12 surprising, non-food related uses for salt

What’s the only rock fit for human consumption?

Halite. Salt, or sodium chloride, to be exact.

Salt is great on hot chips, sprinkled over eggs and spanakopita, even added to caramel.

It’s one of the oldest and most used food seasonings. It was, and still is, an important method of food preservation. Name a food or recipe and it most likely already includes or tastes better with a little salt.

Salt is essential for life. Saltiness is one of the basic human tastes.

Salt is processed from salt mines, and by the evaporation of seawater (sea salt) and mineral-rich spring water in shallow pools.

But you probably know this already.

You may not know that, around 200 million tonnes of salt are produced globally each year. About 6 per cent is used for human consumption.

You may not be aware that sodium chloride makes up roughly 0.4 per cent of the body’s weight. A 50kg person would contain around 40 teaspoons of salt.

And, while I’m tipping many of you may have heard of at least one or two of these other amazing uses for salt, some of you may not be so salt savvy.

Get rid of a runny nose
You can use a neti pot with a solution of iodide and preservative free salt mixed with baking soda to rinse out your nasal passages. You may also find over-the-counter saline sprays at your local pharmacy that help clear a stuffy or runny nose.

Soothe psoriasis and eczema
Soaking in mineral rich saltwater helps moisturise your skin and ease redness, and can relieve scaly patches and inflammation caused by psoriasis and eczema. Use Dead Sea salts or Epsom salts in your bath and soak for about 15 minutes. You can even use a cup of plain table salt if you don’t have the fancier versions in your home.

Handle heartburn
Baking soda is a natural antacid. A teaspoon in a glass of cold water after a meal can soothe heartburn. If heartburn persists, though, you should see a doctor. And those on a low-salt diet may wish to try a different type of antacid instead.

Read more: Chronic Heartburn – is there a cure?

Heal mouth sores
Stir a teaspoon of salt into a half-cup or so of warm water, then sip, swish and spit. Do this several times a day and your mouth ulcers and canker sores won’t bother you anymore.

Sort out a sore throat
Gargling 1/2 a teaspoon of salt dissolved in a cup of warm water can ease swelling and soothe a sore, scratchy throat.

Beat bad breath
Bad breath can mostly be blamed on a dry mouth and/or plaque build-up. Here’s another way baking soda comes to the rescue, by fighting microbes in your mouth and neutralising bad breath. A mouthwash made with half a teaspoon of baking soda and a cup of warm water swished for a minute 3-4 times per day can stave off bad breath for up to three hours.

Read more: How to tell if you have bad breath

Eliminate teeth stains
Some studies show that toothpaste with baking soda may whiten your teeth better than normal toothpaste, as the soda scrubs surface stains without scratching the enamel.

Take care of ingrown toenails
How can something seemingly so insignificant cause so much pain and discomfort. For mine, an ingrown toenail ranks up there with blind pimple inside your nose, sand in the eye, a toothache or an earache.

To ease swelling and tenderness caused by ingrown toenails, simply soak your foot in warm salt water several times a day. But if it gets worse see your doctor.

Tackle tired feet
Dissolve two cups of Epsom salt in four litres of warm water and you have a remedy for achy feet.

Soothe bug bites or stings
Make a paste with baking soda and a little bit of water to help with itching, stinging, or minor swelling caused by bug bites and stings. It may also relieve rashes from hives, angioedema, or from contact with plants such as poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac.

Stop heat cramps
The major cause of cramping – sharp pains, especially in your arms, belly, and calves – during or after exercise or physical work is loss of fluid and salt. Most people will reach for a sports drink, but you can easily top up your salt and fluids by eating salty food and drinking some water. You can even make your own sports drink by mixing a teaspoon of salt in a litre of water.

Read more: When a thirst might be dangerous

Get things moving again
If you’re feeling irregular dissolve around 2-6 teaspoons of Epsom salt in a glass of water, add some lemon juice for taste and you’ll be sitting on the loo in as little as half an hour.

Do you have any special uses for salt? Why not share your secrets with our members in the comments section below?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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