34 Ways to Use Salt for Survival: Everything You Need to Know

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One of the very first things I did when I first started prepping was to bolster my pantry with basic staples that could be used for a variety of purposes.  When it was suggested that I store salt, and lots of it, I was a disbeliever. After all, conventional mainstream wisdom had taught me that salt was the bad guy.

But is it really?

I made it my mission to determine whether salt is a good thing, a bad thing, or simply something best treated as an item to “use in moderation”.

34 Ways to Use Salt for Survival | Backdoor Survival

Salt As the Bad Guy

According to the Mayo Clinic, lowering your salt intake can help lower your blood pressure and your risk of cardiovascular disease.  Furthermore, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who consumed more than 7 grams of salt per day had a much higher risk of death than those who consumed 3-6 grams per day.

The authors estimate that reducing salt intake could save between $10 billion and $24 billion in health care costs annually. In light of this, many experts are calling on food manufacturers and restaurants to lower the amount of salt in the foods they sell.

But Is It Really That Bad?

On the other hand, salt/sodium is vital to keep our bodies functioning normally. It is a main component of the extracellular fluids in the body. It is important for regulating hydration and also aids other body functions, such as the transmission of nerve impulses and the contraction and relaxation of muscles.

So although I personally have issues when there is too much salt in my diet, for many the moderate consumption of salt is perfectly fine.

Why Do You Need Salt in Your Prepper Pantry?

For most of us, the amount of salt needed to stay healthy can be already be found in processed, packaged, or canned foods.  Let us hope that we have stored enough of these foods – especially the canned items – that we will never need to worry about adding more.

Having gone most of my adult life avoiding salt, coming to terms with adding salt to my survival pantry was true mind-shift.  Not only is there a physiological need for our bodies to ingest salt in one form or another, but there are a multitude of other uses aside from food enhancement and food preservation.

Which leads me to the next point: what are the uses of salt in an emergency situation?

In his article,  27 More Reasons to Stock Salt, ‘Above Average’ Joe from SurvivalLife.com wrote:

Salt has been an integral part of civilization dating back as far as 6050 B.C.  It has been such an important element of life that it has been the subject of many stories, fables and folktales and is frequently referenced in fairy tales.

It served as currency at various times and places, and it has even been the cause of bitter warfare.  Offering bread and salt to visitors, in many cultures, is traditional etiquette.

Aside from all of the uses that salt performs in terms of baking, food flavor and food preservation, salt has a number of other uses that you may never have thought of.

34 Ways to Use Salt for Survival

The following list is a combination of suggestions from ‘Above Average’ Joe, my own uses, and the tips from you, the readers, who are always a wealth of information.

1.  Food preservation Salt can be used as an off-grid way to preserve meat, fish and game that is caught in the wild

2.  Supplemental use Table salt can provide the nominal amount of dietary sodium once the canned and processed foods are gone

3.  Taste enhancement (perhaps this should be number one!)

4.  Dental hygiene A salt paste can be used to brush your teeth

5.  Remove Rust Make a paste using 6 tablespoons of salt and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Apply paste to rusted area with a dry cloth and rub. Rinse thoroughly and dry.

6.  Perk up coffee flavor Add a pinch of salt to the coffee in the basket of your coffeemaker. This will improve the coffee’s flavor by helping to remove some of the acid taste.

7.  Clean cast iron skillets and pots  If our cast iron cookware is gunked up with bits of food, make a paste from salt and a bit of water then scrub it clean. To speed the process, boil a small amount of water in the pot, add some salt and use a long handled brush to whisk away the burned on food.

8.  Eliminate fish odors Removing fish odor from your hands is simple with Salt. Just rub your hands with a lemon wedge dipped in salt, then rinse with water.

9.  Cut cutting board odors To help cut odors off of your wooden cutting board, simply pour a generous amount of Salt directly on the board. Rub lightly with a damp cloth. Wash in warm, sudsy water.

10.  Soothe sore throats To alleviate the discomfort of a mild sore throat, gargle several times daily with a mixture of 1/4 teaspoon Salt and 1/2 cup warm water*. It’s like taking a liquid lozenge.

11.  Treat your tootsie’s To prepare a salt water bath, pour 6 quarts (1-1/2 gallons) warm water in a large basin. Mix in 1/4 cup Salt and 1/4 cup baking soda. Soak feet for up to 15 minutes.

12.  Boiling water Salt added to water makes the water boil at a higher temperature, thus reducing cooking time (it does not make the water boil faster).

