Welcome to The Feast’s new “How to Hack” series, bringing you unexpected and brilliant new uses you never knew you needed for ordinary household objects. Actress and social influencer Rachel Grant kicks it off with new ways to use kitchen items.
Besides being the world’s most popular seasoning, salt has been utilized on a much larger scale over time. For millennia salt was used as the primary method of food preservation. It made a good antiseptic and an anti-inflammatory agent, and was a much-needed, versatile substance around the home, way before before modern chemicals and the refrigerator. As such, salt was a common form of payment in many cultures — hence the origin of the word “salary” and the expression to be “worth one’s salt." There were even times when salt was worth more than gold!
There are reportedly more than 14,000 known uses for salt and our grandmothers were probably familiar with many of them. Some of these methods are still valid today and compared to current sophisticated products, are more effective, natural solutions. My grandmother (who lived in the Philippines) brushed her teeth in salt as she was growing up. Consequently, all her long life, she had beautiful white perfect teeth and no cavities!
With salt within reach in the kitchen, these remedies can be done in two shakes — literally! Here are 11 of the best uses for salt out there.
1. Soothe a sore throat.
Most sore throats are caused by viruses, which means antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections won’t help. A salt water gargle is one of the oldest remedies for soothing a sore throat and cleansing the mouth. Mix at least half a teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water, making sure to dissolve all the salt before gargling, then repeat when necessary. Gargling several times a day with salt water reduces throat pain and swelling, loosens mucus and helps to flush out bacteria and irritants.
2. Make cut flowers last longer.
There’s nothing like the smell of fresh-cut flowers in the home, but how soon they can droop! Dissolving a teaspoon of salt into the water of a vase of flowers will help them stay beautiful for much longer. Since the flowers have been removed from their root system, the salt encourages osmosis and helps to keep bacteria at bay. Those anniversary flowers will brighten up your room for several more days this way!
3. Remove wine stains.
There’s no use crying over spilled wine when you have this miracle fix! Salt is the best solution for cleaning up freshly spilled red wine on carpet. Immediately, cover the area with a generous portion of fine salt allowing it to fall deep between the fibers then leave it for several hours or better, overnight. The salt works by absorbing the stain's moisture and slowly the granules will turn pink. Once the stain appears almost dry, scoop away surface salt with a spoon and using a vacuum, suck up all the fine particles that remain in the carpet. The stain will now have disappeared, or at least be greatly diminished.
4. Remove odor and moisture in shoes.
Shoes can often have odor after a heavy workout or hike, or after rain and snow. Salt is highly effective in eliminating the moisture that causes bacteria in shoes to smell bad, and also prevents mold. Sprinkle a good amount of salt into your shoes and leave them for a day or two. Once the salt has absorbed the moisture, empty it all out — if there are granules left behind, use the small nozzle of a vacuum cleaner to suck them up.
5. Peel eggs more easily.
Don’t you want the shells of hard-boiled eggs to come off easily in big bits instead of lots of tiny pieces? Just add salt to the water when boiling your eggs! Salt makes the eggs peel much faster and easier to reveal an unbroken egg white surface and it also prevents the eggshells from breaking while boiling. This trick is particularly useful for recipes like deviled eggs, where the smooth appearance of the peeled egg is key and you’ll also save some time!
6. Preserve milk.
Milk has a notoriously short shelf life, but you can make it stay fresh for as long as you need it. As soon as you open a carton of milk, simply add a pinch or two of salt, shake it, and your milk will last much longer!
7. Reduce eye puffiness.
This quick remedy ranks right up there with teabags and cucumber slices. Simply dissolve a teaspoon of salt into a small bowl of hot water. Dip cotton pads into the solution, rinse a little, then lie back, relax, and apply the soaked pads to your eyelids. Keep the pads in place for at least 10 minutes before rising. The salt helps drain out excess fluid from under the eyes and constricts blood vessels. When you open your eyes, you will feel fresh and will have visibly less swelling.
8. Prevent mold on cheese.
We’ve all pulled out a lump of cheese to find little bits of mold, but it’s something that can easily be avoided. Simply take a small cloth or napkin, dip it in a salt water solution, rinse a little, and then wrap it around your cheese before putting it in the refrigerator.
9. Treat bug bites and poison ivy irritation.
If you're suffering from insect bites or poison ivy irritation, you may not feel like going to the store. Thankfully for this home cure, salt is all you need. Simply wet the itchy bite or painful sting, sprinkle salt directly onto the area so it sticks, and leave it to work its wonders. For larger areas and poison ivy irritation, soak the affected part in hot salt water to soothe and help hasten the recovery — and in no time, it won’t be bugging you anymore!
10. Remove perspiration stains.
Underarm stains are tough and can ruin a perfectly good white top fast. Eliminate sweat stains by applying salt and water directly to the stained areas of your clothes. Rub and work the salt into the stain, leave it to soak, wash it and you’ll be surprised at how much brighter the area has become!
11. Reduce bitterness in coffee.
Adding a dash of salt to your coffee helps suppress the bitterness and even enhances the coffee’s flavor! This is because sodium chloride, or table salt, makes the natural sodium in coffee more distinct, taking off the bitter edge.
So pass the salt — it’s time to shake up your home remedies!
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