Does Salt or Saltwater Kill Ticks?

I had a crazy kid neighbor growing up that would pour salt on slugs, which would kill them. This is because the salt draws water from the slug through osmosis, dehydrating and eventually killing it.

Personally, I don’t think slugs deserve that sort of death, but with ticks it’s a different story.

Does salt kill ticks like it kills slugs and will salt cause a tick to back out if it's already burrowed inside a person or a pet? How about saltwater and swimming at the beach?

Salt will not effectively kill a tick as its hard outer shell protects it from dehydration. Submerging a tick in saltwater may eventually dehydrate and kill it, but it’s not an effective method for killing ticks as they are capable of surviving underwater for hours or even days.

This means salt is NOT an effective way to kill ticks and it will not cause ticks to back out. You should remove ticks with a set of narrow tweezers or a tick removal tool and then kill them using some other method.

Unlike slugs, ticks have a hard shell that denies the dehydrating touch of salt. An excessive amount of salt may eventually dehydrate a tick, but it would be ridiculously inefficient and there are much better ways to both kill and remove ticks.

You also don't want to kill a tick while it's still burrowed inside yourself or your pet as this can cause it to regurgitate into you which can lead to increased chances of infection.

Keep reading below to learn how to efficiently deal with any pesky ticks in your home or outdoors.

Does Salt Affect Ticks?

You may know that salt can be used to deal with a variety of insects and crawlers. 

I personally always take salt with me when I'm bushwalking because it's a great way to remove pesky leeches from your skin.

Salt draws out water through osmosis, meaning creatures like slugs, leeches or larvae that live off moisture have little chance of surviving when coated in it.

Ticks are known to be resilient, and their hard exterior strongly diminishes any dehydrating effect that salt may have. You’d have to use an excessive amount of salt to even have a chance of killing one.

To put it simply, the amount of salt you’d have to use to kill a tick would be extremely inefficient compared to other easy at-home methods of killing one (rubbing alcohol for instance) and salt will not cause a tick to back out of your skin if it's already embedded there.

Not only would using salt on ticks be inefficient, but coating one of these crawlers in salt would probably pose a bit of a challenge as they can move pretty quickly.

Saltwater can also have the same dehydrating effect, but it would also be an inefficient way to deal with a tick. Not only would the concentration of salt be too little to kill a tick quickly, but ticks are known to be capable of surviving underwater for 1-2 days. 

This means a swim in the ocean is NOT going to help remove ticks and won't kill ticks quickly.

If you’re dealing with ticks at the beach (yes, ticks can actually be common at the beach) you’ll want to use a method that’s known to be effective for killing ticks (give permethrin a try) or use a tick removal tool like this affordable one from Amazon.

TickCheck Premium Tick Remover Kit
$12.95

Kit includes stainless steel tick remover for safely removing larger embedded ticks and a specially shaped super-fine-tip tweezer for removing nymphs and small deer ticks. All kept in a leather pouch with a handy tick identification card.

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06/07/2023 03:03 am GMT

Will Ticks Wash Off in Salt Water?

Ticks are surprisingly stubborn and once a tick has attached to your skin, there’s almost zero chance that rinsing it with water will wash it away. 

Even if you go for a swim in the ocean and dive under the waves the salt water is highly unlikely to lodge the tick free.

Not only will it stay on your skin, but attempting to kill or cover a tick while it’s still attached to your skin can cause the tick distress, which may result in it releasing bacteria and blood into the bite.

This is the worst-case scenario if you’ve been bitten by a tick, as it will only increase the possibility of receiving a tick-borne illness. 

Ticks can crawl around for a bit before choosing where to bite, so there may be a small chance that you can rinse a tick away before it gets the chance to sink into your skin. But this could be done just as easily by brushing it off.

Still I guess if you suspect you have unattached ticks on your skin a swim in the ocean and rubbing your skin thoroughly in the salt water would help to remove unattached ticks.

But, when it comes to an attached tick, I would not attempt to use water to get it to release its bite. Use a tick removal tool or tweezers to pull it out of your skin and then kill it using some other method.

This tick key from Amazon is small and compact and can go on your keyring or be kept in your backpacking bag in case of a tick bite.

Original Tick Key for Tick Removal (3 Pack)
$19.99

Made in the USA these tick keys use natural forward leverage to extract tick heads quickly and safely. Removes ticks of every size and kind without touching or harming them to minimize risk of infection. It works on both humans and animals.

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06/07/2023 04:38 pm GMT

What Natural Product Kills Ticks?

One of the most popular natural products for killing ticks is Diatomaceous Earth (DE).

DE is created from mineral deposits near water, and it has plenty of uses. It can be used to treat ticks in your home, yard, and even topically. 

Safer Brand Diatomaceous Earth
$17.47

Kills a variety crawling insects including roaches, ticks, ants, fleas, silverfish, earwigs, bedbugs, and more. DE can be used indoors or outdoors. Apply in cracks and crevices, along baseboards, or create a barrier around entry points.

Buy Now at Amazon
06/07/2023 04:33 pm GMT

Although it's safe to apply topically on humans and pets, I’ve heard that diatomaceous earth is a known carcinogen when inhaled. However, this only seems to apply to calcined DE though so check the labels of your DE before usage.

Calcined diatomaceous earth containing less than one percent crystalline silica, has not been evaluated as a whole by IARC and is not part of the IARC Group 3 classification. The crystalline silica contained in calcined diatomaceous earth (primarily cristobalite), however, has been classified as Group 1, carcinogenic to humans.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (source)

Ticks are the second most common disease carrier in the world after mosquitos, and if you find one attached to your body you should dispose of it as soon as you can.

You should always remove a tick from your body before killing it, which can easily be done using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers.

You should grab the tick as close to your skin as possible and remove it in a straight upwards motion (as the video below demonstrates).