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By Nadia McMorran

Salt, or sodium chloride (chemically known as NaCl), has caught a bad rap over the years, but it is actually a very necessary requirement for the cells in our body to remain healthy.

While it’s still good to be aware of the amount of refined salt your food contains, (particularly when it comes to processed food that you haven’t prepared yourself) unrefined salt can be considered a healthy addition to your diet.

Certain cells in our body have a ‘gate’ on the exterior known as a sodium channel. These excitable cells include nerve, muscle and neuroendocrine cells. This means that a sodium ion is required to unlock the gate to allow nutrients and water to enter and nourish the cell.

If you are ill or dehydrated, it’s important to consume electrolyte drinks that contain sodium to allow the water and other nutrients to enter and replenish anything lost or lacking from the cells.

Homemade electrolyte drinks or sole (pronounced ‘so-lay’) water are a great way to get these nutrients as an alternative to sugar and chemical laden electrolyte drinks that are available commercially. Even just adding a small pinch of unrefined salt to your water can help rehydrate more effectively than just drinking plain water.

Unrefined salt contains traces of over 80 important minerals in addition to sodium such as silica, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Typically, it contains fairly low levels of iodine, so it’s important to make sure you are getting iodine elsewhere in your diet.

Eating or supplementing with kelp or seaweed is the easiest way to add iodine to your diet, you don’t need much daily in order to reach the
New Zealand recommended daily intake.

Refined table salt has generally been heavily processed and had all of the trace minerals removed while iodine is artificially added, along with anti-caking agents which may contain aluminium.

In the next column is a hydration recipe using unrefined salt which may come in handy if you would like to make you own electrolyte (sole) drink.

Homemade Electrolyte (Sole) Drink:


  • 2 cups filtered or coconut water
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon RealSalt (original)
  • 2 teaspoons raw local honey or maple syrup
  • Mix all ingredients together and enjoy

Sole water

  • RealSalt (original)
  • Filtered water
  • Glass jar with plastic lid (do not use a metal lid as this will quickly rust)


  • Fill the jar about a quarter of the way with the RealSalt (original).
  • Add filtered water to the jar, 2-3cm from the top.
  • Place plastic lid on and gently shake, then leave on your kitchen bench overnight.
  • The next day, if there is still some salt at the bottom of the jar, it means the solution is saturated and the sole water is ready to use. If all of the salt has been absorbed, add more salt and continue to do so each day until some salt is left at the bottom.
  • To use the sole water, mix one teaspoon (do not use any metal utensils to measure or stir) into a glass of water and consume each morning on an empty stomach.
  • The solution can be kept at room temperature indefinitely, as the salt is antimicrobial and you can continue to top it up with more water and salt.