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How to Remove Slime from Snails

How to Remove Slime from Snails

Snails have a very sticky substance known as snail slime that we must remove before using the snails in our cooking.

How to Remove Snail Slime [Video]


  • You will need a blunt object for breaking the shells of the snails.
  • You will need a pointed object to push the snail out of the shell.

Items that remove snail slime

The following items can remove snail slime:

1. Salt

Salt has an abrasive property that is why it is used to remove snail slime. Simply pour lots of salt into a bowl of shelled snails. Rub the salt on the snails till the slime is gone.

2. Garri

Garri is Nigeria's grain staple food used in preparing Eba, a type of fufu meal. Garri works the same way as salt. Pour lots of Garri grains on a bowl of shelled snails and rub till the slime is gone. Garri is quite expensive and is essential commodity if you live outside Nigeria so it’s a no-no for me. I strictly reserve my Garri for Asoki things. LOL

3. Lime

The acid in lime juice attacks snail slime and cleans up the snail quickly.

4. Lemon

Though lime and lemon have acidic properties but I find that lemon is more efficient than lime. Maybe lemon's acid is more active than that of lime. You can see the slime curdle almost as soon as you sprinkle lemon juice on the snails.

Lemon is the most efficient of all the items that remove snail slime especially when you are cleaning a bowl of snails.

5. Alum

Alum is the most effective of all the items that can remove snail slime. It gives the snails a squeaky clean. It takes a lot of hard work though and it is not as efficient at cutting the slime as lemons especially at the beginning when the slime is still very thick and concentrated.

That is why I use a combination of lemon and alum (efficiency and effectiveness) for a squeaky clean result.

Alum is a safe additive to foods but you should do your own research before you use it.

There are a few other methods of removing snail slime. For instance, I have heard about boiling the snails for a bit or pouring hot water on them but I do not use that method because boiling the snails and pouring away the water would be depleting the nutrients that the snails contain.

Directions for Removing the Slime from Snails

Before you start:

  1. Cut the lemons into two equal parts and set aside. For 10 big snails, you will need about 3 juicy lemons.
  2. Bring out the alum ready for use. A piece of alum is enough for 10 snails.

Break the snails

  1. Using the blunt object, hit hard on the snail shells to break up the pointed end of the shell. Then use the pointed tool/utensil to push the snail till it comes off the other end.
    Note: If you break the whole shell into pieces, the resulting tiny shells may be stuck on the snail and these are difficult to remove because of the slime. So make as little mess as possible when breaking the shell.

  2. Remove the tiny pieces of shells at the point where the snail attaches itself to the shell. Be careful when doing this because those tiny shells can be very sharp.

  3. Remove the snail's intestines and feel the snail with your fingers to make sure there are no tiny shells left behind.

  4. Repeat the process for the rest of the snails and place them in a bowl.

Remove the slime

  1. Sprinkle the lemon juice on the snails in the bowl and mix very well, making sure the juice touches every snail.

  2. While the juice is attacking the slime, use the blunt side of a knife to scrape off the brown stains on the white parts of the snail. Watch the video below to see what I am referring to.

  3. Then use the half moon cuts of lemons to scrub the snails all over till all the slime is gone. Even before you do this, you will notice that the snail slime is no longer that slimy.

  4. When done, rinse and continue with alum. Concentrate on rubbing the alum in the parts where the lemons did not reach. Spread the tongue of the snail and rub the alum in there.

  5. When it feels squeaky clean, rinse very well in plenty of water.

  6. Cut the tongue of the snail and clean the exposed area with alum.

  7. Rinse again in plenty of cool water to remove all traces of alum from the snails. Once you rinse very well, the alum will not change the taste of the snail.

That's it! You can now use the snails for Peppered Snail and in Nigerian soups recipes. Snails go well with Bitterleaf Soup, Ora (Oha) Soup and Ofe Owerri.

How do you clean snail slime?


  1. Jst d way I wash mine bt mostly I use Alum

  2. See me sufering with only alum. Will try the lemon because hubby likes ejuna die. ta

  3. I don’t like snail 🙁 Great tutorial though.

  4. Flo, I see you did not include putting it in the freezer. That one works for me.

    • In the freezer? How? Never heard about that. At what point do you put it in the freezer? With the shell or after removing the shell?

  5. Amaka Okoye says

    Flo lemme just say, i loove your website! It’s become something of a bible to me over the past two years, tho i dont really comment. I basically dont cook a meal without checking on here first, lol. Pls i have a huge problem. My dad bought snails, and i cooked about a quarter of it and kept the rest for later. Only problem is, i’m not used to them so i dint know how to preserve them. I covered them and they suffocated and died. Now today my dad saw them and was really angry. Pls my qsn is, is there anything i can do to salvage the situation? They dont smell bad but i dont know if there are health implications for eating suffocated snails. Please help, i feel so bad my dad loves snails. What can i do??? Thanks

    • Awww so sorry to read that Amaka. 🙁 Snails are very tough beings so they may still be alive. I say this because you wrote that they don’t smell.
      Pour some water on them and see if they react to it by coming out of their shells. Note that they may not react immediately. You can also break the shell of one of them to see if it moves. Snails can hibernate for so long and you’ll be surprised they are still alive.

