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Killing Weeds With Salt: a Safe, Natural Herbicide or Garden Destroyer? (2023)

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salt to kill weedsYou’ve battled weeds in your garden before, so you know how frustrating it can be to get rid of them.

Salt seems like a natural weed killer, but it’s much more complicated than that. Salt draws moisture from plant cells, drying out leaves and roots to dehydrate weeds. However, salt doesn’t just target the weeds you want gone – it damages all plants.

There are safer ways to banish weeds without harming your garden’s health. So consider all your options, not just table salt. With some thoughtful planning and persistence, you can keep your garden lush and weed-free without resorting to salt or chemicals.

Arm yourself with knowledge, the right tools and techniques. Then you can tackle weeds naturally and effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • Salt weed killer dehydrates leaves and roots by drawing moisture from plant cells.
  • It is important to apply saltwater directly to foliage and avoid soil to prevent contamination.
  • Table salt and rock salt are the most effective types to use, while Epsom salt does not work.
  • Salt lingers in the soil and causes long-term damage, so it should be used cautiously.

Can Salt Be Used to Kill Weeds?

Can Salt Be Used to Kill Weeds
You can wage chemical warfare in your garden, but there are cleaner ways to win the battle against those pesky invaders. Arm yourself with common kitchen salt for an eco-friendly assault on unwanted weeds.

A saltwater solution applied directly to foliage absorbs moisture and dries out plants. Start with a 3:1 mixture, then increase salt gradually for resilient weeds. Avoid flowerbeds and focus the salty assault on hardscapes instead.

For precision strikes, reach for homemade vinegars, boiling water, or flame weeders. With thoughtful targeting, salt can help gain the upper hand without inflicting lasting damage on your garden ecosystem.

The Chemistry of Salt: How Salt Works to Kill Weeds

The Chemistry of Salt: How Salt Works to Kill Weeds
Salt’s simple chemistry dehydrates unwanted foliage, marvelously shriveling those intruders without chemicals.

Salt kills weeds through:

  • Ion exchange: Sodium ions in salt replace nutrients in the plant, preventing water absorption.
  • Osmosis: The high concentration of sodium ions outside plant cells draws water out of the cells.
  • Toxicity: High sodium levels disrupt enzymes and normal cell processes. Cells lose function and plants die.

The key is using the right concentration to maximize dehydration and limit soil impact. Start with weaker solutions and increase salt gradually as needed. Consider application rates carefully when deploying this effective, non-toxic weapon against weeds.

How to Use Salt as a Herbicide

How to Use Salt as a Herbicide
Now that we’ve covered the science behind using salt as an herbicide, let’s discuss the practical application. Killing weeds with salt takes some finesse, but it can be an effective alternative to toxic chemicals.

  1. Start with a 3:1 water to salt mixture. Gradually increase salt concentration for resistant weeds.
  2. Use table salt or rock salt. Epsom salts won’t work.
  3. Apply the solution directly to weeds. Soil application risks damage.
  4. Avoid plant roots to prevent absorption. Focus on leaves.
  5. Monitor nearby plants. Salt spray can drift, requiring irrigation to dilute.

With observation and care, salt can eliminate weeds without nasty chemical residues. Adjust mixtures based on weed size and location. Smaller annuals require less salt than aggressive perennials. Hardscapes tolerate higher concentrations than gardens. Remain diligent in application and root removal for the best results.

Salt Vs. Other Non-Toxic Herbicides

Salt Vs. Other Non-Toxic Herbicides
Vinegar and flame offer alternative non-toxic ways to singe weeds, but salt’s lingering legacy in soil means you must tread carefully when wielding this double-edged sword.

Method Advantages Disadvantages
Saltwater Cheap, effective on small weeds Sterilizes soil long-term
Vinegar Natural, affordable May not kill woody weeds
Flame No residue Fire hazard
Boiling water Free, organic Can damage nearby plants
Manual No chemicals, removes roots Labor intensive

Timing matters when using homemade weed killer. Apply saltwater early to avoid collateral damage, and pull weeds promptly before they flower and spread seeds.

While chemical herbicides seem quick and easy, non-toxic methods better protect your health and the garden’s future.

Should You Use Salt to Kill Weeds?

Should You Use Salt to Kill Weeds
You’d be wise to carefully weigh the pros and cons before reaching for the salt shaker to tackle those persistent weeds. While salt can be an effective organic spot treatment for killing weeds, it carries significant downsides.

Salt leaves barren patches in your yard, damages nearby plants, and ruins soil health.

Alternative natural weed control methods like vinegar or flame weeders avoid these issues. With some precautions, salt may be a safe option for patio weeds. But for most lawn and garden weeds, seek gentler organic removal approaches that are safe for pets and plants.

Prioritize nourished soil and a lush, living landscape over scorched earth tactics.

