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"I want salt over here, as much as you can find! Everyone with a sword wipes their blades in the salt! ...SALT KILLS DEMONS! Don't forget. Spread the word!"
Trevor Belmont, Castlevania (2017)
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Sodium Chloride. Whether it comes from the earth or the sea, it is already the solution to many of life's problems. It is necessary nutrient to prevent electrolyte deficiency and dehydration, especially in hot climate. Its ability to absorb water makes it lethal or repellent to many pests. It can preserve or pickle food, protecting it from time and decay. And, of course, it enhances flavor to turn bland meals delicious. Because it is so useful, it can be valuable: before the industrial age, salt could be worth its weight in gold. Many cultures came to revere salt as a wonderful substance with purifying properties.

In fiction, this may be taken a step further: salt can have near-divine power; it can be a weapon against evil and the solution to supernatural problems. This trope applies wherever salt is the downfall of a villain, even if indirectly.

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Salt can cause pain, as demonstrated by the experience of "rubbing salt in the wound", or by the way it kills pests like worms or slugs on contact. This, combined with the idea that Holy Burns Evil, might inspire this trope.

This idea appears in myth and folklore around the world: salt is said to be an effective weapon or repellent against The Corruption, Demons, The Fair Folk, The Undead, Vampires and more. Overlaps with Supernatural Repellent in this case.

Super-Trope of Salt the Earth. Not to be confused with any salt dissolved in a liquid solvent, although this trope may involve this.


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Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The zombies in One Piece are weak to being fed by salt (as well as getting immolated or falling into the ocean). This is because the zombies are powered by shadows that Gecko Moria has stolen from other people. Since Moria's source of power is a Devil Fruit (like many other people in the verse), one of the weaknesses of Devil Fruit users is the sea itself, and salt mainly comes from the sea... You get the idea. Though salt doesn't counteract any other Devil Fruit power.
  • Inverted with the Bakemons in Digimon Adventure, which are not only not weak to salt, but they're also using the salt to season their Human Sacrifices.
  • On two separate occasions in Food Wars!, Soma has suggested throwing salt over the door after the departure of a particularly unpleasant visitor (a corrupt real estate agent the first time and Azami Nakiri the second time). On both occasions he is stopped by an adult (his father the first time, dorm supervisor Fumio in the second) from wasting perfectly good salt.
  • In Basilisk, Amayo Jingoro's ninjutsu ability allows him to transform himself into a semi-liquid form by covering his body in salt, allowing him to sneak through tight spaces and even suffocate his enemies. The downside to this technique is that it leaves him dehydrated and can cause him to shrivel up and die unless he immerses himself in water to regain his humanoid form. He is also deathly afraid of travelling over the sea, since saltwater can cause him to dissolve completely and die. He is ultimately killed when he is tossed into a bay.
  • Used to great effect in the "Bakeneko" segment of Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales. With the help of Kayo and the samurai Odajima, the mysterious Medicine Seller spreads curing salt through the halls surrounding the survivors, creating a barrier the mononoke initially can't cross. The demon eventually breaks through, leaving the Medicine Seller struggling to subdue it — until Kayo resorts to chucking the entire pot of remaining salt into its amorphous form, sending it yowling away in pain.

    Comic Books 
  • Subverted in Crossed. One character escaped from a Crossed when he tripped into a large amount of salt, and so thinks they're allergic to it. The other characters are dubious, thinking it was getting large amounts of powder exploding in its face that confused it. They are later proven right when the character tries to protect his family by spilling a bag of salt in a circle around them, and they all end up raped to death as his wife calls him an idiot.
  • A line of salt on the ground is an impenetrable barrier to the Passengers in Revival.
  • In a Silver Age Supergirl story, a so-called magician tries to frighten the Girl of Steel by claiming that spilling salt causes bad luck and the only way to prevent it is to throw some of the salt over his left shoulder. Kara doesn't believe one single word.
  • Italian Disney Ducks Comic Universe stories feature rock salt as the shotgun and blunderbuss ammunition of choice for Grandma Duck, Scrooge and Donald. In particular, Scrooge is such an avid user he sometimes loads carronades with salt to fend off the Beagle Boys, with an entire story being centered on him looking for a kind of rock salt that is supposedly so powerful that even the Beagle Boys would leave him alone after one ministration, and in the Reginella Saga Donald once took on an entire Medieval-level army with nothing but a double-barreled shotgun loaded with salt rounds and a boombox with a horrible song and won.

