Homemade Hydration: Nuun DIY Electrolyte Powder

You know you are supposed to hydrate.  You know sweat is salty and you should probably put some of that back in your body after a good run.  But the choices for electrolyte powders and drinks can be overwhelming AND expensive. So why not make your own DIY electrolyte powder for just pennies?

Traditional sports drinks like Gatorade will replace lost electrolytes, but they are also full of sugar and artificial unpronounceables.

Nuun is a cool product that dissolves like an Alka Seltzer in water and skips the added sugar, but the original formula was sweetened with acesulfame potassium which might be cancer-causing.  Newer versions of Nuun include monk fruit as a sweetener, which is natural, but its safety is poorly tested.  Even if it is completely safe and natural, it’s really expensive if you use it regularly!

I received a stash of Nuun tablets at a runners’ white elephant Christmas party (along with some mini bottles to create my own Nuun cocktails!) last year and I have really enjoyed them.  But when I went to replenish my supply, I got a little sticker shock and decided to figure out how to make them on my own.

The key ingredients in Nuun or any electrolyte replacement is sodium, potassium, and magnesium.  (Calcium is added too, but in a tiny amount.)  The hands-down most important ingredient is sodium.

Researchers have found that during endurance exercise like a marathon, sodium is the only one you need.  The rest can wait for later and come from real food.

Here’s how most of the flavors of Nuun break down: 360g sodium, 100g potassium, 25g magnesium, 13g calcium.

The formula I came up with is 372.5g sodium, 87.5g potassium, and 30g magnesium.  (For now, I’m skipping the calcium.  I take a calcium pill most nights before I go to bed and that’s probably sufficient.  I suppose if I really wanted to, I could crush up a calcium pill, but I’m not too worried about it.)

It’s so simple and cheap to make your own DIY electrolyte powder!  Did I mention cheap?

Get out your tiny measuring scoops and prepare to be amazed at the simplicity of this!

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Add the mix to a pint of cold water and you have a refreshing, slightly salty thirst quencher.  If you need a little more flavor, add a teaspoon of lemon or lime juice, or mix with an herbal tea instead.  If you need even more flavor and carbohydrates, try mixing with apple, orange, grape, or cherry juice.  Another idea is to try a squirt of some of the water enhancers that are on the market.  Usually after a run, I am so thirsty that I don’t need any flavorings.

I make a batch for the week and store them in a pill container.  You could use contact lens cases or any other small container you can think of.  I find it easier to do this once a week rather than measure after every run.

Three cheap, cheap ingredients:  baking soda, epsom salt, and Morton’s Lite Salt.  That’s it!!

So why do I use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) instead of salt (sodium chloride)?  Well there is a little salt in the Lite Salt, but the main reason is that baking soda is a base and serves to neutralize acid in the body (remember those baking soda and vinegar volcanoes you made in grade school?).  Chloride is important too, but bicarbonate is “the star of the show” when it comes to restoring electrolyte balance.

And, if taken in the right dose before a race, baking soda is a proven performance enhancer.  Cool, right?

One word of warning, if you go overboard with baking soda or magnesium, your GI system will be upset with you, so try to stick to using electrolyte solutions (mine and any others) in the measured doses until you know how it effects your unique body.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Looking for a great vegan race fuel recipe? Try my popular UCAN alternative!

Homemade Hydration: DIY Nuun Electrolyte Replacement

A simple homemade electrolyte replacement for pennies!

