I'm with you on this one kschwab.
I certainly try not to use too many temporary, intermediate variables, but I do if they add to readability for a future maintainer of the code.
My basic criteria for using a temporary variable is this:
If I can think up a meaningful, transparent name for it, I can use it.
For example, in your case, @chars and $salt are both meaningfully named, thus allowed. What I would not allow would be @array and $foo for the same variables.
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