© 2019, Springer Nature Limited. Repeated 24-hour urine collection is considered to be the gold standard for assessing salt intake. This is often impractical in large-population studies, especially in low–middle-income countries. Equations to estimate 24-hour urinary salt excretion from a spot urine sample have been developed, but have not been widely validated in African populations. This study aimed to systematically assess the validity of four existing equations to predict 24-hour urinary sodium excretion (24UNa) from spot urine samples in a nationally representative sample of South Africans. Spot and 24-hour urine samples were collected in a subsample (n = 438) of participants from the World Health Organisation Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE) Wave 2 in South Africa in 2015. Measured 24UNa values were compared with predicted 24UNa values from the Kawasaki, Tanaka, INTERSALT and Mage equations using Bland–Altman plots. In this subsample (mean age 52.8 ± 16.4 years; body mass index 30.2 ± 8.2 kg/m 2 ; 76% female; 73% black African; 42% hypertensive), all four equations produced a significantly different population estimate compared with the measured median value of 6.7 g salt/day (IQR 4.4–10.5). Although INTERSALT underestimated salt intake (−3.77 g/d; −1.64 to −7.09), the other equations overestimated by 1.28 g/d (−3.52; 1.97), 6.24 g/d (2.22; 9.45), and 17.18 g/d (8.42; 31.96) for Tanaka, Kawasaki, and Mage, respectively. Bland–Altman curves indicated unacceptably wide levels of agreement. Use of these equations to estimate population level salt intake from spot urine samples in South Africans is not recommended.