Save RecipeSave Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (307mg sodium)
  • 1/16 teaspoon Morton's Lite Salt (87.5mg potassium and 72.5mg sodium)
  • 1/16 teaspoon epsom salt (30mg magnesium)
  • optional flavor such as juice, tea, stevia, or water enhancer

Instructions

  1. Measure directly into 16 ounces of cold still or sparkling water or other beverage.

Notes

372.5 mg sodium 87.5 mg potassium 30 mg magnesium

7.8.1.2
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https://theplantedrunner.com/homemade-hydration-diy-nuun-electrolyte-powder/

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50 Responses

    • Morton's Lite Salt has potassium, sodium, and small amounts of magnesium and calcium. This recipe has 87.5mg of potassium.
        • The kind I use does not specifically have the words "food grade," but it's approved for ingestion. Here's a great explanation of the different kinds: https://www.epsomsaltcouncil.org/faq/
      • Hey Clare, thanks for that! Have you done your calcs in grams? For a bit more precision, (as these settle, etc) could you please provide in grams? Thanks! Lizzi
          • Hi Wanda, Pink salt supplies sodium, but it does not have the same amount of potassium as the Morton's Lite Salt, so it's not going to replenish all of your electrolytes. But if you are just looking to replace sodium, yes you can use it!
    • Pink salt does not have the same mineral content as epsom salt, so no, it's not a replacement. You can use it instead of table salt.
  1. This is really interesting and I'm willing to give it a shot! I wonder how they get it into a brick tablet form? Probably either bake it, or add some ingredient that binds it all together? I wonder if adding something like honey or food glue then lightly baking it would stick them into cubes, haha.
  2. Very interesting concept of making your own electrolyte. I would think using a half spoonful of honey would add the sweetness we crave plus all of the ingredients that honey contains. Off the topic, I am a firm believer of using honey both topically and internally. I was in the hospital with a bad case of cellulitus. My wife brought in a jar of Raw Manuka Honey. I slobbered all over my leg placing a plastic garbage bag under and around the leg so I would not stick to the bedding, and in two days the raw redness and swelling of the leg was shrinking and returning to normal. That seriously impressed the doctor. It was after that visit, I was tested for MRSA. They now treat me as tho I have the plague.
  3. I'm trying it this week! I rode the yearly bike ride across Iowa this year and the Nuun folks were out filling up water bottles for free. The marketing worked and I got hooked on it. Now I can make my own. The great thing is that I was wishing there was an option which was not flavored as I prefer to just have water instead of flavored things while riding. Boom...thanks much!
  4. I mixed some up today and I think it tasted pretty good by itself, not overly salty and still refreshing like good old water. I know that the intent of this is to have a DIY with regular household ingredients and I love it, but I was doing some research on Nuun and hydration in general. They use Sodium Bicarbonate along with Sodium Carbonate and Citric Acid which creates Sodium Citrate when it touches water (and gives it bubbles like Alka-Seltzer). The research I have found said that Sodium Citrate is the easiest/most efficient to digest and metabolize. Have you tried to use Sodium Citrate instead of baking powder? I'm thinking of getting some pure Magnesium Oxide, Sodium Citrate, Potassium Bicarbonate, and Calcium Carbonate through bulksupliments.com and dong some mixing.
  5. Hey Claire, have you ever thought about making these into capsules?..... Removing the need for flavouring. Im out there looking for a capsule recipe to replace buying them for extortionate prices!
  6. Claire, I’ve been an MD and a high school Chemistry teacher. Found your site intriguing and cost-conscious, not to mention efficient. I struggled with muscular cramps after 3-4 hours cycling or 10+ miles running. Have had tremendous improvements in decreased cramps & longer sustainability in exercise with your well-thought out concoction. I usually take a double dose before working out, then a single dose after. I have told all my friends in the the community and they think you’re incredible. Appreciate immensely your post and the feedback!!!!
    • Thank you for your kind words, Matt! I'm so glad that my recipes have worked for you and I sincerely appreciate the feedback.