    Fan Works 
  • Discussed in Lady Luck's Favor, when Danny Phantom mentions that salt warding off evil spirits is a myth.
  • Superman story Superman of 2499: The Great Confrontation presents a rare heroic example: several generations ago, sorceress Lady Hecate put a hex on the House of El so exposure to saltwater would kill them.
  • In OSMU: Fanfiction Friction, O'Grady and Oz are ordered to use their Salt-inator gadgets to spread salt all over the abandoned house that Basil Valentine, his two henchwomen, and Todd are located in. It creates a barrier that stops Basil's Psychic Powers and eventually causes the house to burn to the ground with him and his two henchwomen inside (Todd was rescued by Oprah moments before the fire).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A minor example in Kill Bill: Budd needs to incapacitate the Bride without killing her. She's a better fighter than him, and regular firearms are out because it would likely kill her. So what does he do? He waits for her to open his door before unloading on her with a shotgun full of rock salt.
  • Hocus Pocus establishes that the Sanderson witches can't enter a circle of salt. To keep them away from Dani so they can't drink her life force, a circle of salt is placed in a graveyard, which the witches also can't touch because it's hallowed ground, and Dani is safeguarded within it.
  • Warlock. The title Big Bad is killed by having salt water injected into him (apparently witches are harmed by salt). In the final scene the heroine buries the Grand Grimoire in the middle of the Bonneville Salt Flats where other witches will presumably be unable to retrieve it.
  • The Day of the Triffids (1962): Seawater is found to destroy the titular Man Eating Plants, which leads to some Fridge Logic as most of the chemical salts within are found (albeit in much lower concentrations) in the people they've been feeding on. Assuming seawater is the key and not just water in general, which was ambiguous enough to generate a great deal of natter on the main page at one point, but that would make even less sense.

