What Is a Salt Rinse?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2019
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A salt rinse may be used in the mouth, throat, or nasal passages for a number of different purposes. It can help to reduce inflammation, keep an area clean, and reduce pain. A salt rinse is a simple mixture of warm water and non-iodized salt that is run through the nasal passages, swished around in the mouth, and/or gargled in the throat to treat soreness. It is an alternative therapy that has been used in various cultures around the world for many years, but is still recommended by doctors today to treat numerous conditions including sinus infections or to keep the mouth clean following oral surgery.

Using a salt rinse for the nasal and sinus passages is a daily hygiene practice for some people. It may be performed using a nasal bulb syringe or a tool known as a neti pot, which is shaped similarly to a gravy boat, with a round bowl and a narrow spout on one side. The salt and warm water mixture is prepared in the neti pot, and the spout is then inserted into one side of the nose. The warm salt water runs through one nasal passage and out the other side, cleansing the nasal passages of allergens, dirt, and nasal secretions.


Many people find that using a nasal salt rinse in this manner helps to treat and prevent sinus issues. It may even boost the immune system and help to prevent colds or respiratory infections. In addition to nasal salt rinses, many people use them regularly for the mouth and throat as well. Gargling with warm salt water, for instance, is an excellent way to relieve the pain of a sore throat. Just be sure to go to the doctor if the sore throat lasts more than a few days, because antibiotics may be required.

A salt rinse is also frequently recommended by dentists to reduce gum inflammation, or to relieve pain and heal canker sores. Following oral surgery, a salt rinse is often recommended as well, because patients may not be able to brush the teeth or cleans the area after surgery without doing damage. This helps to prevent infection, and may even speed the healing process; some doctors even recommend that patients use the warm salt rinse two or three times per day. It is important to always use lukewarm water and non-iodized salt when preparing these rinses, to ensure a pain free experience.


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Post 4

Gargling with salt water does make me feel like I'm getting the mucus out of my throat. When I have an irritated throat, it feels really good to do this.

Nasal drainage can make a sore throat feel worse. Salt rinses can make the condition more bearable, even if only for a short time.

Post 3

My friend has always had a lot of sinus and allergy trouble. He started using a neti pot last winter, and he raves about it.

I've never tried one, because I heard a story about a man who got a deadly infection from an amoeba that was in the water he used. It went to his brain through his nose and killed him.

I think that's why they recommend using distilled water instead of tap water. You can't be sure that tap water is free of contaminants.

I've been tempted to use one, because I have a lot of sinus issues, too. I just haven't worked up the courage yet.

Post 2

@lighth0se33 – As far as canker sores go, rinsing with warm salty water doesn't hurt nearly as bad as putting salt or baking soda directly on them. It does sting a little, but it's bearable.

I seem to be prone to canker sores. I tend to bite the inside of my mouth accidentally when I eat a lot, and this often makes the sores emerge.

I rinse with salty water twice a day, and it makes the canker sores disappear several days sooner than they normally would. They used to stick around for two weeks, which was just unacceptable!

Post 1

Wow, I've never used a nasal rinse, but I would imagine that having salt in my nose would hurt. If I had any sores in there, it would probably burn.

I know that salt burns canker sores. I tried rubbing baking soda into mine because I had heard that this helps to heal them, but it hurt so much that I couldn't keep doing it.

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