Post #689 Salt, It’s What You Need

January 19, 2020 at 7:43 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Where I grew up in Arizona, we were constantly aware of water.  Water was life in the desert and not getting enough of it while you were outside could make you very sick.  When we first moved there due to my dad’s military career, he followed the military training and made certain that we all not only drank water, but took salt pills because salt helps the body absorb and retain water.  Plus, when you sweat you lose valuable salts by the bucket loads.  Salt pills only lasted a very short time.  They tasted terrible, and didn’t really do much good.  Particularly not for me because despite the high temps, I didn’t sweat a vast amount.  I’ve watched people in the desert sweat so much it dripped off the end of their nose.  I barely had to wipe sweat off my forehead or upper lip, and I never got those underarm pit stains like my brother did.

So salt was a big deal for us.  We had to make certain we got enough salt in our diet.  Luckily, we all liked the flavor of salt, and it was easy to get enough just be eating.  Contrary to what most people believe, eating salt does not give you high blood pressure.  HOWEVER, if you’re prone to it, salt does not help and can make it worse, so people with hypertension need to be constantly aware of salt intake just as people with diabetes need to be aware of sugar intake.

Salt creeps into your body on loads of different ways.  For instance, we bought a water softener at one time to make our drinking water more palatable.  It was kind of neat.  You added these gigantic salt pellets to a tank that your house water flowed through.  The minerals and salts in the pellets would get into the water in the right amounts and make your water cleaner and better tasting.  It also made it feel slimier.  A friend was over one time and wanted to wash her hands.  She spent over ten minutes trying to get the slick soapy feel to rinse off her hands before I realized what she was doing.  After I explained about the water softener, she dried her hands and they stopped feeling slick and slimy.

When I was a teenager I had an accident wherein I grabbed a raw spot in an electrical line.  Apart from the trauma of all the electricity shooting through me, my thumb and index finger were severely burned.  My index finger healed pretty quickly, but my thumb scabbed over then started to get infected.  I was starting a new job soon, so I asked my mom what I could do about it.  She suggested soaking it in warm water with Epsom salts.  Epsom salts, or magnesium sulfates, are an old home remedy from waaaay back.  They can do anything.  In this case, they softened the scab which I was able to gently remove allowing the infection to drain.  Within three days, the burn was mending an I was able to start the new job with no trouble.  I still carry the scar, but what the heck.

Epsom salts, and mineral salts, are a primary component of bath salts.  Not the drug, mind you, but the stuff you put in your bathtub to soak in, like a bubble bath without the bubbles.  It softens your skin, relaxes your muscles, and keeps the water warmer longer.  I’ve used bath salts plenty to relax in.  I don’t like bubbles.  I used to be able to buy small envelopes that purported to be mineral salts from the Dead Sea, but that was years ago.  The baths in ancient times were mostly mineral baths from hot springs and carried a lot of salt.  They were thought to be almost magical in their healing properties.

Partner/Spouse and I used to live in a large house with a water conditioner.  The owner had set it up so that rather than using pellets like I was used to, there were these giant blocks of salt that you set in the tank.  They were supposed to last longer, but they were so heavy I could barely tip them over the edge of the tank and I always worried that the drop into the tank would break something.  They never did, but I worried about it anyway.  Since he was providing the salt blocks, we didn’t have a choice in what we used.  And the water conditioner functioned perfectly with them, so I guess it’s just a matter of choice.

Partner/Spouse had two of those giant salt block lamps when we first met.  Virginia has a lot of humidity in the summer.  Those lamps didn’t last a full summer.  They just sort of melted away.

So what’s all this talk about salt and memories of its uses getting at?  Well, I’ll tell you.  We have a glass wine carafe, but we seldom use it for wine.

There’s nothing really special about it.  I usually just keep it full of water to have on hand when I’m cooking or if the dog’s water bowl needs refilling.  Last summer, the little town we live in had some water issues, and while it was perfectly safe to drink, it carried a brown-ish tinge to it.  The city assured us that there was nothing wrong, and this happened once in a while.  Even our neighbors told us it was nothing to worry about.  But  noticed that it left a brown scale at the bottom.  I stopped using it for a while, and the scale dried up but there was no way to remove it.  I tried pouring boiling water into it and letting it soak with soap.  No luck.  I tried heating vinegar and putting it in to cool but that didn’t work.  I tried getting a brush down it but the neck was too narrow.  I didn’t want to replace it because I knew it could be cleaned, I was just confused about how to do it.

One day recently, two synapses in my brain fired and triggered a memory from when I worked at McDonalds.  The restaurant went through a LOT of coffee during the day and once in a while a coffee pot would get left on the heating element with no coffee on it except the dribbles from the last cup.  Those last drops would then dry out and burn and the scorching would get onto the glass.  It also smelled terrible, but that’s a different story (just a hint: citrus oil.)  What we would do to clean it was put enough ice cubes in the pot to cover the scorch marks, then pour a half cup of salt in it.  Then you could either let it melt a little, or pour a small amount of water into it, and then you just start swirling the ice inside the pot.  You keep it up for about 7-10 minutes, dump the ice and salt, rinse it out and it was sparkling clean.

So, I put several pieces of ice into the carafe, some kosher salt because I wanted bigger, coarser granules to scrub it out, added just about a quarter cup of water, and swirled that ice around.  I didn’t swirl long enough, but I could see an immediate improvement.  As soon as I rinsed out the ice and salt, the parts of the carafe that weren’t scaled up were sparkling, and the part that was scaled up wasn’t as brown as before.  So I did it again, and swirled like a crazy person.  I kept it up for nearly fifteen minutes because I wanted to be done.

It looks new.  And while I was swirling, I was remembering all the times salt has made an impact on my life, which I just shared some of with you.

So how about you?  Got any old wives’ tales you want to share?  Ever use salt to clean something you want to tell us about?  Share your story, and share the post!  Oh, and make sure you rinse all the salt out.  Coffee and salt don’t mix well.

As always,

6 Comments »

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  1. This comment isn’t about salt, but I’m told denture cleaning tablets will remove mineral build up from things like flower vases; I haven’t tried it. I’m going to try your ice cubes, salt, a little water and swishing technique on a couple of flower vases that can use a good cleaning.

    • Once I read what you said, I remembered the denture thing too. My mom had dentures from her early twenties due to a medical condition, and she used them for all kinds of things.

  2. SO many uses for salt. I use it in hot water to gargle with when I have a sore throat. Takes it away almost immediately. I use it to scrub the bottom of my cast iron pans when they need it.

    • I wrote recently-ish about using salt to clean my cast iron based on an episode of Good Eats by Alton Brown. The flat bottom pans are like mirrors, but the grill pan cleans up so well, I never use anything else on it. I forgot about the sore throat fix. When I get a sore throat, I eat sunflower seeds so the salt will bathe my throat for as long as I’m eating them. Works like a charm. I also use salt at the first sign of a migraine. Almost never have a problem with a headache.

  3. Salt is wonderful! It flavors food, it cleans pots and pans, kills mold helps mouth issues heal up. And helps soak out infections. I wish people would calm down about how terrible salt is.

    • Yeah, I agree with that last statement.


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