Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- What Is Epsom Salt?
Uses for Epsom Salt+−
- 1. Relaxing Bath Soak
- 2. Splinter Removal
- 3. Magnesium Foot Scrub
- 4. Firming Facial Wash
- 5. Body Ache Relief
- 6. Sea Salt Spray for Thicker Hair
- 7. Magnesium Lotion
- 8. Grow Better Vegetables
- 9. DIY Salt Scrub
- 10. Tile and Grout Cleaner
- 11. Foot Soak
- 12. Volume-Boosting Hair Mask
- 13. Relieve Itchy Skin and Bug Bites
- 14. Sunburn Relief Spray
- 15. Get Things Moving
- 16. Healthy House Plants
- 17. Say Goodbye to Slugs
- 18. Beautiful Roses
- 19. Headache Relief
- 20. Sleepy Kids
- 21. Garden Soil Prep
- Epsom Salt: What to Look For
Epsom salt is one of those things I always keep on hand. It is a good source of magnesium (here’s why we love magnesium) and has dozens of household, beauty, and health uses.
Because of its many uses, we keep it in almost every room of our house!
What Is Epsom Salt?
Don’t confuse Epsom salt with regular table salt or Himalayan salt (which has many benefits as well). Epsom salt is a magnesium-based “salt” rather than a traditional sodium-based salt. It is chemically known as magnesium sulfate and is an easy and inexpensive source of magnesium.
Research shows that many people lack this important mineral due to magnesium levels declining in our food and environment. Using Epsom salt around the house and in beauty treatments is one easy way to improve magnesium levels.
Just be careful: as the labels on any Epsom salt package will warn you, it is a potent laxative, so this isn’t a supplement you should take internally without a doctor’s recommendation.
As is the case with most things in health, the science is always evolving. Although there is significant research to support the benefits of transdermal magnesium (see sources below), a 2017 review suggests that more research is needed to understand to what degree it penetrates the skin.
My take: no natural remedy is a “cure-all” and Epsom salt is no exception, but plenty of evidence exists that it is safe and beneficial in many ways.
Uses for Epsom Salt
Here are 21 of my favorites uses for don’t have this magnesium-rich (and inexpensive) household staple:
1. Relaxing Bath Soak
Epsom salt has been added to baths as a relaxing soak since it was first discovered at a salty spring in Epsom, England. The high magnesium content makes it a wonderfully relaxing soak.
I’m a big fan of using Epsom salts as part of my detox bath routine. I also usually add a little Epsom salt to my kids’ baths to help them sleep.
What to do: Add a cup of Epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes. You can also add a drop or two of lavender essential oil, which adds a lovely scent and helps induce relaxation as well.
2. Splinter Removal
This is an old trick I learned from an elderly relative and we use it all the time. With six kids who love to climb trees and run around barefoot, splinters are a fact of life. Unfortunately, the removal of these splinters used to cause a lot of heartache at our house.
Now, I make a strong solution of warm water and Epsom salt and let the splinter soak for about 10 minutes. This makes it so much easier to remove (and helps stop the pain too!).
What to do: Dissolve 1/3 cup Epsom salt in 1 cup of warm/hot water and stir until completely dissolved. Soak the affected finger/toe/body part with the splinter for at least 10 minutes and carefully remove the splinter with tweezers or a sewing needle. Also, use common sense: if the splinter is big, deep, a puncture wound, bleeding, or simply won’t come out, visit a doctor.
3. Magnesium Foot Scrub
Our feet are one of the most over-worked and under-appreciated parts of our bodies. On days that I hike, garden, or work outside for hours, it’s easy to end up with sore feet and legs, so I love to use this soothing and silkening (is that a word?) magnesium foot scrub.
What to do: Find (and print) the full recipe here, but you basically mix up 1 cup of Epsom salt or magnesium flakes with some carrier oil and a little castile soap to make a luxurious foot scrub. It also seems to help with cracked heels if you get those as well.
4. Firming Facial Wash
Did I mention that magnesium can help firm the skin and exfoliate? I add a little Epsom salt to my face wash or oil cleansing routine for a soothing and firming boost.
What to do: I grind up Epsom salt (in the blender or using a mortar and pestle) and add it to my face wash or oil cleansing oil as I massage it into my face. I find this works better than trying to add it to the face wash in the container.
