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Salt Storage: Which to Choose and How to Store Them

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When building a resilient and sustainable food storage plan, we readily purchase pounds and pounds of wheat and dried beans, canned goods and freeze-dried food, yet overlook things that are integral to food preparation and edibility, as well as overall health. Salt storage is one such overlooked area. Salt enhances flavor, aids in food preservation, and is a vital nutrient for our bodies. In this article, learn the reasons you should prioritize salt in your food storage, which salts to store, and how to store them for maximum shelf life.

varieties of salt to store

When we think about setting aside emergency supplies, most of us would agree that preserved food and purified water are the essentials and everything else is secondary to these. Some might even choose to incorporate things like a manual grain mill, a water purifier, a food dehydrator, a solar cook stove and so on. But who would ever consider something as simple and humble as salt as an indispensable necessity and commodity your pantry? Few of us stop to think about what life without salt would be like!

Salt is the secret weapon that unlocks a world of flavor potential in our long term food storage. Beyond taste, salt plays a vital role in food preservation, a crucial aspect of food storage, and is a necessary nutrient for our bodies. By incorporating salt into your food storage strategy, you’re ensuring your meals are not only nutritious but also appetizing, a key factor in maintaining morale and overall health during an emergency. Let’s dive into the ins and outs of salt storage.

Should you stockpile salt?

Short answer? Yes.

The most obvious reason: food tastes gross without it. However, that is far from the only reason. In addition to simply making things taste good, the benefits of including salt in food storage are:

  • Natural food preservative. Salt has been used for thousands of years to act as a natural preservative. Salt-cured meats are a staple in most cultures and include foods like bacon, corned beef, prosciutto, jerky, and different forms of cured fish. Salt acts as a natural dehydrator while simultaneously killing off most forms of bacteria, fungus, and pathogenic organisms that cannot survive in a salty environment. Meat or fish gets packed in a copious amount of salt, then is left to sit in a warm, dry environment for days or even months depending on the particular technique of salt-curing. The final product is then totally shelf-stable for a much longer length of time (months or even years) than its fresh counterpart. Additionally, pickling is a centuries-old, salt-based method of preserving everything from vegetables to eggs to citrus, and even cheese.
  • Essential nutrient for your body. In addition to flavor and food preservation, salt is also a valuable source of electrolytes and minerals that are necessary to life. While low-salt diets are often touted as being wholesome and healthy, there are also dangers to not consuming enough sodium in the diet, as our bodies need adequate electrolytes to regulate certain bodily functions. Side effects of a low-sodium diet include cramps, dizziness, low blood pressure, headaches, and hyponatremia in severe cases. If you live in a hot climate where you sweat more frequently (and thus lose sodium and minerals via your sweat), salt will be even more vital to your food storage preps to replenish the electrolytes your body loses. Simply salt your food, and/or add a pinch of salt to your glass of water.
  • Household uses. Lastly, salt has many other practical household uses that don’t involve food or drink. It can be used as a natural abrasive to help scrub dishes or clean out the bathtub, as a weed-killer, and a stain-remover.
  • Home remedies. With salt’s ability to retard spoilage, mineral dense sea salt” also aids in disinfecting and healing wounds and can be effective relief for mouth sores or a sore throat.

It becomes obvious then, that the health benefits of salt in emergencies is significant.

What type of salt is best for storage?

Now that we know the value of storing salt in our food storage pantry, what kinds of salt should you be buying? For the beginner prepper (or for those who prefer simplicity), we recommend focusing on three easily-accessible forms of salt to include in your preps.

