Herbicide: salt, vinegar, bleach

Salt herbicide

Table salt (sodium chloride) attacks the leaves of poison ivy.

Table (sodium chloride) attacks the leaves of poison ivy.

The use of table salt, or sodium chloride as a herbicide is a homemade and affordable version of Adios Ambros by Herbanatur used to eliminate ragweed. Table salt (and vinegar) is effective on western and , but less so on high poison oak or . Sodium chloride in a solution of water sprayed on the leaves, fruits and stems, will wither the plant. Sodium chloride attacks and burns the surface of leaves and tender parts of the plant in a few days. To dry the plant out completely, it may be necessary to reapply the salt solution 3 days after the first application. Unlike herbicides, salt will be washed from the plant and ineffective if it rains heavily within 3 days after application.

Two days after application of the salt-based herbicide. The leaves of poison ivy are already withered.

Two days after application of the salt-based herbicide. The leaves of poison ivy are already withered.

Sodium chloride leaches into the soil and does not pollute as can do chemical herbicides. In general, the plants are completely dried after one week. If regrowth occurs on very vigorous plants, another application of salt solution will be required. On my property, after 2 weeks the salt solution was as effective as the herbicide Roundup from Monsanto on one densely populated area of poison ivy.

Unlike chemical herbicides that poison the plant to the roots and kill the plant, sodium chloride attacks the aerial parts of the plant and prevents it from capturing energy during its period of dormancy to survive the winter. As poison ivy captures energy through its roots and leaves, killing the leaves limits its ability to survive and spread. Regrowth may happen the following spring, but the area colonized by poison ivy will be greatly diminished. Another application of salt solution or a simple uproot will be necessary to complete the work. The composition of this salt solution is simple: AT LEAST 120GR OF SALT (SODIUM CHLORIDE) IN 1 LITER OF WATER. With a box of 1 kg of salt you can produce more than 8 liters of solution at an unbeatable price, although a single application is often not sufficient. Personally, I found in a dollar store” 2 boxes of salt 737 gr for $1. It costs $0.68 per kilogram of salt and $0.08 per liter of herbicide. Unbeatable!

Two salt based herbicide applications suffise to weaken then kill the poison ivy. The next spring, no leaf will grow.

Two salt based herbicide applications suffise to weaken then kill the poison ivy. The next spring, no leaf will grow.

A.D.I.O.S. by Herbanatur:
the Ready to use salt herbicide solution

This ready-to-use herbicide contains at least 12% of sodium chloride. A.D.I.O.S. is a post-emergent eco-friendly foliar herbicide used
for the control of broadleaf weeds. This non-toxic and odorless selective weed killer can be safely use on poison ivy and poison oak.

Once sprayed on the weed, A.D.I.O.S. travels right away through the foliage and stems. A systemic reaction provides a rapid desiccation of the weed due to rapid loss of water from the plant cells. Visible signs of control may be seen shortly after the application.


White vinegar to attack the leaves of poison ivy.

White vinegar to attack the leaves of poison ivy.

Vinegar herbicide

In addition to table salt (sodium chloride), it is possible to use vinegar (acetic acid) as a homemade herbicide. The classic and most affordable white vinegar will do the job. As with salt, vinegar withers leaves and tender parts of the plant and greatly weakens it. Drying of the plant is visible in a few hours to a day after application. It is most effective to spray vinegar directly on the plant, without diluting it. It is also possible to prepare a solution of salt and water, as seen above, and add vinegar to increase the wilting. Several recipes are possible; just experiment to find the best dosage for your situation.

Bleach. Copyright: Walmart

Bleach. Copyright: Walmart

Bleach herbicide

Bleach is also an excellent herbicide and defoliant. Like salt and vinegar, it dries the leaves of the poison ivy. It is important to apply it only on the leaves of poison ivy because the herbicide will kill all the plants on which it is sprayed. A good recipe is to mix 250ml (1 cup) of bleach to 1 liter of water. We can add salt, as seen above, to accentuate the dryness of the plant. In addition, bleach has an oily texture which sticks to the foliage of the plant and improve the effect of the herbicide. You can accentuate this “catchy” property by adding dish soap, as seen below. The advantage of bleach, like salt, is the price. A bottle of almost 2 liters will cost $1.25. If the recipe that I propose is followed, it will cost about $0.18 for 1.25 liters of herbicide. In comparison, with table salt it comes to $0.08 per liter of herbicide. Several mixes are possible. Experiment.

Any soap dishes will thicken the herbicide.

Any soap dishes will thicken the herbicide.

Add dish soap

The problem of water-based herbicides is the flowing of the liquid along the leaves and dripping on the soil. If the solution is foamed, or thickened, it will cling more easily to the plant. To make the salt or vinegar solution more effective, simply add dish soap to the solution. Again, many recipes are possible and just try dosing.

A good sprayer

Quality garden sprayer is an essential tool for any gardener who uses chemical herbicides and basic salt or vinegar. There are herbicide sprayers as backpack that can carry large volumes of liquid (5 liters or more). Some smaller handheld sprayers have a volume of 1 to 2 liters. Often a handheld sprayer is sufficient to treat a small area affected by poison ivy. Be carefull, sometimes salt grains clog the spray nozzle. So, it is important that the sprayer has a filter within the reservoir so that the salt grains can not enter the pipe and clog the spray nozzle.

Two techniques

On young shoots (from May to August)

My favourite technique: “open the fire!” Apply salt herbicide on all poison ivy plants as they appear in late May. The tiny shoots have thin and soft leaves and are easily destroyed by the herbicide. Once the shoots are withered, the mother plant will launch new shoots a few days later. Again, destroy them with salt herbicide. Whenever the plant develops new growth and new leaves, it is weakening. The poison ivy leaves need to create and store energy to survive and grow. The plant is in active growth period until the beginning of July. Then, fewer leaves will come out and the plant will weaken.

On mature plants (July-August)

Wait for July, when leaves and fruits are fully mature to apply the salt herbicide on all leaves and fruits. Once the plants have withered and dried, no new shoots arise because the active growth period has passed. The problem with this technique is that the mother plant has time to store energy during May and June and will be more difficult to eradicate. Moreover, its fruits may have been spread by birds.

When spraying herbicide?

Since it is not a chemical herbicide, home-made herbicide with salt, vinegar or bleach fears rain. Avoid wasting time by spraying the herbicide during the 2 days preceding a rain event. Here’s how to interpret weather forecasts.

We can spray our home-made herbicide until the third day before the rain.

We can spray our home-made herbicide until the third day before the rain.

Videos about homemade herbicide

Resources about homemade herbicide

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