Saliva (also referred to as spit , spittle or slobber) is the watery and usually frothy substance produced in the mouths of humans and most other animals. Saliva is produced in and secreted from the salivary glands. Human saliva is composed mostly of water, but also includes electrolytes, mucus, antibacterial compounds, and various enzymes. As part of the initial process of food digestion, the enzymes in the saliva break down some of the starch and fat in the food at the molecular level. Saliva also breaks down food caught in the teeth, protecting them from bacteria that cause decay. Furthermore, saliva lubricates and protects the teeth, the tongue, and the tender tissues inside the mouth. Saliva also plays an important role in tasting food by trapping thiols produced from odourless food compounds by anaerobic bacteria living in the mouth.
Various species have evolved special uses for saliva that go beyond predigestion. Some swifts use their gummy saliva to build their nests. Some Aerodramus swiftlet nests are made only from saliva and used to make bird's nest soup. Cobras, vipers, and certain other members of the venom clade hunt with venomous saliva injected by fangs. Some arthropods, such as spiders and caterpillars, create thread from salivary glands.