What is something fun to do with 50 lbs of rock salt?
February 5, 2017 5:32 AM   Subscribe

I have a 50 lb bag of rock salt in my basement that has been there for at least 10 years. It is possible that it was there when I bought the house more than 15 years ago (don't judge me.) I have tried to give it away on the friendly neighborhood bulletin board and on craigslist with no success. I need some ideas for something fun to do with it.

I am thinking something like a large scale rock crystal experiment . If pour it in a controlled way on some commercial landscaping, would it kill the grass in a controlled way so I could draw with it and effect some urban vandal meets Andy Goldworthy style environmental art? Is there anything actually useful that I could do with it assuming I do not need to melt any ice on my driveway?
posted by mumblelard to Science & Nature (18 answers total)
Ice cream.
posted by Bruce H. at 6:09 AM on February 5, 2017 [11 favorites]

Throw a neighborhood ice cream making party? Or be the hero of the next several barbeques you go to where there will be children present by bringing the equipment and letting them help.
posted by lakeroon at 6:10 AM on February 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

1) it won't really work to spot kill landscaping it diffuse thorough the top soil 2) what are you 14? Don't do that. Not only is it dickish, but all you're going to do is make a bunch of dudes who make 12 bucks an hour have a shitty day double digging up a bed because you've literally salted the earth.
posted by JPD at 6:17 AM on February 5, 2017 [23 favorites]

This YouTube search might give you some ideas (with instructions). Includes explosions, if you're into that.
posted by effbot at 7:49 AM on February 5, 2017

I guess I am trying to satisfy my fourteen year old self with this effort. Obviously, I haven't been a good role model for him, and we both need moral guidance in addition to scientific or aesthetic guidance. Thank you. Also, more about explosions please!
posted by mumblelard at 8:02 AM on February 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

If you are in a non-humid enough area that it won't just clump, you can make a zen garden out of it. It's especially pretty if you put plexiglass and lighting under it.

You can make bath bombs with them if you're crafty.

If you grill, you can throw salt on grease flareups to help calm the flame without killing the heat.
posted by Candleman at 8:40 AM on February 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Cooking a whole fish in a thick rock salt crust is a thing.
posted by acorncup at 8:47 AM on February 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

Get some nice cast iron cookware. The rock salt will help you clean it forever.

Or if you give someone (or several someones) cast iron cookware as a gift, give a Ziploc bag of rock salt with it.
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:39 AM on February 5, 2017

Is it food grade? If it's not food grade it may contain metals you don't want leaching into the stuff you eat, which would rule out the salt crust fish idea (which is otherwise delicious). Ice cream would definitely be a good use for it, though. I've seen rock salt used as a bed for grilled oysters (since the shells insulate the part you eat, it shouldn't matter if it's food grade or not).

You could also do a mini Zen garden with a tray and a little rake, but that's the opposite of explosions.
posted by fedward at 9:59 AM on February 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

You could also do a mini Zen garden with a tray and a little rake, but that's the opposite of explosions.

Perhaps it could be rigged such that the other required catalysts can be triggered to enter the rock salt Zen garden causing a explosion finale on cue. The whole enterprise could be filmed as a parable on the state of the world and we can all watch mumblelard accepting his Academy Award for best live action short in early 2018.
posted by fairmettle at 10:50 AM on February 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

It is not food grade, but I am thinking about going in to work early one morning and leaving it on the free candy table along with a bag of caramels.
posted by mumblelard at 11:47 AM on February 5, 2017

You could if you wanted to waste some energy take the rock salt, dissolve it in water, filter impurities, boil the water off then use it for bath salts or bathbombs. This will only work if it's actually just salt with no additives. It's also fun to watch it recrystalize.
posted by AlexiaSky at 2:04 PM on February 5, 2017

Experiment with the turf in your yard to create a walking labyrinth or signage for satellites.
posted by furtive_jackanapes at 2:44 PM on February 5, 2017

leaving it on the free candy table along with a bag of caramels.

Please don't.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:17 PM on February 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

There is folklore about shooting trespassers with shotgun shells loaded with rock salt instead of lead shot, the theory being that since salt is so much less dense than lead, the pellets will break the skin (and sting like fury) but are unlikely to penetrate deep enough to cause lethal injuries.
posted by Bruce H. at 6:04 PM on February 5, 2017

Well, the City of Vancouver tried to give away salt recently and there were near riot conditions, a middle-of-the-night theft blocked by fearless firefighters with a ladder truck, someone tried selling the salt on Craigslist for $80 and the tag #saltcrisis started trending. As it is now snowing again (unusual here), I say you should put it on Craigslist or somewhere else for an extraordinary sum, just to see what happens.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 12:57 AM on February 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Why not just donate it to a local nonprofit like a homeless shelter or a public clinic, somewhere it will be useful and budget relieving.
posted by Miko at 6:06 AM on February 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

In conclusion, I reverse shoplifted it into a branch of a Cobb county based big box hardware chain. I know this was irresponsible, but I did leave a note asking them to take good care of it. My plans for it were obviously not good, and I really do think that they will provide a better home for it than I ever did. Thank you all for helping me sort this out.
posted by mumblelard at 12:23 PM on February 11, 2017

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