Salt is a corrosive, too

By Elizabeth Prata

I lived in Maine for 30 years, and was born and bred in Rhode Island before that, so I’m a New Englander through and through. I know snow.

It snows a lot in Maine and for a long time. While the rest of the country may be experiencing spring, where I used to live it still kept on snowing. Unfazed, locals opend up their ice cream shops and put on shorts anyway. Forget the Groundhog, Mainers have their own signals that spring is near: when Red’s Dairy Freeze in South Portland opens, as this story the other day from the Portland Press herald illustrates, it’s spring. It’s news when the seasonal shops come alive again.

reds
People brave an oncoming winter storm to line up outside Red’s Dairy Freeze as the ice cream shop opened for the 2018 season on March 7. The 2019 season started Monday. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

In our town, it was Hodgman’s Frozen Custard, and Lonnie Dogs, the 40+ year hot dog vendor fixture. When Lonnie rolls his cart up to the parking lot and opens for business, you know crocuses are just around the corner.

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Snow Plow blades at rest during the summer. EPrata photo

One of the Public Works responsibilities of a town or city in New England is to lay road salt down in advance of and during a snow or ice storm. What is road salt? Anne Marie Hemelstine, PhD answers that here:

When cold weather arrives, stores stock up on big bags of road salt and you may see it sprinkled on sidewalks and roads to melt ice. But what is road salt and how does it work? … Road salt is used to melt snow and ice and keep water from freezing… Road salt is halite, which is the natural mined mineral form of table salt or sodium chloride (NaCl). While table salt has been purified, rock salt contains mineral impurities, so it is typically brownish or gray in color. Machines mine the salt, which is crushed and packaged for delivery.

Road salt is necessary for the motoring public in winter climes, if they want to keep driving semi-safely, that is. The cities and towns buy enough of it so that when it’s delivered, we call it ‘salt mountain’ because the pile is so high. But road salt is also a corrosive. If you don’t wash it off your car at regular intervals, it will eat away at the metal undercarriage of your vehicle, and after a while you’ll have a Flintstones car.

I have been thinking about the verse that says we believers are to be “salt and light.”

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. (Matthew 5:13)

We know that people regularly interpret this in a couple of ways. Salt is a preservative. Barnes’ Notes explains it this way-

Salt renders food pleasant and palatable, and preserves from putrefaction. So Christians, by their lives and instructions, are to keep the world from entire moral corruption. By bringing down the blessing of God in answer to their prayers, and by their influence and example, they save the world from universal vice and crime.

Salt is also a flavor enhancer. GotQuestions explains it this way-

Second, salt was used then, as now, as a flavor enhancer. In the same way that salt enhances the flavor of the food it seasons, the followers of Christ stand out as those who “enhance” the flavor of life in this world. Christians, living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in obedience to Christ, will inevitably influence the world for good, as salt has a positive influence on the flavor of the food it seasons. Where there is strife, we are to be peacemakers; where there is sorrow, we are to be the ministers of Christ, binding up wounds, and where there is hatred, we are to exemplify the love of God in Christ, returning good for evil (Luke 6:35).

But elsewhere in the Bible we also understand that we as believers are the aroma of death to those who are perishing-

For we are to God the sweet aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one, we are an odor of death and demise; to the other, a fragrance that brings life. And who is qualified for such a task? (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).

I think that road salt can be thought of as a corrosive element generating an acid response to those who reject, i.e.s the aroma of death, and/or an abrasive element that melts hardened icy hearts into hearts that love the Lord.

Just a thought.

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