Salt and pepper might be the ultimate pair of culinary condiments, but they can do more than just season food. By Karen Fittall.
To cure an ant invasion
Liberally sprinkle black pepper where you see the ants congregating and, if you can find it, where they’re also entering your house. How does it work? The smell of the pepper acts as a deterrent, which isn’t surprising when you consider that pepper’s odour is created by a substance called piperine, the very thing that causes us to sneeze if it hits the nerve endings inside the nose.
To disinfect your kitchen benchtop naturally
Make up a simple saline solution by combining water and salt, then douse a paper towel with the liquid and wipe the benchtop three times. As well as discovering that it is the physical removal of germs, rather than the type of disinfectant used, that is most important in the eradication of bugs, US researchers found that when surfaces are wiped three times saline is just as effective at eliminating germs as using chemical disinfectant.
To kill garden weeds
Mix one cup of table salt with two litres of white vinegar to make a chemical-free weed killer. Spray it on the target and you should see results in a couple of days. One catch: as well as killing weeds, the solution will negatively affect other types of vegetation too, so apply it carefully and selectively.
To ease a sore throat
Make up a warm saline solution by mixing half a teaspoon of salt with a glass of water, and use it as a gargle. Often recommended by dentists to relieve pressure caused by swollen, infected gums, over the years research has shown that saltwater mixtures can be just as effective as some over-the-counter solutions for reducing the pain and swelling caused by a sore throat.
To take the itch out of an insect bite
Make a salt paste by mixing half a teaspoon of salt with a few drops of water, and apply liberally to the affected area. Cover it and leave it for 30 minutes. It may be an old-fashioned, natural remedy, but a study published earlier this year provided a few clues about why it works German researchers found that topical formulations containing sea salt are anti-inflammatory, relieving skin’s redness at the same time.
To speed up your digestion
Add a few grinds of black pepper to as many of your meals as possible. According to a review study out of India, piperine stimulates the production of digestive enzymes in the pancreas. This improves the body’s ability to digest food and significantly decreases a meal’s “transit time” in the intestines.