Natural Weed Killer Recipe

Natural Weed Killer Recipe
Brew your own eco-friendly weed killer with this simple homemade recipe. By combining household vinegar, salt, and dish soap, you can make a powerful herbicide that works by dehydrating unwanted plants within hours while avoiding toxic chemicals.

How Does the Homemade Weed Killer Work?

You’ll find that this homemade weed killer works by penetrating the plant’s tissues and dehydrating it from the inside out. The salt gets absorbed into the plant, creating a chemical imbalance that draws moisture out of the cells.

This slower effect, compared to physical removal, means waiting days for it to fully work. Focus the application on unwanted plants, avoiding valued ones. Too much salt alters soil chemistry in the long term.

When used cautiously, salt serves as a natural herbicide alternative to synthetics.

How Long Does It Take Vinegar to Kill Weeds?

You can expect the vinegar weed killer to take effect within a few days, though tough weeds may require a week or more before they shrivel up.

  1. Dandelions, young annuals – 2-3 days
  2. Established perennials, vines – 5-7 days
  3. Hardy weeds like ivy, knotweed – 7-10 days
  4. Spot treat and reapply as needed

Vinegar weed control works fast on tender seedlings, but thicker-leaved perennials resist the acid longer. Wear gloves and eye protection when mixing and spraying – vinegar can irritate skin and eyes, especially at full strength.

Store any leftover diluted vinegar spray in a clearly labeled spray bottle out of reach of kids and pets.

Preventing Weeds

Preventing Weeds
Instead of eliminating weeds after they grow, preventing their growth in the first place creates a healthier, easier-to-manage landscape. Stop weeds before they start by utilizing non-toxic alternatives like mulch layers, cover crops, and spot-treating emerging seedlings.

Carefully timed applications of corn gluten in early spring before seeds germinate prevent growth. Spreading mulch layers smothers weeds and conserves moisture. Planting buckwheat, rye, and clover suppresses weeds as cover crops.

Hand-pull or spot-treat tiny weeds. An ounce of prevention saves hours of backbreaking weeding.

Killing Weeds With Brains and Brawn

Killing Weeds With Brains and Brawn
If cheapskates prefer free weedkillers, quick-fix solutions like boiling water scorch small sprouts swiftly. But smarter stinging nettle management employs safe herbicides like saltwater sprays or vinegar mixes.

Mastering weed control basics takes some trial and error to find the art of selective killing without collateral damage. Start by reviewing a companion planting guide, then cautiously test weaker mixtures on harder sections.

Gradually increase potency once comfortable. Persistence and vigilance will equip you to reclaim your yard through knowledge and sweat equity. Liberate your landscape with brains and brawn instead of toxins. You can win this war without casualties using smarter, natural techniques.

Natural Weed Killers Tested

Natural Weed Killers Tested
Folks, vinegar and soap make greener soldiers than salt for safely slaying those stubborn invaders trying to take root in your garden. Salt’s scorched earth tactics keep any life from growing back for years. Today’s eco-warriors use targeted strikes with natural acids or oils that break down after delivering the lethal blow.

The enemy crushed, fertile land restored – that’s the goal of preemptive practices.

But post-emergent control demands vigilance too. Whether boiling water, flame, or horticultural vinegar, take precautions. Wear protective gear, avoid skin contact. Revive the soil with compost once weeds expire.

Top 5 Best Products for Salt to Kill Weeds

You’ll need a few essential products like a sturdy aluminum garden weeder to remove roots, white distilled vinegar to spray weeds, Morton table salt to sprinkle on walkways, Dawn dish soap to mix with the vinegar, and concentrated Harris vinegar to tackle tougher weeds without chemicals.

With the right tools and mixtures, salt and vinegar can be an effective and natural way to kill pesky weeds without harming your garden.

Garden Weeding Tool With Ergonomic Handle for Lawn and Garden

GANCHUN Hand Weeder Tool,Garden WeedingView On Amazon
You’d twist and wrest that persnickety dandelion by the roots with the forked metal fang on that weeder’s snout. This lightweight aluminum alloy weeder is your trusty sidekick in the battle against home lawn invaders.

Its curved ergonomic handle provides the leverage you need to aggressively stab and pry, loosening the soil to extract even deep-rooted weeds.

No bend, no pain – just satisfying removal of those stubborn intruders. And when the fight is done, this 12-inch warrior hangs neatly beside its veteran garden companions, ready to vanquish vines and vermin when called upon once more.

  • Lightweight and durable aluminum construction
  • Curved handle allows leverage to remove roots
  • Hang hole for convenient garden storage
  • Can blister hands with prolonged use – wear gloves
  • Not as effective on large, established weeds
  • Need to repeatedly stab and pry out roots

Lucy’s Family Owned Natural Distilled White Vinegar Gallon

LucyView On Amazon
Pour the Lucy’s vinegar into your spray bottle and mist the unwanted plants until thoroughly soaked to eradicate them without chemicals. This US-made vinegar offers an effective, natural weed-killing solution without toxic residue.

