Unsalty Salt – Isaiah 58:1-12 & Matthew 5:13-20

The Big Story coverBut First!

Lent will be upon us before you know it, so look out for the new book from The Reflectionary:
The Big Story – The Bible as a Connected Story for Lent and Holy Week.

Daily readings trace the story of God and God’s people, from the beginning of everything to the glory of Easter day. With short reflections and space for your own response this is perfect for personal devotions, for small groups or for a 7-week sermon series. The book includes photocopiable weekly summaries.

Get to grips with the Bible this Lent, and see the wonderous salvation of our God! Available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle shortly. Watch this space!

Unsalty Salt – A Science Experiment

How can salt lose its saltiness? I mean, Sodium Chloride is Sodium Chloride, right?

The salt we use today is purified, but in Bible times they often used it straight from the ground! Yes, salt comes from salt mines, and there’s a huge one right next to the Dead Sea. There is a cliff, about 8 Km (5 miles) long, that is about 80% salt. It’s probably where Jesus got the salt for his chip butties. You can dig into the cliff and get the salt, but you’ll get bits of stone as well.

Salt PansAnother way to get salt is to let seawater into shallow pools and then let the water evaporate. The salt is left behind and forms a layer on the bottom of the pool. The best salt is pure, but when you get to the bottom, the salt is mixed with gritty bits.

In this experiment, we will make some of this gritty grotty salt and see what it might be useful for. (Spoiler, it’s not chip butties!)

Make Your Own Not-Salty Salt

You will need

  • Hot water
  • Jug
  • Spoon
  • Salt
  • Mud
  • Fine sand
  • Small plate (not paper) OR small plastic bag if taking home

You can either make this in advance and have the children ‘unsaltify’ it, or let the children make their own salt one week and ‘unsaltify’ it the next week.

To make the salt

  1. Put several spoonsful of salt in a jug of hot water stir. If all your salt dissolves, add some more and keep stirring. You need to keep adding salt until there is a small amount left at the bottom that will not dissolve.
  2. If your water gets cold, just warm it in a microwave for 30 secords then stir again. If you still have lots of salt left in the bottom, add a little more hot water.
  3. Now add a spoonful of mud, sand or general garden gunk. Notice what dissolves and what does not.
  4. EITHER pour a little of the mixture onto a small plate and leave it to dry,
    OR pour some of the mixture into a plastic bag for the child to take home. At home, place the opened bag in a mug and warm it slightly with a microwave to re-dissolve any salt crystals, then pour the mixture onto a small plate to dry.Brown Halite Road Salt
  5. After a couple of days, you should have some crystals of salt, but with bits of mud and sand in them. Yuk! That’s what the poor-quality salt was like in Bible times. It’s like the sand/grit mixture we put on roads when it’s icy.

To ‘desaltify’ the salt

  1. Choose some of your salt crystals that have plenty of impurities, and put them on a plate.
  2. Pour a little water on the crystals and watch as the salt disappears leaving only the mud and sand.
  3. What is your gritty grotty salt good for – putting on chips or putting on the road?

To Think About

While your salt is dissolving, have a think about what Jesus said. We are like salt on the Earth, like light in the world. What do you think he meant? 

What would being salt or light mean practically for you, this week?
If you need some ideas. take a look at what Isaiah said


Isaiah 58:1-12 New Century Version

The Lord says, “Shout out loud. Don’t hold back.
Shout out loud like a trumpet.
Tell my people what they have done against their God;
tell the family of Jacob about their sins.
They still come every day looking for me
and want to learn my ways.
They act just like a nation that does what is right,
that obeys the commands of its God.
They ask me to judge them fairly.
They want God to be near them.
They say, ‘To honor you we had special days when we fasted,
but you didn’t see.
We humbled ourselves to honor you,
but you didn’t notice.’”

But the Lord says, “You do what pleases yourselves on these special days,
and you are unfair to your workers.
On these special days when you fast, you argue and fight
and hit each other with your fists.
You cannot do these things as you do now
and believe your prayers are heard in heaven.
This kind of special day is not what I want.
This is not the way I want people to be sorry for what they have done.
I don’t want people just to bow their heads like a plant
and wear rough cloth and lie in ashes to show their sadness.
This is what you do on your special days when you fast,
but do you think this is what the Lord wants?

“I will tell you the kind of fast I want:
Free the people you have put in prison unfairly
and undo their chains.
Free those to whom you are unfair
and stop their hard labor.
Share your food with the hungry
and bring poor, homeless people into your own homes.
When you see someone who has no clothes, give him yours,
and don’t refuse to help your own relatives.
Then your light will shine like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your God will walk before you,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
Then you will call out, and the Lord will answer.
You will cry out, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’

“If you stop making trouble for others,
if you stop using cruel words and pointing your finger at others,
if you feed those who are hungry
and take care of the needs of those who are troubled,
then your light will shine in the darkness,
and you will be bright like sunshine at noon.
The Lord will always lead you.
He will satisfy your needs in dry lands
and give strength to your bones.
You will be like a garden that has much water,
like a spring that never runs dry.
Your people will rebuild the old cities that are now in ruins;
you will rebuild their foundations.
You will be known for repairing the broken places
and for rebuilding the roads and houses.


Matthew 5:13-20 New Testament for Everyone

‘You’re the salt of the earth! But if the salt becomes tasteless, how is it going to get salty again? It’s no good for anything. You might as well throw it out and walk all over it.

‘You’re the light of the world! A city can’t be hidden if it’s on top of a hill. People don’t light a lamp and put it under a bucket; they put it on a lampstand. Then it gives light to everybody in the house. That’s how you must shine your light in front of people! Then they will see what wonderful things you do, and they’ll give glory to your father in heaven.

‘Don’t suppose that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy them; I came to fulfil them! I’m telling you the truth: until heaven and earth disappear, not one stroke, not one dot, is going to disappear from the law, until it’s all come true. So anyone who relaxes a single one of these commandments, even the little ones, and teaches that to people, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But anyone who does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

‘Yes, let me tell you: unless your covenant behaviour is far superior to that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get in to the kingdom of heaven.’


New Testament for Everyone
Scripture quotations from The New Testament for Everyone are copyright © Nicholas Thomas Wright 2011.

New Century Version
The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Dead Sea Salt https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Sodom



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