What is saline solution?
Saline solution is a mixture of salt and water. Normal saline solution contains 0.9 percent sodium chloride (salt), which is similar to the sodium concentration in blood and tears. Saline solution is usually called normal saline, but it’s sometimes referred to as physiological or isotonic saline.
Saline has many uses in medicine. It’s used to clean wounds, clear sinuses, and treat dehydration. It can be applied topically or used intravenously. Saline solution is available at your local pharmacy, but it can also be made at home. Read on to learn how you can save money by making your own saline.
Homemade saline solution
Saline solution is easy to make and can be done using things you already have in your kitchen. You’ll need:
- tap water
- table salt or fine sea salt (iodine-free)
- a pot or microwave-safe bowl with a lid
- a clean jar
- a measuring cup and teaspoon
- baking soda (optional)
Before you begin, prepare a jar to store your saline solution in. Wash the jar and lid thoroughly with hot water and soap or run it through the dishwasher. This will help prevent bacteria from contaminating your solution.
- Boil 2 cups of water covered for 15 minutes.
- Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Add 1 pinch of baking soda (optional).
- Stir until dissolved.
- Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 24 hours. (After that, it should be discarded.)
- Add 2 cups of water to a microwave-safe container.
- Mix in 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Microwave, covered, for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Allow to cool.
- Place in a clean jar.
- Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
The stovetop method is more sterile than the microwave method, because the water is boiled. For both these methods, however, bacteria can begin to grow after 24 hours.
If you want a more sterile and longer-lasting version, you can use distilled water. Distilled water can be purchased at your pharmacy or grocery store. It’s also possible to distill water at home.
- Add 8 teaspoons of table salt to 1 gallon of distilled water.
- Refrigerate for up to 1 month.
Uses for your solution
Saline solution makes an excellent nasal wash. When flushed through your nasal passages, saline can wash away allergens, mucus, and other debris. Nasal irrigation can relieve the symptoms of stuffy nose and help prevent sinus infections.
A neti pot or nasal bulb can make nasal irrigation easier. You can also use things from around your house such as a turkey baster or a squirt bottle. Just make sure to wash these items thoroughly with hot, soapy water or run them through the dishwasher.
To clear your sinuses:
- Hold your head over the sink or get in the shower.
- Tilt your head to the right.
- Pour or squeeze the saline solution into the left nostril (the solution should pour out your right nostril).
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- Adjust your head position if water is going down the back of your throat.
Saline solution is very similar to natural tears. You can use it to rinse off your contact lenses after you clean them. It can also be used to moisten lenses before putting them in. However, saline is not a cleaning solution.
Over the course of the day, your contacts accumulate oil, makeup, dust, and other irritants. To prevent infection, it’s important that you use a commercial contact cleaning solution.
After cleaning your contacts, you can rinse off the cleaning solution by dipping them in saline. You can also use saline to help rinse off an eyelash or piece of debris that’s stuck.
Never store your contact lenses overnight in saline solution because they could become contaminated with bacteria. You can, however, store your contacts in saline for short periods of time, such as while swimming or showering.
Soaking a new piercing in saline is one of the best ways to promote healing and prevent infection. Saline helps clear away dead cells and other debris that can cause irritation and lead to crustiness and bumps. Warming up the saline helps increase blood flow to the site.
Soak a new piercing in warm saline for 5 minutes once or twice per day. The saline should be about the temperature of hot coffee.
Depending on where your piercing is, you can put the saline in a mug, bowl, or shot glass. You can also soak a clean cloth and apply the cloth to the piercing site. After soaking your piercing, rinse it off with clean water.
Saline can be used to help wash out uncomplicated cuts and wounds. Pouring saline on a wound can help clear away foreign material and bacteria, reducing the likelihood of infection. Normal saline solution will not sting or burn a wound.
Although saline solution is a good option for wound cleaning, studies have shown that running tap water works just as well.
Because saline closely resembles human tears, it makes a great nonemergency eye wash. If you get something irritating in your eye, like pollen, soap, or cat dander, saline can help wash it away. It can also refresh dry and itchy eyes.
To use it as an eye wash, try placing saline in a clean squirt bottle, tilting your head back, and dropping some in like eye drops. You can also place a cup on the counter and fill it to the brim. Holding your eyelid open, dunk your eye into the solution.
Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or anxiety benefit greatly from structured projects that encourage problem-solving, motor control, and focus. The following is an easy, fun, and customizable recipe for saline slime.
You will need:
- saline solution
- baking soda
- food coloring (optional)
- glitter (optional)
- bowl and stirring spoon
- measuring cup
To make saline slime:
- Mix 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup glue in a bowl.
- Add 1 tablespoon saline solution.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
- Mix in food coloring and glitter (optional).
- Stir until thick, then knead by hand.
Things to watch out for
Saline is a mild and typically harmless solution, but it can become contaminated by bacteria. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Wash your hands before mixing and applying saline.
- Unless you used distilled water, throw saline away after 24 hours.
- Do not drink saline.
- Use table salt or fine sea salt. Coarse salt doesn’t dissolve as well and can cause irritation.
- Do not use saline to clean or store your contact lenses.
- Discard the solution if it appears cloudy or dirty.
- Use a clean jar each time you make a new batch.
When used properly, saline has many potential benefits. You can save a little money by making your own saline at home. Just keep in mind that when using any solution for medicinal purposes, cleanliness is of the utmost importance.
Talk with your doctor about any concerns you may have, especially with regards to wounds.