One of the very first things I did when I first started prepping was to bolster my pantry with basic staples that could be used for a variety of purposes. When it was suggested that I store salt, and lots of it, I was a disbeliever. After all, conventional mainstream wisdom had taught me that salt was the bad guy.
But is it really?
I made it my mission to determine whether salt is a good thing, a bad thing, or simply something best treated as an item to "use in moderation".
Editor's Note: This article has been updated and revised to include MORE ways to use salt for survival!
Salt As the Bad Guy
According to the Mayo Clinic, lowering your salt intake can help lower your blood pressure and your risk of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who consumed more than 7 grams of salt per day had a much higher risk of death than those who consumed 3-6 grams per day.
The authors estimate that reducing salt intake could save between $10 billion and $24 billion in health care costs annually. In light of this, many experts are calling on food manufacturers and restaurants to lower the amount of salt in the foods they sell.
But Is It Really That Bad?
On the other hand, salt/sodium is vital to keep our bodies functioning normally. It is a main component of the extracellular fluids in the body. It is important for regulating hydration and also aids other body functions, such as the transmission of nerve impulses and the contraction and relaxation of muscles.
So although I personally have issues when there is too much salt in my diet, for many the moderate consumption of salt is perfectly fine.
Why Do You Need Salt in Your Prepper Pantry?
For most of us, the amount of salt needed to stay healthy can be already be found in processed, packaged, or canned foods. Let us hope that we have stored enough of these foods – especially the canned items – that we will never need to worry about adding more.
Having gone most of my adult life avoiding salt, coming to terms with adding salt to my survival pantry was true mind-shift. Not only is there a physiological need for our bodies to ingest salt in one form or another, but there are a multitude of other uses aside from food enhancement and food preservation.
Which leads me to the next point: what are the uses of salt in an emergency situation?
Salt has been an integral part of civilization dating back as far as 6050 B.C. It has been such an important element of life that it has been the subject of many stories, fables and folktales and is frequently referenced in fairy tales.
It served as currency at various times and places, and it has even been the cause of bitter warfare. Offering bread and salt to visitors, in many cultures, is traditional etiquette.
Aside from all of the uses that salt performs in terms of baking, food flavor and food preservation, salt has a number of other uses that you may never have thought of.
[NEW] 50 Ways to Use Salt for Survival
The following list is a combination of suggestions from 'Above Average' Joe, my own uses, and the tips from you, the readers, who are always a wealth of information.
Food preservation Salt can be used as an off-grid way to preserve meat, fish and game that is caught in the wild. While some may think that you have to use curing salt, table salt can also prevent spoilage. Canned foods that have higher sodium levels will stay shelf stable for longer. Some salted and smoked foods will keep very well without refrigeration. With proper curing, country ham can be made or fish can be salted and smoked for year round meat. Check out our post on "How To Cure Your Own Pork".
Supplemental use Table salt can provide the nominal amount of dietary sodium once the canned and processed foods are gone. While the modern diet makes it easy to get way too much salt, during an extended emergency, salt could become very scarce. There is a reason back in the old days people would boil off hundreds of gallons of water just to recover a small amount of salt.
Taste enhancement (perhaps this should be number one!)Just a little salt can make a big difference in otherwise bland foods. Rice and beans are a lot better during a long emergency if you have some seasoning.
Dental hygiene A salt paste can be used to brush your teeth
Remove Rust Make a paste using 6 tablespoons of salt and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Apply paste to rusted area with a dry cloth and rub. Rinse thoroughly and dry.
Perk up coffee flavor Add a pinch of salt to the coffee in the basket of your coffeemaker. This will improve the coffee's flavor by helping to remove some of the acid taste. This is a big help too if you are stuck drinking low quality coffee or old coffee during an emergency.
Clean cast iron skillets and pots If our cast iron cookware is gunked up with bits of food, make a paste from salt and a bit of water then scrub it clean. To speed the process, boil a small amount of water in the pot, add some salt and use a llong-handledbrush to whisk away the burned on food.
Eliminate fish odors Removing fish odor from your hands is simple with Salt. Just rub your hands with a lemon wedge dipped in salt, then rinse with water.
Cut cutting board odors To help cut odors off of your wooden cutting board, simply pour a generous amount of Salt directly on the board. Rub lightly with a damp cloth. Wash in warm, sudsy water.
Soothe sore throats To alleviate the discomfort of a mild sore throat, gargle several times daily with a mixture of 1/4 teaspoon Salt and 1/2 cup warm water*. It's like taking a liquid lozenge. Salt water solutions also help reduce bacteria and irrigate any actual sores or abrasions inside your mouth and throat.