Salt Water Flush Recipe + Benefits, Risks & How to Do It

Salt Water Flush Recipe + Benefits, Risks & How to Do It

Are you like 20 percent of the public that suffers from constipation? It’s nothing to be ashamed about, so even if high-fiber foods don’t always do the trick, consider a salt water flush. Sometimes called a “salt water cleanse” or a “master cleanse,” it’s designed to help you cleanse your colon and digestive system by bringing on a forced bowel movement.

You’re likely familiar with a colon cleanse, even if you’ve never done one, but did you know a salt water flush is a simple, safe and effective way to detox the body and cleanse the colon from the comfort of your own home? It’s true.

By drinking a beneficial mixture of real sea salt dissolved in water (sometimes along with a little lemon juice), you’re able to push waste through the body, release toxins and improve digestion.

Sound a bit crazy? This method of colon and stomach cleansing has actually been used for many years, and it appears to be a lot safer than many commercial colon-cleansing drugs, laxative teas or diuretics.

The key part of a salt water flush recipe is salt itself, as it’s needed for many biochemical processes. The official salt water flush has become more popular over the past decade as a “hack” to facilitate digestion and cleansing as part of a kick-start when doing a “master cleanse” program.

Drinking a salt mixture ignites the body’s own mechanism of natural detoxification and waste elimination, helping get your digestive system back on track and in the process making you feel lighter, less sluggish and less weighed-down.

What Is a Salt Water Flush?

A salt water flush, also sometimes referred to as a “salt water cleanse” or a “master cleanse,” is designed to help you cleanse your colon and digestive system by bringing on a forced bowel movement.

Salt itself is needed for many biochemical processes, including (but not limited to):

  • adrenal gland/thyroid gland function
  • cell wall stability
  • muscle contractions
  • nutrient absorption
  • nerve stimulation
  • pH
  • water balance regulation

Maybe you’re wondering if it’s really necessary to cleanse your colon and detox with salt. The fact is that for many people — especially those eating poor diets — toxins, heavy metals and waste build up in the colon over time due to insufficient and infrequent bowel movements. This leads to digestive issues and can contribute to inflammation, low energy and possibly even disease development.


Why do a salt water colon cleanse?

The master cleanse is a liquid-only juice fast, which means it’s extremely low in calories and also lacks any dietary fiber, which is necessary for healthy digestion. When you only consume liquids for a certain amount of time and don’t actually eat any foods with fiber — vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds or beans, for example — you’re likely to have a lot of trouble going to the bathroom.

During the master cleanse, people have a daily detox drink — only a concoction of water, fresh lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper.

The result? For many people, this kind of juice fast can cause constipation, low energy and bloated stomach (not to mention other complications from consuming too little nutrients/calories).

Fiber is partially responsible for igniting the process of peristalsis, which is the series of muscle contractions in our digestive tracts that allow us to poop — exactly the reason that people with low-fiber, highly processed diets often suffer from constipation.

Unfortunately, this is pretty much the opposite of what most people hope to accomplish when they sign up for a “detox.” This is where the salt water flush comes in. It basically forces your digestive system to release stored waste in the toxins, however little (or a lot) there might be.

Salt can also help clear up fluid retention, despite what most people think. Real sea salt (not the processed kind that’s stripped of minerals) helps you lose extra fluid weight by properly balancing out electrolyte/mineral levels in the body, releasing retained water your cells hold on to.

What Does Sea Salt Do to Your Body?

Sodium and salt often get a bad name, but real sea salt is loaded with dozens of minerals and is definitely part of a healthy diet. Keep in mind there’s a big difference between regular table salt, which is iodinated, and pure sea salt.

The processed salts in sodium foods, especially in processed, packaged or fast foods, usually contribute too much salt to people’s diets and pose the most health risks (like high blood pressure).

It’s necessary and natural to have some real salt in your diet, so there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to ingesting some salt. Of course, if you did nothing but drink salt water, you would become extremely dehydrated. In fact, you would die because your kidneys and bladder would cause you to lose more water than you’re taking in.

As long as you do a sea salt flush or use pure sea salt in moderation along with an otherwise healthy diet, you shouldn’t suffer any negative consequences.

Salt water has many uses and benefits, including helping to ease sore throats, cleansing wounds, lowering pain in inflamed muscles (which is why salt is used in many detox bath recipes) and providing trace minerals (not to mention making your food taste better).

A little-known benefit of sea salt is that it affects muscle and nerves functions. It helps contract muscles in the digestive tract that push waste out through the colon. This forces out toxins that have been trapped inside your system and contribute to sluggishness and constipation.

Real sea salt does have lots of sodium, but it’s balanced out with other minerals, like magnesium, calcium, potassium and more than 60 other trace minerals. Salt activates enzymes needed for proper digestive processes and is required by the parietal cells of the stomach wall to make hydrochloric acid.

Salt also helps balance hormones, facilitates with metabolic processes and establishes an optimal pH level in the body. That’s because your stomach acid is naturally very acidic, but salt (sodium chloride) counteracts some of the effects of acids.

Salt supports “hyperosmolarity” of extracellular fluids, which has positive effects on your metabolism because it helps with the breakdown of proteins and glucose. Plus, a diet that’s very low in salt causes more aldosterone to be synthesized, as shown in animal research, which can have effects like lowering potassium and magnesium levels in the body — the opposite of what most people need.

Salt water flush benefits - Dr. Axe

Risks and Side Effects

Is a sea salt cleanse dangerous?

It’s possible that salt water flushes can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting or weakness in some people, but most of the time heavy metal detoxes and cleanses using salt water are safe. If you have a history of serious digestive issues or high blood pressure, you might want to talk to your doctor before doing a salt flush (not because real salt will raise blood pressure on its own, but just to be on the safe side).

