Living either oceanfront or near the coast is a dream come true for many people, but if you are considering making the move, one thing to get used to is the effects of salt in the water and in the air.
Even if your home isn’t directly on the ocean, the fact of the matter is that salt air can have some significant impact on your body and home. In this blog post, I’ll break down a few things to know about the effects of salt, and what you can do to prepare.
The effects of salt on your body from living at the coast
For starters, living at the coast definitely can make you feel dehydrated and thirsty, so it’s critical to have plenty of moisturizers, lotions, and bottles of water in stock at all times.
A dehumidifier may help
One idea that many full time beach home owners utilize is a whole house de-humidifier. These can often be installed at the same time an HVAC system is installed, or one a on-off basis in a bedroom.
This is probably one of the more effective ways to limit the effects airborne salt can have on both your hair, clothes, and furniture when used appropriately.
While salt naturally dries out surfaces, there are some benefits it offers as well. Here are a few things to know about the effects of salt water and air on your body.
Living near the sea is great for your skin. Scientists have found that magnesium in ocean water hydrates skin and increases its elasticity. Those with psoriasis can find relief in a daily dose of sunshine because small amounts of UV radiation actually dry the skin and promote healing.
For those with acne-scarring or pollutant-irritated skin, living near the seaside can help because of the healing properties of the salt and potassium chloride found in ocean water.
Centuries ago Hippocrates coined the term, “thalassotherapy” to refer to the healing powers of the ocean. Today, the sounds of waves are often linked to meditation, and the ease of meditating on the beach offers huge mental health benefits.
Seaside living also a decrease in stress, meaning residents are less prone to depression and anxiety. A study in the United Kingdom. of 26,000 coastal residents found that residents that live a half mile or less from the beach were 22% less likely to have symptoms of a mental health disorder.
What role salt air plays in the equation is still unknown, but an interesting observation nonetheless.
3. Physical health
When it comes to salt specifically, it does have some healing benefits as well. According to studies in both Australia and by the University of North Carolina, inhaled hypertonic saline was found to help alleviate the effects of cystic fibrosis compared to a control group, a condition that produces a thick and sticky mucous that can clog the lungs over time.
Bathing in salt water on a regular basis, like one could expect to do if living at the coast also can help to alleviate sores and other skin conditions.
The one downside to living near the ocean is it can dry out your hair. The ocean’s high salt content means sea water is very osmotic, and can strip moisture from your hair.
As your hair grows more and more dehydrated, it will become difficult to replenish its shine so it’s important to take advantage of hydration-boosting oils and shampoos. On the bright side, it can bring out your natural highlights and give you the “beach-hair” that many attempt to achieve with sea salt spray products.
The Effects of Salt on Your Beach Home
While ocean-living can mean amazing things for your mind and body, it can seriously ware on your home. If you’re considering making the move out to a beach town, it’s important to do your research and work with a realtor that is versed in coastal living.
If you’ve been there for a while, and are just now starting to notice the effects on your home, it’s good to review what other issues could be on the horizon.
5. Salt air corrosion
Salt air corrosion refers to damage caused by seawater being carried inland. Studies have shown that the effects of salt air can corrode metal up to 50 miles inland!
Unfortunately, this part of beach-life expedites normal processes like metal rusting and wood damage and can leave your home in bad shape if you don’t take measures to protect against it. Besides wind-storms and hurricanes, salt air corrosion is perhaps the biggest threat you’ll face to your property.
According to studies in galvanic corrosion, ocean air corrodes metal up to 10 times faster than air found inland.
6. Effects on Metals
Under seaside-circumstances, even metals like stainless steel and titanium can begin to rust.
Wherever you can, you’ll want to avoid metal altogether because it’s no match for the moisture and salinity in the air. Instead, opt for fiberglass doors and window frames if you can. Fiberglass is a much stronger material for beach homes, and well worth the investment.
When it comes to furniture, aluminum, plastic, and composite materials are also good alternatives to metal and wood, which obviously can weaken over time when exposed to salt.
7. Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning System
One of the more overlooked objects that salty coastal air can affect is your HVAC unit. Since these are made up entirely of metal and essential to keep in good working order, one solution is to place them in dry areas where they likely won’t get wet or receive exposure to the ocean breeze.
Consequently, you’ll need to perform routine checks and make sure your system is serviced often by professionals. Find a local business in your area that specializes in coastal HVAC systems, as they’ll be the most prepared to help you.
Some HVAC units are actually specifically designed for coastal areas like some made by Carrier, which contain a WeatherShield polymer coating that is more resistant to the elements.
8. Exterior Home Care
Especially when living at the coast, it’s a good habit to perform annual pressure washes, so you can remove grime and salt crystals that build up over time.
While you definitely want to make it a habit to remove salt crystals, there are a few ways to protect the exterior of your beach house. Here are just a few ideas:
- Use a proper sealant for wood furniture
- Use Rhino Shield, a ceramic coating specifically formulated to protect against salt, and can be applied to bikes and other metal surfaces prone to rust
- Use fiberglass-framed windows or doors instead of metal
- Limit metal usage around house or use rust-resistant cast aluminum
- Be mindful when keeping windows open to avoid hardware exposure
Keep in mind that while you can purchase paints that do a decent job, some amount of rust will form on nails and other metal surfaces. Keeping a layer of protection on wood or other surfaces can help to form a barrier between the salt air, water, and the contacted surface.
A better option to avoid salt damage is to install composite deck planks, which won’t become soft or brittle over time when exposed to salt air and water, like wood will.
Living at the coast and being expose to salt obviously go hand in hand, but once you understand the threat it has to your body and home, it’s really nothing to worry about.
Simply staying prepared in order to protect your home or from drying out your skin or hair is just part of the deal when deciding to live at the coast full time.
Considering the upside, dealing with a little salt really might not be too bad after all.