One of those things that I LOVE to make for the shop but rarely sells is bath salts. And it makes me sad because not only does one of my favorite things not sell as well as I’d like them to but it makes me feel like no one really gets the true power of salt.
First, let me wax prose about salt. I love salt. If I was a dragon, my hoard would have salt in it. I use it all the time. Salt water is my absolute friend and the ocean is where I go when I need to cleanse myself and double check if I’m on the right path still. Seriously, a quick wading into the ocean and ten minutes later I’m ready to conquer worlds. Salt carries much of those connotations with me, especially combined with water. But that’s not all salt can do. As truly magical salt can be, salt can also do a lot physically for you.
I’m going to tell you a true, personal story. I hit the growth stage of my puberty early and my face broke out into acne often. It made me self-conscious and despite my mother (a medical professional) giving me various medications and remedies to calm my skin down, nothing worked for long. I was a ridiculously shy child too so the combination gave me social anxiety. I spent 98% of my time alone and preferred it that way. I found my skin ugly and didn’t look like the other girls. I knew I could be pretty, logically. I had modeled in several pageants as a young child and was constantly told I was pretty as a girl. Puberty ruined that for me, I felt. By the time middle school rolled around, I had accepted that acne and I would never be parted and grew resigned around it. I even stopped actively trying to fight it. My mother, you see, had breakouts of acne still so I knew it could and did persist into adulthood. When my face broke out I sighed and vowed to duck my head lower.
My third year of high school I was given an opportunity to study abroad in Cape Verde which I snapped up in a heartbeat. Even then I wanted to be an archaeologist so I knew studying people and anthropology was something I’d have to study en-route to my goal. While in Cape Verde we were taken up to the salt mine, specifically the salt pond there to bathe (and learn about a major economy export of that specific island). The teacher chaperoning us said something about how salt was good for the skin and used in spas. And then one of my classmates reiterated it a bit later. And sure enough, my skin did feel softer after the dip in the water. I didn’t think on it much however given some tragic events that had happened and that tidbit of information slipped to the back of my mind.
A few months later I got my license and after that I was beach bound most days I had a car, could afford gas, and it was warm enough. I didn’t care for the sand or the half-naked men or the calm it gave me – I was there to swim, to embrace the power of the ocean and love it. My skin got better, slowly but surely. But I had psychologically written my skin off so while I noticed less breakouts and redness, I didn’t really make the connection. This pattern continued in college and in the winter where I couldn’t go to the beach, my skin got worse but once it was warm enough and I hit the beach again, it’d clear right up. I still didn’t make the connection, almost certainly due to other medical issues and double majoring taking most of my thoughts. Even without my paying attention to it, my skin got better.
Shit went down and I eventually transferred to Harvard than to University of Hawai’i to finish up my schooling. I lived across the street from the ocean in Hawai’i. I stepped outside and I could see the ocean and I fell asleep to the roaring of the waves. To be fair, most houses are within walking distance to the ocean that unless you like in the middle of the island and in order to get that view I lived in the farthest town I could get on the island, one inhabited mostly by native Hawaiians and considered the worst part of the island. (And I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to why the native Hawaiian people lived primarily in the most run-down and ignored towns in Hawai’i.) Anyway, I spent everyday at the beach swimming. And then while talking to one of my non-native friends she said something that changed by world:
“I’m so jealous of you. You have great skin.”
I was so floored I could only smile and thank her but inside I was shocked. People are jealous of MY skin???? Why? I’m acne-face! I had enough bumps to be able to throw on green makeup and go as a lizard. But I didn’t. I got inside my flat and took a good, long look in the dingy lighting of my bathroom and saw that no, she was right. My skin was clear. Pale, sure, but acne? GONE.
And it came back to me, nearly a six years later “sea salt is good for the skin”. To be fair, it wasn’t entirely salt’s doing. A fast food free diet helped as did reducing my stress level and using my panacea salve any time a breakout threatened but they happen significantly less often. But I started to think of all the cycles of where my skin would flare up and the pattern appeared. Salt is why I looked amazing.
So while sugar scrubs sell phenomenally well and are super popular, I will always promote salt scrubs. Using salt scrubs is easy – dump a bit in a wet wash cloth, rub it between your hands and use the cloth on your body. When the salt is mostly gone, use it on your face. NEVER put raw salt on your face. Salt is so sharp it’s recommended to pour on things to cut fleas in half so don’t do it. I even save a jug from orange juice and poured a little sea salt in with the gallon or so of water and shook it until the salt dissolved. When I feel my skin getting rougher or I need a cleansing, I dump the salt over my body. Be wary – salt water is always going to be noticeably colder than non-salt water (which is why you should also dump some salt in coolers to keep the cooler ice and water colder, longer).
What other uses does salt have?
Here’s a dozen mundane purposes I have personally used salt for (there’s well over a hundred I know of, especially in regards to food):
- Poured on mattresses/blankets/pet beds/furniture to cut fleas in half – noticed a significant decrease in fleas when left on for 12 hours during fumigation after Noelle the cat brought home unwanted friends despite her anti-flea medication. Vacuum up salt when through.
- A bit of salt with some water can be used in the garden to get rid of pest, similar to above. Be cautious as plants with delicate roots or specific soil needs can suffer from this. Similarly, over-salting a plant like poison ivy will kill it. (This is an excellent way to keep poisonous plants in one area of the garden for your witchy needs while making sure they don’t take over the garden entirely. Poison oak I’m looking at you.)
- Melting ice and snow – works great but it’s cheaper to use road salt and you get better grip with cheap kitty litter.
- Making soap – you can use it in soap making but I tend to leave it out.