13.  Testing egg freshness Place the egg in a cup of water to which two teaspoonful’s of salt has been added. A fresh egg sinks; if it floats, toss it.

14.  Cleaning greasy pans The greasiest iron pan will wash easily if you use a little salt in it and wipe with paper towels.

15.  Cleaning stained cups Rubbing with salt will remove stubborn tea or coffee stains from cups.

16.  Save the bottom of your oven If a pie or casserole bubbles over in the oven, put a handful of salt on top of the spill. It won’t smoke and smell, and it will bake into a crust that makes the baked-on mess much easier to clean when it has cooled.

17.  Fend off fire from a rogue BBQ Toss a bit of salt on flames from food dripping in barbecue grills to reduce the flames and calm the smoke without cooling the coals (like water does).

18.  Removing pinfeathers To remove pinfeathers easily from a chicken, rub the chicken skin with salt first.

19.  Preventing mold To prevent mold on cheese, wrap it in a cloth dampened with saltwater before refrigerating.

20.  Keeping milk fresh Adding a pinch of salt to milk will keep it fresh longer.

21.  Scaling fish Soak fish in salt water before descaling; the scales will come off easier.

22.  Non-stick pancakes Rub salt on your pancake griddle and your flapjacks won’t stick.

23.  Keeping cut flowers fresh A dash of salt added to the water in a flower vase will keep cut flowers fresh longer.

24.  Keeping patios weed-free If weeds or unwanted grass come up between patio bricks or blocks, carefully spread salt between the bricks and blocks, then sprinkle with water or wait for rain to wet it down.

25.  Killing poison ivy Mix three pounds of salt with a gallon of soapy water and apply to leaves and stems with a sprayer.

26.  Deodorizing shoes Sprinkling a little salt in canvas shoes occasionally will take up the moisture and help remove odors.

27.  Relieving bee stings If stung, immediately wet the spot and cover with salt to relieve the pain.

28.  Deter ants Sprinkle salt at doorways, window sills and anywhere else ants sneak into your house. Ants don’t like to walk on salt.

29.  Clean teeth Use one part fine salt to two parts baking soda–dip your toothbrush in the mix and brush as usual.

30.  Melt snow and ice Sprinkle salt on snow or ice to melt away.

31.  Removing soot Occasionally throw a handful of salt on the flames in your fireplace; it will help loosen soot from the chimney and salt makes a bright yellow flame.

32.  For soap making Salt is a component in some soap recipes. It stimulates a chemical reaction that hardens the soap.

33.  Nasal Rinse Mix well 1/4 cup salt & 1/4 cup of baking soda and store in an air tight container, use 1/4 tsp. for each rinse. This can help stop a cold virus in its tracks, can help with seasonal allergies, and can relieve sinus pressure. Many people use a neti pot for this purpose.

34.  Dispose of disposal odor To help remove odors from garbage disposals, pour 1/2 cup of Salt directly into the garbage disposal. By running the disposal following manufacturer’s directions, you’ll send those odors down the drain.

Now granted, some of these uses are handy dandy but not 100% survival and prepper-centric.  Still, as this demonstrates, there are a ton of day to day uses for salt that will make our lives easier if not more pleasant.

The consensus is that you should store 5 to 10 pounds of salt per person as a one year supply.Click To Tweet

What type of salt should you store?

For many purposes, not just any salt will do. Here’s a rundown on the different types of salt that are available, and the best ways to use each type.  Note: this information was compiled from Authority Nutrition.

Iodized table salt

This is the inexpensive salt you can find at any grocery store, discount center, or even dollar store across the country. It’s cheap and simple to acquire.

Unfortunately, when it is refined all of the beneficial minerals are removed. Perhaps part of the reason that salt is so hard on your body is that most of us end up consuming this version.  It is refined to the point that it’s mostly sodium chloride.

It often has additives like iodine and anti-caking agents.

This kind of salt is fine for cleaning purposes, but don’t look to it as a health supplement.

Kosher Salt

Kosher salt is very similar to regular table salt, but it is sold in flakes as opposed to finely ground. The original use of kosher salt was in the Jewish faith, to remove all of the blood from meat as per their religious requirements.

Sea Salt

Sea salt is derived from evaporating ocean water. The darker the color, the more “impurities” it has – but in this case impurities can be trace minerals and nutrients.

