Halite has a large variety of purposes, including a seasoning for food, an essential chemical in many industries and as a means to melt snow and ice on roads in winter.
Halite takes several forms, depending on the grain of the mineral. Much of its natural form is dissolved in water, especially in the oceans. Large chunks of solid halite are frequently spread on roads to melt ice. Finer grains are used for table salt; the human body requires salt to survive, so salt is an essential ingredient in food.
A molecule of halite is composed of a single sodium atom bonded to a single chlorine atom. This gives halite the chemical formula NaCl. Although other chemical salts exist, halite is the most abundant salt in the world.
Halite occurs naturally in the environment, particularly in oceans and salt lakes, many of which are below sea level. The mineral is harvested from these sources during periods of evaporation. In hot, dry weather, salt deposits where the water has receded, making harvesting particularly easy. Underground sources of halite lead to natural formations called salt domes, which are the sites of many commercial salt mines. Additionally, artificial means of producing halite are also possible.