    Literature 
  • In the children's book I Spent My Summer Vacation Kidnapped Into Space, the main duo are pitted against a pair of giant slugs in a fight. Because humans are rare in this part of the galaxy, they manage to convince their captors that they require copious amounts of salt just to live. Of course, they stockpile the salt and use it as a weapon against the slugs.
  • In Exile's Quest by Richard Meade, salt was used to scare away arm-sized leeches.
  • In one of the Captain Scarlet paperback novel stories, the Mysterons (Martians) as part of their "war of nerves" against the Earth try to destroy all food crops using a fast-moving slime-like substance (a product of Earth technology) which was intended for clearing land. Eventually, one of the "Angels" (women fighter pilots) accidentally discovers that highly concentrated salt will stop the slime.
  • Several times in Unnatural Issue, characters use salt against Richard's necromantic servants.
  • The climactic battle at the end of The Alien Series's first book, Touched by an Alien, features a giant slug monster and a lot of salt being airlifted to the battlefield.
  • In C. J. Cherryh's Rusalka trilogy, salt is one of the ingredients of a ward against a vodyanoi.
  • In the Temps story "Someone to Watch Over Me", a circle of salt is used to trap a poltergeist that's been causing havoc on the London Underground. Gentleman Wizard Loric congratulates the protagonists for their knowledge of occult practices, only for them to admit they just watch a lot of horror movies.
  • In the novel They Thirst by Robert McCammon, salt water is revealed to be anathema to vampires, burning them like acid.
  • In Fragment, seawater is fatally toxic to the indigenous animal life of Henders Island, as its salt content is high enough to painfully poison them. This is implied to be the only reason why Henders life hasn't spread and wiped out all other multicellular life on Earth.
  • In Icerigger, by Alan Dean Foster, Skua September repels a marauding ice planet beast by throwing salt in its face.
  • In The Dresden Files, salt is one of the substances useful for creating magic circles.
  • In Shaman Blues, salt has Anti-Magic properties — a border of salt can block Ley Lines and stop ghosts, and when Witkacy downs a vial of saltwater, the effects of confounding magic working on him are dispelled.
  • Played for Laughs in the Cal Leandros series. While working as a bartender at the Ninth Circle, Cal regularly gets in trouble for forgetting to leave the salt out when making a cocktail for a vodyanoi, causing his boss Ishiah to have to remove slimy, melted vodyanoi from the bathroom floor. Considering Cal's dislike for anything that preys on humans, though, forgetfulness isn't always at fault.
  • Under the Pendulum Sun: Humans in the Land of Faerie need to season all their food with salt "from human lands, poured by human hands" to dispel its Food Chains effect. Some dishes visibly give up their Glamour as soon as the salt touches them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Supernatural:
    • Salt has been the first line of defense for the Winchester boys from the beginning (that, along with Cold Iron and Kill It with Fire were pretty much their only defense early on). Since demons can't cross it, they still use it to fortify positions when they expect an attack. Part of the reason Shotguns Are Just Better is because they can be loaded with rock salt, making them one of the few human weapons effective against ghosts and demons.
    • Sam once foils a fairy by spilling salt on the floor, which forces the fairy to count every grain and gives Sam enough time to finish an incantation to banish the fairies to whence they came.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the episode "Image of the Fendahl" salt is deadly to the soul-sucking Gallifreyan Eldritch Abomination in question, and that effectiveness is — in-universe — the origin of the superstition that throwing salt over your shoulder wards off evil.
    • Played with in the episode "The Unicorn and the Wasp". The Doctor's been poisoned, but has a procedure to save himself. Part of this requires salt, but he then declares that actual salt is too salty and uses anchovies instead.
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "The Zombie". Karl traps a zombie inside a circle of salt so he can defeat it.
  • The Christmas Special of Extras has Ricky Gervais's character appear in an episode of Doctor Who playing a giant insect, who is defeated after the Doctor pours salt on him.
  • The Slime People, as featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, had the protagonists thwart the invasion of the slime people with ordinary salt.
  • Ultra Series:
    • Ultra Q has a Martian slug monster, Namegon, which is greatly weakened by salt. It's defeated after falling into the ocean, at which point it quickly dissolves.
    • Ultraman Mebius has an episode involving the invasion of the Serpent Aliens, whose extremely high Healing Factor no-sells all of Mebius' attacks. However, Team GUYS analyzed that the Serpent Aliens' body structure are based on slugs and are therefore weak against salt, at which point they end up assisting Mebius by launching a pair of salt-loaded missiles on Alient Serpent. It works, the salt greatly weakens the Serpent Aliens allowing Mebius to eliminate them with ease.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Legend has it that if you feed salt to a Voodoo Zombie, it restores his soul and/or allows him to die.
  • In non-Hollywood Voodoo, salt is used to ward off spirits. It is therefore purposefully kept out of any sacrificial and ritual foods, since it would not only repel evil spirits, but also the ones you are attempting to summon or appease.
  • Various pagan religions consider salt to be a purifying element capable of warding off evil.
  • Inverted Trope: Spilling salt is believed to bring bad luck, and can be countered by tossing it behind one's left shoulder. Played straight in the initial explanation of how this belief came to be: due to the high value of salt, spilling it was said to be the work of Satan pushing or nudging you into spilling it. So you threw it over your shoulder, right into Satan's face, scaring him off.
  • The Fair Folk of Europe have two most common weaknesses: Bread, salt, or bread and salt combined, which represents either Sacred Hospitality or the mainstays of civilization.

