Most of us find ourselves drenched in sweat after a good run. Some runners though, start to feel their sweat hurt their eyes, burn an open wound and sometimes even find white streaks on their faces, arms, legs and body which are called “cake sweat”. Basically what this means is that you are sweating salt and it is showing on your skin. This tends to happen to those who consume more water than salt in their diets.

Should this be of any concern you may ask? Absolutely not. However, the best way to counter this syndrome is to be generous with the amount of salt you intake. Not too much until you feel sick and cause your health any harm but enough to make your food taste better and keep the salt crystals forming on your skin after exercising at bay. Instead of water, you can also turn to energy drinks before, during and after your runs to keep your salt levels healthy.

And if you are wondering if consuming more salt will lead to a higher calorie intake, you cannot be more wrong. Salt does not contain calories, even though an overdose can not only kill your tastebuds but also your health in the long run. You don’t have to literally consume salt in its grainy form too. As much as you can add that to your food and even drinks, you can also get your salt intake from tomato juice, pickles and even chicken bouillon.

Photo Credit: Rebalance Life
Photo Credit: Rebalance Life

It definitely does not make sense for runners to be consuming hot bowls of chicken soup while on a run so the next best alternative is isotonic drinks. These drinks contain enough salt to keep the body going while it releases the ones inside our body. After awhile, you will find that your sweat isn’t as salty and that you don’t feel the sting that comes from salt on the skin any longer.


Salt crystals on the skin as a result of sweating can also cause skin irritations in those who have sensitive skin. This is probably also a good reason for runners to pour water onto their skin after running to get rid of the excess salt and sweat and of course, feel fresh.

So go a little crazy on the salt and give your tastebuds a reward! Make sure you continue running to keep your salt levels in check though.


  1. Okay people think about it back in biology you was taught that your body naturally gives off sweat is salty it is salt going through your body that’s how you get rid of salt from your body you do you sweat or your urine it’s always salty now Crystal ice math or whatever you want to call it is very salty that you could taste it so the salt crystals and that are bigger than the salt crystals that you naturally give off in your body so once they stop pushing through your pores it clogs them once you pores get clogged they start to itch they start to irritate so you pick them so when you pick them that creates the little red spot that you get on your arm so or your leg just whatever maybe so all that is I believe is just the bigger salt crystals from the drug being pushed out of your body which you naturally do it anyway so that’s my opinion and if anybody agrees with me shoot me shoot me a yay

      • There should be a comma after science, yet before the word ‘but’. And your last sentence is a run-on. I don’t feel agony. However, I do feel embarrassment for someone who tries to correct someone else, all the while, they, themselves, can’t seem to grasp the syntax of the English language.

    • Makes sense to me. I have this problem too. I thought it was dandruff, but then noticed how it sparkles and flakes off like crystals. Math is great!

  2. Well thank God. An answer that is not telling me I have bed bugs. Makes perfect sense now. Thank you for the answer I needed to know just what this is.

  3. “This tends to happen to those who consume more water than salt in their diets.”

    Why is this so? It seems counter-intuitive. 😐

    I would imagine that this would happen when you have* too much* salt and not enough H2O in the diet.

    Please clarify WHY this is the case, author. Thanks! 🙂

    • Am confused. If there is more water intake than salt, it means the salt concentration should be less, and thus shouldn’t build up on your skin. Pls I need further explanation. Thank you

    • I may be wrong…..

      Basic Explanation: The water chases the salt but salt is always in the lead. When everything is in balance both water and salt are released. But when there is an imbalance more salt in your cells vs in diet you release more salt than water resulting in ‘salt cake’ or crystals on skin.

      Long Answer: I believe it is the result of the how the concentration gradient works on a cellular level.

      A concentration gradient occurs when the concentration of particles is higher in one area than another. In passive transport, particles will diffuse down a concentration gradient, from areas of higher concentration to areas of lower concentration, until they are evenly spaced.