While it isn’t as refined as the table salt above, the serious pollution in our oceans means that sea salt may not be the healthiest option. It can be very high in heavy metals, and post-Fukushima, even radiation, depending upon the origin of the salt.

Celtic Salt

Celtic salt is a type of sea salt that comes from a specific region in France. It is grayish in color and a moist texture, unlike other types of salt that are completely dry.

It contains the same minerals as regular sea salt, and the percentage of sodium chloride is slightly lower than other salts.

Pink Himalayan Salt

Pink Himalayan salt is harvested in Pakistan. The pink color comes from iron oxide. Pink Himalayan salt also has other minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium.

It is often very coarse, but if you prefer it to be finer, just use a pepper grinder on a fine setting.


The Final Word

While good quality salts do have some trace amounts of minerals and nutrients, keep in mind that they are just that: TRACE AMOUNTS.  While a certain amount of salt is necessary for your survival, it is not a source of adequate nutrition.

Going with one of the natural sources of salts for consumption is better for your body. It is processed more easily and does not contain the additives that cheap table salt does.

I have checked a number of sources and the consensus is that you should store 5 to 10 pounds of salt per person as a one year supply.  This seems like a lot to me but, given that salt is so cheap, there is no harm in stocking some for emergency purposes.  And now that I think about it, with so many uses, I would recommend storing a bit more for use as barter currency.

The other thing worth mentioning is that salt is easy to store.  You can use Mylar bags, buckets or even re-processed jars or soda bottles.  Just remember that you should not use an oxygen absorber because if you do, the salt will turn in to a solid brick!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Bargain Bin:  Below you will find links to the items related to today’s article.

Himalayan Institute Ceramic Neti Pot:  The Neti Pot has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to alleviate sinus and allergy problems. The Himalayan Institute introduced the Neti Pot in 1972 and this bestselling Neti Pot makes nasal irrigation easy and comfortable. Inexpensive plus it requires no electricity.  Non-iodized sea salt or course kosher salt is recommended when using a neti-pot.

Morton Salt Kosher Salt, 3 lbs..:  I personally use Kosher salt for all of my salt needs, including bread making.  I appreciate the fact I can get it in bulk from Amazon.

Bob’s Red Mill Sea Salt – 2 lbs.:  Bob’s Red Mill Sea Salt is made from purified Pacific sea water by an all natural evaporation process. It has a high sodium chloride content and contains all of the minerals that are usually refined out of ordinary earth salt. Sea Salt is excellent for both table and cooking use.  This is the salt I use in my DIY scrubs.

Celtic Sea Salt, Coarse Ground, 1 lb..:  This is completely unrefined kosher and hand-harvested authentic sea salt from the coastal region of France. Unlike ordinary table salts, Celtic Sea Salt products provide potassium, magnesium and other important trace minerals.

Sherpa Pink Gourmet Himalayan Salt, 5 lbs..:  Himalayan salt has become well known for its amazing health benefits. It re-mineralizes the body with minerals and trace elements essential to our health and well being. Himalayan pink salt is rich in trace minerals, including Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper and Iron.  I am personally ordering this salt; I have heard so many fantastic things about it.

Bamboo Jar Salt: For a splurge, order a bamboo salt jar!

Smart Soapmaking: The Simple Guide to Making Traditional Handmade Soap Quickly, Safely, and Reliably:  If you want to learn to make your own soap, this book by my friend and neighbor, Anne Watson, is the best.  The Kindle version is only 99 cents but it is also available in print.


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34 Ways to Use Salt for Survival: Everything You Need to Know — 15 Comments

  1. Great article, salt storage could actually mean life or death. Salt is part of a homemade electrolyte solution. When there is any illness with copious bodily fluids dicharged from one or both ends, or even sustained exertion such as a long bugout trek, electrolytes must be replaced. The simple recipe is 1/4 tsp salt and 3 tblsp sugar in a quart of water. Just mix and sip. Salt and white sugar will store forever. Honey or juice can be used instead of sugar but salt is mandatory.

    I was actually hospitalized recently for low blood sodium. The doc said it was very dangerous and they kept me on a sodium IV for 3 days. It was most likely caused by the excessive water I had been drinking to try and relieve stomach pain. If I had not gone to the ER for pain, I could have died at home from guzzling a few gallons of plain water.

    • This article was deff interesting but it didn’t answer my questions of the use of salt in a “survival” situation. Such as if you were forced into a “bug out” situation or had to get off the grid. Preserving meat, salt water gargle for sore throat, or to help put a fire out were the only “useful” tips in your article which I’m guessing most of us already know. Thanks anyway.

