The Simple Hack To Prevent Salt From Clumping In The Shaker

If you've ever filled a salt shaker before, you likely know how exceptionally tough it can be to keep the salt granules from clumping and clogging the holes at the very top, making it exceedingly difficult to dispense the salt. As the salt granules absorb ambient moisture from the surrounding air, they stick together and partially dissolve, forming stubborn chunks.  

Storing your salt in an airtight container effectively helps to prevent it from adhering, as the air can't reach the granules quite as easily; but if you're resolutely determined to keep your salt in a shaker, there are numerous ways to fight the inevitable clumping.

One simple, easy, and cheap anti-clumping hack you might have already seen at local diners involves a little bit of rice. Dry rice — whatever kind you might already have resting in your pantry — sprinkled into the salt shaker will absorb that extra ambient moisture, ensuring the salt remains as dry as can be.

Rice: the ultimate moisture absorber

Both rice and salt are hygroscopic — this means that they will target, attract, and absorb molecules of water, even through the vapor in the air. Salt, however, is also what's called deliquescent, which means that as the water seeps into it, it dissolves partially, which is what contributes to the clumping. Rice, on the other hand, does not dissolve at all as the water absorbs into it.

Rice will absorb ambient moisture at a faster rate than salt does, meaning that if you combine the two substances together, the rice will take in the water molecules and prevent the salt from clumping. All you need to do is mix a small amount of uncooked rice — just a pinch — into a salt shaker. Don't add too much or the rice might actually start to clog up your shaker. Long-grain rice works best here, as the size of the grains prevents it from escaping through the holes in the lid, but most rice varieties will be large enough to stay inside the shaker.

Other tips to keep salt from clumping

If you don't have rice on hand, there are a few other tricks you can use to keep your salt from clumping. Several highly absorbent, shelf-stable foodstuffs will work fairly well in wicking away the moisture; dried beans, for example, or even dried coffee beans can have the same effect if a small amount is mixed into the shaker with the salt. Just note that the coffee beans may infuse a slight coffee aroma into your salt.

If you don't mind a more dramatic change in flavor profile, you can also sprinkle in some dried herbs; namely, parsley or cloves. Dried parsley and cloves will also absorb moisture, keeping the salt itself dry, but these herbs will impart some flavor into the salt granules as well, seasoning them. A little parsley or clove-infused salt can add a nice pop of flavor to whatever food you're adding that sprinkle of sodium to.