salt shelf life

Salt Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

Salt is a basic seasoning that you can never run out of. Most people keep at least one or two extra bottles in the kitchen.

One time, while cleaning up your cupboard, you find an unopened bottle that is way past its “best by” date. Does this mean salt goes bad? What about that clumpy table salt? How long can you keep salt?

But, salt is often used for pickling, salting, and all those preserved foods. Doesn’t that mean salt is a natural preservative? So, maybe salt lasts forever?

If you’re curious about the nitty-gritty of salt, its shelf life, storage, etc., keep reading! No matter which type of salt you use—kosher, pink Himalayan, iodized, coarse, sea salt, or garlic salt—you’re about to find the answers in this article.

How To Store Salt

Salt (or sodium chloride) is easy to store—no prep is necessary. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a kosher, table, coarse, pink Himalayan, iodized, sea salt, garlic salt, etc.—salt is shelf-stable. However, it should be protected from moisture and picking up odors from the environment. That’s about it. (*)

That means you can safely keep salt at room temperature, somewhere that is cool, dry, and dark. If you have unopened packs, your pantry is always the perfect place.

For your daily use, keep it somewhere in the kitchen that’s easy to grab. Spices rack is a good option, altogether with your spices collection.

If you buy salt in a big container, consider transferring a small amount into a sealed container for your daily use and keep the remaining in the pantry.

Remember that salt tends to pick up odor, and attracts and holds moisture from the environment. Therefore, it’s best to keep it in a sealed container. A salt grinder or shaker is usually small and should be fine for short term use before moisture-build takes effect.

If you decide to put salt into a bowl, at least cover it properly. This is highly recommended if your kitchen is always busy with steaming pots and sizzling pans.

To avoid excess moisture, in case you forgot to leave it open for days or you live in humid regions, it’s worth putting an oxygen absorber inside your salt shaker. You can use a desiccant or a few grains of uncooked rice.

How To Tell If Salt Goes Bad

Salt is known as a natural preservative agent to prevent bacterial and mold growth. That means, spoilage is not an issue with storing salt.

The only concerns are when nasty bugs get into the salt. Or, when your salt becomes rock solid and difficult to use.

If your salt forms a clump, try to tap the bottom of the container or shake it with a chopstick or spoon’s handle. If it’s too hard and unbreakable, unless you can use the whole block at once, maybe it’s time to toss it.

When it comes to seasoned salts, like garlic salt, celery salt, truffle salt, parsley salt, etc., in which salt is mixed with dried herbs or spices and other ingredients, it may lose its flavor as time goes by. If you think it won’t season your dishes perfectly, maybe it’s also time to let it go.

How Long Does Salt Last?

Salt is a natural preservative that doesn’t support the growth of bacteria and molds. Salt keeps indefinitely—in other words, it doesn’t expire.

As long as it’s not exposed to excess moisture which makes it clumpy, or filthy contaminants get into it, salt should be safe to use.

Meanwhile, we can also find ubiquitous seasoned salt, such as garlic salt, celery salt, etc. These types of salt are typically good for 2 to 3 years. The addition of herbs, spices, and other ingredients compromises the eternality of the salt.

Salt (table salt, kosher, pink Himalayan, sea salt)Indefinitely
Seasoned salt (garlic salt, celery salt, truffle salt, etc.)2 to 3 years

The periods above are general estimates, assuming the products are stored under ideal storage conditions. 


Is it okay to use expired salt?

Yes, salt is safe to use even beyond its expiration date. As long as salt still functions perfectly to flavor your dish, feel free to use it.

Why does salt have a use-by date?

In the US, a food product dating is not compulsory, except for infant formula. Food manufacturers provide a “use by,” “best by,” or “best before” to help retailers and consumers know which products are in the best quality. In most packaged foods, these dates refer to quality rather than safety. (*)

Does Epsom salt go bad?

Epsom salt (or magnesium sulfate) is an entirely different compound from regular salt. It is termed as “salt” due to its chemical component and similar appearance to salt.

Epsom salt is mostly used for a bath (hence, its alias “bath salt”), while some people also use it as a laxative. Epsom salt also keeps indefinitely, although it tends to get clumpy when exposed to moisture.

Final Thoughts

Salt is one of the few food items that can be kept indefinitely—no matter if it’s table salt, coarse salt, kosher salt, pink Himalayan salt, etc.

What you need to do is give it proper storage. Salt is prone to moisture build-up and easy to pick up odor from the surrounding. Keep it dry and always tightly close the container when not in use.

If you have seasoned salt, such as garlic salt, celery salt, truffle salt, etc., the shelf life drops to 2 to 3 years. The addition of dried herbs limits its shelf life. Although, after this period, seasoned salt may still be safe to use, its aromatic flavor may have diminished.

Up Next: How long does fish sauce last?

salt goes bad

*Photo by bit245/depositphotos

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