People have spoken about using salt against snails for many years. But does the substance actually deter these pests and does it kill them as people have said? We’ll explore this and how we can use salt to deter snails if it is in fact an effective method.
Do Snails Like Salt?
No, snails do not like salt in any way.
They dislike the substance, and they will also dislike any substances that have come into contact with the salt. For example, if there is some soil that has been mixed with salt then snails will not want to travel across it.
Salt is a popular choice amongst gardeners because it is easy to obtain and natural, meaning that it does not cause any harm to the environment, unlike commercial insecticides.
So, knowing that snails dislike salt, how can we use this to keep our gardens protected from these molluscs?
How to Deter Snails with Salt
One easy way to deter snails with salt is to simply make a line of salt that snails cannot cross. You can do this around plant pots or flower beds and the snails will not risk crossing the salt to reach your plants.
If you have a problem with snails in your house, you can also sprinkle salt along any doorways or windowsills that you think they may be climbing through to keep them out.
Another thing that you can do is to mix it with the soil in your plants. If the soil has a higher content of salt, then the snails will avoid it at all costs. This method also works well because there is less risk of the salt being blown away.
You should also be careful using this method as too much salt can actually cause harm to your plants so you should only use a small amount and add extra if required.
One other method you can use is to make a salt spray. Mix water with salt, you only need enough water so that the salt has just dissolved. Then you can spray this solution either on the pests to kill them directly, or you can spray it on your plants.
However, as mentioned earlier, you need to be careful when putting salt on your plants as too much can cause illness to your plants.
Does Salt Kill Snails?
Whilst many people see this as a myth, it is actually true that salt does in fact kill snails.
This happens because when snails come into contact with salt, it mixes with the mucus that surrounds their body. The result of this mixing is that the mucus surrounding the snail has a lower water content than what is inside the snail’s body.
To try and even out the levels of water, a process called osmosis occurs in which the water will move outside of the snail’s body to try and make the mucus more balanced. The result of this is that the snail slowly becomes dehydrated until it cannot survive any longer.
One grain of salt is not enough to be fatal, but masses of salt are not required to kill snails either.
Is it Ethical to Use Salt Against Snails?
There is a big debate as to whether salt is an ethical way of dealing with snails.
Research has proven that invertebrates can feel pain, for many years people believed that they couldn’t. And using salt to kill snails is a very long and painful process, therefore many people have dubbed the method as being inhumane.
However, as mentioned earlier, contact with a very small amount of salt will not be enough to kill the snail. But it will be enough to drive them away and make them aware of the dangers that are nearby. Therefore, it is arguably still ethical to use salt if you make sure to use enough to just deter them rather than kill them.
Does Salt Deter Other Pests?
There is nothing better than finding an effective pest repellent that not only deters the problem pest but helps to keep other pests at bay as well. Salt is actually not only effective against snails. It can be used against other pests as well.
Below is a short list of some pests that salt also deters:
- Slugs – Since slugs are covered in a very similar mucus to snails, you may not be surprised to hear that both are repelled by salt. In large amounts, salt is also lethal to slugs due to the dehydration process that it causes.
- Ants – Ants can also be problem pests in your garden, and they also protect other pests, namely aphids. Salt works as an ant deterrent because they will leave when they can smell the substance. This is because salt can also be lethal to ants. As ants are insects, they have exoskeletons, and the presence of salt can cause this exoskeleton to be dehydrated and break down.
To summarise, here are a few key points about using salt against snails. Salt does work to deter snails, too much salt can kill snails due to the fact that it dehydrates them. You can repel snails with salt by making a salt barrier, mixing salt with your plant soil or making a strong salt solution and spraying it.
You need to be careful using salt though as too much can damage your plants.
There is a debate about whether salt is ethical as it is a long and painful process to kill snails. Salt also works against slugs and ants.
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