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Salt Storage Containers

Published May 2016

How we tested

Salt containers placed near the stove make it easy to season a steak or a pot of boiling water on the fly. There are two basic kinds: Salt pigs are open-mouthed cylindrical vessels, while salt boxes have lids and tend to be slightly smaller. Wondering if there was a trade-off between the access of an open container and the protection of a lidded one, we tested both kinds—two salt pigs and three boxes, ranging in price from about $10.00 to $40.00. We wanted a container that would be sturdy, hold a useful amount of salt, be easy to fill and access, and protect the salt from kitchen splatter and from clumping in humid conditions. And if we were going to get a dedicated salt container, it had to do all of these things better than a simple prep bowl, so we tested our containers alongside a 6-ounce glass bowl.

Not surprisingly, the lidded salt boxes did a superior job of protecting their salt from messes. When we left each container next to a skillet of simmering tomato sauce, only the salt boxes kept the salt pristine and splatter-free. Some splatter made it into the salt pigs, but it was less than the mess that landed in the ordinary open bowl.

To see how well the containers protected their salt against humidity, we filled them with kosher salt and placed them in a warm, damp room for a weekend. As we expected, the salt in the open bowl and in the pigs had clumped, forming nearly solid masses that were hard to dig out. The salt in the lidded boxes fared better; while small clumps still formed, they were easy enough to break up with a spoon.

After giving the containers to several test cooks to try, we realized that access to the salt pigs was actually more limited than with the lidded containers. Despite their wide mouths, the salt pigs were harder to fill and use. The Emile Henry salt pig’s curve and the Le Creuset crock’s flat top and shallow retaining wall limited their capacities and forced us to tilt the vessels to fill them with salt, which was awkward and still resulted in some spillage. The same features also made it awkward for large-handed testers to reach into the bottom of the vessels when the salt was running low and for testers of all hand sizes to measure and level off a teaspoon of salt. By contrast, the salt boxes were effortless to load and access from above and turned out to be easy to open with one hand.

If you want an attractive vessel that will protect your salt against splatters and humidity (if only to a limited extent), a salt box is a nice option. Our favorite, the Bee House Salt Box, holds 2 cups of salt; solid and roomy, it sat sturdily on the counter, required infrequent refilling, and did a better job of accommodating cooks with large hands. Our Best Buy, the Totally Bamboo Round Salt Box, holds just ¾ cup of salt but costs less than half the price of the winner; while its light weight made it easier to knock off the counter by accident, some testers preferred its more compact size and secure magnet closure.

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The Results


Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.


Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.


Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.


Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.


Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.


Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.