  7. Thank you for putting out this information. I feel I need more electrolytes but not willing to go broke with more supplement so this idea is just right. Do you think I can mix this with a bcaa supplement I already take or would that affect the efficiency of any of the two?
  8. Question: My wife and I are on a keto-type diet and are experiencing the leg cramps. Love the inexpensive, home-made recipe!! We fill our gallon jug for the day and was wondering if we were to add this to our gallon, would that be sufficient for the day or would it dilute it down to far to be effective. Additionally, if we still experience cramps should we "up the dose". Thank you!!
  9. Thanks so much for posting, I can no longer tolerate acidic food or drinks and all electrolyte drinks have citric acid. Electrolyte replacement is so important cycling in Az, so this will be really useful and cost effective. Can't wait to try it!
  10. Thanks for that! I didn't realize baking soda provided sodium, so now I don't have to buy expensive electrolyte powders. I'm not sure how much Ca and Mg Morton Lite has but I just bought an 8oz supply of Now Foods Ca + Mg Citrate Powder. It's enough to last forever for I think $10. So my modification of your recipe is: 1/8 tsp baking soda 1/8 tsp Ca+Mg Citrate 1/16 tsp Morton Lite 1/8 to 1/4 tsp True Lemon powder Tastes great!
  11. I work in a laboratory and I feel a need to point out that teaspoons and tablespoons are not well-defined measurements (there are multiple definitions for them), and using measuring spoons is obviously not very accurate (the packing of dry materials alone can cause large variations). Don't expect to get milligram accuracy with spoons, and use milliliter amounts if you can. But what you should actually want is a scale. The modern digital kitchen scales are cheap and fantastic for a lot of things, but unfortunately they tend not to work with measurements under 10 g or so. Short of getting a laboratory-grade scale, you might be able to use a somewhat heavy vessel (> 100 g) to get into the operating range of the scale, and then measure 10-20 g amounts into that. Another thing that comes to mind is using a concentrated stock solution as opposed to batches of the dry ingredients. These salts are highly soluble, so you could easily prepare e.g. a 10x stock (measuring 10x the amount makes using a kitchen scale easier) and keep that in the fridge. Then prepare the drink by diluting 1:9, which may be easier to measure than trying to get the small batches of the dry ingredients right.
    • Hi Mike, Thanks for your input! Yes, I agree that weighing the ingredients would be far more accurate and making a larger batch would be much simpler than measuring the tiny amounts in this recipe. But I also think that the body is great at homeostasis and will eliminate anything extra that it doesn't need. Not to mention, everyone's individual electrolyte needs are vastly different. In other words, you don't have to be perfect to get the job done. I encourage everyone to experiment with what works for you. Thanks for chiming in!
  12. Hi Claire. Thank you for your reply. I got curious and ran the numbers for the table salt that I happen to have in my cupboard. It's 'PANSALT' brand, an iodized salt, with a lot of potassium in it (to replace unhealthy sodium), and some magnesium. Turns out, it's pretty much all I would need. The suspicious part is that it says it's only 57 g "salt" per 100 g. Apparently there's a lot of anti-caking additive and such, which I'm not sure I would want in my hydration drink. In any case, the package says 22.4 g sodium, 14.7 g potassium, 1.2 g magnesium per 100 g. To roughly match your recipe's sodium concentration (372.5 mg / 16 ounces = 787 mg/L = 34 mmol/L), I need 3.08 g of my table salt per liter. That gives me the final concentrations of 690 mg/L sodium, 453 mg/L potassium, 37 mg/L magnesium. The molar concentrations (30, 12 and 2 mmol/L) are in pretty good agreement with the sports hydration recipes that I found by quick googling. The 10x stock for this would be 30.8 g of my table salt in one liter, which would make 10 L of drink (dilution 1:9). Maybe more realistically I'd make half of that, which would be 15.4 g for 500 mL of concentrate. Easily doable with a kitchen scale. Actually, a lot easier than the small batches, since you could just use the scale for both the salt and then add 500 g of water (= approx. 500 mL) in the same bottle and be done with it. Thanks for your blog post! I hadn't thought of these things, and I had no idea there was so much other stuff besides sodium chloride in my table salt.
