Doctors may tell us that too much of it in our diet is a bad thing, but salt can actually be incredibly beneficial when used in a variety of ways.
Sure, you already know that besides being an essential pre-cook seasoning for steaks, it also makes things float in water and works for de-icing the sidewalks in winter. But there are thousands of other things salt can do. That’s right. Thousands. According to the Salt Institute (does pepper know about this?), they have identified over 14,000 uses for salt. And while many of them involve seasoning food, there are other uses that can make your life easier. So grab the shaker and check out these 48 helpful and ingenious uses for common table salt:
1. Cleaning brass: Mix equal parts of salt, flour and vinegar to make a paste, then rub the paste on the brass. Leave it on for an hour or so, then clean with a soft cloth or brush and buff with a dry cloth. Works on silverware too.
2. Cleaning wicker: To prevent yellowing of your wicker furniture, indoor or out, scrub it with a stiff brush moistened with warm saltwater and allow to dry in the sun.
3. Cleaning grease spots on rugs: Some grease spots can be removed with a solution of one part salt and four parts alcohol and rubbing hard but carefully to avoid damage to the nap.
4. Extending broom life: In the shop or in the garage, brooms can get a workout and wear down quickly. New brooms will wear longer if soaked in hot saltwater before they are first used.
5. Removing wine stains: Get a little careless with the Cabernet? If wine is spilled on a tablecloth or rug, blot up as much as possible and immediately cover the wine with salt, which will absorb the remaining wine. Later rinse the tablecloth with cold water; scrape up the salt from the rug and then vacuum the spot.
6. Removing rings from tables: Did you ignore her nagging and forget to use a coaster? Now you’ve got rings on the good table? White rings left from wet or hot dishes or glasses can be removed by rubbing a thin paste of salad oil and salt on the spot with your fingers, letting it stand an hour or two, then wiping it off.
7. Stopping suds overload: Didn’t read the directions properly and your washing machine is bubbling over from too many suds? Sprinkle salt on the suds to reduce them.
8. Removing perspiration stains: Ruined more than your share of good dress shirts, sweating through client meetings? Add four tablespoons of salt to one quart of hot water and sponge the fabric with the solution until stains disappear.
9. Removing blood stains: Flag football get out of hand again? Soak the stained clothing or other cloth item in cold saltwater, then wash in warm, soapy water and boil after the wash. (Use only on cotton, linen or other natural fibers that can take high heat.)
10. Removing mildew or rust stains: Moisten stained spots with a mixture of lemon juice and salt, then spread the item in the sun for bleaching; and finally, rinse and dry.
11. Cleaning greasy pans: Even the greasiest iron pan will wash easily if you put a little salt in it and wipe with paper.
12. Cleaning stained cups: Did you stain the inside of the World’s Greatest Boyfriend mug she gave you? Rubbing with salt will remove stubborn tea or coffee stains.
13. Cleaning ovens: Did that lasagna you made last weekend drip down and make a burned mess on the bottom of your oven? Salt and cinnamon take the “burned food” odor away from ovens and stove burners. Sprinkle spills while oven and burners are still hot; when dry, remove the salted spots with a stiff brush or cloth.
14. Cleaning refrigerators: Salt and soda water will clean the inside of your refrigerator, and keep it from smelling foul. It won’t scratch enamel either.
15. Cleaning fish tanks: Rub the inside of fish tanks with salt to remove hard water deposits, then rinse well before returning the fish to the tank. Use only plain, not iodized, salt.
15.1 Invigorating goldfish: Now that your fish tank is clean… Occasionally add one teaspoon of salt to a quart of fresh water at room temperature and put your goldfish in for about 15 minutes. Then return them to their tank. The salt swim makes them healthier.
16. Deodorizing shoes: After a hard workout, sprinkling a little salt in canvas shoes occasionally will soak up the moisture and help remove odors.
INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE HOUSE
17. Extinguishing grease fires: Keep a box of salt handy around your stove and if a grease fire flares up, cover the flames with salt. Do not use water on grease fires; it will splatter the burning grease.
18. Keep barbecues from flaring: A handful of salt thrown on flames from meat dripping in barbecue grills will reduce the flames and deaden the smoke without cooling the coals as water does.
19. Drip-proofing candles: Soak new candles in a strong salt solution for a few hours, then dry them well. When burned they will not drip.