      I’m not sure about any health implications but if they died recently, say yesterday, it should be fine to cook and eat them. If decomposition has set in then it surely is not advisable.

      The snails I used in this video were brought to me 3 months prior and they were still alive by the time I used them. I just placed them in a covered basket-like container lined with cardboard paper. Some days, I would think they were dead but I add some water to the container and they would start moving again.
      Another way to preserve them is when you buy them, break up all of them, clean the slime and store them in the freezer, that is if you have constant power supply.

      I’m glad you find the website helpful! Please let me know your findings when you carry out the experiments above. I pray it will be good news!

  6. Actually, snails do not have a set reserve of slime in their body. They produce it in-situ in response to noxious stimuli. Pouring salt/lemon juice on them actually causes them to produce more slime, rather than get rid of it, unless they are dead.

    • Really? But that must be momentary production of more slime because in the end, the slime is removed. When they are removed from the shells, they still move a bit but by the time the person is done with removing the slime, they don’t move anymore. Not sure if they are dead at that point or they are hibernating lol

  7. pls is there a way i can fry the snail if i don’t feel comfortable eating the peppered or boiled one?

    • Yes Tumi, just deep-fry it in hot vegetable oil.

      • Hi Flo good
        I came across your info about snail and I have a question concerning it. I bought snail processed it and kept it in the fridge, when I used it after a week I discovered it was bitter and it almost spoilt my cooking.
        Please what could be the cause for the bitterness? Thanks for your anticipated response.

        • Hi Peter,

          By processing do you mean cleaning the slime? If yes, what did you use to clean the slime?
          If you did more things during the processing, what else did you do?

        • Likely the snail ate bitter leaves or been leaves and there were residues in its body.

          Starve them for some days before use.

  8. Nwanyioma you a BOOM!! God bless you plenty plenty, i cook vry well bt you ar incomparable bcos you ar all round to d earth!! Thank u vry much fr dis site. I am trying to knw if u wil actually teach me how to make foil containers in different shapes n sizes. Thanks

  9. Anonymous says

    Good work, this is very educative and helpful. I have few questions please, How long can snails stay refrigerated after washing them? And is it true they are more crunchy if you use salt to wash them?

    • I guess they will stay in the fridge for as long as meat would stay in the fridge which is till the next day before they start smelling. They stay in the freezer for as long as possible. Snails naturally have a crunchy texture so even though salt hardens food items, they won’t make much difference to the already crunchy texture of snails.

  10. Good job you do here. On snail preservation You can keep it with the shell in used rice bag for as long as you want and it won’t die. Just keep it in an airy place. That’s how I preserve mine with the unpredictable electricity supply.

  11. Patrick Muigai Ngugi says

    Am KENYAN Pastor FROM BAPTIST CHURCH and i have started snails farming here in Kenya please would mind to help me in this project

  12. Bukunola says

    Thanks for the tutorials. Though I’m a Yoruba lady I would like to know how to prepare other delicacies in other parts of the country. I’m presently in Omoku Rivers State pls how can I get the book?

  13. wow…..your website is really helpfull ,actually eating of snails is like unheared of from where I come from,but it happened that my Fiancee loves eating snail and I was ok let me give it a try by making it for him,can’t stop him from eating it just because I don’t eat it…..and I never even knew what the inside of snails look like not more of knowing how to wash them…thanks so much for this,i will try it out this weekend and see how it goes!

  14. It’s really helpful thanks, but I boiled my snail with its shell for few mins and it came out easily.

    • You are welcome Olamide. But that boiling with the shell, isn’t it a risk of the snail being contaminated from the dirt on the shells? Also boiling and throwing away the water removes some if not all the nutrients in the snail.

  15. Hadassah Herbals says

    Hi flo! Great job you are doing here. I am a snail farmer so I work with large.number of snails. I discovered the easiest method is to put a pot of water to the boil. put a small piece.of alum in it. it.makes waahing the pot easier. drop your snail in the boiling water (poor things 😉 ) . count to twenty. use a slotted spoon to remove your snail. place it in cold water for a few seconds. use a napkin to hold by the pointy end and give several firm shakes. your snail slides out of the shell as easy as a pie. You separate the entrails and wash the meat. Voilà

  16. I think the best way of washing snail is through salt ,garri,lime,lemon.Alum sticks all the slime together on the snail.it is not really good for health.it works like magic.best natural way of washing snail is one to bring out time,sit down ,tell urself that this snail would take up to 45-60minutes of my time.

  17. Hi please can the slime be cleaned complete ly because after I boil the snails, the stock is usually slimy. Thanks

  18. Hi please can the slime be cleaned complete ly because after I boil the snails, the stock is usually slimy. Thanks

  19. Alum is good but it makes d snail loose it’s crunchy taste

  20. No Questions. Just wanna tell you that you’re amazing. Your site is really helpful.
    Thank you 😘

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