› Normal Saline Solution

Making Normal Saline Solution at Home

Making Normal Saline Solution (NSS) for irrigation (NOT IV USE) is pretty easy and can come in handy for your patients if you do home care.

Most times use of tap water for external areas of the body, (e.g., skin abrasions) is acceptable since nothing is sterile. But when you are making it for something internal and a sterile environment, (e.g., bladder irrigation) distilled water and sterilized is the way to go.

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Making Normal Saline Solution with Table Salt

Table salt has anti-caking additives.

Take a look at Morton’s Salt picture of the girl with the umbrella and the salt pouring out of the can.

Their motto was “when it rains, it pours” Meaning that even in the highest humidity, it won’t clog and cake, but pour easily.

That’s because of what anti-caking powder they added to the salt.

Most table salt is also Iodized which is not needed nor wanted in the solution you are about to make.

Sodium Bicarbonate or Baking Soda (not to be confused with Baking Powder) is added to buffer the solution (raise the pH).

The reason distilled water is preferred over tap water is so there isn't any chlorine, fluoride or minerals in the water. 

A Name By Any Other...

You will hear the terms:

  • Normal Saline
  • 0.9% Saline Solution
  • NS
  • NSS
  • N/S
  • Isotonic Saline

The term “isotonic” refers to the property that the solution used will be in the same concentration (Na, sodium) as the body. Therefore there won’t be any cells shrinking or swelling in response to the amount of salt in the solution. 

You will also see terms such as “half strength saline” ( 0.45% saline solution) or “quarter strength saline” which refers to solutions with less saline in them. This is usually referring to IV fluids, not irrigation saline.

Small AMount of Non-Sterile NSS

Want to prepare a small amount of non-sterile for cleaning skin abrasions?

  • 1 cup tap water

boil 5 minutes, and then let it cool until it is lukewarm.


  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda.

Mix together. It is good  at room temperature for about 3 days.

Sterile, Buffered Solution

Fill stock pot with water, add all your equipment:

  • 1 liter jar and lid 
  • 1 tsp measuring spoon
  • small sauce pan 
  • pair of tongs with the handle sticking out to make it easy to grab.

Bring the water to a boil with all the items in the pot, for 5 minutes. Let everything cool off. Grab the tong handles with clean washed hands. Use the tongs to pull the liter jar and lid out of the water to air dry. Same with the sauce pan and measuring teaspoon.

Put 1 liter distilled water in the sauce pan, without touching the inside of the pan. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 5 minutes. Take off heat.

  • Add 9 Sodium Chloride tablets or 2 tsp non-iodized, no anti-caking additive salt using the measuring spoon
  • Add 2 tsp baking soda using the measuring spoon

Mix well.

Pour into liter jar, let cool and cover.

Good for 3 days at room temperature.

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