21 Uses for Salt (Besides Seasoning)


Salt is one of Mother Nature’s greatest gifts.

It gives our food flavor, our oceans healing properties, and our margaritas that kick we need after a long day.

But salt has many more functions, from curing canker sores to repelling ants to de-icing driveways — and 18 more uses you can find right here. (See also: Which Salt Is Best?)

1. Foot Bath

To remove dead skin, sweat, and bacteria from your feet, soak them in a salt bath — table and sea salts are less drying than Epsom salt — for 15 minutes. It’s a great way to remove odor and relieve stress as well.

2. Clean Copper and Silver

By mixing together a vinegar and salt solution, you can restore copper to its natural brilliance. You can achieve the same results by sprinkling salt on half a lemon and using it as a pad to polish the copper. A few additional steps are need to clean silver — including boiling water; placing the silver items in the sink with foil; pouring baking soda and salt directly on the silver, followed by vinegar; and boiling. You can find complete instructions for how to clean silver at eHow.com.

3. Decorating with Salt

Fill vases with salt to achieve a clean decorating aesthetic that’s cheaper than filling the vases with marbles or other small items. Salt is better than sand, too, because it provides a purer white color.

4. Clean Pots and Pans

Readers’ Digest offers several suggestions on how to clean various pots and pans with salt. For burned-on stains on enamel pans, soak the pan overnight in salt water, then boil salt water in the pan the next day. For hard-to-tackle burned-on milk stains, sprinkle the pan with salt and let it soak for 10 minutes. The stains — and the odor — will wipe away much more easily.

5. Make Salt Art

Lauren Sharp, co-founder of the children’s art studio ARTifact Studio in San Francisco, says that she uses salt in their art projects. “We use it to do what's called ‘salt painting’ where students sprinkle salt over their paintings; the salt sucks up the paint, leaving little white starry spaces.” A similar tip comes from Darla Arni. She says, “Paint with watercolor then sprinkle with salt. When it dries, brush the salt off to reveal a beautiful stippled effect.”

6. Cure Canker Sores

When I had braces — or whenever I wear my retainer (yes, I still have one all these years later) — I sometimes get painful canker sores. To cure them, I’d mix salt into warm water and swish it around my mouth for several seconds, repeating about three times daily until the sore was gone. It’s a trick my grandmother taught me, and it works every time.

7. Make Homemade Play-Doh

Play-Doh brand molding compound can be expensive, but you’ll save a lot of money with this easy-to-make homemade Play-Doh recipe from Instructables that calls for flour, water, salt, vegetable oil, and cream of tartar. Food coloring and scented oils can be added if you want to get fancy.

8. Remove Blood Stains

Scranton, PA, nurse Jonathan Steele suggests using salt to remove blood stains from white uniforms. “If I am wearing whites and get a drop of blood on them, a pack of salt, water, and a paper towel dissolve [the stain] and bring my whites back to white with no signs of spotting,” he says.

9. Keep Your Drink From Sliding

Condensation on the bottom of a glass can cause a paper napkin or coaster to stick to it when you pick it up. To resolve this issue, sprinkle the napkin or coaster with a bit of salt to separate it from the glass.

10. Prevent Slipping on Snowy or Icy Sidewalks and Porches

You don’t have to purchase big bags of store-bought salt to sprinkle on your snow- and ice-covered steps. Although that’s the best to use — mostly because of its large crystals — any type of salt will do. Plus you’ll save money by using what you already have at home — depending how much ground you need to cover, of course.

11. Clean Tubs and Sinks

Use coarse salt to clean grimy tubs and sinks. The salt acts as an abrasive to help remove caked-on gunk.

12. Deter Ants

If you have an ant problem, sprinkle salt at the source — across windowsills, doorways, etc. Ants don’t like the feel of salt, so they won’t cross the line that you’ve drawn.

13. Clean Up Dropped Eggs More Easily

Trying to remove raw egg that’s dropped on the floor makes a slimy mess. Instead, pour salt over the egg and wait two minutes before wiping it up.

14. Prevent Fruits from Browning

If you don’t have any lemon on hand to prevent cut fruits like apples from browning, soak them in slightly salted water to ward off oxidation.

15. Exfoliate

Save money on expensive exfoliants by using salt instead. While your body is still damp after a shower, rub salt on your face and other areas where you want healthier, more radiant looking skin.

16. Clean a Coffee Pot

It’s hard to get your hand into the bottom of a coffee pot to scrub out those burned-on strains. An easy trick to get the pot spic-and-span is to cover the bottom with salt, fill it with ice cubes, and swirl it around. The salt scours the bottom while the ice helps remove other residue.

17. Stop the Suds

Too many suds in your sink, bathtub, dishwasher, or washing machine? Lower the level by sprinkling salt on top.

18. Set Color in Garments

Every camp counselor knows that soaking tie-dyed T-shirts in salt water will help set the color so they won’t bleed in the wash, but a salt solution works for other clothing as well. Combine equal parts water, salt, and vinegar (a half cup of each should do) and soak single-hued textiles for at least a half hour.

19. Save Clothes From Freezing Outside

If you’re saving money by hanging clothes outside to dry instead of tossing them in the electric dryer, this tip is for you. During the final rinse stage of the wash, add salt to the cycle. By doing so, you’ll prevent your garments from freezing on the line when the weather is cold.

20. Kill Poison Ivy

Have a patch of poison ivy growing in your yard? Prevent a potential problem by adding three pounds of salt to a gallon of soapy water and spraying the mixture on the leaves and stems of the plant.

21. Relieve Bee Stings

Apparently there are 100 ways to soothe a bee sting (probably more), one of which requires you to wet the affected area immediately and cover it with salt. Use a Band-Aid to keep the salt semi-in-place.

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Guest's picture

very cool! gonna try #8 and #12. don't even need to buy any expensive stuff to get rid of stains and ants now.

Guest's picture

Wow, really cool. I love learning how everyday household items and foods can be used in a variety of ways. I have used salt to exfoliate before, but I'm definitely going to have to try the trick with salt and ice to clean my coffee pot!