Morton Partners with Salt Sciences

America’s biggest salt maker has partnered with Salt Science to manufacture seven nontoxic cleaners for homes and commercial spaces.

September 19, 2023


Most Americans probably have a container of Morton Salt on their kitchen counter, given that it’s the largest salt maker in North America. Soon they may also be cleaning those counters with Morton products, as the company has launched a line of salt-based cleaners for homes and commercial spaces.

Morton teamed with Salt Science, a new startup, to manufacture seven cleaning products that are nontoxic, breathable, and harmless in case of contact with skin or food—unlike most other so-called eco cleaning solutions that are plant-based but still contain various irritants and allergens.

“This is America’s first full line of nontoxic cleaners,” says Randall Satin, cofounder and president of Salt Science. “I always say, you can spray it in your kid’s face. Your kids can spray it in your dog’s face. And your dog can spray it in your kid’s face.”

The startup’s other founder, Krishna Israni, is a practicing physician in New York. He spent the end of his residency during the COVID-19 era developing natural solutions for disinfecting hospital spaces, given the bleach shortages early on in the pandemic and the toxic nature of many of those substances. “I felt like that was the time to start looking into different types of cleaning and solutions,” he says.

Israni noted that bleaches contain hypochlorous acid (HOCl), a substance produced naturally in the body as a defense mechanism, which breaks down cell walls of microorganisms. It has been produced artificially since the 1800s, and was used in both World Wars for wound care. It’s the same substance that heals skin after tattoos and is contained in many brands of eye drops.

It’s present in today’s bleaches, just supplemented with toxic chemicals. But it’s much more effective and quicker at killing viruses and bacteria when extracted in its pure form.

Israni teamed up with Satin, an expert in the space, to cofound Salt Science and develop products. They approached Morton later in 2020, and started selling “DIY devices”—essentially canisters to add salt and water to at home. The machines then use electricity to split the salt, or sodium chloride, into sodium and chlorine, and then bond the free chlorine with hydrogen and oxygen to create HOCl. Because of their virus-fighting properties, the devices could be sold as COVID-killing disinfectants.

After the height of the pandemic, it became clear that HOCl had more uses, namely in cleaning. By configuring the solution in different ratios, they were able to make degreasers and cleaning products for kitchens, bathrooms, floors, glass, and stainless steel.

“So what we’re selling is the HOCl solutions at different parts per million,” Israni says. All the while, the pH remains neutral—unlike highly alkaline bleaches—and therefore free of toxins. “The biggest takeaway from all of this [is] it’s nontoxic because it’s at a neutral pH,” he says.

Of course, the cleaning solutions need a lot of salt to be effective. Collaborating with Morton, which has produced salt since 1848, was a natural fit. “This was a no-brainer for them,” Israni says, and the familiar brand was helpful for a lesser-known product to break through a crowded marketplace. “When you bring it to light with Morton versus ‘Israni’s HOCl,’ it’s a lot different,” he says.

Morton Pro wasn’t the only company selling the DIY devices, but it is the first to sell the solutions in individual spray bottles. “America really wanted an on-the-shelf option,” Satin says.

The direct-to-consumer bottles have launched on Amazon, and Walmart plans to start stocking them next year. Israni says the solutions (which are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency) will be a game-changer for families, who won’t have to worry about cleaning products endangering children or pets. At the moment the bottles are about 30% more expensive than bleach, but they’re on par with other sustainable cleaning brands like Seventh Generation.

On the B2B side, Salt Science now has contracts with two large commercial cleaning companies, including Verus, which operates in 22 states and has contracts with giants like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.

Once people are more comfortable with the concept of salt-based cleaners, Israni says, perhaps wipes, gels, and toners could be future products. But first, it’s about changing the mindset of the consumer. “It’s like lead-free paint,” he says. “It’s like creating a little bit of a new-generation view on cleaning.”