Homemade Oral Rehydration Fluids


If you don’t want to drink a com­mer­cial rehy­dra­tion prod­uct with lots of dyes and sugar, either use a packet of com­mer­cial rehy­dra­tion salts or use these resources to make your own.

Include an energy source in your drink — calo­ries are very impor­tant to acutely ill patients. Sug­ars like table sugar of any type or honey are read­ily avail­able to most peo­ple. Even can­cer patients who are very con­cerned about sugar intake should add this small amount of sugar.

Oral Rehy­dra­tion from Rehy­dra­tion Project  

This site is aimed at treat­ing life threat­en­ing diar­rhea in chil­dren largely in third world coun­tries. This is the most basic for­mula. Still, this drink and the instruc­tions on the site can be broadly help­ful for any­one with acute or chronic diarrhea.

Here is the basic Rehy­dra­tion Project for­mula:

A slightly dif­fer­ent for­mula has been devel­oped by The World Health Orga­ni­za­tion. Their offi­cial for­mula is more com­plex but does include addi­tional salts to pro­vide potas­sium and bicarbonate.

World Health Orga­ni­za­tion ORS Recipe:


  • 3/8 tsp salt (sodium chloride)
  • ¼ tsp Mor­ton® Salt Sub­sti­tute® (potas­sium chlo­ride) often called Lite Salt
  • ½ tsp bak­ing soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar (sucrose)
  • Add tap or bot­tled water to make one (1) liter (A liter is very close to a quart in volume.)


  1. Add the dry ingre­di­ents to a 1 liter bottle.
  2. Add enough water to make a final vol­ume of 1 liter; mix well.
  3. Sip as directed by your physician.
  4. Dis­card after 24 hours.

Con­tains 27 grams of sucrose, 70 mEq per liter of sodium, 20 mEq per liter of potas­sium and 30 mEq per liter of bicar­bon­ate. The final osmo­lar­ity is approx­i­mately 245 mOsm per liter.

Fur­ther Instructions:

If you have any con­cern about the clean­li­ness of your water, boil it for at least 3 min­utes or use bot­tled water. Fil­tered water is OK to use as well.

Encour­age the affected per­son to drink at least enough fluid to replace the vol­ume of fluid lost. Esti­mate as best you can. Most peo­ple will need to drink about 3 liters if loos­ing large vol­umes of water to diar­rhea. Extra fluid will not make your diar­rhea worse. For a more pre­cise idea of fluid needs see post Cal­cu­lat­ing How Much Fluid You Need.

You can add a small amount other ingre­di­ents to improve the taste of the formula:

  • Squirt of fresh lemon, lime or orange juice
  • ½ –1 cup of fruit juice
  • ¼ mashed ripe banana or
  • ½ –1 herbal or black tea.
  • Ste­via if desired

Don’t add all of these ingre­di­ents at first — choose one or per­haps two.


  1. Rehy­dra­tion project. Oral Rehy­dra­tion Solu­tions: Made at Home. Accessed 12/2/12. http://rehydrate.org/solutions/homemade.htm
  2. Rehy­dra­tion project. How do I pre­pare an Oral Rehy­dra­tion Salts ORS solu­tion at home? Accessed 12/2/12. http://rehydrate.org/faq/how-to-prepare-ors.htm
  3. Kelly DG and Nadeau J. Oral Rehy­dra­tion Solu­tion: A “Low-Tech” Oft Neglected Ther­apy. Prac­ti­cal Gas­troen­terol­ogy Octo­ber 2004. Pg 51– 61.
  4. King CK et al. Man­ag­ing Acute Gas­troen­teri­tis Among Chil­dren: Oral Rehy­dra­tion, Main­te­nance and Nutri­tional Ther­apy. CDC. Accessed 12/2/12 http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5216a1.htm


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