Tag Archives: bamboo salt

Everyday Bamboo – South Korea

Like Japan, bamboo in South Korea is firmly embedded in the local material culture. In this post I’m sharing a few everyday bamboo things I came across while wandering around southern parts of South Korea earlier this year.

bamboo gloves

EvrdyBamboo SK (7)Lightweight white cotton gloves have a thousand and one uses. These ones are bamboo though. They are intimidatingly pristine fresh out of the packet. Just the thing for protecting your hands against blisters from bamboo brooms.

bamboo saltSouth Korea is an especially great place for eating, (although maybe a little challenging for vegetarians). Snack foods abound. I found these roasted almonds with bamboo salt in the local supermarket. Very tasty. The same supermarket sold bamboo salt toothpaste.

Damyang is rightly famous for dining out, and is famed throughout South Korea for it bamboo dishes. As a major bamboo centre, Damyang also has plenty of shops specialising in just bamboo products. They smell fantastic.


bambooThe 4 hour bus trip from Busan to Gwangu, (to get to Damyang), is broken up with a stop at a standard highway roadhouse. There is lots of food, bathroom facilities, clothing stores and stalls selling useful things. One stall was like a mini hardware (my kinda shop). Amongst its impressive selection, it sold everything you’d need to harvest bamboo: like bamboo saws, bamboo knives, splitter, gloves… Just in case you’ve come out without yours.

Do you have a favourite everyday bamboo story?

Damyang Bamboo Museum

TheBM lift doors bamboo museum at Damyang is quite a treat for anyone with more than a passing interest in the uses of bamboo. One room is dedicated to an exhibit about how bamboo grows, but the museum concentrates on displays that cover every imaginable use of bamboo, and then some. Even the lift doors have a bamboo motif.

Many of the displays, unfortunately for me, remain a mystery, as the museum provides very little interpretation in English. Given the number of other native English speakers I saw during my visit (none), this is hardly surprising.

One whole room is devoted to photos, graphics, and written information about the production and benefits of bamboo salt. But that’s all I can tell you about it really, as only Korean is used for interpretation. I’m sure it’s fascinating.

bamboo museumThere are several souvenir shops attached to the museum. Each one offers a slightly different range of bamboo products. They all smell wonderful – like freshly dried bamboo, a grassy, woody, friendly, comforting kind of scent.

The bamboo museum sits among gardens, nurseries, sculptures, and, of course, its own little bamboo forest.bamboo museum Bamboo museum Bamboo museum

I’ve got stacks more photos of displays within the museum, but inserting photos into the blog using a 7 in. tablet is testing my patience unnecessarily. I am on holiday, after all.

bamboo charcoal, bamboo museumThe bamboo museum in Damyang is short walk from the bus station and a very long walk from the bamboo forest. From Gwangju, a good base to visit Damyang, take local bus 311 from outside the Gwangju bus terminal. Where else might you see a bamboo charcoal dividing wall?

Bamboo on the Internet for May 2014 – my picks

bamboo sculptureA bamboo art installation that you can climb on at the Israel Museum. It’s called 5,000 Arms to Hold You. Professional rock climbers were engaged to build it. While it is under construction there is a live webcam.

  • A competition (open to US and Canadian residents only AND since expired) alerted me to the existence of bamboo easels and bamboo easel boxes.

bamboo kiosk cambodia

  • Two items from designboom.com are noteworthy for us this month: a kiosk for a bear rescue centre in Cambodia and bamboo plants inside an office in Shanghai. The kiosk supports the work of the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The park gets about 250,000 visitors annually. Their work combats the illegal trade in live bears and provides a safe sanctuary for rescued bears.