5. Body Ache Relief
Once upon a time I got a bad case of the stomach flu and my body ached all over as it tried to fight it off. I noticed I had some Biofreeze on my counter. The package indicated that this was for “sore and achy muscles” so I decided to give it a try. Turns out, this super-strong muscle relief cream is not designed to be used on the entire body! Instead of achy muscle relief, I got whole-body chills for an hour. Not so fun!
Now, I stick to Epsom salt baths for body aches and sore muscles and it works like a charm!
What to do: Add 2+ cups of Epsom salt to a warm/hot bath and soak for 20+ minutes.
6. Sea Salt Spray for Thicker Hair
A hairstylist once used a texturizing salt spray on my hair and I loved the body and texture that resulted. I wasn’t willing to spend the $30+ it cost, so I started experimenting with DIY options. Now, I use my beach waves spray most days and combine it with my dry shampoo if I’m not washing my hair that day.
What to do: Use this recipe to make a beach waves spray with magnesium. If using dry shampoo, use it first and comb/brush through hair before spraying with the salt spray.
7. Magnesium Lotion
We use topical magnesium spray all the time but my kids don’t love the tingly skin feel they get after using it. (And I don’t love the dry skin that can sometimes result from direct use on the skin.) Years ago, I started making this soothing magnesium lotion to solve those problems. Now, this lotion is a daily staple in our house.
What to do: Use this recipe to make your own soothing magnesium lotion. If you don’t want to try the DIY, there is also a great brand of pre-made magnesium lotion available here.
8. Grow Better Vegetables
When I was in 4-H years ago (more than I’d like to admit!), we learned that Epsom salt can be used to improve a vegetable garden. These days, I add 1 tablespoon per plant a couple of times during the year and it helps plant growth, especially tomatoes.
What to do: Sprinkle a tablespoon of Epsom salt around the base of a plant after it has grown to at least 12 inches tall.
9. DIY Salt Scrub
Epsom salt is a magnesium-rich alternative to regular salt in salt-scrub recipes. Salt scrubs are traditionally a mixture of salt and oil like olive oil or almond oil. Epsom salt can easily be used in place of the salt in these recipes for an extra magnesium boost.
What to do: Use Epsom salt instead of salt in a recipe like this one. Or, just mix 1/2 cup Epsom salt with 1/4 cup olive or almond oil and use as an exfoliating scrub in the shower.
10. Tile and Grout Cleaner
Want to clean your tile without a toxic chemical cleaner? Add some Epsom salt to some liquid dish soap and scrub away. Just make sure to rinse well since the soap will be slippery!
What to do: Mix equal parts liquid dish soap and Epsom salt and scrub tile and grout with a brush. For a pre-made option, Bon Ami also works great on cleaning tile and grout without harmful chemicals.
11. Foot Soak
If you aren’t in the mood for a full bath but want the magnesium-boosting benefits of an Epsom salt bath, just soak your feet instead!
What to do: Add 1 cup of Epsom salt to hot water for a concentrated foot soak. For scent, you can also add up to 5 drops of essential oil of choice.
12. Volume-Boosting Hair Mask
I explained above how I use magnesium as a texturizing spray for thicker hair. It can also be used in the shower to thicken and strengthen hair. I love to add Epsom salt to a natural conditioner for a texturizing and strengthening boost for hair.
What to do: Mix a natural conditioner (I use this one) with equal parts Epsom salt and work into your hair. Leave on for up to 20 minutes. Rinse well and dry for thicker hair! This hair serum also helps thicken hair and I’ve been using castor oil for years to achieve thicker hair and eyelashes.
13. Relieve Itchy Skin and Bug Bites
What can magnesium not do? Epsom salt is also my go-to for relieving itchy skin from bug bites or other reactions.
What to do: Dissolve a tablespoon of Epsom salt in a cup of water and let it cool. Spritz on bug bites or itchy skin to help calm the itch. A drop of lavender right on a mosquito bite also helps calm the itch. Or add some lavender to the spray.
