Salt is one of those common, everyday items that doesn’t draw much attention … until you run out of it. Unless you live near a salt mine or a salt flat, you probably won’t have much of a way to replenish any salt stores in your household food storage or bug out bag.

That’s a shame too, because a simple container of salt does so many different things.

I’m not suggesting that everyone hoard a mountain full of salt. But since it’s so cheap and so useful, salt shouldn’t be overlooked when preparing for survival situations.

What’s so great about salt?

Salt makes many food preservation techniques more effective, it helps keep our electrolytes balanced in hot climates, and it even has medicinal applications.

Whether storing vegetables at your homestead, or making jerky at a campsite, salt will make a less hospitable environment for bacteria. This allows food to last longer than it would otherwise. A saline brine of vinegar, water and salt can make your fresh vegetables last much longer too. And you cannot ferment homemade sauerkraut, smoke fish or salt a ham without salt. Next time you make jerky, put a light sprinkle of salt across fresh cut meat to draw out moisture and diminish bacteria in your food stores.

A tiny pinch of salt in your water will be worth its weight in gold in hot, humid conditions. If you’ve ever been debilitated by cramps in the heat, you know just how vital salt can be. Don’t forget about potassium and other minerals, if you have them.

For medicinal remedies, a warm water gargle of salt water can bring quick relief to sore throats, and ease cough and cold symptoms.

Salt has a ridiculously long shelf life. Metal cans or waterproof plastic containers will work fine for storing salt. Add a few food-safe desiccant packs in very humid or damp conditions to prevent clumping. Mason jars are also pretty handy for storing your salt at the homestead or cabin.

Tell us your food storage strategies, and what items you stock, in the comments below.