Does salt draw out infection?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Does salt draw out infection?” and tell you whether putting salt on a canker sore helps or not.

Does salt draw out infection?

Yes, salt can draw out infection. Salt has been used as a disinfection for a long time. Salt helps disinfect the wounds and promotes healing.

What happens is salt robs the injured cells of their water by osmosis. The dehydration makes it very hard for bacteria to survive in it. In addition salt also draws out water from bacteria and dehydrates them. The dehydration obviously kills them. So when there is no bacteria left to damage cells, healing is promoted.

Although salt can disinfect, it is only a temporary fix. You should go see a doctor for more serious wounds as salt can kill most of the bacteria, but not all.

Moreover, saline water is used to clean the wounds rather than salt in its crystalline form as first of all salt can sting, and secondly the salt crystals can be harsh for the skin.

Does putting salt on a canker sore help?

Yes, putting salt on a canker sore helps but it can be very painful so it is better to put salt in warm water and then use it to rinse your mouth. 

Salt increases the pH of the canker sore and makes it more alkaline. Bacteria need acidic conditions to grow, it is hard for them to survive in alkaline conditions. 

Warm up some water in the microwave in a cup and dissolve some salt in it. Rinse your mouth with it and keep it in your mouth for 15 to 30 seconds then spit it out. Repeat it every couple of hours.

Keep in mind that it will sting.

How to get rid of canker sores other than using salt water?

There are many other effective remedies for canker sores other than salt water. Some of them are listed below.

Alum powder

Alum powder can help dry out canker sores. Mix alum powder with water and make a paste. Put this paste on top of the canker sore and leave it for a minute. Rinse your mouth after a minute and repeat daily.

Baking soda

Baking soda is also very effective in treating canker sores as it reduces inflammation. Mix it with water and use this solution to rinse your mouth.


If you have H. pylori or if you suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease then it is possible that these are the culprits behind your canker sores. You should eat yogurt which has probiotics in it and it will help in preventing their recurrence.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is antibacterial and it also reduces inflammation so use it on your canker sores everyday until you feel better.


Honey, in its raw and pure form, has healing properties and it can reduce inflammation. It is also an antibacterial agent so apply it to canker sores daily for 4 times until you feel better.


You can use an oral anesthetic over the counter ointment to help with the pain and make it easier for you to eat.

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can help heal canker sores. Mix it with equal parts water and either apply it on the canker sore using a cotton ball or use it to rinse your mouth.

Find out other ways to heal canker sores here.

Why is salt used as a preservative?

Salt is used as a preservative due to its hygroscopic nature and also because it is toxic to microorganisms. It is widely used to cure meat because when it is applied to meat, it absorbs the moisture from the meat leaving it dry and dehydrated. 

This dehydration leaves the meat less susceptible to contamination by bacteria. Dehydrated meat does not serve as a favorable condition for the survival of bacteria.

In addition, bacteria will get robbed off any water present inside its cells due to the presence of salt outside, again due to osmosis. So this is why salt has been used for years now as a natural preservative.

Other FAQs about Salt that you may be interested in.

Does salt cause acne?

Does salt cause diabetes?

Does salt clean wounds?


In this brief guide, we answered the question “Does salt draw out infection?” and told you whether putting salt on a canker sore helps or not.