  2. When doing nasal washes it is best to use non-iodized salt……the iodized salt will burn a little…..not pleasant. I grabbed the wrong container once and learned not to confuse the two salts!

  3. Iodized salt CAN be considered a health supplement, especially post SHTF. Unless you have ready access to seafood or fortified dairy products you can be at risk of developing thyroid issues and developing fetuses can have developmental issues (lowered IQ) without enough iodine in the mother’s diet. I store both iodized and plain table salt, as well as sea salt, himalayan, kosher, etc. Variety is the spice of life, yes? I don’t bother with canning salt, since I don’t care if the jars look a bit cloudy and the canning salt is a LOT more expensive than non-idodized table salt.

    Wikipedia entry on iodized salt: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iodised_salt

    On a semi-related note, I use Soy Sauce as a salt substitute with food like rice, chicken, etc. And I stock lite-salt which is 50% NaCl and 50% KCl, but I have that reserved for use in Oral Rehydration Solution. The formulation I use needs baking soda, sugar, NaCL salts and KCl salts. Morton’s lite salt is the easiest way to get both easily into my stockpile since so many reduced sodium formulations aren’t 50-50, but Morton’s Lite Salt is….

    • soy sauce is a very bad item to consume. Monsanto has created a GMO seed that has contaminated all of the natural soy beans. There are no organic soy beans left in the world. (thank you Monsanto). This genetically altered soy bean is very hard for the body to assimilate. You end up storing it, which will lead to problems down the line. Most people don’t understand GMOs and they do not realize that, not only is the seed genetically altered, so that “ROUNDUP” won’t kill it, there is also a “terminator” gene placed into the seed so that it will not regenerate. So, not only is the soy bean, or any other GMO seed, soaked with “ROUNDUP”, you are also eating a “terminator gene” which might not allow regrowth of cells in the body. There is a much better “organic” product on the market. It is called ORGANIC COCONUT AMMINOS. It tastes just like soy sauce, it is easier to digest and doesn’t weight heavily in your stomach. Also, a lot of soy sauce has MSG instead of salt, because it’s cheaper, and we all know how bad that junk is!!

  4. To keep salt from caking (if it lacks a “free flow agent”), add some dry white rice or Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth. Both absorb moisture.

  5. Re: “According to the Mayo Clinic, lowering your salt intake can help lower your blood pressure and your risk of cardiovascular disease.”

    I think, maybe that is a …not true.

    Consider this:

    High Salt Diet Protects Against Infection, Increases Immune Function

    By Heather Callaghan


    Lower Your Salt Intake? Fugetaboutit!

    By Dr. David Brownstein


    Dr. Brownstein’s Blog

    By Dr. David Brownstein

    “No one likes to say, “I told you so”. Well, maybe sometimes we do.

    I have been prescribing and recommending unrefined salt to my patients for nearly 20 years. My analysis of thousands of blood tests continue to show that most patients are salt deficient. Yes, you read that correctly—patients generally need more salt in their diet!

    How can that be? We have all been brainwashed that salt is bad for us—that it causes hypertension, strokes and heart attacks. In fact, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) releases ridiculous yearly edicts about how we need to limit our salt intake. The IOM states that the adequate intake level of salt is 1,200-1,500mg/day (less than ½ teaspoon) and the tolerable upper limit of salt at 2,300mg/day (about 2/3 of a teaspoon of salt). The message from the IOM and the other Powers-That-Be is that a lower salt intake is always better.

    How wrong can they be.” …


    I found that revelation to be useful, maybe you will, too.

  6. Great article! I used the link for the most wished for outdoor items you had. The black collapsible lanterns pictured are AWESOME!!! They can run for 12 hours straight (I know NOBODY that would do that, but good to know). They collapse to cute little buggers that take little room. They are made by Etek. After buying them, you can become an “Etekcitizen” and get free items for testing (which you get to keep as long as you give an honest review of the product. I thought it was bunk, but I got the first item I requested about 4 days later! No limits as to how many, but you do them one at a time. They have a number of prep tools 😉

  7. Gaye, maybe you or one of your reader’s can help me. I’ve been trying to figure out what type of salt you use to preserve meat, like salt curing a ham. I know you need a lot, so i was hoping i could find out what type and possible get a link to buy in bulk, preferable at a bulk discount. Any ideas? Thanks as usual.

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