March 18, 2013 at 10:38 AM ET
Mankind has been using salt for many centuries, in the course of which we've amassed many uses (some speculate thousands) for this amazing substance—uses that go far beyond mere seasoning. Here are a few of the more practical uses for salt:
Pick up a dropped egg. If an egg breaks on the kitchen floor, sprinkle salt on the mess and leave it there for 20 minutes. You'll be able to wipe it right up.
Soothe a bee sting. Wet the sting right away, then cover it with salt.
Eliminate a grease fire. Pour salt on top to smother it. (Never use water on a grease fire.)
Clean up oven spills. If food boils over onto the oven floor, sprinkle salt on top to stop smoke and odor from forming. When the oven is cool, it'll be easy to brush away the spot.
Set color. If a dye may run, soak the garment for an hour in 1/2 gallon of water to which you've added 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup salt. If rinse water shows color, repeat. This is good for a single-colored fabric or madras. If the item is multicolored, dry-clean it. (American-made fabrics are unlikely to run, but fabrics from abroad are sometimes risky.)
Kill Poison Ivy. Add three pounds of salt to a gallon of soapy water. Spray it onto leaves and stems.
Make cream whip more easily and egg whites whip faster and higher. Add a pinch of salt.
Test for rotten eggs. Put an egg in a cup of water to which you've added two teaspoons of salt. A fresh egg will sink, but one that's iffy will float.
Clean the brown spots (from starch) off a nonstick soleplate (the bottom of your iron). Sprinkle salt on a sheet of waxed paper, slide the iron across it, then rub lightly with silver polish.
Repel fleas. Wash the doghouse with it.
Kill grass growing in cracks in the cement or between patio stones. Sprinkle salt on the grass and pour very hot water over it. Or sprinkle coarse salt on the grass, let stand all day or overnight, then pour hot tap water over it.
Clean a glass coffee pot. Fill it with 1/4 cup of table salt and a dozen ice cubes. Swish the mixture around, let it sit for half an hour, fill it with cold water and rinse.
Halt the mountain of suds from an overflowing washing machine. Sprinkle salt on the top.
Clean artificial flowers. Put them in a bag of salt and shake the bag. Take a look at the color of the salt and you'll see what you've accomplished.
Keep windows frost-free. Dip a sponge into salt water and rub it on windows, and they won't frost up even when the mercury dips below 32 degrees; for the same effect on your car's windshield, put salt in a little bag made of cheesecloth, moisten it slightly and rub it on.
Clean tarnished copper. Fill a 16-ounce spray bottle with hot white vinegar and three tablespoons of salt. Spray it onto the copper, let it sit briefly, then rub clean. (Don't do this to lacquered copper.)
Keep radishes safe in the garden. Salt worms (cutworms) will be repelled if you sprinkle seeds with table salt, then cover with dirt.
Clean coffee and tea stains from china cups. Rub them with salt.
Keep potatoes and apples from turning brown once they're sliced. Put them in salted cold water.
Clean a cutting board. Cover it with bleach and salt, scrub it with a stiff brush, then rinse with very hot water and wipe with a clean cloth. Repeat with each use.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.