Sodium Chloride: The Survival Supply Hiding in Plain Sight
Salt is so commonplace and so often used in the kitchen that we forget it serves more critical purposes. Sodium chloride (salt) and sodium chloride solution make for essential items everyone should have in their survival kit. No, it’s not just for cooking tasty, post-disaster meals; nor is it limited to thawing snow off your driveway. There are plenty of other great uses for sodium chloride. Some of them may even surprise you.
Sodium Chloride vs. Saline
Sodium chloride probably sounds like a complicated chemical solution, and saline sounds like a foreign beverage, but we can guarantee you have come in contact with both at some point in time.
Sodium Chloride = Salt
Sodium chloride, also known as salt, is what makes the oceans salty and our food tasty. In places where it snows heavily, salt is also great at thawing away the snow from your driveway. Most importantly, it’s used by the body to absorb and transport nutrients, maintain healthy blood pressure, and perform other important bodily functions. The importance of salt in our lives cannot be overstated.
What is Saline?
On the other hand, saline is a mixture of water and 0.9% salt. Saline mimics the body’s natural salt content, meaning it can quickly provide a dehydrated person with just the right amount of fluids and salt when used medically.
Uses for Salt and Saline
You must learn the uses and limitations of every item in your survival kit; when, and where to use them to help you essentially get the most out of them. Here are some real-life situations for which you can make use of either saline or sodium chloride.
Sodium chloride is most commonly used for meal preparation and food preservation. Salt is a natural preservative used in preserving foods, such as meat, in a method known as salting. Aside from the that, sodium chloride is often used in the culinary arts to create a brine for marinating foods and enhancing food’s natural flavors and colors.
Some other household uses for sodium chloride include salting roads, driveways, and sidewalks during the winter; cleaning away stubborn stains from kitchen items like your pots and pans; and preventing mold. Oh, and don’t forget to line your thresholds with salt to keep the ghosts away.
Saline, unlike sodium chloride, doesn’t have a culinary function. In fact, it is not a substance you want to ingest orally. It is, however, medically indispensable. Saline is used in the treatment of mild and uncomplicated wounds or injuries. It’s typically used to wash out particles that get into wounds to reduce the risk of infection. It is mild and gentle enough to even use on toddlers. Saline also makes for a great nasal wash in a procedure known as nasal irrigation. This is a great way to reduce allergy symptoms, when performed properly.
Saline is also used in the medical field to hydrate a dehydrated patient, known as replacement therapy. It is administered to the ailing patient intravenously, and its dosage depends largely on the level of the patient’s dehydration.
You should be cautious when using saline in these manners as everything from the salt percentage in the saline to the method it’s administered should be dealt with by a professional in the medical field. Failure to follow health protocols can be detrimental.
How Does Sodium Chloride React in Our Bodies?
The American dietary guidelines recommend that 2300mg sodium per day should be consumed by an adult. Anything lower than that or more than that might be problematic to the health of an individual. Since our major sources of sodium are in salt, there is a certain level of salt that you should be ingesting daily, but what happens when you consume too much or too little?
Too Much Sodium
The body needs sodium to regulate most of its functions, without which so many of the body’s organs, such as the kidneys, will fail.
However, too much sodium comes with its own list of problems. Because most of the food we consume is processed and processed foods are notorious for having a high sodium content, some people might find it difficult to gauge how much sodium they’re consuming.
Failure to get your sodium intake in check might lead to the following health issues:
- Increased risk of kidney disease, heart disease and high blood pressure.
- Increased level of water retention, which can lead to swelling.
Too Little Sodium
On the other hand, too little sodium in the body might be a sign of an underlying health issue. The name for this disorder is known as hyponatremia.
There are several possible reasons why a person might be suffering from hyponatremia:
- A hormonal imbalance can contribute to low sodium. The hormone in question is called anti-diuretic hormone, also known as ADH. The anti-diuretic hormone is responsible for regulating fluid, i.e., the water content in the body, so an inappropriate secretion of this hormone can lead to low sodium content. Other possible reasons for inappropriate secretion of the anti-diuretic hormone are disorders and intake of certain medications.
- Excessive vomiting or diarrhea, which can be fatal if not attended to immediately.
- Intake of diuretics will cause excessive urination, leading to a continuous expulsion of sodium.
- Drinking too much water.
- Kidney disease.
