Oral Rehydration Solution (Homemade Pedialyte/Electrolyte Subsitute)

 Over (Canadian) Thanksgiving, our whole family (well, except for the 2 month old infant, thankfully!) caught the stomach flu – or gastroenteritis.  Blech.  The only thing worse than spending the day throwing up (and other things) is having to watch your almost 2-year old get sick all over himself – it’s such a traumatic and scary event for the little ones!  Poor guy didn’t know what was happening, and why his ‘burps’ were being so mean to him.  He wouldn’t eat a thing, and would hardly drink, so I sent my husband to Shopper’s to pick up some Pedialyte.  Boy was he unhappy when he came home – paying $12 for 1 L of an electrolyte replacement solution?  He did it, we fed it to H, and everyone survived in the end.  Brian, however, took that chance to make sure we would never pay for the stuff again.

After a bit of research, he found the World Health Organization’s DIY Oral Rehydration Solution (If you’re interested in reading the research published by WHO on this, click this link).  He also discovered that drinking Gatorade/PowerAde when sick with the stomach bug is not so good, as sugar tends to aggravate your intestines, which in turn, aggravates diarrhea, and Gatorade/PowerAde has more than its fair share of sugar.  The WHO recommended recipe for electrolyte replacement is as follows:

1/2 tsp Table Salt (NaCl)
1/2 tsp Salt Substitute (KCI)
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
2 Tbsp Table Sugar
1 lt Tap Water

Stir thoroughly, until all crystals are dissolved.  Chill.  Can be served with a fresh lemon squeezed into it – or, as we did, mix with 1 Crystal Light or sugar free Kool-Aid packet – don’t use regular Kool-Aid as it takes extra sugar – and sugar, in case you are unaware, can make diarrhea even worse.  Note that sugar free drink mixes do contain aspartame, which is a product that we try to avoid as much as possible in our house, but once in a while (like, when we feel as though we might die), we make exceptions.  

Infants: one litre over a 24 hour period
Children: one litre over an 8 to 24 hour period, according to age
Adults: drink freely as required
Continue treatment until diarrhoea stops


The next time B was at a store, he picked up some Salt Substitute and Crystal Light, which were the only two ingredients that we didn’t have in our cupboard.  Just in case.

Well.  I’m glad that he had them around.  Not one week after our family recovered from the Influenza virus, I came down with the good old stomach flu.  Again.  I can’t remember the last time that I had it twice in one year!  Fortunately I had the worst of it yesterday, on a Saturday, so he was around to do all the laundry, take care of the kids, and take care of me.  He made some of the solution for me, and while it tasted saltier on my lips than Gatorade does, the actual drink tasted just fine – actually, it tasted really good.  Which means that I must have been really dehydrated, because when I tried it this afternoon, it was less than desirable.   It’s like eating saltine crackers after you haven’t eaten anything for 24 hours – who knew that those plain little squares could taste so delicious?!

Anyhow.  My advice to you:  Go out and purchase any of the ingredients that you don’t typically keep in your cupboard, print out the recipe, and keep it with the ingredients in the cupboard so that you – or someone else in your household – can quickly whip up a batch when needed.  And I sincerely hope that none of you will need this for the rest of the cold season!! 

Here’s a PDF of the recipe to print out for future reference.

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Jenn vanOosten

I live in Hamilton, Ontario, and love my city. I'm a Netflixer, choral music geek, bookworm, inventor of recipes (I take Artistic Licence on EVERYTHING that I make), wife of one, mother of two, and owner of a neurotic Schnauzer. I respect people who respect others. I love good food that's well done, but my favourite lunch is KD & hotdogs. With ketchup. I'm addicted to Clearance Shopping. I will ALWAYS get the product that I want at the price that I want, eventually.


  1. Do you have a twitter page? I’d love to follow you on Twitter.

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