Food Friday: Salt!

Salt by Armend

Camping Uses of Salt

Salt has multiple uses when camping.

If you’re long term camping or living in a tent, a full canister of salt is a good item to bring.

If you’re hiking from site to site, backpacking, or just out on weekend or short trips, refilling your portable shaker before you head out will probably be enough.

I’ve broken down a few of the issues under two main headings. Some might surprise you, while others don’t need detail. Two items I’m quite uncomfortable with including, because people can be jerks and not think before they act, then blame it on someone else. I’ve given full warning that I do not agree with either, and am not to be held liable, with or without recourse, or to be found having any responsibility if a reader uses them or abuses them.



Let’s start with the one that doesn’t need tons of detail.

There are 2 basic types of salt:

  1. iodized
  2. non-iodized

If you’re diabetic or have other special restrictions, non-iodized salt is your friend.

If you have high blood pressure, you most likely can’t have any salt at all.

DON’T mess with your medical needs!! Try saffron or garlic powder instead for taste. Lemon pepper is also a nice choice that goes with most everything.

If you’re iodide or iodine deficient, you need iodized salt. For small amounts, I recommend the Arby’s salt packets, or Wendy’s. Not all salt sachets are iodized. In fact, most aren’t.

Also, those bags of salt that come with potatoes? Yeah, not iodized. Pass them on to your diabetic friends. If you don’t know any diabetics (??? …really?!?) give them to a food pantry and tell them it’s non-iodized salt.

Why bring salt to add to food?

It’s the cheapest and smallest spice to carry. If you spill it, you’re not out money, and you can choose the amount you want to use for seasoning. And depending on how you grew up, you may automatically toss a bit every time you use it – I’m not really superstitious, I just don’t see a reason to take any chances when it’s something so simple. Kind of like which suit coat buttons to do and which to leave open.

Also, if you’re eating things that are very fresh, and you want to keep them a bit longer, salt rubs exist for a reason.

It’s an additive that goes with basically anything you might eat, so you don’t have to carry multiple containers.

Salt also doesn’t attract bugs like many spices.



Now, this does not mean that it actually cleans or clears anything up.

Salt, however, does make it hard for problems to grow.

For example. You have your tent, fly and tarps all set up, everything steady and stable, and you’re good to go. A few days pass and there’s been rain a time or two. You notice that there’s a puddle on your tarp that the sun isn’t just evaporating it away – but it’s not in a problematic place, and not somewhere you can just dump without messing up the balance of all your components.

Does the forming puddle matter?

To answer this: have you heard of yellow fever? Or Zika? Terrifying stuff, guys. Eeech.

Do you know where mosquito swarms start?

Mosquitos grow best, and fastest, in stagnant pools of water. They love swamps and marshes; but will make do with puddles.

If you notice a puddle starting, toss a pinch of salt in. Vinegar works too, but salt is better. It changes the chemistry of the water enough that they don’t like it, and seems to (not scientifically based here, just what I’ve noticed happens) stop anything from popping out that may already be starting in there.

As a matter of fact, you can use both salt and a tiny bit of vinegar. It will smell slightly like chips, but it does work.

It keeps insects from growing there, but it also keeps mold from building in the fabric.

Again, salt isn’t really a disinfectant, more of an inhibitor. It seems to work against things growing just enough to help stop any problems before they can start.

Having watched Supernatural since it’s Friday the 13th premiere so many years ago now, and being a rural person anyway who also knows a bit about history, I know that using enough salt in a certain spot can stop anything from growing there again.

“Salting the earth” was literally a way people killed each other in the past. You make it so they can’t grow food and you win. (probably ending up on the wrong side of history overall; but at the time, they won — I really hope that’s a war crime now but I don’t feel comfortable googling it to check)

You can do the same thing with your tarp puddles. Not too much, since you don’t want it eating through the fabric; but, as I said, it doesn’t take a lot. If the puddle doesn’t go away after a few days, and you can’t figure out how to dump it (or use a bucket to empty it) without tearing everything down and starting over, put in a little more. Repeat roughly every 4 days.

In terms of salting the earth…and I really don’t feel comfortable talking about this, but it’s less scary than what I discuss below: anthills.

Most anthills on a campsite are, at most, very slightly annoying. Unless you’re traveling with a kid that isn’t yours who, best you can see, will grow up to be a serial killer and needs therapy asap, you and your group won’t even notice the ants as they go about their days and tasks.

However, there are a few campsites I’ve seen (and immediately moved away from, even if it included paying extra fees) where the site belongs more to the giant anthills than the owner of the land. If there are more ants than rocks or blades of grass AND you can’t just move sites, there are some “green” solutions.

Here’s one that I do not like and do not use, but it involves salt so you might as well hear it from me before seeing someone else talk about it who doesn’t care to give full warnings:

Place your tents and everything you own as close together as you can coordinate. Make the smallest salt circle possible around the area you want to protect. Cover as few plants as you can!!

………please don’t use too much salt, or dump it into the anthills, or do anything stupid, mean or petty. They’re living creatures, too.

That salt circle, whether or not it rains, creates a barrier like you see in TV commercials for Raid and stuff like that, making it painful for insects to try to cross it.

Any plants, animals, or mosses you cover with the salt (even partially) will die. It may take longer than the length of your stay, but it will kill them. You will kill them. Don’t be mean, petty, or stupid, even with the life of a non-sentient being.



An additional item about salt I don’t really want to mention and I do not medically, morally, or ethically condone: Remember my story about using vinegar for unintended purposes? Salt can be used to help clear the view of a wound. I CANNOT RECOMMEND IT (and I don’t want anyone suing me saying that they read it here), but it can be important to be aware of. If you’re trying to patch a wound before you head to a hospital, and you just can’t see what you’re doing due to the red stuff being outside instead of in, a bit of salt near (not in!) can help soak things up a bit. Clean rags are better, and what you should use.


Since I was making a post entirely about salt, I felt I would be remiss to ignore these last 2 points – which is the only reason I included them here at all.



So what do you think?

Are the warnings clear enough? Did I plainly state that I don’t want anyone using salt circles or salting wounds?

I had tried to inject humor into the last point, but couldn’t make it work. Cause it’s just not a funny topic.

Was anyone surprised by the moral turn a simple post about salt and camping took? I was.

If you disagree on any point or topic – or think I haven’t been clear enough in my warnings to not use the last two items- please leave a comment so we can discuss it!

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I'm (now) an Affiliate, who blogs about the materials, gear and supplies needed for living in a tent and long term camping: http://longtermcamping.siterubix.com I also enjoy reading and sci-fi in all its many forms.

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