The Reason Restaurants Put Rice In Salt Shakers

Anyone who has ever been salting their fries or a couple of fried eggs or anything else from a restaurant only to look down and notice grains of rice inside the salt shaker might have wondered why those stray grains were there. But if you've ever shaken a canister of seasoning that's hardened into a brick or dropped your phone in a bag of rice after getting it wet, you might already have an inkling as to why. And according to Taste of Home, restaurants use rice in a very similar manner, all for the convenience of their customers.

Ultimately, rice is placed inside of salt shakers to do exactly what it does for your phone and that container of seasoning in your pantry. As Taste of Home explains, it's all because salt is "hydrogenous" and absorbs water from the air fast. Enter rice and its special qualities, which allow it to prevent the salt from getting a chance to absorb any moisture, keeping it loose for sprinkling.

This is why rice is the best solution

According to Damp Solving, rice is "hygroscopic" but not "deliquescent." These characteristics mean that rice can absorb water even faster than salt to create a drier atmosphere around the grains (and for anything nearby) without destroying itself (unlike a deliquescent material, which would). Other materials that can absorb water like cardboard or newspaper become wet and soggy and can eventually rip or disintegrate because of the excess moisture. Rice, on the other hand, will not dissolve because of the water, though it might leak when immersed in enough water.

So for the humble salt shaker in restaurants, rice is exposed to just the small amounts of water vapor in the air from humidity or inside of shakers still wet from being washed. That's why they can absorb the water so efficiently without compromising the salt or the grains for a long-term solution. If you live in a humid climate, you might even want to try doing this with your own containers of salt at home, too.