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47 Smart Uses for Salt

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47 Smart Uses for Salt

How many ways can you use salt? According to the Salt Institute, about 14,000! I can’t think of another more versatile mineral. The use of salt to preserve food was one of the early cornerstones of civilization (preservation lessened the dependence on seasonal food, and provided sustenance for traveling over long distances). However, salt was very difficult to obtain. With modern production methods, nowadays salt is the most common and readily available nonmetallic mineral in the world; in fact, the supply of salt is inexhaustible.

Since at least medieval times salt (sodium chloride) has been used for cleaning–and ensuing generations have continued to rely on it for all kinds of nifty tricks around the house. (Ah, for the days before toxic chemicals promised the convenience of an easy fix!) So with its non-toxic friendliness and top-dog status as an endlessly abundant resource, let’s jump on the granny bandwagon and swap out some toxic solutions for ample, innocuous and inexpensive salt.

But first, let my inner science geek pipe in for just a second (although if I eat dinner with you, I promise not to ask you to please pass the sodium chloride). There is a whole class of chemical compounds called “salts,” but the salt we’re talking about is good old sodium chloride–an ionic compound with the formula NaCl. Sodium chloride is the salt most responsible for the salinity of the oceans and of the extracellular fluid of many multicellular organisms (which is why it is vital for us), and the major ingredient in edible salt. There are a number of forms of salt produced for consumption (and by default, housekeeping!): unrefined salt (such as sea salt), refined salt (table salt), and iodized salt. Kosher salt is sodium chloride processed to have flat crystals. And in case you’re wondering, Epsom salt is an entirely different animal: magnesium sulfate to be exact (which is a salt that I consider to be, essentially, miraculous).

Okay, lab coat off, Hints-from-Heloise hat on. Here are just a few of the many ways you can put salt to good use in your home:

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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2:53PM PST on Feb 22, 2015


7:21AM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

The laundry tips were also very useful,I had no idea salt would keep clothes from freezing on the clothesline. Makes perfect sense though.

7:18AM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

There were so many great tips given here! The first aid ones were very helpful. Can't wait to try the play dough.

4:38PM PST on Jan 12, 2014


7:08AM PDT on May 29, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

1:43AM PST on Mar 5, 2013


1:42AM PST on Mar 5, 2013

Thank you for posting.

11:02AM PST on Jan 3, 2013

Thanks for the great info!!..

12:14PM PDT on May 15, 2012

Thanks for the tips.

3:42AM PDT on May 2, 2012

great info!

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