Epsom salt is best known as a component of bath salts, but it offers a wide range of uses, from soothing sore muscles, benefiting health and improving a gardener’s crops to household cleaning, enhancing beauty and more. It was discovered in the 17th century, first distilled from the water of a bitter saline spring at Epsom, in Surrey, England.
What is Epsom salt?
Epsom salt is different from traditional salt in that it’s actually a mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate, and is technically known as magnesium sulfate. It’s composed of tiny, colorless crystals that look like table salt, but it’s actually a completely different thing, as table salt is made up of sodium chloride. Magnesium sulfate is a mineral that many of us are lacking in, as levels have been decreasing over the last three to four decades around the world.
The lack of this important nutrient in our bodies is due to a combination of issues, including over development of agricultural land that leaches essential minerals like magnesium and other trace elements from the soil, the overuse of prescription medications, the consumption of processed and fast foods, and more. All of these things take a toll, depleting our body of magnesium, which is one of the reasons Epsom salt can be an important part of improving one’s health. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory and exfoliant that can be used for treating muscle aches and dry skin. Soak in a warm bath with a cupful of Epsom salt, to enjoy its renowned therapeutic and healing properties, inside and out.
1. Relax Your Body
Epsom salts dissolved in warm water – like those in an Epsom salt bath – are easily absorbed through the skin where they immediately go to work inside our bodies. The magnesium ions break apart from Epsom salt molecules and begin to relieve stress by promoting the production of serotonin and reducing the effects of adrenaline. Magnesium also plays a critical role in the production of energy in cells, helping us to feel invigorated without causing feelings of restlessness or anxiety.
2. Relieve Pain and Cramping
Epsom salts absorbed through the skin also work to relieve muscle tension, pain, and inflammation in joints. Submerge yourself in a warm Epsom salt bath to alleviate tension headaches or soothe abdominal cramps. Tired and sore feet will also benefit from the therapeutic warmth of an Epsom salt soak.
3. Muscle and Nerve Function
Aside from relieving tension, pain, and cramping, Magnesium sulfate has several other positive effects on the human body. It aids in many enzymatic functions, helps to regulate fluid retention in cells, and facilitates the body’s use of calcium to transmit chemical signals throughout the nervous system.
4. For Arterial Health
Epsom salts may help to improve circulation and prevent serious cardiovascular illness by decreasing inflammation and protecting the elasticity of arteries. Healthier arteries means less risk of blood clots, plaque build-up, and damage to arterial walls. Try soaking in an Epsom salt bath three to four times per week to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve your cardiovascular health.
5. Regulate Blood Sugar
Both magnesium and sulfate help to improve the body’s ability to produce and use insulin. Regular intake of Epsom salts – either orally or transdermally – may help to regulate blood sugar, lowering the risk of diabetes and improving your overall daily energy levels.
6. Relieves Constipation
One of Epsom salt’s more popular uses is as a saline laxative. Dissolve one teaspoon of Epsom salts into a cup of warm water and drink. Note, this remedy should not be used more than once per day. If symptoms persist for more than a few days, it is always recommended to consult with a physician.
7. Helps to Remove Splinters
To dislodge a stubborn splinter, simply soak the affected body part in warm water and Epsom salts for a few minutes. Magnesium sulfate will reduce the inflammation around the wound and soften up the splinter, making it much easier to remove.
8. Soothe Sprains and Bruises
Anti-inflammatory Epsom salts can be used to alleviate the soreness from sprains and bruises. Just add two cups of salts to your warm bath water and soak away the ache.
9. Keep Feet Healthy
It’s pretty common knowledge that soaking your feet in Epsom salts is good for soothing away aches and pains. But did you know that it can also help to treat athlete’s foot and toe nail fungal infections? Simply add a half cup of Epsom salts to warm water and soak your feet for as long as you want (or until the water gets cold) to alleviate the itching and burning and help heal feet faster.
10. Ease Discomfort of Gout
Add a couple of tablespoons of Epsom salts to hot water and soak body parts affected by gout. Magnesium sulfate quickly soaks through skin and into the swollen, aching joints to help alleviate pain and inflammation.
11. Exfoliate Your Skin
By rubbing a handful of Epsom salts over damp skin, you can easily remove dead cells, helping your skin to look healthier and feel softer. Use this treatment on hands, feet, and everything in between.
12. Natural Face Cleanser
At night before bed, mix a teaspoon of Epsom salts with your regular cleanser for an easy daily treatment or use this recipe for an exfoliating face mask:
Finely chop a small ripe tomato and mix in one pureed egg white, half a teaspoon of vitamin B5 powder, one teaspoon each of aloe vera gel and Epsom salts, and a couple of drops of Thyme essential oil. Apply mixture to face for 15 minutes then rinse with lukewarm water for an excellent clarifying skin treatment.
13. Dislodge Blackheads
Use Epsom salts to remove dead skin and oil from your pores. First, you’ll want to exfoliate to remove any dead skin from around the outsides of the blemishes. Then mix one teaspoon of Epsom salts and four drops of iodine into half a cup of hot water. Stir until salts are completely dissolved and let the mixture cool until it is still warm, but not hot. Massage the mixture into skin affected with blackheads, let it dry completely, then wash your face with warm water and pat dry with a clean cloth.
14. Remove Styling Product Build-up
To remove build-up of hairspray or other styling product from your hair, mix one cup each of Epsom salts and lemon juice into a gallon of water. Cover and let the concoction sit for 24 hours before using. Then simply pour over hair and leave it on for about 15 – 20 minutes. Follow up with a wash and condition as usual.
15. Add Volume to Hair
To add body to your hair, try mixing equal parts all-natural, sulfate-free deep conditioner and Epsom salts. Warm the mixture to slightly above body temperature then work through hair. Leave in for 15 – 20 minutes then rinse. Feel free to follow up this hair treatment by waving your hair around your face (like the people in those television commercials for chemical hair products) and remember: Laughter is a great natural remedy for all kinds of things!
16. Wash Pots and Pans
Pour a small amount of Epsom salts into those really-dirty dishes before you scrub them. The abrasive texture of the salt crystals will help to remove stuck-on food more easily without hurting your cookware.
17. Clean Tile and Grout
Mix equal parts Epsom salts and liquid dish detergent to create a super effective tile and grout cleaner. Apply this mixture to dirty or stained surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen, or even outside and allow it to soak in for a minute or two. Then scrub away the loosened grime and rinse clean.
18. As a Hand Wash
Mix equal parts Epsom salts and baby oil to create a moisturizing hand cleanser. Store this mixture in bottles next to all of the sinks around your home and use regularly to keep hands soft and clean.
19. Removes Detergent Build-up
Over time, laundry detergent and other contaminants may build up inside machines. Use Epsom salts to remove this unwanted gunk and keep your washer running more efficiently. Fill your empty washing machine with hot water, add a quart of clear vinegar and one cup of Epsom salts, let the machine agitate for about a minute, then stop the cycle and let the solution soak for about an hour. For more details on this procedure, check out this how-to guide.
20. In The Garden
Magnesium sulfate may be used to fertilize your plants, green up your lawn, remove unwanted insect pests, and prevent slugs among other things.