- Can be used to put out grease fires (or any fire, really). You’re smothering the fire with the salt. Don’t use sugar as a replacement since sugar can melt. Dirt can also be used.
- Mordant in textile and paper dying. Also, throw a pinch or two in the wash when washing new towels to keep the color from running.
- Salt and water can be used to clean cast iron without ruining the seasoning. (Don’t overdo it) And hey, if you keep the salt afterwards, you’ll have a good start to black salt.
- Shine chrome with a salt + vinegar base. Can also be used to get rid of stubborn tea or coffee stains (CRUCIAL around here) and rust. Be prepared for a workout with this.
- Problems with the drain? Add salt. Especially good when you have hair, worms, or maggots in the drains. Follow up with boiling water or oil. Remember to stand back when pouring so you don’t get scalded by steam.
- Whiten faded or yellowed cloth or linens by adding 1/4c cup baking soda, 5 tbsp borax or oxiclean, and 2 tbsp salt and boiling for up to 1/2 hour. Rinse in cold water. I use this with bleach just isn’t cutting it sometimes. I’ve also used this to get rid of sweat stains. I would not recommend it for antique cloth given the sharpness of salt. YMMV. Similarly, using this mixture gets up stains on carpets and such.
- Soaking newly made candles in a salt water solution for a few hours will make them drip-proof. Be absolutely sure to dry them before burning though. Water inside candle wax can cause explosions.
- Rub slightly damp salt over windows to keep them frost-free (ish). (Make a cloth bag with salt in it, spritz some water, and go to town).
- Adding salt to shoes and gym bags will help absorb moisture and odors.
- Soak your straw brooms in hot salt water for 1/2 hour to give them a longer life. Let dry, bristle up. This is for the brooms you use to clean with although the witchy applications are easily visible.
- Tossing salt in the fire isn’t just a spell to bring back lovers, nope. My aunt use to throw salt in the fire at the end of the night to kill it quickly and to have less soot (since it doesn’t smolder). She said it was to help clean up the ashes easier.
Now for some witchy purposes for one of my all-time favorite ingredients ever:
- Salt water is a great offering to oceanic deities and spirits. Many time salt water can also be used as an offering to moon spirits. Making your own salt water at home is especially helpful if you live inland.
- Some theories state that Christian holy water was originally salt water. I have zero Christian background but some sects may still use this? Some Roman Catholics I think? Either way, salt water is used as a holy water recipe in various religions. YMMV depending on your deities’ associations.
- I know “get the salt” is often ascribed to being used too much by witches but it’s actually REALLY common in various other religions such as Shintoism, Hinduism, Jainism (I believe?), and certain types of Buddhism. And, of course, Judaism have their own specific importance to salt. These are used as cleansing, purifying, or blessings, religion depending. (So if people are telling you it’s not a thing, remind them of this.)
- Again, not a Christian background but I know Lot’s wife was turned to a pillar of salt and that was a punishment – a curse. As mentioned above, salt can be used to get rid of a lot of things and “salting the land” is an excellent way to forever ruin the ground. Salt in the wounds is another phrase that comes to mind. Add salt in your curses to let them fester and ache more, to cut the wounds deeper. Plus, you can die from too much salt so there’s that. Add in some peppers to make a hot foot powder.
- Salt is commonly associated with earth in (Neo?) Wicca although I’m not sure if this is true for closed initiation Wicca. So if you’re the kind of person that uses the four or five element paradigm, there you go.
- Protection is, as mentioned above, the most common use for salt. Making a ring of salt around an object you want to protect or at the windows and doors will not only keep bugs from whatever but also spirits. I have a witch ladder of glass bottles and one of those bottles is filled with – you guessed it – salt. As a warning and active protection.
- Lots of spells use salt, such as the aforementioned throwing salt in the fire to bring back a lover. You’re suppose to do this for seven or nine night consecutively, beckoning them back to you.
- Salt divination is totally a thing I do. It’s similar to tassomancy (tea reading) in the sense that you see the patterns that are there. There’s two methods I use: either I throw down the salt, and read the patterns or I go into a trance, close my eyes, and let my fingers trace out messages and symbols until the moment passes. Depends on my mood and needs, to be honest.
- Salt is a HEAVILY traded item and I’m all about using items that are popularly traded for wealth and prosperity. I infuse salt with my desire to bring more business or good wealth or something and leave it in an offering bowl by the door or stairs. Laborers were at times paid in salt all the way back to the Roman Army.
- Huixtochiuatl is associated with salt and salt water, if I recall correctly and salt was not an unknown offering in the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman rituals. (Although how much of that is a scholarly supposition versus evidence I will freely admit to not knowing.)
- Salt can be submerged in water and dissolved, right? Salt water can also be left out to evaporate, making salt once again. This could be construed as loyalty or an eternal cycle if you’re of a mind to think of it that way.
- Anglo-Saxon farmers kept a piece of salt by their plows to ward off spirits from ruining the crops. As mentioned above, it also kept pests away and soaking crops in brine wasn’t unheard of during the middle ages.
- I never travel anywhere without a dash of salt, earth from my garden, and a handful of coins on the bottom of my luggage. It keeps everything protected, wards it all away, ensures I’ll return home (and always have home at hand), and will keep money in my pocket.
- Salt absorbs things so use a sprinkle of it to absorb negative energy off an item. Be sure the item won’t be damaged by the salt.
- Remember that long list of mundane uses? Throw a little magic in that and you’re good to go.
So, we’ve covered salt’s amazing right? Now imagine a salt scrub, luxurious for your skin, scented by carefully selected oils and botanicals, and churned into being by a witch pouring magic and energy into each turn of a carved wooden spoon just to make you look beautiful and healthy. Head over to my shop to pick up your own salt scrubs!