      Practical application: If a person is on a low sodium diet it will gradual lower the amount of free salt in the body. Causing a shift in the relative amount of salt in cells and free salt (in blood). Once the shift makes the salt concentration higher in your cell than in the blood, osmosis (water moving through a membrane).

      Due the concentration gradient salt will want to move from higher concentration (in cell) to low (blood) then out of the body for cooling.

    • Osmosis.

      Water pushes salt out and vice-versus to try to reach homeostasis.

      If water is much more abundant than salt, it’ll push the salt out of cells to be secreted by your sweat in greater amounts.

  4. Pls these are my own observation. I will not want anyone to be offended with my opinion

    I also have this problem and I dont take much water while eating. So i think the comment of “D Albo” is correct – that it is those that consume much salt that have frequent salt cake. I take alot of salt and I can eat without water. Infact if not some few days ago i started taking water i can stay without taking water for 10 hours.

    Since i experience this salt cake i think those that takes much salt are the one who normally have salt cake.

    • This is true. But sweating salt crystals also means you lose a huge amount of sodium whenever you sweat. This also explains why salt sweaters prefer salty food especially after exercising. You’re basically trying to replace loads of sodium you just lost through sweating. Moderation is key because too much sodium isn’t good for the kidneys.

  5. There is possibility that the whitish substance that oozes out with sweat when one runs works, does not only contain salt, but body calcium also. So, if you have whitish sweat there is need to consume food rich in calcium, so as to balance one’s body calcium.

  6. Mine is too but much. I have cakes on my legs arms and more around my neck. Why? I know I drink less water and more natural orange juice. Please help.

  7. I have a question for all those who had this happen to them. Does the sugar crystallize and come out of your pores? Or does your sweat form the sugar on the skin? Also does it occur all the time or just when you’re sweating. I know someone who says he thought they were white heads on his face. He got them after he cleaned his face off when he wasn’t sweating any longer. Is that possible?

  8. Hydration is key but H2O alone does not replace what you loose during activity. Sports drinks are inadequate for this replacement and often leave you more thirsty. My mixture is as follows in 24 oz water add.. two droppers of mega Mag (found in vitamin store) 1/4 tsp of no-salt(potassium),1/4 tsp of pink Himalayan salt, 1/2 tsp of mother apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp of lemon juice/ or if you want to add flavor you can. This mixture prevents soar muscles and replaces vital minerals we sweat out during exercise. I still have a fine salt build on skin that feels like l have ran through a dust storm. But when I drink this I feel revived. I drink it before exercise and after to prevent the stiff soar muscles! I also consume about 40-60 oz of h20 during 3 hour work out once a week. This is bomb! BTW calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium are responsible for keeping your heart pumping.

  9. First off the person who criticize the punctuation… Go ahead and criticize mine too because I write in text shorthand too ….if you can’t read without punctuation then you’re the one with the problem. Oh my gosh though I’m so thankful for this article. exact thing happened to me last night… I picked at these things for hours thinking I had some type of bug and then today I felt like I had salt crystals all over my bed and myself and it Caused me a ton of Anxiety. It’s happened to me a couple times… And I am literally in tears for this information thank you thank you thank you thank you… you have no idea What you just did for me.

  10. First of all ppl r so rude…its unbelievable…anyways iam goin crazy trying to figure out wats causing salty mouth and plus it’s comin threw my scalp its damaged my hair ..its on my face chest hands chin neck..iam Itchy I feel dirty..I wash my hair 3times in a day and shower and can’t get rid of..its effecting my smell..everything smells dirty including me..its driving me crazy and iam not getting answers..I do think it’s somehow gland related but yet doctors r puzzled..please help iam ready to Crack up..

  11. I only use coarse salt…a lot of it. my bed is covered in white crystals to the point i think i have bed bugs, but i’ve never seen a bed bug and i dont have bites, is it possible to sweat out coarse salt?


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