  • Table Salt (aka Iodized Salt) – This is by far the most common form of salt, available at any grocery store in the country. Iodized salt is simply regular salt that has been sprayed with potassium iodate, which is a trace mineral found in dairy, seafood, grains, and eggs. Thyroid issues like goiter had become common in the 1920s among inland populations of the US where iodine was not naturally occurring, so the US began fortifying salt with iodine as a brilliant solution to the epidemic. Table salt is therefore an excellent and cost-effective addition to your food storage pantry for a double-whammy of beneficial minerals.
  • Sea Salt – As you may guess by the name, sea salt is salt collected directly from sea water. The sea water is processed in large vats until the water evaporates completely, leaving behind a sparkling crust of minerals that is then collected and sold as “sea salt”. This collection of ocean minerals contains a vast array of beneficial trace minerals (between 60-84 minerals depending on the type of salt) not found in traditional table salt. Types of sea salt include Himalayan sea salt, Celtic sea salt, Fleur de Sel, flakey sea salt, and many others. While it is more pricey than more economical forms of salt like iodized or Kosher, including some in your food storage is an excellent and health-promoting addition. Read more about the amazing benefits of sea salt.
  • Kosher Salt – Last but not least, Kosher salt is another valuable source of sodium for your food storage preps. Interestingly, Kosher salt is one of the “less-salty” salts available, making it a favorite of professional chefs and home cooks, as it is a lot harder to ruin a dish by using a little too much Kosher salt than its more concentrated counterparts. It is also quite coarse, making it easier to handle when making cured meats or just picking up a pinch or two to season a meal. Kosher salt is free of added minerals such as in iodized salt, and is ideal for brining meat or pickling vegetables. Its coarseness also makes it perfect for an abrasive to use for household cleaning. The versatility of Kosher salt makes it a great all-around salt to have stored in bulk!

How Much Salt to Store for a Year

According to the FDA, the average individual 14 years old and older requires about one teaspoon of salt per day to meet the daily requirement of sodium, which is about 2,300 milligrams. In one pound of salt, there are approximately 75 teaspoons, so to cover one adult’s salt needs for a full year you will want to store at least 5 pounds of salt per person (75 teaspoons x 5 pounds equals about 375 teaspoons).

For a family of four, about 25 pounds of salt per year would be ideal to cover the needs of everyone in the family and to have some extra salt available just in case. For a family of four with younger kids, 15-20 pounds of salt per year is fine (5 pounds for each adult, and about 3 pounds per child), but of course those kids are growing! You may want to stick with the recommended 5 pounds per individual and err on the side of having more salt than you think you may need.

For an individual who cannot tolerate salt and needs to use a salt substitute like potassium chloride, store the usual 5 pounds but add an additional 1-2 pounds as it is significantly less salty and more is needed to flavor food.

What is the best way to store salt?

Choose the Right Container

Ultimately, the best choice of container depends on your specific needs and preferences. However, keep these three factors in mind:

  1. Airtight is key: Moisture is the enemy of salt, so choose a container that seals tightly to prevent moisture from getting in and causing clumping. Glass, ceramic, or food-grade plastic containers are great options. Avoid metal as salt will corrode it.
  2. Consider ease of use: Balance moisture protection with easy access. Salt cellars or shakers provide one-handed access but may not be completely airtight; they are good for daily use. Airtight containers offer maximum moisture protection but may prove less accessible for everyday. For my everyday cooking and eating, I have shakers with table salt, Redmond’s Real Salt, and fine and coarse-grained sea salts. I use Mason jars in my kitchen pantry to refill the shakers.
  3. Think long-term vs. short-term: Mylar bags and/or food grade buckets are ideal for long-term storage of large quantities, but not for everyday use due to their lack of access. I touched on this in the previous bullet point. Resealable bags are okay for short-term storage or flavored salts, but not ideal for long-term due to potential moisture issues. Oxygen absorbers are not needed for salt, and they can cause clumping.

Ideal Storage Locations

The best places to store salt for long-term storage are cool, dry, and dark locations. Learn about the enemies of food storage and how to avoid them.

Rotation Tips

Deciding how to rotate salt in a long-term storage plan depends on how you use salt in general. For my everyday cooking and eating, I have shakers with table salt, Redmond’s Real Salt, and fine and coarse-grained sea salts. I use Mason jars in my kitchen pantry to refill the shakers. For long-term storage, I keep a variety of salts (excluding iodized) in mylar bags with NO oxygen absorbers in 2-gallon food grade buckets. (I don’t use 5-gallon buckets due to their weight once full.)

Since properly stored salt lasts indefinitely, I don’t bother rotating it out of my long term storage. I simply purchase as needed to restock the mason jars in the kitchen pantry that I use to refill my shakers. The exception to this is iodized table salt, which I rotate out of long-term storage because iodine evaporation.

Tips for Storing Salt

  • Grinders are great for everyday salt, but a mortar and pestle offers more control. It’s also more versatile than a grinder alone; you can freshly grind spices, herbs, and nuts, too.
  • Buying salt in bulk can significantly slash your grocery bill, especially when planning for long-term food storage. Here’s the key: repackage that large bag into smaller, airtight containers for long-term storage.
  • Upcycle part of an empty salt container buy cutting off the top with the spout and inserting it into a standard sized canning jar lid. It makes refilling from salt stored in Mason jars easy-peasy. I love the way mine work for this purpose.
  • If you rely on iodized salt for iodine intake and are planning long-term storage, consider non-iodized salt and incorporate iodine from other sources in your diet.