    Podcast 
  • People can use salt to repel Oni in the world of the Cool Kids Table game Small Magic.
    • The Fallen Gods: Fighting with slugs and a flail snail calls for this, though it requires a strength check because the party's been shrunken and the shaker is almost as big as they are.
  • In Hi Nay, Mari uses salt to drive of the flesh-thing in the first episode.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Giant Leeches can be killed by sprinkling salt on their bodies. Oddly enough Giant Slugs aren't affected by salt.
    • Module C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. The monster known as Tecuziztecatl (a.k.a. "The Lord of Snails") is a type of giant slug. Contrary to the standard 1st Edition rules it is vulnerable to salt, taking 1-4 Hit Points of damage per combat round from having salt on its skin.
    • 2nd Edition Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix. Bloodrose plants are extremely vulnerable to salt. Each gallon of salt water poured on a patch does 1-10 Hit Points damage, and anyone coated in salt will only be attacked once by a bloodrose — it recoils in pain and knows not to attack that target again.
    • Judges Guild supplement Wilderlands of the Magic Realm. Markara Worm island is infested with markara worms, which viciously attack and devour all living things. The only safe place on the island is at the seashore, because makara worms are repelled by salt water.
    • Module Gates of Firestorm Peak. The Blood Sipper monster takes 2-8 Hit Points of damage per handful of salt applied to it.
    • White Dwarf magazine #60 article "The Fiend Factory". The blood spore is capable of infecting any warm-blooded creature, eventually exposing itself on the surface of the creature's skin. When it does so, applying a salt solution will completely destroy the spore throughout the creature's body.
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Mansions of Madness, adventure "Crack'd and Crook'd Manse". The Alien Slime Creature takes damage from having salt poured onto it, from 1d4 Hit Points for a shaker's worth of salt to death within minutes from a truckload of salt.
  • Bureau 13: Stalking the Night Fantastic. Supernatural creatures have Banes - things that can impair, harm or even kill them. One of those banes is salt. Some of the monsters with salt as a bane are goblins and night zombies.
  • It Came from the Late, Late Show. Mobile Carnivorous Plants are Monsters that are five feet tall, form large groups to hunt and throw poison thorns. They are killed by a salt overdose. Essentially Expies of the Triffids from the 1962 movie.
  • Dangerous Journeys/Mythus. Some supernatural creatures have Susceptibilities, which cause them to take damage from contact with or proximity to a specific substance. One possible Susceptibility is to salt, which does 1-3 Hit Points of damage per ounce. If the creature is touched by a large amount at one time it can be killed outright.
    Video Games 
  • Lagoon creatures, a recurring Fish People enemy in Monster Hunter (PC), are fatally allergic to salt, where a single whiff will make them shrivel before petrifying to rock.
  • Salt is used in Nioh to drain Yokai of their Ki, once drained enemies take additional damage and stagger more easily.
  • One of the things added by Bewitchment, a Game Mod for Minecraft, is salt. It can be placed on the ground like redstone to form a barrier that keeps demons, undead, werewolves, and endermen from crossing it, and it is a necessary reagent in several rituals and crafting recipes that repel or harm supernatural entities.
  • In Monster Girl Quest!, the Slug Girl is resistant to physical attacks but can be harmed by salt, similar to real life slugs. Luka even gets the unique Throw Salt skill for the battle against her. However, he has to use up all of his salt in order to drive her off.

    Web Comics 
  • Critter Coven: Florence uses a bag of all-natural sea salt to make a protective circle when they try contacting a ghost, but doesn't have enough to make it wide enough for all of them. And then the possibly-supernatural wind goes and breaks the circle anyways.
  • In Cyanide & Happiness short animation "Ted Bear", the narrator points out he cannot drink the ocean water because of its salt content. So, of course, he drinks a fruitpunch fish-crustacean, which filters the salt from the water.
  • Mob Psycho 100: Arataka Reigen often tosses out salt as a way of exorcising spirits. However, because he uses regular table salt that hasn't been blessed, it's completely useless.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-612 ("Aggressive Cable"). A solution of aqueous sodium chloride (a.k.a. salt water) stuns SCP-612 and renders it temporarily inert. Justified, as high-saline water has greater conductivity than pure water, and thus would be better at neutralizing an entirely-electric lifeform.
  • In Sprite Fright, the sprites are harmed by salt. When Ellie ends up back at the campground, the salted snack foods the other campers brought allow her to fight back.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • Snorlock (a slug that thinks he's a snail) is first threatened, then later attacked, with a few grains of salt. This falls under Logical Weakness as slugs and snails really are vulnerable to salt, though the damage a single grain does is somewhat exaggerated.
    • Jake's brother Jermaine uses special salt to keep away demons trying to get to the items his father has stolen from them. Since he doesn't use the salt for anything else, he has become used to eating bland food, so he's delighted when Jake makes him a meal seasoned from salt... until he discovers that Jake took the salt from the circle that keeps the demons from entering, leaving enough room for one of them to go in.
  • Camp Lakebottom: In the "Mindsuckers From the Depths" episode, a huge leech attaches itself to Squirt's skull and starts controlling him to create a rocket that would spread his fellow Puppeteer Parasite leeches to Take Over the World. The leeches are defeated when McGee puts salt in the rocket instead and the resultant storm of salt causes the leeches to shrivel up.
  • Castlevania (2017): The people of Gresit are under assault by Dracula's army of night-creatures, and powerless to fight them off. Trevor directs them in defensive tactics and instructs them to wipe their otherwise-useless weapons with salt. This allows the civilians to kill demons in the ensuing skirmish.
  • In the Darkwing Duck episode, "Comic Book Capers", Gosalyn tries to improve Darkwing's story by adding a Giant Slug Monster from Mars. Darkwing defeats the monster by loading his gun with salt.
  • The Dragons: Race to the Edge episode "A Grim Retreat" introduces the grimora, a dragon parasite that drives the host insane. The parasite's weakness is salt, so the riders are able to cure their dragons by luring them into the sea. This might explain why so many dragons live on small islands and even lay their eggs in saltwater.
  • An evil troll named Spring-Heeled Jack is defeated in Jackie Chan Adventures by sprinkling him with salt, causing him to be Taken for Granite.
  • In Martin Mystery, a gigantic mushroom-like monster is destroyed by plunging it into the Great Salt Lake.
  • In The Owl House episode "I Was A Teenage Abomination", the B-Plot features Eda and King fighting a Trash Slug. They finally defeat it by pouring salt on it, which shrinks it down.
  • In the The Penguins of Madagascar episode, "The Officer X Factor", it's a very hot day at the Central Park Zoo and the Penguins are trying to get away from Officer X, who is substituting for Alice while she is on vacation. The Penguins build a flying machine from a pretzel cart, which Officer X stows away in. During their battle, they accidentally release pretzel salt into the clouds, creating a rainstorm.
  • In the episode of The Simpsons "Skinner's Sense of Snow", Springfield Elementary gets snowed in, and is eventually saved by a salt silo collapsing nearby. Although this creates a different problem of corroding Homer's car so badly that the fumes start leaking inside.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Donnie and April stop a giant worm by bombarding it with salt, which affects its neural system, causing it to calm down.
  • In the Teen Titans Go! episode "The Spice Game," Robin's diet is so bland that even so much as a grain of salt chokes him. In the same episode, it's what allows him to get past the Dairy King by doing something unpredictable.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • Inverted in the cartoon, "Slugfest", from the episode, "Mr. Popular's Rules of Cool", where the villain is the Iodizer, a parody of Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Granted, Plucky and Hamton's favorite TV show is Immature Radioactive Samurai Slugs, a TMNT parody.
    • In the episode, "Grandma's Dead", Mac Duff, Elmyra's father, spends the whole day trying to make drinking water from desalinated tears. However, towards the end of the episode, when he tries to serve it to the guests at the funeral for Jan Brady, one of Elmyra's pet hamsters, it tastes terrible and they spit it out on the lawn. After the guests leave, Mac discovers his latest experiment will make a good slug repellant.
  • In Totally Spies!, saltwater is used twice to melt Tim Scam's blob clones and to corrode amnesia-inducing bracelets.