  13. curious to know if anyone has come up with a better portioning mechanism. The pill box is probably a best practice but it would be great to have it in a powder stick or something I could just throw into a water bottle on the go.
    • You can buy tiny 1"x1" mini ziplock baggies. Then you can make either one serving at a time and measure into the baggies or make a big batch and scoop individual serving portions into the baggies and take them with you to replenish your water bottle on the go. I use these for cycling and take a couple of baggies with me on my ride to refill my water bottle. You can also save the baggies and use them over an over again rather than throw them away after one use.
  14. I've been using this but it would be nice to have a conversion to grams. These tiny amounts are hard to measure and the epsom salts are chunky when put into a little spoon. Grams would make it a lot easier to make big batches of too.
  15. Hi, I just multiplied the recipe by like 30, ground it all up in my blendtech so the heavier salts won't sink, all the particles are about the same size and put it in a Mason jar in the cupboard...I also added monkfruit to cut the saltiness
  16. Thank you so much for this! I’ve been having blood pressure consistency issues and am supposed to drink 30-45 oz of electrolyte water a day. I avoid artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners, so finding a pre-made product that wasn’t way overpriced or a waste of plastic bottles felt impossible! I mixed up a large batch of your recipe and add 1 teaspoon to a 32 ounce water bottle each morning and drink it throughout the day. It’s been great. I find if I keep it cold, the salty flavor is tempered enough that I don’t mind it at all. Thank you again!
  17. Hello again, I fund the answer about flavours and sugary taste - sweet BUT SUGAR-FREE and NATURAL :) ), but Iam still interested in people's ideas, what you have tried and what you have liked. Also, I was wondering, Claire, for the light salt, would a 0% salt option be ok (instead of 50%)? I found something cheaper but it's 0% salt: https://www.amazon.ca/-/fr/Windsor-Sel-Sans-Iod%C3%A9-Substitut/dp/B07H1LH8CG/ref=pd_sbs_1?pd_rd_w=gCaAQ&pf_rd_p=4dc33e2e-16b5-4e12-aab9-e86d5748e0cb&pf_rd_r=65ZDS235RJR72Y4G1Y6B&pd_rd_r=2ae4112f-df36-4fe5-a649-fd2d90dd62c9&pd_rd_wg=uqzTO&pd_rd_i=B07H1LH8CG&psc=1 Thank you! Marie
    • Sodium is the most important electrolyte to replace, so just be sure that you get the balance right. Let me know what you try!
  18. Rather than use the pill dispenser, I find it much easier to buy mini ziplock baggies (1"x1" is perfect) then make a big batch and measure into the baggies for individual servings that can be taken with you on the go. I use these for cycling and just grab a couple and put them in my jersey pocket to refill my water bottles on my rides. The baggies can be reused so a pack of 100 will last forever and you are not throwing anything in the trash so it is environmentally friendly as well. Also, many of the sports drinks contain B vitamins for metabolism and energy support. I buy a bottle of 100mg B complex and break them up into 1/3s then crush it into a powder and add that to the mix. I can not say that it makes a huge difference but since most of the commercial sports drinks contain the B vitamins I assume there is a reason. Thanks for this recipe. Almost all commercial sports drinks contain either Sucralose or sugar. Sucralose is definitely a poison and should never be ingested at any time in any amount. Sugar, though not a poison is definitely not something we need to be adding to our food and can not be used if you are trying to train in a fasted state. The only products with neither sucralose of sugar cost an insane amount of money. This is not only better than all of those but it is a fraction of the cost. Thanks for this great recipe.
  19. Thank you, Claire, for this recipe. Yay! I drink from a hydration bladder and the usual thought is to not put electrolyte stuff into the bladder since it will gunk it up. It looks to me like the base recipe (soda, lite salt, epsom salt) is clean/soluble enough to be able to put in a hydration bladder without gunking it up. I haven't given that a test yet but would be interested if anyone has. I plan on making "large batches" of a cup of powder at a time and storing it in 1 and 2 ounce nalgene bottles, and then dumping a small amount into my 3 L hydration bladder. Am hoping that is easily packable. Thanks again!
    • Sounds great, Mike! I've had others comment that grinding the dry recipe in a coffee grinder is better for batching since the particles are all one size and won't settle unevenly. Let me know how it goes!

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