How to Kill Slugs with Salt and not Harm your Plants

If you’ve spent any time around your garden, you’ll know that slugs can be a real pest. They damage plants and leave behind slime trails anywhere they go, so it’s good to have an effective way of keeping them away. What do you do about slugs if you’re not a big fan of pesticides? Well, salt is an amazing substance that has been used for decades but does it work?

Salt has a slightly drying effect on them; adding salt to your garden acts as an irritant and encourages the slug to move off and find somewhere more comfortable. Salt can be quite effective at deterring slugs. Not only does it kill them, but it can also affect other pests that happen to be in their path.

Salting the soil around your gardens and plants will not only kill them on contact but can affect their activities, too. However, many people are now questioning if this is effective. And if so, how well does it work? Below is everything you need to know about using salt to kill slugs.  

Salt does deter slugs

Salt is a natural slug repellent, and it’s an effective, reliable, low-cost way to protect your plants from slugs. It is one of the most common ways to deter slugs. It works by dehydrating them and making them more susceptible to being eaten by birds and other animals. Here are other natural ways to stop slugs from eating your plants.  

It’s a common misconception that salt is just not a good idea for gardens, but the truth is that it’s a great way to keep slugs and snails at bay.

Salt has been proven to be an effective method of killing slugs. In addition to killing slugs outright, salt will also prevent them from breeding by making their habitat uninhabitable. When you sprinkle salt on your plants and garden beds, it limits their access to food and water, which means they can’t reproduce or spread quickly.

You can make sure that your garden is free of slugs by adding some salt to your compost pile or sprinkling some around the base of plants where you see them congregating (we recommend using kitchen salt because it has less moisture).

However, if you want to be sure that everything is clean and clear of slugs, you should use both salt and garlic. The two together create a perfect balance of repellency and flavor for your plants and environment.

How salt kills slugs and snails

Salt kills slugs and snails because it’s highly soluble in water. When you sprinkle salt on the ground, it will draw the water up into the air, leaving behind a layer of salt that the slug or snail will not be able to walk across.

The salt also irritates their skin, and they can’t move quickly enough to get away from it. Salt contains a high concentration of sodium chloride, which is an ionic compound toxic to slugs and snails. The negative charges in the salt attract electrons from molecules in slugs and snails, causing them to dehydrate.

These cause the structure of the snail’s cells to break down, resulting in death. Dehydration causes the body to stop functioning at its normal rate, which eventually leads to death.

Slugs and snails are sensitive to changes in their environment. When you add salt to your garden soil, it creates an environment that is inhospitable for snails. As this happens, the snail will move out of the area or die from dehydration or starvation.

Source: Beta Eperiment 

Ways to deter slugs with Salt

There are various ways to use salt to kill or deter slugs and snails away from your garden. It can be used along with other substances like garlic and peppermint. However, salt alone is also effective, and below are the various ways to use it  

  • The first step is to make sure the salt is dry to touch, which means no water on the salt, and then sprinkle the salt on top of your plants in a circle around the base of their stems. You’ll want to leave about an inch of space between them and plant roots where possible.
  • Find slugs and sprinkle salt on them directly
  • Water an area in your garden in the evening and cover it with a plank or cardboard to keep it damp to attract slugs. Keep the plank or board some inches away from the ground, so slugs can easily crawl in. Flip the board or lank over in the morning to expose slugs and sprinkle some salt on them or pick them up and drown them in salt water.

Too much salt can kill your plants if you apply too much at once; so only sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon per 1 gallon of water as needed.

Salt quantity to kills a slug

The salt you use to kill slugs can be as simple as a splash of water or as complicated as a bathtub full of salt. The good news is that you don’t have to use a lot of salt. You can use around 1 tablespoon of salt per 2 square feet of garden, you can simply sprinkle half or one tablespoon of salt on a slug and it will kill it.  

The larger the slug, the more salt it will require to kill it. A common recommendation is one tablespoon of table salt for every pound of the slug. So if you have a pound of slug and want to kill it, you would need about half to 1 tablespoon of table salt.

When using salt as a snail and slug deterrent, be sure not to use more than half a cup per square foot of area that you want to protect from infestations. For example, if you have an entire yard full of grass, you might only need 1/4 cup of salt spread over that area. 

How long does a slug take to die when sprinkled with salt?

Slug death times are dependent on the slug’s size and how much salt you sprinkle on it. The time it takes for a slug to die when sprinkled with salt depends on many factors, including the amount of salt used, and the frequency at which it is sprinkled.

For a small slug, you’ll want to sprinkle a teaspoon or half on it. This should be enough to kill most slugs in less than 30 minutes. However, if your slug is larger or if you’re trying to kill some slugs in hurry, then you should use more salt, a little bit at a time until all of them are dead.

A slug’s ability to heal is dependent on its environment. If a slug is in an area with high moisture, a large amount of salt, and a low oxygen level, it will die within one day. If the slug is in an area with lower moisture and oxygen levels, it will take longer to die.

does salt deter slugs

Slugs feel pain when you put salt on them

Slugs are invertebrates, which means that they don’t have a central nervous system like mammals do. They do however have a network of nerves throughout their bodies and skin, including nerves that detect touch and pain.

