Does Table Salt Kill Weeds and How To Properly Use It? - Backyard Boss
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Does Table Salt Kill Weeds and How To Properly Use It?

For most of us, gardening has become a passion and a big part of our day-to-day lives. Not only is it relaxing, but it can be incredibly fulfilling. But what can one do when common garden weeds show up? Not only can they be awful eyesores, but they also steal nutrients and moisture from the soil. And while maintaining your garden is already quite a difficult job, weeding it can make it quite cumbersome and somewhat stressful.

One of the most common weeding mistakes that makes gardening harder is overlooking the dangers of weeds and not acting fast enough to eradicate the problem before it grows out of proportion. While the best weed killer will help you fix the problem temporarily, if you’re looking for free and natural ways to kill weeds, you may have thought about salt. This is why down below we have listed the ideal weed killer – table salt.

Does Table Salt Kill Weeds?

Table salt is one of the best and most commonly used DIY weed killers. The main reasons are the speed and efficiency that it brings to the table. When absorbed by the plant, salt will disrupt the plant’s growth cycle and will make the weed wilt and later die. Usually, salt can take a few days to have an effect, but no longer than 10 days. The Pests, Weeds & Problems YouTube channel has done a fantastic job breaking down how to use salt as a weed killer in this video.

How Does Salt Work?

Image credits: SoraZG via Creative Commons

Salt is an ideal and non-toxic defoliant. However, pay attention to the type of salt you use – you should only use non-iodized or regular iodized table salt. It is crucial to ensure that you have sodium chloride and not Epsom salts (although this has its own set of benefits to your garden), sea salt, or rock salt. Anytime you decide to use this herbicide, you have to be very careful because it can leech and create soil health issues. Moreover, it can also damage or even kill surrounding plants.

Sodium chloride is known for its dehydration properties. So it comes as no surprise that it is incredibly effective against weeds because it messes with the inner water balance in the plants. However, table salt can be very toxic to the plants themselves, therefore it should only be used in small-scale gardening and primarily for weed control.

How to Use Salt as a Weed Killer

While it is completely organic and contains no toxic chemicals, salt can be quite dangerous to plants. Therefore, it is important that you use it carefully if you are trying to get rid of weeds that are close to other plants. Because sodium chloride works best with water, the strength of the solution is easy to alter. So in cases where you have other plants in proximity to the weeds, it is best you use a 2:1 mixture of salt and water.

However, if this is not the case, you can easily make a much stronger mixture; for example 3:1. Make sure that if you are using crystallized salt, you pound it into a fine powder so it can dissolve in water easier. Though this is an effective method of getting rid of weeds, ensure that you keep a very close eye on your soil pH since it can be severely affected and therefore the soil may become sterile. You can learn how to test your soil pH to avoid unwanted damage.

  • Apply the salt-water solution directly to the greenery of the weed.
  • Never soak its roots because this will not only endanger the plants nearby but could cause long-term soil issues.
  • Use a spray bottle for optimal effect.
  • Water your surrounding plants very well so that any sodium chloride that made it into the soil gets flushed out.

However, if you are trying to get rid of weeds poking through the gaps between your patio stones, for example, you can just apply the water solution by directly pouring it out of a container. The Daisynics Recipes & DIY Crafts has a video that explains how to make a table salt-water solution herbicide and the way it works.

crabgrass weed
Image credits: Oregon State University via Creative Commons

Drawbacks of Table Salt

While it is a very effective herbicide, table salt has a few drawbacks as well:

  1. You will need large amounts of salt to deal with larger areas infested by weeds.
  2. It can be quite dangerous to other plants and could kill them off.
  3. It can badly affect the soil by altering its pH and making it sterile.
  4. Salt should never be used to kill weeds that are woven into a grass lawn.
  5. Deep-rooted perennials may die, however, the chances are that they will make a comeback at the start of the growing season.

All the above is quite important to consider before starting to use salt as a weed killer.

How Does Salt Do When Compared To Other Non-Toxic Herbicides?

While salt is one of the most popular non-toxic DIY herbicides, there are a few more that can be used. But how effective will they be compared to sodium chloride?

In the first place, we have household vinegars. When mixed with salt and water, you can use vinegar for weed control. However, they are much less effective and have the potential to deal a lot more damage than just a salt-water solution. Unfortunately, they can also affect soil pH and prevent the growth of future plants.

Rubbing alcohol also has the potential to kill weeds without harming the environment, however, this method only kills the top of the weeds. If the weed roots are still alive, they can regrow. Here’s more about rubbing alcohol to kill weeds.

Boiling water is another method that can be used to kill off weeds. It can be quite effective if you want to deal with clusters of weeds. However, you should do this only in empty flower beds or in places where there are no other plants since boiling water will deal significant damage to them or even kill them.

Considering all this, it is safe to say that salt-water solution is probably the safest non-toxic homemade way to deal with weeds.

coarse sea salt
Image credits: vikif via Canva

In Summary

Gardening can quickly become a way of life for a lot of us. We put so much time and effort into creating the perfect little piece of paradise, so to find it ruined by an eyesore and a pest such as weeds can be distressing. This is why you should look no further than table salt. It is an item that can be found in every home, is easy to obtain, and is relatively cheap.

So summing it up, you should:

  1. Make your crystallized salt into a very fine powder.
  2. Depending on the location you will use it, dissolve the salt powder into the water with a ratio of 2:1 (tbsp of salt to water) for areas with other plants or 3:1 for empty garden beds, for example.
  3. Use a spray bottle to apply to the greenery of the weeds when other plants are nearby or pour out of a container over areas such as pavements.

Hopefully, this article was helpful to you. Please leave a comment down below with any questions you may have!

Happy Gardening!