thus, get ready!
Curing Salt Vs Pickling Salt: A Comprehensive Comparison
This comprehensive comparison will give you all the info you’ll need. So, let’s get started-
Appearance of the Two Salts
The first difference you’ll see between the two salts is the appearance.
If you look at curing salt, it has a bit of pink tone to it. It also gives the meat a pink shade, if you use it for curing the meat.
Now, this pink tone is probably the result of the chemical elements in the salt.
Unlike other salts, curing salt contains an extra chemical element. And that element is sodium nitrite. However, sometimes the salt has both sodium nitrite and nitrate.
However, the nitrate eventually turns into sodium nitrite with time.
So, it’s safe to say-
Curing salt is made up of 94% sodium chloride and 6% sodium nitrite.
On the other hand, pickling salt is a finely grained white salt. It does look like table salt. However, the chemical elements in this salt are different.
Pickling salt has sodium chloride just like table and curing salt. But it doesn’t have sodium nitrite or iodine. It also lacks anti-caking agents.
Now, this dissimilarity in appearance is why they’re used in different ways. Therefore, we just gave you a heads up!
Cost & Availability
Now, there’s obviously a cost difference between the two. However, it’s a bit difficult to exactly say which is more expensive.
Because there are many brands. And they also come in different amounts.
But we’ve seen that a 1lb curing salt costs about $11. While a 4lbs pickling salt costs about $45.
Therefore, 1lb of pickling salt will cost you around-
But still, the brands are different. So yeah you can’t really say one is more expensive than the other.
Now, if we look at the availability of the two salts-
Then we’ll say pickling salt is a bit easier to find than curing salt. However, fear not!
For your comfort, we’ve picked up the best version of both the salts-
Anthony’s Pink Curing Salt No.1
Morton Canning & Pickling Salt
Therefore, relax and keep reading, my friend! After you make up your mind, you know where to find the salt!
Different Uses of the Two Salt
Now, curing salt and pickling salt obviously have different uses.
Curing salt is mostly known for curing, pickling, and preserving meat.
But there’s a catch-
There are two types of curing salt. The first one is Prague powder #1 and the second one is Prague powder #2.
And they’re used to cure different types of meat. Because the chemical element ratio of the two isn’t the same.
To help you out, we’ve mentioned the different characteristics of the two curing salt-
Amount of Chemical Elements
Prague powder #1
93.75% sodium chloride, and 6.25% sodium nitrite
Used for meat that needs short cures
Hot dogs, corned beef, fish
Prague powder #2
89.75% sodium chloride, 6.25% sodium nitrite, and 4% sodium nitrate
Used for meat that needs long cures
Country ham, hard salami, pepperoni.
So, Prague powder #1 is for instant curing which takes place right before cooking. On the contrary, Prague powder #2 is for meats that need a long time to cure. So, the curing process is a bit lengthy.
But they both have only one purpose. And that’s killing bacteria and stopping it from growing. Both of them mostly fight the bacteria named Clostridium botulinum. And this bacteria causes botulism.
Scary, isn’t it?
No worries! If you cure the meat properly with curing salt, you’ll be safe. However, you’ve to use the right amount of curing salt.
Or less, the curing process will be incorrect. And you’ll definitely have a headache.
To help you, we’ve discussed the salt amount according to meat amount-
Curing Salt Type
Salt Amount (Dry)
Salt Amount (Brine)
Prague powder #1
½ cup salt per gallon of water, 1 ¾ cup table salt, and 2 ¼ cup sugar.
5 pounds of meat
Prague powder #2
Can’t be used for brine
5 pounds of meat
Now for pickling salt-
As we’ve mentioned pickling salt is just pure sodium chloride. This salt also dissolves in the water a lot faster than other salts.
For this reason, this salt doesn’t make the pickle jars cloudy. The jar stays all clear and you can easily see your pickled veggies.
Therefore, most people use it in pickle brine. And this is how they help to preserve vegetables too.
Now, how much pickling salt should you use?
Well, the amount depends on the amounts of other ingredients such as veggies, vinegar, etc.
However, we’ve made the using process easier for you-
1 ½ teaspoon
1 ½ pound
Just maintain these amounts of each ingredient and you’ll be all good!
But there’s more-
This salt has other uses than just pickling and preserving vegetables.
Unlike curing salt, this salt has a fine texture to it. And it can also stick to your food. So, you can easily sprinkle this salt on top of popcorn. Through this you’ll get a salty kick.
You can even add a pinch of this salt to your freshly made french fries. And toss them afterward. This will make the french fries tastier.
Lastly, as pickling salt dissolves quickly, it can be used in a soup as well. But remember to start with a pinch of this. Otherwise, the soup can get too salty.
So yeah, these were the uses of both salts. Clearly, they are pretty different from each other.
Salt Storing Method
Now, curing salt and pickling salt shouldn’t be stored in a wet place.
Well, curing salt doesn’t go bad. But it’s better to store it correctly. And for that, you’ll need a plastic container, at first.
However, you can’t just use any container. You’ve to choose a good quality air-tight plastic container. Otherwise, the whole storing process will just be a waste of time.
That’s why we’ve gathered the plastic containers that perform well in every situation-
Now, just pour the salt into the air-tight plastic container. And then place it on the top shelf of your kitchen cabinet.
Also, keep in mind, this salt can’t be stored in the refrigerator.
In reverse, pickling salt shows negative side effects if stored in the wrong way. For example, the salt can turn into clumps because of moisture.
And if the salt gets all clumpy, it’s better to not use it. Because it might dissolve while trying to pickle the veggies.
To avoid this situation, just follow the same storing process as the curing salt. If you store it correctly, it’ll work well for an unlimited time.
Lastly, which one is more harmful to your health?
Well, curing salt is toxic to humans. However, if you use the right amount in your meat, you’ll be safe.
Because with time the nitrite of the salt actually disappears. However, things will get scary if-
You use too much salt. And start cooking meat before the nitrite has left it completely.
And by scary we’re referring to diseases like kidney damage. And in severe cases- death. That’s why you’ve to be careful!
Now, pickling isn’t that harmful to humans. But only if you use and consume the right amount of it. So, check how much salt you need from the ‘different uses’ segment if you haven’t.
Pickling Salt Vs Curing Salt- Results
So, we guess you’ve realized that curing salt and pickling salt are definitely different. And your decision depends on what you’re intending to do. Just how you’ve to choose between glaze or sauce according to your recipe.
For example, if you want to cure your meat, go for curing salt. And if you want to pickle vegetables, choose pickling salt.
You really can’t choose one salt over the other as the two serve different purposes.
Question: What kind of salt is better to cure meat?
Answer: Well, we suggest curing salt. Because it both kills the bacteria and stops them from growing. Therefore, your meat stays safe and all cured.
Question: What is better for pickling vegetables?
Answer: The answer is pickling salt. Because pickling salt is just pure granulated salt as it doesn’t contain any caking ingredients. Hence, the vegetables don’t get dark in color. And your pickle jar will also be crystal clear.
Question: Can consuming too much pickling salt cause death?
Answer: Well, we don’t know for sure as too much has a certain percentage. But yes, there’s a possibility. Therefore, only use the right amount.
Hopefully, you’ve got every info you needed on curing salt vs pickling salt. By the way, you can use sea salt instead of curing salt if you want.
Anyway, which salt are you choosing?
Let us know in the comment box. And lastly, stay safe and healthy!