The mild aroma and flavor provide versatility for household cleaning and cooking too. Use caution when spraying as the high acidity can irritate the skin and eyes. Diluting with water reduces risks.

Overall, it is an economical, eco-friendly alternative to synthetic chemicals.

  • Natural and biodegradable
  • Versatile household uses
  • Kills weeds without chemicals
  • Economical and cost-effective
  • Can irritate eyes and skin
  • Needs diluting for safety
  • Not as strong as industrial vinegar

Morton Table Salt Two Pack

Morton Iodized Table Salt, 26View On Amazon
Morton’s 26 oz package provides two round containers of uniformly shaped crystals for easy use, though the heavy iodized taste is disliked by some. The familiar brand provides a good source of iodine for cooking and baking needs, but the higher price tag seems unjustified to some.

The salt can also be sprinkled on carpets as an alternative way to help control fleas.

  • Trusted, familiar brand
  • Uniformly shaped crystals
  • Good source of iodine
  • Resealable containers for easy use
  • Can help control fleas
  • Heavy iodized taste disliked by some
  • Higher price tag than expected
  • Not recommended for direct weed killing

Dawn Original Dish Soap Refill Pack

Dawn Dish Soap Ultra DishwashingView On Amazon
You’ll love Dawn’s grease-cutting Original scent dish soap in this economical refill pack, letting you tackle piles of dishes while saving plastic and pennies. Known for its superior grease-fighting ability, Dawn’s trusted formula requires less scrubbing than competitors to clean even the most stuck-on messes.

This concentrated refill package offers great value for regular users, with each bottle containing 3 times more grease-cleaning ingredients than non-concentrated brands. Just a small amount combined with some vinegar makes an all-purpose cleaning solution.

While loved by many, some found issues with leaking bottles during shipping.

Overall, this classic brand in a money-saving size lets you cut through grease and get dishes sparkling clean with less effort.

  • Trusted brand, best at cutting grease
  • Concentrated formula requires less scrubbing
  • Good value buying in bulk
  • Some complaints of leaking bottles
  • Strong chemical scent

Harris Vinegar Extra Strength Gallon With Funnel

Harris 30% Vinegar, Extra StrengthView On Amazon
Keep calm and spray on, friend. This concentrated vinegar may sting at first, but it’s a natural cleanser that washes worries away without toxic chemicals. Though harsh at full strength, with proper dilution, it effectively knocks out weeds and odor while sparing pets, kids, and soil.

Follow all directions – test small areas first, wear gloves, and eye protection. And don’t fret about fumes – this formula skips the sulfates. Your lawn and home will soon be pristine and pure again, the easy and earth-friendly way.

  • Natural and biodegradable
  • No harmful chemicals
  • Kills weeds effectively
  • Also eliminates odors
  • More eco-friendly than toxic herbicides
  • Can irritate skin and eyes
  • Needs protective gear when handling
  • May take multiple applications on weeds
  • Can damage plants if used improperly

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it take for salt to kill weeds?

It’ll take 5-10 days for the salt to fully dehydrate and kill weeds. Smaller annuals you’ll see withering within a day or two. Larger, established perennials like ivy may need the full 10 days. Monitor and reapply saltwater as needed until they’re gone for good.

Will salt get rid of weeds permanently or will they grow back?

Salt can temporarily suppress weeds, but it won’t kill them permanently. The plants will likely grow back once rainfall or irrigation washes away the salt over time. For permanent weed control, you’ll need to dig up the roots or use chemical herbicides.

Is it safe to use salt on weeds if I have pets?

You must use extreme caution if using salt as a weed killer around pets. Salt can be toxic if ingested in large quantities. Even small amounts licked off paws could cause vomiting or diarrhea. It’s best to avoid spraying patios and yards where pets roam.

Consider safer organic methods like vinegar or manual weeding for any areas pets frequent.

What types of salt work best for killing weeds?

Table salt and rock salt work best since they contain high concentrations of sodium chloride, which effectively dehydrates and desiccates plants. Opt for coarser grains that adhere to leaves. While Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate, they aren’t as useful for this task.

Test on small areas first and increase strength as needed. Focus applications on hardscapes and avoid contaminating gardens.

How often do I need to reapply salt to keep weeds from coming back?

You must drench those wretched weeds with saltwater every single day without fail. Saturate every inch of their leaves and stems relentlessly until they shrivel up and die. Be vigilant in your assault, for even the slightest respite allows their evil roots to revive and unleash fresh shoots.

Give no quarter in this battle for your garden’s freedom from these botanical tyrants.


You have painstakingly sharpened your skills and knowledge to make natural weed control work. While salt can be a powerful ally when used wisely in small doses, it demands caution. Like any tool, misuse leads to disaster. But armed with wisdom, insight, and sweat equity, you can keep weeds at bay and nurture the garden of your dreams using simple, natural methods that work in harmony with the earth.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.