It’s probably one of the most well-known weapons against slugs in the garden: Common, table salt. But is that the case? Are slugs simply put off by the presence or is there more to it than that? So, does salt kill slugs or not?
Yes, salt does kill slugs. Salt is one of the most famous home remedies which kills slugs.
Slug skin is permeable, which means it allows things to pass through.
Therefore, when you sprinkle salt on a slug, it enters its skin. Underneath the slug’s skin, the salt crystals mix with the slime, leading to dehydration. The slug dehydrates from the inside, causing it to die. Pleasant, right?
Do Slugs Feel Pain from Salt?
Although It is common for people to sprinkle salt on slugs, you do need to question whether slugs feel pain from salt or not?
When a slug encounters salt, it squirms as the salt dehydrates it, getting rid of the water in its body. Slugs rely on the water content in their body to survive. Sprinkling salt on them leads to discomfort.
Looking at a slug squirm, it is natural to question if it is pain or a natural bodily reflext. However, slugs do not feel pain when you sprinkle salt on them as they do not exactly have a conscience. Just because slugs respond to the salt does not mean they can feel the pain.
Is It Cruel to Put Salt on Slugs?
Contrary to popular belief, putting salt on slugs does not melt them but dehydrates them. As putting salt on them causes slugs to react by squirming, many people question if it is a cruel act. From the outside, looking in, it does look a little cruel.
While slugs may not feel excrutiating pain, they do feel discomfort. And if putting salt on slugs makes them squirm, it means they are experiencing some level of discomfort.
Therefore, it can be cruel to watch slugs squirm to death. There are more immediate ways of killing slugs as killing them using salt can be a lengthy, drawn out process.
There is also something else to be aware of as a gardener: Salt can damage plants, and if you use it to kill slugs in your garden, you are putting your plants at risk.
Salt can seep into your soil, causing it to become saline. There is a chance your plants will not grow to be healthy or full of blooms. Reversing this is not straightforward and lots of time has to be put into balancing out the salinity of your soil.
Will Salt Deter Slugs?
If salt can kill slugs, can it also avoid them from entering your garden in the first place? This question is tricky because the answer can be a yes or a no.
One side of the story is that salt only kills slugs, and it will not tackle the longterm problem you have going on. This is applicable if you use salt to kill the slugs on your plants directly.
However, there are other ways to use salt by creating a barrier in your garden or around vulnerable plants.
Any slugs which want to enter and eat your plants will have to cross the salt border. And luckily, the slugs will die before passing the border.
The only problem with using salt to deter slugs is that it is not a longterm solution. For instance, weather like rain or wind can instantly remove your salt borders. As a result, the salt can seep into the soil, increasing its salinity content and adversely affecting your plants.
We would actually advise against using salt in your garden. Instead, one of the many natural slug deterrents that we have listed here. Additionally, do all you can to avoid using slug pellets which can be incredibly harmful.
Slugs are a known enemy of the garden, which is why us gardeners are always looking for ways to get rid of them. One way you can kill slugs is by using salt. Salt enters the slug’s body, dehydrates it, killing it in the process.
However, using salt will only kill slugs and not deter them. Hence, you cannot rely on salt to be a long-term solution.
Putting salt on slugs can also be deemed a little cruel. While slugs do not feel pain, they do experience a level of discomfort.
It’s also worth remembering that salt is bad for your garden as it increases the soil’s salt content, leading to damaged and dead plants.
Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden