Nasal irrigation is used to clean sinuses congested due to infections or allergies. Although nasal irrigation solutions are commercially available, creating your own is easy and can save you money. Nasal irrigation solutions consist of only a few ingredients, usually salt, baking soda and water.
The salt in the nasal irrigation solution serves to relieve the sinuses much like a saltwater gargle will help clear your throat. The salt will draw water and mucus out of the cells in the sinuses, shrinking them and allowing you to breathe more freely. One heaping teaspoon of salt in a pint of water is enough to make a saline solution of appropriate strength. You can use any type of salt, but kosher salt or pickling salt works best. It may be tempting to add more salt than this, but a saltier solution will cause inflamed sinus tissues to burn and become irritated (which may actually worsen swelling) and will not work any better than a weaker solution. If one teaspoon of salt in a pint of water stings the sinuses, create a weaker solution by adding one teaspoon of salt into a quart of water.
Adding baking soda to your homemade nasal irrigation solution will help dissolve the mucus in your sinuses, which increases the effectiveness of the salt in the solution. Many over-the-counter nasal irrigation solutions do not contain this ingredient. For each pint of water (or quart, if you want it more diluted) add a heaping teaspoon of baking soda.
When mixing your nasal irrigation solution, use about a pint of cold water. Warm water may seem more comfortable, but the cold water will help shrink swollen mucous membranes and alleviate congestion. Make sure the water you use is clean and free from particulate matter. The solution should be clear and not cloudy before use. You can store your homemade nasal irrigation solution at room temperature or in the refrigerator for about one week, at which point you will want to make a new solution. Once thoroughly mixed, you can put the solution in a neti pot (a ceramic pot that looks like a cross between a small teapot and a lamp) or simply pour some into the palm of your hand and sniff it into your nose.