Some folks can’t have salt, and salt-free chips are good for them. I am not this person. Salt-free chips make me upset. The time I accidentally purchased a “party size” bag of unsalted tortilla chips had me utterly distraught. (The bags look nearly identical. I don’t blame myself.) This unfortunate event has happened to me, friends, and family at least once in the recent past. Whether you’ve made the same mistake, or your chips just need a salty boost, there’s an easy fix: salt water spray.
Chips are great because they’re crunchy and salty. The potato, taro, or corn flavor of the once-pure vegetable is a polite undertone, but it’s boosted by the salt. Unsalted chips are the closest I come to throwing out good food. That is, until I thought of this easy fix.
How to make chips saltier
Obviously you can’t just toss chips with table salt. The granules will just bounce off of the chips and settle to the bottom of the bowl or bag. Instead, we’re going to use the power of evaporation to help us evenly salt our chips. Table salt is primarily sodium chloride, and this chemical compound readily dissolves in water. When the water molecules evaporate, the sodium and chloride ions get together again and salt crystals are left behind on the surface. (There’s an enjoyable video here if you’re into watching molecules float away.) That surface will be chips in this case.
Dissolve salt into warm water—you can do this quickly in the microwave. Add about a tablespoon of salt to a half-cup of water in a measuring cup. Microwave it for 30 seconds, just to warm it up. Stir the solution until all of the salt crystals have completely dissolved. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Pour the salt water into a spray bottle. I used a Misto sprayer, which is marketed for spraying oil, but any liquid can be sprayed out of these bottles.
Lay the offending chips on a sheet pan. Spread them out in a single layer so they’re not overlapping too much. Spray the chips generously with the salt water, but no so much that it puddles up on the pan. I only sprayed one side, but you can flip the chips to do both sides. Alternatively, if you don’t have a spray bottle, you can quickly dip each chip into the salt water and lay it on the sheet pan. It takes more time, but it works. Bake the chips for five to 10 minutes to evaporate the water. You’ll see little white blotches turn up on the pan’s surface, and you might even be able to see the crystalline salt residue on the chips. The chips cool in no time, so you can start snacking right away.
Not only can you season the chips to save them from the garbage, but you can actually adjust the salt level to your personal preference. One tablespoon of salt to a half-cup of water produced a lightly salted chip, I would call this my minimum salt preference. The next time I do this (because I have half a bag of unsalted chips left), I’ll probably use two tablespoons of salt for my salt solution. If you’re the type that thinks a regular Lay’s potato chip isn’t salty, maybe use three tablespoons for your spray.