Pickling Salt vs. Curing Salt

May 12, 2023

Recently I’ve seen a debate between pickling salt vs curing salt on the internet, and I thought now it’s my turn to clarify certain aspects to my readers. If you don’t know how to play with salt, you will never be a good cook, simple as that. In that sense, you got to have a fair knowledge of types of salt and how they get used in different dishes. You will learn more on this topic via today’s piece; let’s get started.

What Is Pickling Salt?

I would say pickling salt is pure granulated sodium chloride. If you have heard names such as canning salt or preserving salt, those are two other names of pickling salt.

The uniqueness of pickling salt is that it doesn’t contain anti-caking compounds and the tininess of the granules means you can easily dissolve it in a brine. If you feel confused about all these, just consider it as the purest form of salt.

Another comprehensive difference of pickling salt compared to other variations is that it is free of iodine. So, I hope you can understand that it is simply not the table salt that you use in your kitchen for common cooking purposes.

Also, since it does not contain any of the substances I mentioned above, it is imperative to store pickling salt in airtight containers. Else, it is inevitable to prevent clumps up when the salt receives moisture.

How to Use Pickling Salt?

Before talking about curing salt or comparing pickling salt vs. curing salt, let me explain how to use pickling salt first. To keep everything comprehensive and straightforward, I would say that you can use pickling salt instead of ordinary table salt. However, my previous experiences with this salt suggest that it has a tendency to cake.

In order to eliminate this problem, I put a couple of grains of rice to the salt, and you can replace a variety of salts with pickling salt more or less with the same results. The main objective of pickling salt is to use for pickling and canning.

However, I have used it for baked food recipes as well in place of table salt with identical outcomes.

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What is Curing Salt?

After you read out this section of the article, I feel you can definitely come to a conclusion on the differences between curing salt vs. pickling salt. Curing salt is specifically used for curing meat, and it has a pinkish outlook.

This pinkish nature of curing salt is quite helpful when it comes to adding color to the cured meat. Most importantly, it assists the meat to preserve well for long periods of time. 

Also called Prague powder, curing salt plays a huge role in preventing bacteria growth in the meat because of its sodium nitrate compounds. Considering the size of grains, there is nothing much to separate it from table salt. However, the distinguished pinkish outlook of curing salt is an indication to identify it.

I must tell you that you have to have a considerable amount of knowledge about this salt variant before you add it into your recipes. If you use curing salt for dishes other than curing meat, it can be harmful to your health. Another crucial thing is, do not to try to substitute it with ordinary salt. I will let you know the substituting options later in the article. 

Is canning and pickling salt the same as curing salt? I think now you can provide an answer to this question on your own. 

How to Use Curing Salt?

Let’s see how you use pink curing salts. Pink or curing salt comes in two variations; curing salt #1 and curing salt #2. I use salt #1 to cure meat sorts that demand cooking or canning. Some of the compatible meats include bacon, poultry, ham, and fish.

When you are using curing meat with this salt, make sure you stick with a ratio of 1tsp for every five pounds of meat (ground).

The number 2 variant is ideal for dry meat products such as salami and summer sausages or other versions of dried sausages. In fact, I have had no concerns while using curing salt with foods that don’t require cooking. The ratio is the same as I mentioned for curing salt #1. 

Pickling Salt vs. Curing Salt

Is Pickling Salt the Same as Curing Salt?

Since you know that they are not the same, let’s see some of the differences between the two salt variants. As I mentioned at the very beginning of the article, if you don’t learn about these things, you would mess up everything when using them for the first time in curing salt recipes. That is what happened to me! 

Differences between Curing Salt and Pickling Salt

Let me take a few aspects into consideration and answer, “is curing salt and pickling salt the same.”  


The difference in the appearance of pickling salt vs. curing salt is very much easy to notice. As mentioned previously, curing salt is pinkish in color, whereas you hardly see any difference between pickling salt and ordinary table salt. However, there is another salt variant called Himalayan salt which is also pinkish, but you cannot add that as curing salts for meats. 