Salts for the Advanced Prepper

These salt varieties are for more niche uses or for more specific preferences than the three previously-mentioned salts, which are versatile and multi-purpose.

  1. Pickling Salt – This salt is great for those who are more “purist” types when it comes to ingredient lists. The only ingredient in pickling salt is sodium chloride–pure salt with no iodine or anti-caking agents added, as these additional ingredients can make pickling liquid look murky or cloudy. It is also a finer grain of salt which helps it dissolve quickly. This comes in Kosher and regular salt varieties and is available in most grocery stores.
  2. Himalayan Pink Salt – Himalayan pink salt is a mineral-rich salt sourced from the foothills of the Himalayan mountains. It has a distinctive pale pink color, which comes from trace levels of iron oxide, and is usually more coarse in texture. It is not necessarily more mineral-rich than other natural salts (like sea salt), but it is readily available in bulk and is a good quality salt that is great for cooking.
  3. Potassium Chloride – If you or a loved one is not able to tolerate salt for whatever reason, potassium chloride is a great salt-free substitute. It has a slightly bitter or metallic aftertaste and is significantly less salty than regular salt, but it is an excellent source of potassium which is an essential nutrient that many people lack.
Table Salt (aka Iodized Salt) Pickling Salt
Sea Salt Himalyan Pink Salt
Kosher Salt Potassium Chloride (salt-substitute)

Fun Facts About Salt

  • Salt was once valued as a form of currency – it was that scarce, and considered a luxury of few. The ancient Greeks used salt to trade for slaves and Roman soldiers were paid in “salt money” or “salarium argentum” where we derive the English word, “salary”. Homer called it “Divine”. Jesus calls His followers (which I’m honored to say I am) the “salt of the earth”.
  • Wars have been fought and whole settlements turned into cities and nations over the pursuit of salt. Just as gold and silver gain ground in economic meltdowns, so also will sea salt be a valuable and tradable commodity, literally “worth its weight in gold.” It will be a supreme bartering tool.
  • In 1978, Russian geologists stumbled upon the discovery of a lifetime. In the middle of the subarctic wilderness of the Russian forests, a family of five had been dwelling in an isolated hut for over forty years, with no human contact–until then. The Lykov family had fled into the forest in the wake of World War II to escape the persecution of Orthodox Christians by the Russian government, and since then had resided in a primitive hovel deep in the silent wilderness. For all the harshness of their lifestyle, the Lykov’s were never tempted to return to their old home in civilization. The allure of seeing family or returning to ease of access to food and clothing was not enough to persuade them to return to potential persecution and governmental tyranny. However, the patriarch of the family, Karp, described only one aspect of life as being “true torture”: the lack of salt.


Is iodized salt safe for long-term storage?

Iodized salt is fine for long-term storage, but the iodine content weakens over time. Store it in a cool, dry place with a tight seal to minimize this. For maximum iodine benefits, consider rotating your stock.

Can I use expired salt?

Yes. because technically, no salt ever truly “expires” in the way food does. Salt itself is a mineral compound (sodium chloride) that doesn’t spoil or harbor bacteria. It can, however, clump or absorb odors. While still safe to use, you may find the texture and flavor less appealing.

Are there alternatives to salt for preservation?

Yes, there are. Some methods have been used for centuries to keep food safe and delicious, such as sugar, acids, fermentation, smoking, and drying/dehydrating. Remember, though, that some preservation methods are more effective than others, and some require specific knowledge and equipment. When exploring alternatives to salt for food preservation, ensure you research proper techniques and safety guidelines to prevent spoilage or even foodborne illness.

How do you store salt in winter?

Winter itself doesn’t require special salt storage, but keep moisture out. Use airtight containers (glass, ceramic, plastic) and avoid heat sources. Short-term: salt shakers or a salt cellar. Long-term: airtight container on a cool, dry pantry shelf.

Final Thoughts

While we meticulously stockpile staples like wheat and beans, don’t forget a crucial element: salt. This humble condiment goes beyond flavor enhancement, playing a vital role in food preservation and our own well-being. By prioritizing salt storage, understanding the best options to keep on hand, and implementing proper storage techniques, you can ensure this culinary and health essential remains readily available for the long haul.

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