Salt of the hearth

Salt could simplify your life, cure some ailments and in many ways help you to save money,
writes Daksha Hathi

To clean rings and stains on furniture left by cups or glasses, use a pinch of table salt and a drop of water and attack the stain ring with a cloth or sponge and scrub it off
To clean rings and stains on furniture left by cups or glasses, use a pinch of table salt and a drop of water and attack the stain ring with a cloth or sponge and scrub it off

Gandhiji’s innovative and incredibly simple method to bring the big bad minions of the Raj to their knees with his salt march, worked like magic. He would be glad to know that today the world is promoting a hundred new ways to use salt for better living.

Did you know that salt could simplify your life, cure some ailments and in many ways help you to save money? All of us know that the best way to cure a bad sore throat is salt-water gargling. Nothing works as well. But it also makes nose drops for your baby. For babies two years and under, salt is a good water-based solution to gently relieve congestion. Just dissolve one-fourth teaspoon salt in eight ounces warm water. Before the child goes to sleep, insert two drops into each nostril and then gently suction out the saline mixture and mucous with a bulb. But don’t do it more than four times a day.

Make yourself an inexpensive salt bath to cure tired feet by putting a handful of table salt into a small basin of warm water. It will soothe your aching feet within minutes. If you are dehydrated on a hot summer day, combine one-teaspoon salt and 4 teaspoons sugar in one-quart water. Drink one pint of this solution per hour.

Salt can make you a wonderful home facial. Wash your face and soothe its skin with warm, wet towels. Then make a solution of equal parts salt and olive oil, and nurture your face and throat with this massage of long upward and inward strokes. After five minutes rinse your face and apply a nice face lotion. Try out this salt toothpaste—mix one part salt to two parts baking soda. It whitens teeth and also removes plaque.

Place one-teaspoon salt and one-teaspoon baking soda in half-cup water and you have a rinse and a gargle solution. This mouthwash will give you a sweeter breath and is especially helpful when you have had a dental treatment or injured your gums or mouth.

If you add half a cup per tubful of warm water to create a salty bath, it will get rid of aches and pains after a long and exhausting day. For itchy skin add one cup of salt to a bath or warm water.

But for me one of the most important uses of salt is for cleaning your bathroom drain cleaner. Drain cleaners usually contain lye, which is caustic and poisonous. Toilet cleaners usually contain hydrochloric or oxalic acid and other harmful compounds. Here is a safer bathroom drain cleaner: pour a mixture of one cup salt, one cup baking soda and half cup white vinegar into your drain to dissolve the scum and hair that accumulate in bathroom sinks, and tub drains. Let it remain for 15 minutes then flush with two quarts boiling water followed by flushing hot water down the drain for one minute.

If you are fed up of a yellowed tub or sink after years of use, rub with a solution of equal parts salt and turpentine. But wear rubber gloves. Then when you observe that the stains are gone, rinse thoroughly.

Clean the stains in your coloured porcelain sinks and kitchen countertops with a safer scouring powder. Add one-cup salt to one-cup baking soda and blend nicely. Keep it in a covered container and use when needed. Another interesting way to use salt to remove grease spots on rugs and carpets is to mix one part salt to four parts rubbing alcohol. Take this mixture to rub it hard over the grease spot and watch it vanish.

When tomato sauce spills onto nylon carpeting, sprinkle it with enough salt to soak up the stain. Repeat if necessary. Even red wine that has spilled on the carpet can be diluted with white wine. Then clean the area with cold water and cover with salt. After ten minutes, vacuum up the salt and wine mixture.

If you are bothered about the stains left on your coffee or teacups with lipstick or cigarette smoke, etc. scrub these stains with salt, sprinkled on a sponge. For more stubborn stains, mix salt and white vinegar in equal parts and use. Hardest to remove are stains from liquid ink. If you are lucky enough to catch the ink when it is still wet, pour salt on the stain and dab at it. Then rub it off.

Salt is a good friend when your favourite dosa pan, idly vessel or any other cookware burns. Wet the burned part, sprinkle with salt and let it stand for 10 minutes. Then wash it well.

When your refrigerator starts stinking with fishy and oily and meat smells, your best cleaners will be salt and soda water.

Here is a recipe for a scented homemade air freshener: Cut an orange or a lemon in half, remove the pulp, and put salt in the peel. It will make a deliciously scented freshener. To extend the life of your milk and cream, add a pinch of salt to them. Some may love the smell of onion and garlic but if you are allergic, rub your fingers with salt moistened with vinegar to be rid of them.

There are many more interesting ways to use salt. Try and pick up a book called Solve it with Salt by Patty Moosbrugger, which is a delightful journey into a world salted with magic.