There may be lots or reasons you want to make homemade saline solution, oral electrolyte rehydration solution, Neti pot sinus irrigation solution instead of going to the pharmacy to buy it premade. It may be late at night or a holiday and the stores may be closed, you may not have transportation, or you may just want to save money or feel self-sufficient. Whatever the reason you can safely make your own solutions for these purposes, but keep in mind that the concentrations of the various salts in these solutions needs to be accurately measured and mixed or you can do yourself or your child significant harm. That said here are recipes for these commonly recommended medicinal solutions.
Saline Solution Recipe: This is also called normal saline, or physiologic saline solution. The names all mean that the concentration of sodium chloride in the solution is very close to the same concentration of salts dissolved in the cells of the body, so the solution does not cause water to pass into or out of cells it comes into contact with leading to cell dehydration or swelling. This recipe is recommended for irrigation of wounds, soaking ingrown toenails, and such uses, but not for contact lens care or other uses where strict sterility is needed. For these “clean” but not sterile uses tap water is adequate. Better to use distilled water, but tap water is OK for most uses.
- 1/3 tsp non-iodized salt +250 ml boiled or distilled water (one cup is 240 ml and is close enough for most purposes.
- For larger amounts use 1 liter boiled or distilled water + 1 1/3 tsp non-iodized salt.
Oral Electrolyte Solution Recipe: Oral Electrolyte Rehydration solution is among the most important advances in prevention of death worldwide from diarrhea. It has revolutionized the management of infant diarrhea and probably prevented more deaths than most much more widely acclaimed advances in medical care. It is estimated that the use of oral rehydration solution and zinc tablets has prevented 50 million infant deaths in the last 25 years. There are many recipes out there for homemade oral electrolyte solution, but this one is simple, is recommended by the Rehydration Project supported by the World Health Organization, and works fine:
- 1 liter clean water
- 6 level teaspoons of sugar
- ½ level teaspoon of salt
Neti Pot Solution Recipe: Neti pots are very popular, have almost a cult following, and work fine, but personally I prefer one of the simple nasal saline rince devices like the NeilMed Sinus Rinse product. It is very easy to use, and the key is to be gentle in the irrigation and in the blowing out of the solution after irrigation. Here is a recipe that works great for saline irrigation:
- 1 liter of lukewarm distilled water
- 1 tsp non-iodized salt. Sea salt or kosher salt are good options.
- ½ tsp baking soda.
- Mix the ingredients until the soda and salt are dissolved.
If you decide to use any of these solution recipes remember that they need to be measured accurately and you need to use common sense. If you are getting worse not better, consult your physician. If you feel more comfortable using premade solutions at the pharmacy by all means buy them. If you want to make them yourself be sure to wash your hands carefully, take care to avoid contaminating the solutions, and do not store the solutions for future use, rather mix them fresh to avoid bacterial contamination and growth.