What is Epsom salt?
Epsom salt is simply magnesium sulfate, a pure, naturally occurring compound with dozens of uses—including some that may surprise you. You’ve likely heard of Epsom salt baths, which people have used for centuries as a natural pain remedy, but the compound has gained new attention in recent years, both within the medical and wellness communities and among a new generation of users, for its numerous other benefits.
How Does It Work?
When Epsom salt is dissolved in water, it releases magnesium and sulfate ions.
The idea is that these particles can be absorbed through your skin, providing you with magnesium and sulfates — which serve important bodily functions.
Despite claims on the contrary, there is no good evidence that magnesium or sulfates are absorbed into your body through the skin.
Yet the most common use for Epsom salt is in baths, where it is simply dissolved in bathwater.
However, it can also be applied to your skin as a cosmetic or taken by mouth as a magnesium supplement or a laxative.
To make an Epsom salt bath, you can:
1. Use 2 cups of Epsom salt for a standard-size bathtub with warm water (never more than 101.5 to 102°F (38.6 to 38.8°C).
2. Pour the salt under the water spout. This allows for the salt to dissolve faster and mix fully into the bath. The water mixture should feel soapy.
3. Soak in the tub for at least 12 minutes (or 20, for constipation).
For added aromatherapy benefits, add essential oils like lavender, peppermint, or tea tree to your bath (always perform a patch test before trying a new essential oil). Or take more than 12 minutes to really relax and enjoy some personal time.
For smaller applications, you can make an Epsom salt paste. If you want to use the salt on certain areas, you can make a paste with a small amount of salt and water and spread over the affected part of the body.
You can purchase Epsom salt at a health food store, grocery store, or online. Avoid using Epsom salt in hot tubs, jet pools, and tubs with jets unless the manufacturer says it’s OK.