    Real Life 
  • Aside from common salt, sodium chloride, there exists a large range of chemicals collectively referred to as salts. Common salt is the most well-known example of this category, though others are used in a variety of applications.
  • Salt on roads before ice storms causes a freezing-point depression, yielding more navigable roads with less ice accumulation. The salt dissolves into the water and interferes with the freezing process. And while sodium chloride is the most well-known de-icing salt, other salts can be used, such as magnesium chloride.
  • Ocean water is purported to have benefits for the skin: whether a skin condition or just maintaining a healthy appearance.
  • Canned, processed, and packaged foods typically have longer shelf lives because of their high sodium content. Canned tuna preserved with oils is safe for humans, but is not safe for housecats (we can digest things they can't). Canned tuna preserved with water and salt is safe for both us and our housecats, but not really all that good for them. Housecats can eat tuna in small quantities, and they really like it, but tuna doesn't have all of the nutrients that a housecat needs to stay healthy.
  • Saline solution IV's are used throughout hospital medicine for various purposes.
  • Rock-Salt loaded shotguns were the first ever "less-lethal" firearm ammunition. The brittle, lightweight crystals would break against the skin, doing nothing worse than giving the unfortunate target a pre-salted wound. Perfect for gamekeepers who wanted to deter poachers without seriously injuring them.
  • Salt can be an excellent stain remover, particularly for red wine.
  • Salt is frequently used as slug/snail repellent, and this is also reflected in fiction.
  • There have been studies that people who suffer from respiratory issues like asthma get long-term benefits from spending time in salt caves. The salt infuses the air.
  • Iodized table salt (which has a minute percentage of potassium or sodium iodide added to the sodium chloride) can provide iodine to human populations which don't ingest enough seafood or iodine-bearing plants to meet their need for this element, without which thyroid hormone, vital to the regulation of our metabolic rate, can't be produced. The use of iodized salt is the main reason goitre is much less common than it was a hundred years ago.
  • Throwing salt to purify the ring is still a traditional part of a sumo match, harking back to its origins as part of a religious ritual.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Weak To Salt

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Sprite Fright

The sprites' flesh dissolves upon contact with salt, allowing Ellie to fight back against them by using salty foods as weapons.

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