Surely you have a shaker of salt sitting on your table or in your spice cabinet. It’s by far the most popular seasoning for several reasons. Salty is one of the five tastes that humans can distinguish (the others are bitter, sweet, sour and umami or savory). So salt enhances our foods by essentially upping their natural flavors.
Chemically, salt is NaCI and for centuries, it was a rare commodity. It’s been used as everything from a currency and brine to a food preserver. Today it’s cheap and can be used for all types of applications that don’t involve cooking. Check out this helpful list of surprising uses for good old NaCI that are “worth their salt.”
In the Garden
- Kill poison ivy. A strong solution of saltwater can kill an infestation of poison ivy plants. Apply a mixture of 1 cup (236 milliliters) of salt with 1 gallon (3.7 liters) of soapy water to the leaves and stems with a garden sprayer.
- Deter ants. Keep ants from congregating in your garden by sprinkling ordinary table salt in areas where ants tend to gather. This also works to keep ants from coming into your house. Sprinkle salt across the path where they’re coming in and they’ll be deterred from crossing.
- Slug those slugs. Sprinkle slugs with a heavy dose of salt to kill them. Wait five minutes, then sprinkle them again.
- Control cabbage worms. Cabbage worms eat garden cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower. To control them, dust their leaves with a mixture of 1 cup (239 milliliters) of flour and 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) of salt in the morning or evening when they’re damp with dew.
- Deodorize canvas. Sprinkle salt inside musty-smelling canvas bags (or inside canvas shoes); zip up the bags and let them sit overnight. Dump out the salt the next day and let the bags air out.
- Remove rust. Make a paste with 6 tablespoons of salt and 2 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice. Use a dry cloth to rub the paste on rusted bike handlebars, tire rims or other outdoor gear. Rinse and dry the areas thoroughly.
Health and Beauty
- Exfoliate your skin. Salt makes a wonderful skin and/or face scrub. After you shower and while your skin is still moist, sprinkle salt onto your hands and rub it gently over your skin. The salt will remove dead skin and promote circulation. Sea salt is best.
- Soothe itchy skin. Soaking in a tub of saltwater can be a great itchy skin reliever. Just add 1 cup (236 milliliters) table salt or sea salt to your bathwater to help soften your skin.
- Cleanse and tone. Sea salt face toners are all the rage, but you can make your own by mixing 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon olive oil in a small bowl. Massage the mixture on your face and throat, being careful to avoid contact with your eyes. Follow by washing with your usual face soap.
- Whiten your teeth. Don’t pay for expensive tooth whitener. Make your own with sea salt. It’s a natural abrasive, so it’s gentle at removing stains on your teeth. Just brush with it once a week.
- Clear coffee stains. Add a mixture of 1 cup (236 milliliters) crushed ice, 1 tablespoon water and 4 teaspoons salt to your coffee pot and swirl the mixture. Rinse and wash as usual. Use the same method to get the stains out of your favorite coffee cups, too.
- Deep clean oven and stove. Sticky spills are tough to remove from your oven and stovetop. Make it easier by sprinkling the spill with salt. Let it sit until the spill gets crisp and you can lift it with a spatula. You also can soak up liquid spills on the stovetop by sprinkling them with a mixture of salt and cinnamon. Leave it on the spill for about five minutes and then wipe away.
- Sanitize the fridge. Just sprinkle equal amounts salt and baking soda on a damp sponge and wipe down the interior of your fridge.
- Remove wine stains. Sprinkle kosher salt on the stain and let it sit for two or three minutes, then rinse with cold water.
- Brighten your brass. Restore the shine to your brass and copper items by combining 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of flour with enough vinegar to form a paste. Rub the paste on any brass or copper piece and let it dry. Wash off with soapy water and buff to a shine with a microfiber cloth.
- Erase watermarks. Make watermarks on wood disappear with a paste of 1 teaspoon salt and a few drops of water. Gently rub the paste onto the ring with a soft cloth until it’s gone. Follow up with a good furniture polish.