Have you heard you should pour salt down your drain before you go to bed at night? Yes, the table salt in your kitchen can come in handy as a tool for plumbing upkeep as well as flavoring your dinner.
But does it actually work, and what are the proposed benefits?
In this PlumbingNav guide, we cover:
- Why pour salt down my drain at night?
- Considerations when pouring salt down your drain
- How to resolve a drain clog naturally
|What's In This Guide?
Why Pour Salt Down My Drain?
Salt consists of a crystal, lattice structure made up of Na+ (sodium) and Cl- (chlorine). Salt is found near oceans and in saltwater, but it is also found in mineral halite, or “rock salt”.
According to NASA, salt has over 14,000 known uses! Some of those uses can contribute to proper residential plumbing.
Many people like using salt as it’s seemingly safe and everyone has salt around the house. Despite some possible problems we will cover, the majority of opinions condone using salt in your drain (as long as you flush the pipes after the fact).
Salt Plumbing Use #1. Salt Dissolves Material In Your Pipes
Salt dissolves material in clogged drains, especially grease and oil, essentially loosening it up.
If you notice a clogged drain developing, pour half a cup of salt down your drain shortly followed by a cup of white vinegar and baking soda. Follow this up with boiling water.
When you attempt to clear your drain after the salt works its magic, the clog material will clear out much more easily.
Flush your drain thoroughly after you use salt in your drain.
Keep in mind that salt cannot clear a stubborn drain clog. It won’t even touch a large blockage needing main line drain or sewer cleaning. You’ll need to use a drain cleaner or plumbing snake for these.
However, salt can help as part of regular plumbing maintenance. It acts as an enhancement to your normal drain cleaning procedures.
Watch the video below for another look at how salt can help clear your drain:
Salt Plumbing Use #2: Prevent Tree Root Damage
Tree roots have one job – to find water. When trees in your yard get thirsty, the roots venture out underground looking for water. In many cases, the nearest and easiest source of water for tree roots is your drain pipe.
The roots will find the water especially quickly if there’s already a leak, but they may break into your pipes even if there isn’t a preexisting leak.
When you need quality care, you may purchase a tree root killer for your pipes. However, in most cases, salt will do the job just fine.
Trees avoid salt.
You don’t want to pour salt down your drain and leave it. Simply include salt into your annual drain cleaning routine. The remnants of the salt should be enough to deter mildly threatening tree roots.
Salt Plumbing Use #3: Eliminate Drain Flies
Drain flies take shelter in moist places with plenty of food, making a clogged drain the perfect habitat thanks to standing water and organic waste.
Salt will discourage drain flies from nesting in your drains in the first place and may help kill flies in the drain. However, be aware that salt can’t kill the eggs or the larvae, and neither will bleach.
Salt Plumbing Use #4. Salt Can Soften Hard Water
While we are primarily talking about drain pipes, it’s good to acknowledge that salt can be used to soften hard water.
Many water softeners use salt as a filter to collect the minerals before the water reaches your home.
Of course, this takes place at your main water supply instead of your drainage system.
Considerations When Pouring Salt Down Your Drain
Corrosion occurs naturally. It’s the process of metal turning into rust. Certain metals corrode faster than others. Salt will cause your pipes to corrode even faster.
Salt contains high levels of dissociated ions that create electrolysis reactions that greatly accelerate the corrosion process compared to regular water without salt (although water contains ions, too, just not as many).
If you decide to pour salt down your drain, always flush the drain thoroughly afterward.
Drinking Water Contamination
As we mentioned, we will primarily be talking about your drain pipes. However, if you do use salt to soften your water, you want to be careful not to let it get into your drinking water supply.
High concentrations of salt in your drinking water (20 milligrams/liter) can cause a health hazard due to an influx in sodium consumption.
High levels of sodium are a greater cause for concern if residents have high blood pressure or certain diseases of internal organs. Most people already consume roughly 3400 milligrams of salt a day through the food they eat, and they don’t need to add to that when drinking water.
How to Resolve a Drain Clog Naturally: Alternative Solutions
When salt won’t do the trick but you want to stay all-natural, you still have options. Try these natural alternative solutions to drain cleaning.
Enzymatic Drain Cleaners
Before you reach for the chemical drain cleaner filled with caustic chemicals, try an enzymatic drain cleaner made from enzymes and bacteria that eat at organic matter.
While many products work almost as effectively as strong chemical or caustic drain cleaners, you’ll want to treat the drain clog as quickly as possible. Also, the enzymes may not eat at clogs made from synthetic materials or foreign objects.
A drain snake is a long, flexible tool designed to feed into your drain safely. Most snakes and augers won’t damage your pipes when used properly.
Feed the cable into your pipe until you reach the clog, paying close attention to twists and turns along the way (that’s where the greatest potential for damage lies). Once you reach the clog, you will turn the pointed head manually with a crank or power it mechanically.
You will need an auger that can reach deep enough into your pipes to reach the clog. Of course, a large 100’ electric drain snake won’t be the best solution for local clogs near the drain. Use the right tool for the job.
Frequently Asked Questions: Why Pour Salt Down the Drain at Night
Does salt and boiling water unclog drains?
For mild clogs, salt and boiling water may be enough to handle a drain clog. However, you should address the clog immediately before it gets too large for salt and boiling water to handle.
Can salt alone unclog a drain?
No, salt alone will not unclog a drain. Furthermore, you should not pour salt into your drain alone. Combine it with hot water or vinegar and baking soda for the best results.
What is the best homemade drain cleaner?
A household standard, the best homemade drain cleaner is a combination of vinegar and baking soda. The solution is safe for your pipes, and you probably have the ingredients at home. Add salt to the drain first to enhance the results!
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