Many Uses of Table Salt

English: Worker at the salt fields in Strunjan...
English: Worker at the salt fields in Strunjan, Slovenia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you think about salt, you think about it adding flavor to your food; and sometimes you think it contributes to high blood pressure.  You use it, and you stay away from it.  But, our bodies require salt, and the body produces any number of salts to remain functioning.

Since salt is an extremely abundant mineral, there are other uses than just at the dinner table.

Did you know—a little bit of history now—that Neolithic (aka New Stone Age c. 10,200-6500-2,000 B.C.E.) people of Lunca, Romania, were boiling the salt-laden spring water to extract the salt?  If all we know, they were involved in trade, salting the fish caught in the Black Sea, for their neighbors across the way for their silver in trade.  Even the ancient Egyptians (c. 3,000 B.C.E.) were trading their salted fish with the Phoenicians for their cedar, purple dye, and glass.

How can we use it today as average consumers?

  1.  Tired/puffy eyes.  |  To soothe puffy and/or tired eyes, soak a cloth in one cup of warm water that has ½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in it to make a compress.
  2. Prevent fruits and vegetables from browning.  |  Drop fruits and vegetables in lightly-salted water while preparing to cook.  As you peel your produce, drop them in a bowl of salt water to retain their coloration.
  3. Exfoliant and deodorizer.  |  Sea salt is a favorite scrub these days.  If your hands/feet are stinky or tired and callused, rub them with a little salt to lift off the top layer of dead skin.  It should leave fresh, smooth skin behind.  While at it, add some drops of essential oil—for example, lemon to energize your or lavender to calm you.  After a bath or shower, use plain old salt to slough off dead skin from dry area like your feet, elbows, or knees.
  4. Facial.  |  Mix one part salt with one part olive oil.  Massage your face and neck with the mixture.  Wash off with soap and water to get the glow showing on your skin.
  5. Salt bath.  |  Use a couple cups of salt in the tub to relax sore muscles.  Add some soothing essential oils (lavender) or botanicals (chamomile flowers) to the soak.  Check out item 26 below.
  6. Relieve itchiness (the itchies).  |  If there is no baking soda, soak a cloth in saltwater and apply it as a compress to keep your skin cool and to relieve the irritation from a bee sting, mosquito bite, or the like.

    Bees in the Rose Garden, Abbey Gardens 28-07-2011
    Bees in the Rose Garden, Abbey Gardens 28-07-2011 (Photo credit: Karen Roe)
  7. Oral care.  |  Salt and baking soda can be combined to make an organic toothpaste.  Also, saltwater can be used to gargle to relieve sores and to keep the mouth feeling fresh.
  8. Dandruff.  |  Avoid the chemical-packed dandruff shampoo sold in the marketplace.  Instead, massage your head with salt before your next shower.  The salt will remove those dead skin cells known as dandruff.  Then wash your hair with your favorite moisturizing shampoo.
  9. Fire management.  |  Keep salt (or baking soda) close to the stove for extinguishing grease fires.  Both will smother the fire, depriving it of oxygen, thus putting it out.  Do not use water to put out a grease fire, because it will cause the grease to splatter and spread!  At barbeques or bonfies, salt can tone down the fire without making a mess and a lot of smoke.
  10. Scrubber.  |  The same properties that make salt a good exfoliant work great on hard water stains found in bathrooms, kitchen sinks, pots with stubborn stains, plates, etc.  With a little salt and water past as well as some elbow grease, you can buff away grease, stains, burned-on debris, and the like.
  11. Stain remover.  |  Soak or dab stained fabrics (including rugs and drapes) in cold saltwater to pull out stains like wine and blood.  It also can remove sweat stains as well as lingering sweat oders.  There is no need for Febreze.  Add salt to your detergent to keep your clothes fresh and bright.  Incidentally, it cuts down on suds which are a problem if the water is hard.
  12. Sink odors.  |  Pour a saltwater mixture (preferrably boiling saltwater mixture)  down the kitchen/bathroom/tub sink to scour the drain out when there is a stinky drain.  Obvriously, call the plumber if the problem persists.
  13. Remove watermarks.  |  White rings on wooden furniture from hot dishes and drinks can be treated with a salt-and-water paste by buffing the watermarks away.  Follow-up with furniture polish to restore the finish.  However, mayonnaise may be a better remedy.
  14. Sponges refreshened.  |  The lifespan of commercial sponges is not what it use to be.  They get unpleasant fast with use.  To give a sponge a one, last-ditch resuscitation attempt, soak them is saltwater overnight.  Hmmm.  Are we talking non-commercial sponges here?  Wring the sponge out in the next day to see if it feels and smells fresher and cleaner.
  15. De-icer.  |  Since salt lowers the freezing point of water, it can be useful in preventing ice formation or breaking down the ice more quickly on windshields, sidewalks, and more.  However, be careful not to use too much salt.  It can contaminate the soil and cause problems for plants to grow.  Sand is a good substitute.
  16. Español: Queso en aceite
    Español: Queso en aceite (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  17. Cheese storage.  |  To prevent cheese from getting moldy, soak a napkin in saltwater and wrap the cheese with the soaked napkin.  That is what cheese makers do all over the world.
  18. Set colors.  |  Have you ever bought towels that had colors bleed out and get dull with repeated washings, especially bleeding all over everything else in the washed load?  Add ¼ cup of salt to the first two washes of the troubling article (towels, sheet, T-shirt, etc.) to set the color.
  19. Clean the Iron.  |  Irons do get smudge and dirty with time.  Change that with salt.  Pour out salt on some inkless/printless paper.  Run the iron over it while it is warm.  The salt should lift the stains, leaving the sparkling clean iron to use anew.
  20. Cleaning brass.  |  Combine one cup each of salt, white flour, and white vinegar.  After scrubbing the brass, let it sit for 15-20 minutes.  Then wipe off the mixture with a damp cloth.
  21. Remove grease out of a carpet.  |  Mix one cup salt with four cups alcohol (70% Isopropyl alcohol) to gently scrub grease out of the carpet (or rug).
  22. Fish tank.  |  Clean the inside of a fish tank with non-iodized salt.
  23. Weed prevention.  |  Do weeds pop up between the tiles on your patio?  Pour salt into those crevices to keep them away.
  24. De-stink the refrigerator.  |  Use a mixture of salt and seltzer to scrub the inside.  It removes the stains, cuts the grease, and de-stinks the odors at the same time.
  25. Silver polish.  |  Scrub with salt and a dry rag to make the silverware shiny again.
  26. Oven.  |  Remove the burning smell from the oven.  Before the oven cools down, sprinkle salt carefully onto the spilled food.  Let it cool, then scrub with a brush to remove the salt and wipe with a paper towel.
  27. What is a bath bomb?  |  A bath bomb is a hard-packed mixture of chemicals which effervesces when wet (aka bath fizzies).  The following is a DIY recipe that helps you save money and avoid chemicals that you do not want in the product.

