By Sarena-Rae Santos, Natural Health Blogger
If you read our article Everything You Need to Know About Salt, you likely already know all about sodium chloride (salt). But just a quick refresher: the human body requires approximately 500 mg of sodium daily to conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, and maintain the proper balance of water and minerals (1). Chloride helps regulate the amount of fluid and types of nutrients going in and out of the cells (2).
So how can you use salt in your natural remedies? The answer is simple, salt water.
Salt water is one of the easiest, cheapest, and most versatile natural remedies. Chances are you already have salt and water at home, so there is no need to go out and buy ingredients, and it can be used for many ailments.
How to Use Salt In Natural Remedies
Salt water can be used for sore throats, canker sores, congestion, ingrown nails, and more. Let’s discuss how to use it for each ailment.
Not only can salt water treat sore throat symptoms, but a salt water gargle may also help prevent respiratory infections like the cold or flu. One study tracked nearly 400 people during flu season, and those who gargled with salt water three times a day were less likely to catch the flu (3).
Making a salt water solution for a sore throat is simple. Combine ½ teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water, stirring until the salt is dissolved.
Pro tip: warm your water in a kettle and allow the water to reach body temperature before gargling. Boiling the water will kill disease-causing germs, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites (4).
Once you’ve made your salt water solution, take a mouthful, swishing it around your mouth and the back of your throat. Be sure to gargle for at least 15 seconds before spitting out the solution.
Canker sores, or aphthous ulcers, are noncontagious, small lesions that develop on the soft tissue in your mouth or at the base of your gums (5). Rinsing with salt water can soothe pain from canker sores and may even help them heal (6).
Making a salt water rinse for a canker sore is simple. Combine ½ teaspoon of salt with 4 ounces of warm water, stirring until the salt is dissolved.
Once you’ve made your salt water rinse, take a mouthful of the salt water, swishing it around your mouth, especially wherever the canker sore is. Be sure to gargle for at least 30 seconds before spitting out the solution.
Congestion occurs when the nasal cavity, adjacent tissues, and nearby blood vessels become swollen with excess fluid, causing a stuffy or plugged feeling, often referred to as a stuffy nose (7). A standard natural solution for congestion is using a Neti Pot for nasal irrigation, which helps keep the nasal passages open by washing out thick or dried mucus.
Making a salt water wash for nasal irrigation is simple. Combine ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of baking soda with 8 ounces of warm water, stirring until the salt, and baking soda dissolves. I highly recommend boiling the water to kill disease-causing germs, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites, and allowing it to come to body temperature before using it for irrigation.
Once you’ve made your salt water wash, fill your Neti Pot with the salt water wash. Insert the tip into your nostril, lean over the sink, and squeeze gently.
- Aim the stream of the saline solution toward the back of your head, not the top.
- The saline wash should go in one nostril and out the other side (or the mouth).
Ingrown toenails are a common condition usually affecting the big toe, in which the corner or side of a toenail grows into the soft flesh. The result is pain, inflamed skin, swelling, and sometimes, an infection (8). Thanks to salt’s antimicrobial properties (9), it’s perfect for a foot soak.
Making a salt water foot soak is simple. Combine 1-2 tablespoons of salt per quart of warm water, stirring until the salt is dissolved.
Once you’ve made your salt water foot soak, soak your foot for about 15 minutes to loosen the skin around the toenail and draw the pus out. This foot soak can be done several times per day. Be sure to completely dry your foot after each soak and apply something like Earthley’s All-Purpose Salve to help it heal.
Most piercers recommend a saline solution, usually H2Ocean Purified Ocean Salt Water. The ingredients aren’t great (Purified Water, Sea Salt, Lysozyme, Sodium Citrate), so I recommend making your own.
Making your own after-piercing saline solution is simple. Combine ½ teaspoon of salt with 4 ounces of warm water, stirring until the salt is dissolved.
Use this homemade solution 4-5x a day to clean your piercing. Be sure to use a fresh Q-tip each time the Q-tip touches your piercing to avoid reintroducing germs. While cleaning, do your best to remove any discharge or loose crusties.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.