In addition to these sensory organs, many slugs have specialized structures called chemosensation that help them detect chemicals in the environment around them by absorbing them through the tips of their feet. The chemicals then travel up the body of the slug and into its neural system where they can be detected by its receptors.nSalt can be extremely painful to slugs because it causes chemical burns on their feet. 

Is pouring salt on a slug cruel? No, pouring salt on it is not cruel. It’s just something that’s done to slugs. Salt is a great way to kill slugs, and it’s a pretty easy way to do it. Salt dissolves and dehydrates slug tissue, and once it’s done, they just die.

Too Much Salt will Affect your Plants

If you’re using salt on your plants, don’t use too much; it’s better to err on the side of less than too much. Once you get your slug problem under control, you can experiment with different concentrations as needed.

Salt is a nutrient that plants need to grow and thrive. But too much salt can cause damage to the plant’s roots, which means that the plant won’t be able to absorb water or nutrients from the soil. In worst-case scenarios, this can lead to the death of the plant.

Too much salt can cause plants to become ill, but it’s not the kind of illness you want to see. The high levels of sodium in salty water can lead to root rot, which causes your plants to wilt and die. If you notice signs of root rot, such as yellowing leaves, wilting, and drooping, you should immediately stop using the water until it has had time to drain out of the system.

This can happen if you use too much fertilizer on the same day as you add the salt, or if you add too much fertilizer to the soil at once. Salt also encourages fungus growth, which can make your plants sick. You should also avoid using salt when watering your plants; this will cause them to lose moisture from their roots and make them more susceptible to pests and disease.

Other Natural Ways to Deter Slugs from Your Garden


Vinegar is also an excellent way to deter slugs. Pour some vinegar into a jar and place it in the garden, or use it as a spray by spraying it onto your plants, flowers, or soil. The acidity of the vinegar will kill any slug that comes in contact with it and make them uncomfortable enough to avoid coming back for more. Here is everything you need to know about using vinegar to slugs on plants.   

Baking Soda

Baking soda is another great alternative for keeping slugs at bay. It can be used as a powder or as a spray by adding some water to the baking soda and then spraying on plants or leaves until they are covered in the powdery substance. The baking soda will kill other pests such as aphids, mites, and mealy bugs while leaving no trace of itself in whatever area you have applied it to.

Use gravel

Pea gravel: Slugs hate gravel surfaces, so when you lay down some pea gravel, they won’t want to move it. It’s one of the simple ways to deter slugs from your garden and create a barrier between your plants and the ground.

Slugs can’t crawl over gravel rough surfaces because their feet are too soft and delicate. The pea gravels or crushed granite help keep them away from your plants by acting like something rough and jagged underfoot, and they won’t want to cross it.

Add garlic, onion, or chives to your garden

They’re all-natural and effective at repelling slugs, so you don’t have to spend money on chemicals. Just place one clove of garlic in a paper bag and leave it near the base of your plants.

Garlic has an antifungal effect on slime mold growths that can accumulate in the soil and kill off slugs and other pests.

You should also add some onion slices to the same bag and place it near the top of your plant bed. If you want to be extra thorough, dig up an entire head of chives and bury that too. This will keep slugs away for good. Chives smell great and help keep slugs away from your garden.

Companion planting 

Companion planting is a strategy that involves adding plants near your plants that can help repel pests like slugs by attracting them away. All kinds of plants can be used in companion planting from strawberries to onions, but some plants work well against slugs: garlic, basil, mint, lavender, dill, and marigold. 

The marigold flower is a powerful deterrent for slugs, as it smells very strongly and has a strong taste. The smell will keep them away from your plants, while the taste will keep them away from your food crops. Marigolds are also great for attracting beneficial insects that can help repel pests like slugs, snails, and aphids.

Keep your soil drained

Make sure your soil is fertile and well-drained. Slugs love moist soil, so make sure it’s always moist but not soggy. You should also compost or add mulch to help improve drainage in this area of your yard (A good rule of thumb is that if you can see water running down your foundation into this part of your yard, then it needs some attention).

Using a slug trap

Slug traps work by trapping slugs in a container of water, and then letting the water evaporate over time. The slugs are unable to escape because they are stuck in the trap with glue-like material called slug goo or beer.

The best part about using a slug trap is that it’s simple: just place some beer in a container and wait. Slugs will come crawling up to eat the bait, and they will get drunk and drone in the beer before can escape.

Use borax or diatomaceous earth (DE)

Borax is a natural mineral salt that can be used to control slugs when you sprinkle it around your plants. It’s also great for killing off aphids and other pests present in your garden. DE works similarly; you mix it with water and spray it on top of your plants to kill off any slugs that might be lurking underneath them.

Both borax and DE are safe for pets and children, you don’t need to worry about them getting into their food. If you’re using borax in particular, make sure that it’s approved for use around kids because some brands contain harmful chemicals such as metam sodium (which is toxic if swallowed).

Leave a Comment