14 Great Uses for Salt
Salt is an extremely abundant mineral. You might think of it primarily as that thing on the dinner table you use to add some flavor to your food, and it's certainly useful for that, but the uses of salt extend far beyond that; there's a reason the Romans prized it so much that soldiers were paid in it. (Well, also, salt was harder to extract for the Romans, so it was worth a lot more.)
1. Prevent fruits and vegetables from browning
Drop fruits and veggies into lightly salted water while you're cooking to prevent them from browning. Classic example: when you're peeling a million potatoes at Thanksgiving to make an epic batch of mashed potatoes, keep a bucket of salt water next to you for freshly peeled spuds so you can drop them in and they'll retain their coloring.
2. Exfoliant and deodorizer
Salt is a great skin exfoliant (take it from someone who used to work at a spa), which is why sea salt scrubs are all the rage these days. It's also a fantastic deodorizer. If you have stinky hands or tired, callused feet, rub them with a little salt to lift off the top layer of dead skin and leave fresh, smooth skin behind. You can add some drops of essential oil for a little extra something; lemon is very energizing, for example, while lavender is calming.
3. Relieve the itchies
Bee stings, mosquito bites, and more...they all itch, and leave you feeling mighty uncomfortable. Soak a cloth in saltwater and apply it as a compress to keep your skin cool and relieve the irritation.
4. Oral care
Salt and baking soda can be combined in an organic toothpaste, and you can also gargle with saltwater to relieve sores and keep your mouth feeling fresh.
5. Fire management
Keep salt (or baking soda) close to the stove for extinguishing grease fires. Both will smother the fire, depriving it of oxygen and putting it out -- remember to never put water on a grease fire, because that will cause it to spatter and spread. You can also use salt to tone down a barbecue or bonfire without making a mess and a lot of smoke.
Remember how salt is a good exfoliant? It also works great on hard water stains in the bathroom and kitchen sink, pots with stubborn stains, plates, and more. A little salt and water paste and some elbow grease can go a long way when it comes to buffing away grease, stains, and burned-on debris (like that sugary goo that oozed over into the bottom tray of the oven the last time you baked a pie). You'd be amazed by the number of things you can clean with salt.
7. Stain remover
Salt is a fantastic stain remover; soak or dab stained fabrics (including rugs and drapes) in cold saltwater to pull out stains like wine and blood. It can also remove sweatstains and the lingering odor of sweat in workout clothes; add salt to your detergent to keep your clothes fresh and bright (and, incidentally, cut down on suds, which can be a particular problem if you have hard water).
8. Sink odors
Got a stinky drain? Pour a saltwater mixture down it to eliminate some of those bad smells, and for bonus points, use boiling water to scour the drain out. Of course, if the problem persists, you'll need to get on the horn to a plumber.
9. Remove watermarks
White rings on wooden furniture from hot dishes and drinks people set down without coasters are awful. But if you make a salt and water paste, you can buff them away, and follow with furniture polish to restore the finish.
10. A new lease on life for sponges
Sponges get unpleasant with use, and if you have one that's about to give up the ghost, try one last-ditch resuscitation attempt: soak it in saltwater overnight. Wring it out in the morning and see if it feels (and smells) fresher and cleaner.
One of the most traditional uses for salt! Salt lowers the freezing point of water, so it can be useful for preventing ice formation or breaking down ice more quickly on windshields, sidewalks, and more. Be careful, though: too much salt can contaminate the soil and cause problems for plants, which is one reason why many cities and Minneapolis landscaping crews (as well as those in other places where winters are icy) have switched to sand for deicing rather than rock salt.
12. Cheese storage
Soak a napkin in saltwater and wrap it around your cheese to prevent mold. It's a technique used by cheesemakers the world over, so we figure they probably know what they're doing!
13. Set colors
You just brought home vibrant new towels, sheets, or other textiles. Add 1/4 cup of salt to the first couple of washes to set the color so they won't bleed out and get dull with repeated washings. (Bonus: they also won't bleed all over everything else in the washer.)
14. Clean your iron
Irons can get smudged and dirty with time, which means you'll be transferring stains every time you iron clothes, tableclothes, and other fabrics. Change all that with salt. Pour out salt onto some paper, and run your iron over it while it's nice and warm. The salt will lift the stains, leaving the iron sparkling clean.
Got more uses for salt? Tell us about them!
Katie Marks writes for Networx.com.
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