Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer Overheating

With intense hot temperatures covering much of the country and causing deaths from dehydration, it's time for a reminder about homemade electrolytes. I posted this recipe last summer, and now want to post it again as a reminder, and for new readers.

Water is basically a solvent and when you perspire, the sweat droplets carry off the things dissolved in it, like electrolytes. Lose too many electrolytes and the body is in trouble... and drinking just water does not replace the electrolytes you have lost, and actually dilutes those you have left.

Electrolytes are important because they are what your cells (especially nerve, heart, muscle) use to maintain voltages across their cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses (nerve impulses, muscle contractions) across themselves and to other cells.

The major electrolytes in the human body are:
    • sodium (Na+)
    • potassium (K+)
    • chloride (Cl-)
    • calcium (Ca2+)
    • magnesium (Mg2+)
    • bicarbonate (HCO3-)
    • phosphate (PO42-)
    • sulfate (SO42-)

This time of the year finds many of us outside in the heat, sweating and upsetting our electrolyte balance, particularly sodium and potassium. Gatorade and/or Pedialyte are good to have on hand, but a simple solution may be easily and cheaply made at home.

Electrolyte Solution
1 quart water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp. Lite Salt (which is a salt - potassium chloride blend, or use regular salt if that's all you have on hand)
6-10 teaspoons granulated sugar
(For flavor and color you might add half a package of unsweetened Kool-Aid*)

Mix well. Store in refrigerator for up to one week. Freeze some in ice trays or as popsicles to use later.

This solution helps replace lost electrolytes due to dehydration (diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating). Do not give to small children, instead seek medical advice.

This is not intended as medical advice for anyone!

*The "unsweetened" form of Kool Aid contains fruit flavoring, citric acid, calcium phosphate, salt and Vitamin C. The "sugar sweetened" mix adds sugar, sodium citrate, and the preservative BHA. The "sugar free" mixes add aspartame (Nutrasweet) and acesulfame potassium.


  1. I have a similar recipe from an anatomy text, I haven't looked it up this summer yet. I think the only difference is using juice instead of sugar.

    This is a good recipe to keep. The heat has been hard on people this summer. Dr. told son in law to not just drink water after he suffered from heat exhaustion a few weeks ago.

  2. Your SIL got good advice. A friend, an avid bodybuilder, drank lots of water after the gym workout and ended up in critical care from depleted electrolytes.

  3. This is a great thing to have around. I gave this recipe to a friend who suffers from the heat and it really helped her. I would like to ask if I may post a copy of this to my blog? I think this is something that really need to get around.

  4. By all means, post it. But be nice and link it back to me, okay?


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