Is Salt an Essential item for Survival ?

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Salt ShakerDo you know the answer to this one?  Is salt an essential component of your emergency survival stash?  This puzzles me since I see many references to salt on published lists of emergency supplies and yet no real backup regarding the reason salt is an “essential”.

So I ask:  is salt a good thing or a bad thing or is it simply a matter of “everything in moderation”.

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 recent article in the “New England Journal of Medicine” looked at the potential impact of reducing salt intake. The report found that if Americans cut their salt intake by 3 grams a day, new cases of heart disease, stroke and heart attack would significantly drop — as would the number of deaths. The authors estimate that these changes 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 wait just a minute . . .

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 and is important for regulating hydration and 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, I tend to think that the use of salt is an individual thing.

So how much is needed for survival purposes and why?

For most of us, the amount of salt needed to stay healthy can 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.

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

Here are a few off the top of my head:

1.  Preserving meat, fish and game that is caught in the wild

2.  Providing the nominal amount of dietary sodium once the canned and processed foods are gone

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

4.  As a natural cleaner

5.  First aid & personal care (i.e bee stings,mosquito bites, gargle for  sore throats, teeth cleaning)

I 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.  Just in case.

Enjoy your next adventure, wherever it takes you!


Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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Is Salt an Essential item for Survival ? — 8 Comments

  1. Excellent post Gaye. I think salt is a vital compontent in any situation. I use salt everyday for a lot of things. I cook with it and it makes a great gargle when you have a sore throat. Glad to see a little research on the subject.

  2. Good solid advice. Preserving food by salting is a lost art. (Think salted cox from the Northeast) Without refrigeration, it would be (along with smoking) be a primary way of preserving meats and fish.

    Today we eat way too much salt. It’s on almost every processed food we eat in quantities way beyond what’s needed. It’s a cheap way to flavor food. Check a few labels, it will floor you to see how much salt is in canned foods.

    In a SHTF or a TEOTWAWKI situation, it will be less of a problem because we will be doing much more manual labor and we will need the salt to keep us hydrated.

    PS: might want to do a bit moor proofreading before posting. I can’t spell worth a darn and I found several typos.

    Good post,

  3. There I did what I told you about. I meant to write “salted COD” not “salted COX”. I’ll blame it on my iPhone, yeah that’s it.

  4. Lite salt/salt substitute, with potassium chloride, makes a better oral rehydration solutionthan with table salt alone. Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite added to salt (as in Mortons Tender Quick) also makes a better preservative.

  5. Hello Gaye,

    i realise this is an old article, but i am new to the survival thing, though enjoying it and taking it seriously at the same time.

    I find the Salt question to be much more important than some.

    Salt can be used for many things, cleaning, cooking and medicinal. I would even go as far as saying 5 to 10 pounds would be far too little. i studied as a chef and when salting fish we use 1:5 ratio, that is one pound of salt to 5 punds of fish, after boning and fileting, that is just fish flesh. i think meat has a lower ratio, but not by much, when drying meat you soak in brine (14-16% salt) for a few minutes before then hanging for 4 to 5 days.

    So, salt becomes much more important over time, and would be a very important factor in survival.

    Great site, love it!

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