Salt and Its Uses in A Survival Situation
Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride and it its natural crystalline form it is known as rock salt. Salt is essential for all animal life, and this of course includes human life. Animal meat, blood and milk contain considerably more sodium than does plant life. Diets that consist mainly of non-animal products, where the foods are not commercially processed using sodium, may very well need salt added to the diet.
Your body needs salt (sodium chloride). Your body does not produce it. Sodium and chloride is required for blood, sweat, digestive juices and efficient nerve transmission.
In a survival situation, you may consume larger quantities of non-processed, non-animal foods such as dried beans, rice, pasta and other vegetable/plant (cereal) based products that do not contain enough sodium to maintain proper health.
People today tend to focus on the negative effects of salt such as raising the blood pressure, which can increase the chances of a heart attack and stroke. According to the World health Organization (WHO), adults should consume less than 2,000 mg of salt daily (2 grams). However, not providing the body with the proper levels of sodium can have a negative effect.
In the United States, iodine is added to table salt for proper thyroid function. Iodine is found naturally in many foods but in seafood and seaweeds in particular that are harvested from saltwater.
In the past, people living inland were not able to obtain seafood containing iodine or any other foods containing it. Iodine was not naturally available in large enough quantities and this caused thyroid problems in particular hypothyroidism, an enlargement of the gland (endemic goiter). Iodine is an essential element needed by the body.
The point is despite all of the negative effects of common table salt on health, humans cannot live without salt. Today people are discouraged from adding salt at the table because the foods consumed at restaurants or foods commercially produced contain in some cases more than the recommended daily amounts of sodium.
If you where to find yourself in a survival situation salt would be a valuable commodity, one might even say, a lifesaving commodity.
Uses for Salt in a Survival Situation
1.) Food Preservation
Salt “dehydrates” and has been used for thousands of years to preserve foods in particle fresh meats and fish. Salt uses osmotic pressure to draw moisture from microorganisms slowing the oxidation process. Bacteria are microorganism that needs moisture to survive. Meats and fish in a salt solution of at least 20 percent can be preserved to the point where refrigeration is not needed.
Salt can also be applied to meats or fish being smoked or dried to help in the curing process. A salt solution applied to the meat or fish will also help repel insects.
The information provided is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
In the past medical and other experts recommended salt tablets for anyone sweating profusely, because sodium that the body needs is lost through sweat and urination. Salt tablets were recommended when a person did not have the means to replace the lost sodium through their diets. Military units around the world at one time issued salt tablets to the troops.
Iodized salt is needed for proper thyroid function
It is not recommended that anyone consume salt tablets unless under the direct supervision of a medical professional. This information is presented to show that while salt is needed it can also cause medical problems. Always be aware of how much salt you are consuming.
Rapid loss of sodium from the body can cause Hyponatremia, which is a low concentration of sodium in the blood. It is an electrolyte disturbance, where the “sodium ion” concentration in the plasma is lower than normal.
The condition is typically caused by over consumption of water combined with profuse sweating, to where the proportional balance of water exceeds that of the sodium levels in the plasma. The condition is not caused by lack of salt in the diet necessarily, but from the rapid loss of sodium by profuse sweating and/or by consuming large amounts of water. This condition is common with some athletes. The treatment is normally a saline solution introduced intravenously to introduce sodium slowly back into the body.
Sodium retains water in the body thus slowing down fluid loss. This is why lips and fingers will swell when you consume large amounts of sodium (fluid retention). Excessive amounts of sodium however, will increase the loss of water from the cells because the body is trying to remove the excessive amounts of sodium from the body though urination.
This is why you cannot consume saltwater because it can cause rapid dehydration and death because the body will use its remaining fluids to flush the sodium from the body.
Normally a person would receive enough sodium from sports drinks or their diet. However, in a survival situation you may have to add salt to your diet if you are sweating profusely and have no means of replacing that salt through your diet. You do not want an excessive amount but enough to maintain a proper sodium level. Sprinkle salt on your foods, if they are not processed foods, as you would use at home. Do not consume large amounts however.
Balance is everything but the body does need to maintain the proper sodium levels for it to function. If you know the foods you are eating do not contain sodium then it is important that you add salt to your diet in certain situations.
3.) Wound Skin Treatment
Saline, which is nothing more than salt water is typically used to flush wounds to remove bacteria and to inhibit its growth. Take up to 10 grams of salt and mix with a liter of water to flush wounds of bacteria and debris that can harbor bacteria. You want the water to be under slight pressure so mix the solution in a baggie or plastic soda or water bottle. Once you have the saline mixed well, puncture a small hole in the container and squeeze to create pressure to flush the wound.
Once again, salt will draw the moisture from bacteria, thus destroying it so it can be used to help prevent bacteria growth in and around the wound. Salt applied directly to a wound will be painful and it is not recommended. Use the saline solution or even soak the wound in a salt bath to keep the wound clean of debris and bacteria.
Some people have had luck with treating poison ivy by soaking the exposed body parts in a saline solution. This procedure according to some reduces the time the skin is irritated.
4.) Help with a Sore Throat, Canker Sores and For Overall Oral health
Rinse and gargle with a saline solution to help sooth sore throats and to heal canker sores or other sores in the mouth. Never swallow the solution as a way to add salt to the diet. Brush your teeth to remove plague, whiten teeth and to help maintain gum health using salt and baking soda. This will also sweeten the breath.
5.) Pest Control
Salt is known to repel ants, which can be a problem in a survival situation. Some have had luck by spreading salt around the area you want kept ant free or some have mixed salt and water together and applied/sprayed it around items, in particular foods to keep ants at bay.
6.) Enhancing Foods
For those that love their coffee and cannot take the bitterness from old or overheated coffee then add a pinch of salt to remove the bitterness. In a survival situation, you may have to improvise so to make your coffee better tasting add a pinch of salt to the grounds as they percolate/boil.
Wild game soaked in a salt solution can take away the strong game taste, in particular wild fowl.
Before changing your diet by consuming more sodium or by denying your body sodium, check with a health care professional first