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WordPress Salts: What They Are, How They Work, and How to Use Them

WordPress Salts_ What They Are, How They Work, and How to Use Them

WordPress salts play an important behind-the-scenes role in bolstering your site’s security. But what exactly are salts in WordPress and how do they work? In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about WordPress salts including what they are, how they enhance security, and tips for managing them properly.

What Are WordPress Salts?

WordPress salts are randomly generated strings added to your wp-config.php file. They act as unique keys to encrypt sensitive user data like passwords and cookies. This adds an extra layer of protection beyond just hashing passwords.

Salts make it harder for hackers to reverse engineer hashed passwords back to plain text through methods like rainbow table attacks. They provide an unpredictable input that generates unique hash outputs even for identical passwords.

Why Are Salts Important for Security?

Here are some of the main reasons why salts are crucial for locking down WordPress security:

  • Prevents rainbow table attacks against hashed passwords
  • Provides unique input to generate distinct password hashes
  • Adds encryption layer beyond just hashing for user data
  • Improves strength of encryption keys by being unpredictable
  • Rotating salts regularly further boosts protection

Proper use of salts is vital for password and user data security.

How Do Salts Work in WordPress?

When a user signs up, their password is passed through a hashing algorithm like bcrypt along with the salt value from wp-config.php. This generates a unique hash output even if two users have the same password.

On login, the entered password gets hashed again using the salts and compared to the existing hash. If the hashes match, the user is authenticated.

Types of Salts in WordPress

WordPress uses two main types of salts:

Unique Non-Secret Salts

These are the standard salts set in wp-config.php like AUTH_SALT and LOGGED_IN_SALT. They don’t need to be secret and are added to user input before hashing.

Secret Salts

Secret keys like nonces exist temporarily for actions like logging out. They are stored in the database and need higher secrecy. Each salt type plays a specific role.

How to Generate New Salts in WordPress

It’s good practice to refresh your salts every few months. Here are a few ways to generate new salts:

  • Use the secret key service
  • Generate secrets using a salt generator tool
  • Create random strings manually with dice rolls or other methods

Then update the new salts values in wp-config.php and re-save hashes by logging in again.

How to Add Salts in wp-config.php

Adding salts to wp-config.php is straightforward. The steps below walk through how to insert new salts:

  • Generate new random salts as outlined above
  • Open wp-config.php in a text editor like Notepad++
  • Locate the existing salt definitions (AUTH_SALT, SECURE_AUTH_SALT, etc.)
  • Replace the old salt values by pasting in the newly generated salts
  • Re-save wp-config.php

Should Salts be Secret?

The standard salts in wp-config.php don’t need to be secret since they’re just unique inputs to generate hash outputs. The salts themselves don’t encrypt anything.

However, secret nonces should be protected since they temporarily allow sensitive actions like logging out. It’s best to revoke/regenerate these after use.

Do Salts Need to be Random?

Yes, salts should be highly random to make guessing them infeasible. Strong random salts prevent techniques like rainbow table attacks.

Use a secure random generator tool rather than weak human-generated randomness. Unpredictability is key.

Should You Backup Salts?

There’s no need to back up salts since they can be randomly regenerated. Backing them up also increases exposure if the backup itself is compromised.

But you may want to keep a history of previous salts in case you need to restore an older site version. Just don’t leave old salts lying around in insecure locations.


WordPress salts offer a critical defense against common password-cracking techniques. By providing unpredictable data as inputs to the hashing process, salts create unique password hashes even for duplicate passwords. 

Rotating salts regularly via tools like’s secret key service further bolsters protection. While salts themselves don’t need to be secret, properly understanding their role and integrating them effectively is key for water-tight WordPress security.

Understanding what salts are, how they work, and how to manage them properly will keep your WordPress site locked down from compromise. Use this guide to integrate salts effectively as part of your overall WordPress security strategy.


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