Neti pot salt is salt which is designed to be used in nasal irrigation, a practice in which warm water is gently poured through the nose from a bottle, pot, or syringe. Nasal irrigation is practiced in a number of regions of the world and is believed to be beneficial for general health and wellness by some people. Many drug stores carry neti pot salt, as do health food stores, and people can also purchase salts not explicitly labeled for use in nasal irrigation and use them to prepare a mixture suitable for use.
A neti pot is a device which can be used in nasal irrigation. Native to India, the neti pot is filled with lukewarm water and neti pot salt so that a person can use it to irrigate the nose by gently pouring water through one nostril, and then the other. With the head tilted, water runs through the nose and out the other nostril, carrying away pollen, dust, and other irritants. Some people prefer to use squeeze bottles or syringes for nasal irrigation because they do not require a head tilt.
The reason saltwater is used is because it tends to reduce nasal irritation. People can mix up an isotonic neti pot salt solution which matches the salt composition in the cells which line the nose, or a hypertonic solution which is slightly more salty. Using lukewarm water also makes the experience more pleasant; very hot water can hurt the nose, while cold water can feel irritating.
Neti pot salt is very pure salt with a minimum of inclusions which might cause irritation. Plain table salt, for example, is not appropriate because it often contains anticaking agents and other additives which will irritate the nose. While using such salt in a nasal irrigation session will not cause harm, it will also not be very enjoyable. Many companies sell neti pot salt in sachets which are designed to be mixed with measured amounts of water to obtain a solution of the right salt concentration. Pure sea salt and kosher salt can also be used as neti pot salt.
Fans of nasal irrigation believe that it keeps them healthier, reduces allergies, and keeps the sinus passages clear. Some medical practitioners are dubious about the benefits of using neti pots, but feel that they do not harm, and thus that there is no reason to tell patients not to use them. However, some studies have shown that long term usage of neti pots and other nasal irrigation devices can actually increase susceptibility to nasal infections.