20. Keeping patios weed-free: If weeds or unwanted grass come up between patio bricks or blocks, carefully spread salt between the bricks and blocks, then sprinkle with water or wait for rain to wet it down.
21. Killing poison ivy: Mix three pounds of salt with a gallon of soapy water and apply to leaves and stems with a sprayer.
22. Keeping windows frost-free: Tired of not being able to watch your neighbors struggle with shoveling their driveways in the winter because your windows are frosted over? Rub the inside of your windows with a sponge dipped in a saltwater solution and rub dry. This will keep the windows from frosting up in sub-freezing weather.
23. Keep your windshield frost free: Rubbing a small cloth bag containing salt that has been moistened on your car’s windshield will keep snow and ice from collecting.
HEALTH AND GROOMING
24. Easing sore throats: When a cold or flu strikes, stir 1/2 teaspoon salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water for use as a gargle for sore throats.
25. Cleaning teeth: Run out of toothpaste, or forget to pack it? Mix one part salt to two parts baking soda after pulverizing the salt in a blender or rolling it on a kitchen board with a tumbler before mixing. It whitens teeth, helps remove plaque and it is healthy for the gums.
26. As a mouth wash: To get rid of bad breath, mix equal parts of salt and baking soda as a mouth wash.
27. Reducing eye puffiness: Got a big meeting with the boss and you look like you just partied for three days straight? Mix one teaspoon of salt in a pint of hot water and apply pads soaked in the solution on the puffy areas.
28. Relieving tired feet: You don’t have to be a mail carrier to suffer from aching feet. Soak them in warm water to which a handful of salt has been added. Rinse in cool water.
29. Relieving bee stings: If stung, immediately wet the spot and cover with salt to relieve the pain.
30. Treating mosquito and chigger bites: Soak in saltwater, then apply a mixture of lard and salt.
31. Treating poison ivy: Didn’t watch where you were going on this weekend’s camping trip? Soaking the exposed part in hot saltwater helps speed the end to poison ivy irritation.
32. Relieving fatigue: Dog tired? Soak relaxed for at least ten minutes in a tub of water into which several handfuls of salt has been placed.
33. Removing dry skin: Big date and your skin feels like 40 grit? After showering, and while still wet, give yourself a massage with dry salt. It removes dead skin particles and aids the circulation.
34. Boiling water: You’ve done this before, but did you know why? Salt added to water makes the water boil at a higher temperature, thus reducing cooking time. (It does not make the water boil faster).
35. Peeling eggs: Eggs boiled in salted water peel more easily.
36. Poaching eggs: Poaching eggs over salted water helps set the egg whites.
37. Testing egg freshness: Not sure if that egg is fresh, before cracking into your recipe? Place the egg in a cup of water with two teaspoonfuls of salt added. A fresh egg sinks; a doubter will float.
38. Preventing browning: Apples, pears and potatoes dropped in cold, lightly salted water as they are peeled will retain their color.
39. Shelling pecans: Soaking pecans in salt water for several hours before shelling will make nut meats easier to remove.
40. Preventing food from sticking: Pans don’t have a non-stick coating? Rub a pancake griddle with a small bag of salt to prevent sticking and smoking. Sprinkle a little salt in the skillet before frying fish to prevent the fish from sticking. Sprinkle salt on washed skillets, waffle iron plates or griddles, heat in a warm oven, dust off salt. When they are next used, foods will not stick.
41. Preventing moldy cheese: To prevent mold on cheese, wrap it in a cloth dampened with saltwater before refrigerating.
42. Keeping milk fresh: Adding a pinch of salt to milk will keep it fresh longer.
43. Cleaning coffee pots: That office coffee starting to get bitter from overuse and under cleaning? Remove bitterness from percolators and other coffee pots by filling with water, adding four tablespoons of salt and percolating or boiling as usual.
44. Improving coffee: A pinch of salt in coffee will enhance the flavor and remove the bitterness of over-cooked coffee.
45. Removing onion odors from hands: Still stinking after prepping for the barbecue? Rub fingers with salt moistened with vinegar.
46. “Sweetening” containers: Salt can “sweeten” and deodorize thermos bottles and jugs, decanters and other closed containers.
47. Cleaning sink drains: Pour a strong salt brine down the kitchen sink drain regularly to eliminate odors and keep grease from building up.