If 1 teaspoon of salt pollutes 5 gallons of water to toxic levels, does this mean that even iodized salt used for cooking results in environmental damage?


I try to be as environmentally friendly as possible in daily life. Today I learned about the effects of salt on freshwater and how wastewater treatment plants are not capable of removing salt and chloride from water which results in it being dumped into rivers, lakes, etc and affecting aquatic life. Is this specific types of salt or is this any type of salt including iodized salt used for cooking?

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I don’t know but if it does, you could use it on plants Plants can tolerate salted water on leaves and stems but will dehydrate if the salted water goes in the soil. You could put the salted water that was used for cooking into a squirt bottles and squirt the leaves of plants in your garden.

Salt is a natural part of the environment (as are humans, animals and plants). 1 tsp (5gm) in 14 gallons (~50kg) is 100ppm in total and about 60pm of Cl by mass. Pretty unnoticeable for most things (I think “toxic” might need a bit of clarification in your research). Most plants (probably the most sensitive to excess Chlorine) will tolerate this fairly well – plants also grow and survive in the environment.

Don’t forget that animals need salt (NaCl) to survive – it isn’t an “optional extra” in animal (and human) nutrition. The amounts used for most food preparation isn’t a significant factor. So being obsessed about it is not likely to be useful – you’re hardly going to recommend killing all animals so that plants get less chlorine. Plus you’re not going to avoid the body from removing salt during normal biological waste processes.

In theory, yes. In practice, not really.

All water (as near as makes no difference) eventually ends up in the ocean, where the salt remains because it can’t evaporate. That’s why the oceans are salty. And the salt that we use either 1) came from the ocean or 2) came from a salt mine which is…just old ocean salt from an ocean that dried up and got buried.

So it’s basically a closed loop. We don’t create appreciable amounts of new salt or destroy it, it just keeps going round and round on a geological timescale.

Locally, it’s entirely possible to over salinate things and kill off whole areas. That’s what put the “dead” in the Dead Sea. That will eventually even back out, albeit on timescales far longer than humans typically care about.

The amount of salt you introduce through cooking “runoff” is a rounding error on a distant decimal point compared to industrial or environmental salt concentrations.

Table/cooking salt may or may not be iodised. That just means it does or doesn’t have iodine added to it; it doesn’t change anything about how the salt interacts with water or the organisms that consume the water or live in it.

Salt can make water undrinkable for animals, and plants will die absorbing it.

But: rain happens, and washes salt away, river flow to the sea, salt goes back to where it came from.

For perspective, we use a ton of salt on the mountains to prevent road freezing. Trucks and trucks spraying salt for months. Not even the grass on the margin of the road dies from it.