Ingredients

English: House Sparrows bathing
English: House Sparrows bathing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • baking soda
  • citric acid powder
  • Epson salt
  • water
  • any light vegetable oil (e.g., extra-virgin olive oil)
  • essential oils (make sure it is not a sensitizer)

Other stuff—

• a whisk  • two small mixing bowls (preferably glass)  • a big mixing bowl (also glass if you can help it)  • a measuring cup and measuring spoons  • a plastic mold for the bombs (e.g., a Christmas-ornament mold, a cut-open tennis ball, a plastic Easter egg, etc.))

Instructions with photos (courtesy of rookiemag.com)

Step One

Mix the dry ingredients according to this ratio: two parts baking soda, one part citric acid powder, one part Epsom salt. (I used two cups, or 16 ounces, of baking soda; one cup of citric acid; and one cup of Epsom salt.)

Step Two

In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients together. I just kind did whatever to be honest—none of these ingredients is essential, anyway. I added two or three teaspoons of essential oils to about three tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, then added about a teaspoon of water (be careful not to add too much water or your bath bomb will fizz into oblivion before it’s even fully formed!).

Step Three

Using a whisk, slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry mix, one teaspoon at a time. If you pour too much in too quickly, it will start fizzing. If your mixture starts to fizz, add dry ingredients to the fizzing parts to stop the chemical reaction. Add a few drops of your food coloring at this point, whisking all the while. Blend everything really well. Your finished mixture should have the consistency of slightly damp sand and should squish in your hands without crumbling (if it doesn’t, add more wet or dry ingredients as needed).

Step Four

Now for the molds! Grease the insides of your molds with a single drop of vegetable oil. Then overfill your molds with your damp-sand-y mixture. Really pack the stuff in and squish it down. At first I closed the molds completely, but I soon realized that that made it harder to get the bath bombs out, so after that I just used the tops as a press, to pack the product down into the mold.

bath bomb molds

Step Five
Take the bath bombs out of the molds by flipping the molds over and lightly squeezing their sides.

Step Six
You don’t want these to fizz out at this point, so lightly tap them with a paper towel to soak up some of the dampness, then let them dry out for a while. I stick mine in an airtight container in the shade for a few days.

Presto, there you have–Bath bombs, easy and cheap.

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From a Yellow Canary of the 21st century, living in our disabling biosphere

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