When your body does not have enough sodium, you may start to experience an altered personality, lethargy, and confusion. Severe hyponatremia can lead to seizures, coma and even death.
How to Make Homemade Saline
Saline is a combination of salt and water; however, the actual process of making saline is a little more complicated than that. This does not mean that you can’t do it yourself though; you can make your very own homemade saline with ingredients just lying around in your kitchen.
There are three methods for making saline:
- Microwave Method
- Stove Pot Method
- Distilled Method
Before you begin the process, you’ll need to gather the following items:
- A clean and disinfected jar for storage (this is extremely important to avoid contamination)
- Measuring instruments such as a cup and teaspoon
- Iodine-free salt
- Tap water or distilled water
- A pot or a microwave-safe bowl with a lid
- Baking soda (optional)
- Add two cups of water to a microwave-safe container.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water.
- Cover the container and microwave for 1-2 minutes.
- Allow it to cool.
- Store in a clean jar.
- Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Stove Pot Method
The stove pot method is quite similar to the microwave method, with the main difference being the sterility. Microwaves are not the most sterile. Additionally, the Stove Pot method is the most versatile as it can be done on a stove top, over a fire, on a grill, etc.
- Boil two cups of water in a covered pot for 15 minutes.
- Allow boiled water to cool to room temperature.
- Add a teaspoon of salt.
- Add a pinch of baking soda (optional).
- Stir until completely dissolved.
- Store and refrigerate in a clean, closed container for up to 24 hours.
This is the easiest method of all, and it lasts the longest. Just add eight tablespoons of salt to a gallon of water. You can store and refrigerate for up to a month. Distilled water is the reason why this method lasts longer than the other methods; it will not expire if left in a cool, dry place and it is not exposed to contaminants. You can get distilled water from your local convenience or grocery store.
IV Kit and How to Use It
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are without food for an extended period of time, a sodium chloride IV kit could become your saving grace. In addition to sodium chloride and/or saline, you will want to add an IV kit to your survival bag. If you begin to feel confused or lethargic, you may need to administer an IV.
Before you begin, gather your materials. You will need a bag of sterile saline solution (you may need to fill your IV bag with your homemade saline), antibacterial soap, sterile bandages or dressings, sterile gloves, your IV gauge, a non-latex tourniquet and gauze, alcohol wipes or alcohol and cotton pads, a container for the needle and medical tape. You may be able to improvise with some of these items if you find yourself in a rough situation, but you should add these items to your survival kit. Wash your hands and your materials as thoroughly as possible. You want to reduce the risk of infection, especially if you are exposed to the elements.
Preparing Your Materials
Begin by priming the IV tubing, which is essentially just making sure there are no air bubbles in it. It seems simple but it is critical as air getting into your veins can cause an embolism and lead to death. Next, put your gloves on and search for the biggest, most visible vein you can find in your arm. Ideally, you will want to insert the IV into your non-dominant arm since you will have a better handle on the rest of this process using your dominant hands. Do not insert the IV in an area that shows any signs of current irritation or infection.
Now, you will need to apply your tourniquet several inches above when you will be inserting the IV needle. Once applied, let your arm fall towards the ground to bring the vein out if you need a better visual. Disinfect the area with an alcohol wipe or a cotton pad doused in alcohol. Open the catheter package, ensuring the catheter does not become contaminated. Inspect the catheter for damage or defects.
Inserting the IV
Insert the needle with its bevel facing up parallel to your arm; you do not want to insert at an angle. You should see what is known as a flashback of blood filling the catheter tube once you’ve hit the vein properly. If you do not see this, do not keep moving the needle around. Pull it out and try again, slowly. Pull back on the needle about 1cm and insert the catheter. Place a bandage or dressing over the lower section of the catheter hub and remove your tourniquet. Once you know the catheter is securely in place, remove the needle and dispose of it safely. Lastly, take the cover off the IV tubing, connect it to the catheter hub and screwing it in place. Use your tape to secure it to your skin.
Both saline and sodium chloride are essential items everyone should have in their homes, both for everyday life and Prepper Life. They’re valuable items in a basic survival kit because of their versatility and their long shelf life. Having medical supplies, including an IV kit, are also essential survival items in case of medical emergencies. Making homemade saline and teaching yourself how to prep an IV are practices you should add to your survival execution plan.
Note: If receiving professional medical care is an option, we recommend seeing a licensed medical doctor to get professional grade care. Administering an IV to yourself or others should only be done in the case of an emergency.