living bamboo office divider

  • Living bamboo is incorporated into the meandering central island of an open-plan office in Shanghai. The stands of bamboo, in large planters, create soft and unusual desk and room dividers. The central island, somewhat sadly, is made from timber. I’m sure the whole thing would have looked far superior had the architects chosen bamboo instead.
  • Bamboo salt update: A recent study has established that 9X Bamboo Salt probably prevents obesity in mice. Although, in the experiment, the researchers first unnaturally induced obesity in the mice. Still, this gives some people hope that the same result is possible for people. The (refereed) journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology published the research. The numerous other health benefits of 9X bamboo salt still stand. See a previous post for more about that.
  • bamboo leaves, zongzi, dumplings, dragon boat festivalA note from The Star online tells us that the dried ingredients for making dumplings for the Duan Wu festival cost more this year. This includes, of course, the dried bamboo leaf that wrap the dumplings. The dumplings, zongzi, are an important part of the annual Duan Wu celebration (dragon boat festival).  Why they are important is a matter of conjecture. The Star says it “originated from a practice to commemorate poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself to protest against corrupt practices in China about 1,000 years ago. Back then, the local folk threw rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves into the river to prevent his remains from being eaten by fish.”  Here is a recipe if you need to practice for your local zongzi making competitions next year, like this one in Taichung, Taiwan:


Park, K. Y., Ju, J. H., Song, J. L., & Moon, S. H. (2014). Anti-obesity effect of bamboo salt on diet-induced obesity in C57BL/6 mice (811.12). The FASEB Journal28(1 Supplement), 811-12.

Bamboo salt (continued)

bamboo saltIn the introductory post about bamboo salt, I promised to follow up on some academic papers written about. Bamboo salt has inspired the creation of many blogs, but very few provide references for the fabulous claims made about the miraculous health benefits of bamboo salt.

The main body of research on the effects of bamboo salt on diverse aspects of health comes largely from Korea. This is unsurprising given that bamboo salt is made in Korea and firmly embedded in traditional Korean medicine. Moreover, the specific properties of bamboo salt are attributed to the minerals found in the local materials used to make the salt – sea salt, bamboo, and clay.

Here are very brief summaries of the main findings, along with the full references, of seven selected studies.

  1. Purple bamboo salt contributes to the prevention or treatment of inflammatory diseases. Shin, H. Y., Lee, E. H., Kim, C. Y., Shin, T. Y., Kim, S. D., Song, Y. S., … & Kim, H. M. (2003). Anti-inflammatory activity of Korean folk medicine purple bamboo salt. Immunopharmacology and immunotoxicology25(3), 377-384.
  2. Purple bamboo salt improves buccal mucosa cancer preventive activity compared with sea salt in mice. (The buccal mucosa is the lining of the cheeks and the back of the lips, inside the mouth where they touch the teeth). Zhao, X., Deng, X., Park, K. Y., Qiu, L., & Pang, L. (2013). Purple bamboo salt has anticancer activity in TCA8113 cells in vitro and preventive effects on buccal mucosa cancer in mice in vivo. Experimental and therapeutic medicine5(2), 549-554.
  3. Bamboo salt has strong bactericidal activity and is effective to use against enteritis salmonellosis (food poisoning). It is thought that the strong alkaline property of bamboo salt could be a fundamental factor for the antimicrobial activity. Moon, J. H., Shin, H. A., Rha, Y. A., & Om, A. S. (2009). The intrinsic antimicrobial activity of bamboo salt against Salmonella enteritidis. Mol. Cell. Toxicol5, 323-327.
  4. Bamboo salt may be a useful strategy to prevent harmful side effects of cisplatin ototoxicity in patients undergoing chemotherapy. In other words, the study shows that bamboo salt can inhibit chemo drug-induced cell death in the cochlea or auditory nerve. Hyun-Ja Jeong, Jae-Joong Kim, Min-Ho Kim, and Hyung-Min Kim. Specific Blockage of Caspase-1 Activation by Purple Bamboo-Salt Prevents Apoptosis of Auditory Cell Line, HEI-OC1. Journal of Medicinal Food. January/February 2011, 14(1-2): 53-61. doi:10.1089/jmf.2010.1232
  5. Experiments on lab rats suggest the potential usefulness of bamboo salt in treatment or prevention of chemical-induced liver damage. Zhao, X., Song, J. L., Kil, J. H., & Park, K. Y. (2013). Bamboo salt attenuates CCl4-induced hepatic damage in Sprague-Dawley rats. Nutrition research and practice7(4), 273-280.
  6. Bamboo salt licks are often provided to livestock run in rubber plantations in Indonesia for essential mineral supplementation. Horne, P. M., Pond, K. R., & Batubara, L. P. (1994). Sheep under rubber: prospects and research priorities in Indonesia. Integration of Ruminants into Plantation Systems in Southeast Asia, 58-64.
  7. Lastly, I found a study about the bamboo salt use that started this post series: bamboo salt toothpaste. The study does not say ‘toothpaste,’ but rather, refers to a dentifrice made with bamboo salt. The study found that use of dentifrice containing bamboo salt “significantly increased the level of the surface hardness and decreased mineral loss.” As well as providing protection against tooth decay through strengthening of the tooth enamel, the dentifrice also significantly decreased depth of the damage on the teeth compared to the other two [control] groups. Choi, C. H., Ha, M. O., Youn, H. J., Jeong, S. S., Iijima, Y., Sohn, W., & Hong, S. J. (2012). Effect of bamboo salt-NaF dentifrice on enamel remineralization. American journal of dentistry25(1), 9.