While very low-calorie, juice-only detoxes like the master cleanse can be harmful in some situations and aren’t recommended for everybody, you can safely use the same practice of a sea salt flush if you suffer from occasional constipation but aren’t dieting. If you do a salt water flush as part of a juicing or cleansing program, make sure you pay attention to your body’s feedback, and give yourself enough rest/nutrients in the process.

Many people safely use a warm salt water cleanse to help clear up problematic digestive issues like constipation, bloating and gas. A sea salt colon cleanse is much less likely to cause side effects that are common when using laxative teas or cleansing pills — like slowly forming a dependency on them or experiencing electrolyte imbalances, water retention afterward and having trouble eating normally.

Many detox programs, including the master cleanse, promote the use of both sea salt water flushes and also potentially dangerous laxative teas, without warning people about complications that can occur. If you have a hard time going to the bathroom for whatever reason, sea salt flushes are a much better option and more gentle on your system long term.

When properly performing a sea salt flush, you use warm water and real sea salt that have been fully blended together, so your body easily absorbs the salt’s minerals. When it’s properly prepared you won’t see any granules of sea salt, just a cloudy mixture that’s uniform in terms of color and texture.

This is important because when the sea salt fully dissolves into the water it helps your digestive organs process the mixture most effectively and safely. Your kidneys won’t pull out the water and leave behind only salt, while high amounts of salt won’t end up in your bloodstream, which can raise blood pressure.

When it comes to safety, salt water flushes appear to be both safe and effective — working just as well as other types of “colon cleansing” products, even the kinds that are prescribed by doctors for patients prior to undergoing a colonoscopy.

Certain studies examining the effects of salt water on cleansing the digestive tract have found that oral sodium mixtures are well-tolerated and even more effective than certain colon-cleansing blends, such as Picoprep. One study done by the Department of Colorectal Surgery at Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia found that salt mixtures seem to cause similar side effects as other colon cleansers (like cramps, some nausea, etc.), but 91 percent of people who used the oral sodium mixture reported that it worked and would use it again.

How to Do a Salt Water Flush

The salt water flush is most effective if you perform it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. If you do it later in the day, just make sure you haven’t eaten anything in the past one to two hours.

To perform a simple sea salt flush at home, start with two teaspoons of sea salt, which can be colored salt, such as pink Himalayan salt or “gray salt.” (Make sure it’s pure salt — you don’t want to use iodinated salt — so always make sure there is no iodine added at all.)

Heat up one liter of filtered water. You want the water to be warmer than room temperature but not boiling or very hot. It should be cooler than the temp you would use to brew tea or coffee.

Grab a glass jar with a lid, and add the salt, hot water, and some fresh lemon juice or lemon water (which helps cut the taste of the salt). Shake it vigorously to fully dissolve the salt. Make sure no granules are visible, which will settle at the bottom of your jar/lid if they’re still undissolved.

Drink the mixture quickly, within a few minutes if possible. (Under five minutes is the goal.) Since it doesn’t taste great (it’s very salty!), you will probably want to drink it down as fast as you can.

Lay down on your side, and massage your belly on one side — then repeat on the other side. Holding in the mixture for at least 30 minutes is ideal.

Within a short time after finishing the mixture, you should start to feel the urge to go to the bathroom. Once you feel you can no longer hold out, go to the bathroom. You might have to go more than one time, sometimes needing to use the bathroom several times before you’re fully “cleansed” and your colon is emptied.

After doing a cleanse of any kind, it’s a good idea to take a probiotic supplement and load up on healthy foods, which helps establish healthy bacteria in your internal gut flora (microbiome) and provide you essential nutrients/electrolytes.

Trouble-Shooting a Sea Salt Flush

Did you perform a salt colon cleanse and found that it didn’t work well for you? Here’s a few reasons that might be the case, plus how to perform a more effective flush next time:

  • Adjust when you perform the flush: Make sure your system is pretty empty, and try doing it the morning if you didn’t the first time.
  • Adjust how much salt you used: If you use too much or too little salt, it might not work well or might cause side effects.
  • Make sure you use pure salt (not iodinated): It’s possible to use the wrong kind of salt without realizing, which will affect how it’s absorbed. Recheck that you use un-iodized organic sea salt. Look for pink Himalayan salt or grayish-colored Celtic sea salt, not the white type that is cheap and sold in most grocery stores.
Salt water flush recipe - Dr. Axe

Salt Water Flush Recipe

  • Author: Dr. Josh Axe
  • Total Time: 5 min
  • Yield: 1 1x

Sometimes called a “salt water cleanse” or a “master cleanse,” a salt water flush is designed to help you cleanse your colon and digestive system by bringing on a forced bowel movement.


  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt (Celtic variety better than Pink Himalayan)
  • 1 liter of hot filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice or one cup of lemon water
  • glass jar with a lid


  1. Heat up your water but not to boiling.
  2. Add your ingredients into the jar and put the lid on. Shake it vigorously to fully dissolve the salt. Make sure no granules are visible.
  3. Drink the mixture quickly, within a few minutes if possible (under 5 minutes is the goal).
  4. Lay down on your side and massage your belly on one side, then repeat on the other side. If you can manage to hold in the solution for about 30 minutes, this will help your body fully absorb the salt.
  5. Within a short time after finishing the mixture, you should start to feel the urge to go to the bathroom.
  6. Once you feel you can no longer hold out, go to the bathroom. You might have to go more than one time, sometimes needing to use the bathroom for several times before you’re fully “cleansed” and your colon is emptied.


After doing a cleanse of any kind, it’s a good idea to take a probiotic supplement and load up on healthy foods.

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