The texture of pickling salt grains is finer than the curing salt. This makes brine an easy task, and pickling needs salt grains to be as finer as possible. If you find it difficult to separate pickling salt from ordinary salt, look at the size of the grains, the pickling salt’s grains are smaller than table salt. 


Pickling salt doesn’t contain iodine, but that cannot be said for curing salt. That is the reason why you should never use pickling salt to cure meat, as it will promote the growth of bacteria, which will spoil all your efforts within minutes. The sodium nitrate compounds of curing salt do the job instead, and you cannot see that in pickling salt. 


Although you have the cushion of using pickling salt in place of table salt, you just cannot use curing salt for day-to-day cooking purposes. Curing salt can be toxic for humans, and its main job is to cure meat. This is important, guys; keep this information in a secured place in your mind. 

What Kinds of Foods are They Used With?

Here are some of the prominent food options that I use pickling salt and curing salt. After reading these recipes/foods, I want you to understand that curing salt in recipes other than meat is not an option. 

Pickling Salt Food Options

  • Apple chutney
  • Bread ‘N butter pickles
  • Crystal pickles
  • Curry pickles
  • Dilled green tomatoes
  • Dilled zucchini sticks
  • Fireballs

Curing Salt Food Options

  • Salami
  • Summer sausage
  • Cured corned beef
  • Pepperoni
  • Dry sausage
  • Ham
  • Bacon
  • Fish

Which Salt for Meat Curing? Pickling Salt or Curing Salt?

This answer is for those who have scrolled down to this phase of the article without reading out the previous details. You just can’t use pickling salt for curing meat because it will promote the growth of bacteria.

Always make sure to use curing salt at all costs to avoid this happening with you. Curing salt has what it takes to nullify bacteria growth, which is an essential part of curing meat. 

pickling salt vs curing salt, is pink salt and curing salt the same


Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions from my readers. 

How Much Curing Salt per Pound of Meat?

Although the answer to this question depends on the brand you use, the rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon of curing salt for five pounds of meat. This says you will have to use about 100g of curing salt for 100 pounds of meat.

The amount of sodium nitrate is the deciding factor here, and it varies from one brand to another. So, I recommend you read the guidelines mentioned on the packages before using curing salt in the meat recipes. 

What Can I Use Instead of Pink Curing Salt?

There is not much stuff you can use as substitutes for curing meat. The best option I can offer you is saltpeter. In fact, it is another name used to call potassium nitrate and works well for a variety of meat sorts when it comes to curing. Similar to pink curing salt, it has the ability to kill the bacteria in meat. 

Another suitable alternative is kosher salt. I say this because kosher salt is something that does not contain iodine in it, and as we discussed earlier in the article, you can’t use iodine included salt to cure meat. Moreover, using kosher salt has little to no difference in terms of the taste of the cured meat. 

Do You Have To Use Curing Salt For Sausage?

Yes, you must use curing salt when you make sausages. Curing salt acts as a precaution against Botulism. However, there is no need of using curing salt for fresh sausages. If you are curing, you have to use pink curing salt to prevent the growth of bacteria. So, keep that in mind to avoid unwanted health issues by consuming sausages. 

Can I Use Regular Salt Instead of Pickling Salt?

Of course, you can. As the name suggests by itself, pickling salt is made to cater to the needs of pickles. However, you can’t expect high-quality results with regular salt in pickles. Yes, it is 100% ok to use considering the safety side of things, but it is very difficult to obtain the quality of pickling salt with ordinary sea salt.

This is because of the additives of the table salt, and as you know, pickling salt does not contain any of such ingredients. Although you have the ability to use pickling salt instead of table salt, I personally do not recommend using table salt in place of pickling salt, particularly for pickles. 


If you had uncertainty over is pickling salt and curing salt the same, this article had more than points to understand the differences between pickling salt vs. curing salt. My recommendation would be not to use pickling salt for the recipes that require curing salt and vice versa.

Things can horribly go wrong if you use curing salt for your typical dishes because of the sodium nitrate substances. Keep these vital aspects in mind and shoot me a message if you want more clarification in this regard. Have a great day!

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