Is drinking salt water dehydrating?

by Devrie

We have been trying the water/sea salt thing for about a week now and have already noticed some benefits.

However, I have just now seen some sites that say you should not dissolve the salt in the water, but rather dissolve the salt on the tongue and then drink water. They say dissolving the salt in the water will make you more dehydrated. Is this true?


I first heard about the recommendations to add a natural salt to drinking water in the books by the late Dr. Batmanghelidj, who is considered one of the foremost water experts. You can read more about him and his recommendations at if you haven’t seen his site or read any of his books on water.

His recommendations were specifically for people who were drinking the amount of water necessary for optimal hydration, which is ½ ounce of water per pound of body weight. Thus, for example, a person who weighs 200 lbs. would need to drink about 100 ounces of water, or about 3 quarts daily.

If someone significantly increases their water intake, especially within a short period of time, too much sodium may be flushed out of the body through the urine, creating a mineral imbalance. Thus the need for natural salt replenishment.

In addition, as you may know, the only type of added salt I recommend are the natural unrefined salts, such as Celtic sea salt and Himalayan pink salt.

Is it better to dissolve the salt on the tongue or put it in your drinking water?

I have also seen the recommendations for dissolving salt on the tongue via the Friends of the Water Cure site. I have not been able to determine if this recommendation is actually from Dr. B himself (I have never seen it in his books) or if it is from someone else. The site also does not explain why salt on the tongue followed by water is biochemically different than salt in water.

I could be wrong, but at this time I don’t believe it makes a whole lot of difference whether you put a pinch of salt on your tongue or in your water. I think it is a matter of preference.

I personally do NOT add Celtic sea salt to my water all the time because I prefer to add it to my food. And I don’t believe we need or even should necessarily do both.

However, I do add it to my drinking water when I am intentionally increasing my water intake due to higher levels of stress, intense or prolonged exercise, hot weather, or if I have not been eating well.

As always, I believe it is helpful to take it slow when making dietary changes, such as increasing water intake and adding natural salt, and figure out what works best for you.

The bottom line is that when increasing water intake, it is a good idea to replenish natural salt as well as minerals (80 trace minerals are found in the Celtic and Himalayan salts).

Once you have established a daily water drinking habit, you may not need to do either as long as you are adding some natural salt to your food. The key is balance.

This also means making sure you are NOT getting too much of the unhealthy, refined white salt that is hidden in almost every type of processed food.

Will drinking natural salt in water make you more dehydrated?

According to Batmanghelidj, we need about 3 grams of salt (½ teaspoon) for every ½ gallon of water or ¼ teaspoon for every quart.

Frankly, I have never been able to take that much salt in my water and I don’t think I need that much, but I am relatively small in size and weight. Other people may need his full recommended amount.

The amount of salt you add depends on so many factors, including health conditions, activity levels, stress levels, size, weight, age, and so forth. In general, I recommend using less than more.

I like the water cure guidelines and approach for drinking water and salt that is outlined by Russell Mariani, director of the Center for Functional Nutrition. See reference below.

Obviously, there is some truth to the statement that salt water is dehydrating because as most of us know, if we were stranded on a raft in the ocean, drinking sea water would cause extreme dehydration and possibly death. However, this is primarily because of the extremely high concentration of salt in sea water.

The amount of salt Batmanghelidj recommends in drinking water is a very weak dilution, which in most cases will increase body hydration rather than making you dehydrated. But everyone is different and there are many other factors as previously mentioned.

The type of water you drink also makes a difference. If you are drinking a mineral-rich spring water, artesian well water, or alkaline ionized water, for example, you would need to add less salt than if you are drinking distilled water or reverse osmosis water since these waters are de-mineralized.

For more practical tips on the Water Cure, including how much salt to add, you might want to check out the references below.


F. Batmanghelidj, M.D.; Your Body’s Many Cries for Water; 2004. The Wonders of Water: Amazing Secrets for Health and Wellness Water Cure Recipe and Nutrition.

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