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Sea Salt Soaks: The Key to Happy Healing


Postby primal » Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:53 am

[u]Sea Salt Soaks: The Key to Happy Healing[/u]

For being such a crucial component of piercing aftercare, I cannot believe that there hasn’t already been a stickied thread regarding sea salt soaks.

Sea salt soaks (SSS) are arguably the most important and most effective measure you can take during the healing process to insure trouble-free healing. There are several factors at play when one tries to understand why we recommend SSS so much. But first, I’d like to outline the process itself.

[b]Instructions[/b]

When performing a SSS it is important to make sure you use the appropriate salt to water ratio (I will get to why this is important later). Now, I could tell you how to get the exact salinity needed (0.9%), but you’d need a fairly accurate set of scales and be comfortable with the metric system. Suffice it to say, a general mixture has been agreed upon: 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt per 8 ounces of water. The general process is as follows:

1. Mix 1/4 tsp sea salt with 8 oz hot water. I prefer to mix it all and microwave it, but it really doesn’t matter what order you do it in so long as all of the salt is dissolved. Avoid using hot water from the tap because hot water will readily dissolve minerals that have accumulated in your pipes that could potentially aggravate your piercings.

2. Once thoroughly mixed, place the piercing into the water. Now, this can be tricky. Some piercings may require some inventive ways of soaking. Lobes, navels, nipples, etc are fairly easy do soak because the cup of water can be inverted over the piercing. You may have to place a piece of gauze that has been dipped in the SSS solution on some piercings. Some people like putting the SSS solution in a bowl and laying on the floor with their piercings submerged.

3. Soak your piercing for a minimum of 5 minutes. 10 minutes would be better. In fact, in general, the longer the better. You probably don’t want to get pruney, though.

4. Once you are done soaking, remove the piercing from the SSS solution and rinse with clean water. You may notice some pus that the SSS has drawn out of the piercing. Don’t worry, this is normal. The important thing is that you don’t try to squeeze the piercing to get more pus out. Leave it be and don’t worry about it.

[b]So, what’s actually going on?[/b]

Well, there are several things that SSS do for us. Probably most importantly, soaks bathe the piercing in moist heat. Heat has several beneficial aspects. First and foremost, it dilates the capillaries in our skin and increases blood flow to the area, much like an inflammatory response does. In fact, I like to call the effect self-induced inflammation. Increased blood flow brings more nutrients to the healing tissue as well as allowing more white blood cells into the tissue to help fight off the bacteria that invariably enter the wound. As a side note, pus is merely lymph, dead white blood cells, and remnants of bacteria -- it is a sign that your immune system is functioning.

Another aspect of SSS deals with the salt to water ratio. The natural salinity of blood is 0.9% NaCl (salt), which is why it is important that we match as closely as possible the salinity of the SSS solution to the blood’s salinity. A solution that is less saline (has less salt) than your cells would cause water to diffuse into the cells and could potentially cause them to burst. This obviously isn’t good for tissue that is trying to heal! On the other hand, a solution that is more saline (has more salt) would cause water to be drawn out of the cells. This, again, is not good for tissue that is trying to heal. Hopefully now you recognize why it is important to use the correct salt to water mixture.

[b]A Note About Salts[/b]

One of the most annoying parts about doing SSS is finding the right salt. The most important part is that you get a salt that does not have anti-caking compounds. These compounds can potentially irritate piercings and prolong healing. We also recommend using non-iodized salt. We aren’t sure whether the iodine compound in iodized salts can cause irritation, but its best to err on the side of caution.

The most recommended type of salt is non-iodized sea salt that lacks anti-caking compounds. The next most acceptable type of salt would be kosher salt. Unfortunately, because kosher salt has a more open grain structure, you will have to use a bit more than 1/4 tsp (I’ll not speculate on just how much extra, however).

There are some salts that you should avoid, rock salt being one of them. Rock salt contains minerals that make it unsuitable for SSS. Epsom salts should also be avoided, because they do not actually contain NaCl (rather, magnesium sulfate). In general, if its not suitable to sprinkle on your food, its probably not suitable for a SSS.
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Postby Phalaeo » Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:16 pm

Good info, Primal! I know there is info somewhere here on the site, but it makes sense to have it stickied.

Folks, this stuff is great. Sea salt soaks are awesome- I use Dead Sea salts from Israel- here is the link. It's also great in baths for soaking your whole body.

http://www.saltworks.us/salt_info/si_BenefitsOfBokek.asp

http://www.saltworks.us/shop/product.asp?idProduct=25
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Postby lilmansox » Tue Nov 25, 2008 8:30 pm

i have a question i got my industrial done like 2.5 months ago and being a dumbass i started going nuts and changing it after about a month....so i paid the price and now like the top half is almost all the way swollen the flap of my ear so...i was wondering when you do this soak is it alright to leave the jewelry in or should u take it out?
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Postby primal » Tue Nov 25, 2008 8:42 pm

Definitely leave the jewelry in. If it is quality jewelry (it is, right?) then the salt water will not damage it.
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Postby lilmansox » Tue Nov 25, 2008 8:46 pm

yea it is i just wondered because i figured the water might get in better without the jewelry but yea it should be fine...thanx
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Postby Rehtaeh » Tue Nov 25, 2008 9:11 pm

I just got my tongue web pierced 4 days ago.
Should I do salt soaks?

My piercer said to just use mouth wash.

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Postby primal » Tue Nov 25, 2008 9:15 pm

It can't hurt. Salt water rinses are especially effective on oral wounds, not just piercings.
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Postby kait2007 » Wed Dec 03, 2008 12:31 pm

How do you propose I soak my nostril? I thought about what you said above about laying down and submerging, but I HATE when water goes up my nose, I thought about a cotton ball soaked in the mixture, but i'd like to get someone's thoughts on the matter first.
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Postby pierceelove » Fri Dec 05, 2008 11:19 pm

For soaking a nostril, you could either take a clean empty pill bottle and hold it over the piercing or you could soak quality paper towels in the solution and apply them onto it (like hot compresses). Do not use cotton balls, the little fibers can get caught in the piercing and irritate it.
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Postby Phalaeo » Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:13 pm

[quote=Rehtaeh]I just got my tongue web pierced 4 days ago.
Should I do salt soaks?

My piercer said to just use mouth wash.

~Rehtaeh[/quote]

No mouth wash! It has alcohol in it (most do, at least)- alcohol is very harsh and can kill newly dividing cells that are trying to heal.

Salt soaks really are the best.
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