Salt is pretty good to be known as a bad guy

Published 8:00 am Thursday, April 7, 2022

When I took the first bite of my buttered grits for breakfast this morning I was painfully aware that they were “flat,” with only a suggestion of saltiness.

I am on a low salt diet for high blood pressure and leg edema brought about by complicated saphenous vein gathering during my 5-bypass heart surgery. Actually, I am on a low sodium diet as well.

What is the difference? Or, is there one? Yes.

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Sodium is what we find in natural and processed foods, particularly in those containing preservatives. Salt is a chemical compound made up of sodium and chloride that we add to our food. Actually, it is the sodium that is detrimental to our health and the chloride that gives food its “salty” taste.

The easiest way to reduce sodium in our diet, of course, is to eat home cooked meals. Processed foods have too much because each step in their handling adds more sodium along the way. Just read the labels.

It’s too bad so many people consider salt such a bad guy. It does an awful lot of good, and has for many generations throughout the world, and particularly in the Dark Corner.

Medically, mix a teaspoon of salt into a cup of water and flush out your mouth several times a day to rid yourself of a canker sore. Make the water as hot as you can stand and gargle with it to relieve a sore throat.

Mix salt and water and spray into your nasal cavities to breathe easier, or purchase a good saline solution at drug, grocery or convenience stores.

Use baking soda (a type of salt) in water and drink for easing heartburn, gargle with it to improve bad breath, or reduce the water down to a paste consistency and apply to bug bites or stings for relief.

If you develop heat cramps in calves or thighs while exercising, eat a salty food and drink water, mix a teaspoon of salt and quart of water as a sports drink, or purchase the nearest Gatorade.

Mix two teaspoons of Epsom salts in an 8-ounce glass of water and drink for constipation (adding a little lemon juice for better taste). Increase the Epsom salts to two cups in a gallon of warm water and soak your tired feet.

Maintaining a household is much easier with salt.

If you find mildew, mix salt and buttermilk and apply liberally; remove heat rings from a wood finish table by applying salt with olive oil; or get muddy tracks out of your carpet by sprinkling salt on them before vacuuming.

If you spill wine onto your beautiful fabric tablecloth, rub salt into the spill area immediately; the same action goes for spilling fresh fruit stains on your clothing. Should the colors of your linen or clothing be fading, wash in a strong solution of salt water to freshen them.

While cooking, put salt directly on a grease spill for twenty minutes, or cover spilled raw eggs with salt to make them easier to wipe up with paper towels. 

Put salt on your fingers when cleaning fish or trimming meat to prevent slippage. Preserve butchered meat parts (i.e., pork hams, shoulders) with just salt for country style eaters or salt mixed with brown sugar for sugar-cured lovers.

Clean brass utensils and hinges with salt and vinegar; clean stainless steel by rubbing with a gritty paste of salt and lemon juice before rinsing and patting dry with a soft towel.

Refresh household sponges by soaking them in cold, salt water for ten minutes; make a new broom last longer by soaking its bristles in salt water and drying them before the first sweep.

Salt is used outside the household, too. Boiling hot salt water will kill unwanted weeds growing in the driveway or between bricks and stones in landscaped areas.

Very coarse salt is placed into troughs for cattle to aid in their digestion or purchased in large salt blocks (containing additional vitamins and minerals) at the local feed store.

That’s a lot of good uses for a supposedly bad guy.