The high alkaline values of bamboo salt are frequently lauded as one its most therapeutic properties. Indeed, in a number of the studies above the high alkalinity is attributed as providing the conditions for curative effects. For example, (to stick with bamboo toothpaste), tooth plague requires an acidic environment to thrive. The acids eat away at tooth enamel causing demineralisation, leaving teeth open to decay. By using a bamboo salt toothpaste, we would promote a more alkaline environment in the mouth and assist in re-mineralisation of the teeth.

My local Korean store does not stock bamboo salt, or bamboo salt toothpaste – he looked so surprised that I even asked! But you can find some on eBay au. There is a shop that sells both bamboo salt toothpaste and bamboo salt.

Introduction to bamboo salt

bamboo salt

The mention of bamboo salt toothpaste in a recent post piqued my curiosity about bamboo salt. There are many websites extolling the miraculous virtues of the stuff. It all seemed too good to be true, so I did some research. The more research I did, the more interested I became.

What is bamboo salt?

A product of Korea, bamboo salt is sun-dried sea salt roasted inside sections of bamboo that are sealed with clay. Mature bamboo, of at least three years old, is used for the process. The clay used to seal the bamboo sections is usually yellow clay, high in minerals.

The process
  • Sections of the bamboo culm are cut leavingbamboosalt one end open and the other end closed.
  • The bamboo tubes are filled with the sun-dried sea salt and tamped down firmly.
  • The open is end is sealed with clay.
  • The tubes are stacked inside a furnace and roasted using timber from pine trees.
  • The result is hard column of solidified salt.
  • The column of salt is crushed.

This process may be repeated three, six or nine times to give different grades of culinary and medicinal salt. Medicinal grade bamboo salt is very high in minerals. Most sources I consulted for this post say at least 70 different minerals. Bamboo salt is highly alkaline, a powerful antioxidant and has excellent anti-bacterial properties. The lengthy production process probably accounts for the high price.


Here is a short list of just some of the claimed benefits of bamboo salt:

  • Treatment and prevention of inflammatory diseases
  • Suppression of allergic reactions
  • Promotes dental health
  • Improves glucose tolerance for diabetics
  • Does not induce hypertension

There are numerous academic papers published about the medicinal benefits of bamboo salt. I’m planning to study a good cross-section of the ones I can get access to and publish my findings here in future post. Good holiday reading!

Have you tried bamboo salt for culinary or medicinal purposes? Unfortunately for Australians looking to buy bamboo salt, Amazon does not ship it to Australia. It is, however, available on eBay au.