14. Sunburn Relief Spray
I’m going to step onto a soapbox for just a minute. I think the sun is beneficial in moderation and that in many cases, sunscreen may do more harm than good. That said, every source agrees that sunburn is harmful and we should make every effort to avoid it. For our family, we try to get moderate sun exposure daily, but never enough to burn or turn pink. On the rare occasion when we get too much sun (usually me … Irish skin), I make a soothing after sun spray.
What to do: Dissolve 2 tablespoons Epsom salt in 1 cup of water and cool. Add 4 drops lavender essential oil and shake. Spray on skin to calm the pain of a sunburn. (Diluted apple cider vinegar also works for this, but the salt spray smells a lot better!)
15. Get Things Moving
This is one of the on-label uses for Epsom salt. Due to its high magnesium content, it is well known for its ability to relieve constipation. I’ve used it this way as part of a liver and gallbladder flush, but some people use it for the relief of occasional constipation.
What to do: Follow the package directions for relief of occasional constipation, but check with a doctor first, especially if you have any health problems.
16. Healthy House Plants
House plants are great for cleaning indoor air and we love to keep them around. Just like garden plants, house plants love a magnesium boost once in a while. Add some Epsom salt as part of a regular watering or fertilizing routine for more robust house plants.
What to do: Sprinkle a little Epsom salt on the soil in a house plant container or add a little to the water when watering. A tablespoon is usually plenty for a month or two.
17. Say Goodbye to Slugs
Salt of any kind, including the Epsom variety, is great for deterring slugs. If you’re already using salt in the garden to help improve the soil, this should help deter slugs as well. If not, consider sprinkling some salt around to keep the slugs away.
What to do: Sprinkle Epsom salt in or around gardens and other areas you don’t want slugs invading to keep them away.
18. Beautiful Roses
We can debate forever if a rose by another name would be as sweet, but one thing is for sure: roses love magnesium and adding a little to the soil around a rose bush helps increase growth and blooms.
What to do: Sprinkle a tablespoon of Epsom salt around a rose bush and water for faster growth. Best applied once a month.
19. Headache Relief
There is quite a bit of evidence that magnesium may help headaches and even migraines when used regularly. Some sources even think that magnesium deficiency may increase the chance of headaches. I’ve noticed that when I consume magnesium or use it transdermally, I also don’t seem to get headaches. And my husband swears that the best hangover cure is a long swim in the ocean, which is much higher in magnesium than lakes or swimming pools.
What to do: Use any of the methods above to get more magnesium. I also find that magnesium spray and magnesium lotion are especially helpful for headache relief.
20. Sleepy Kids
What parent doesn’t want kids who want to sleep at bedtime? I know I certainly do! Part of our bedtime routine is using magnesium in some way. This may be a bath, lotion, or spray, but it helps our kids fall asleep much quicker and stay asleep longer. Here are some other natural sleep remedies we use, and why we don’t have night lights in their rooms.
What to do: Make an Epsom salt bath or magnesium lotion massage part of the bedtime routine at your house.
21. Garden Soil Prep
Magnesium in the soil helps improve plant growth. It can be added during the growing season but we see the best results when we mix it into the soil too.
What to do: Add a bag or two of Epsom salt to the soil and till in to replenish soil magnesium levels.
Epsom Salt: What to Look For
I buy high quality Epsom salt online, but you can probably find it in your local grocery or health food store. Just look for one that is USP certified and doesn’t have any added ingredients.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
How do you use Epsom salt? Share your tips below!
Discussion (191 Comments)
If you use it internally what does it taste like?
Awful and I don’t recommend it usually but it is a very effective natural laxative when needed…
It’s one of the only natural substances to help me when I have gut pain due to a gallbladder issue. For those who know this agony, epsom salts bring sweet (bitter!) relief.
Have you tried beets for your gallbladder? Look up gallbladder diet and you will see recipes for beet ‘treatments’ for gall symptoms. Removed my pain immediately and then healed my gallbladder. Best wishes!
I’ve had gallstones for over 50 years. Thanks for the info. You might also try tablespoon of fresh coffee grounds in approximately 1/3 cup lemon juice daily for 3 to 5 days. I add tsp of sugar just to get it down. I had them for almost 10 years, they had shown up 3 different times in x-rays. The first doctor to find them recommended a low fat diet, almost like a low or no carbohydrate diet, to control them.
This was in the early 1960’s before Atkins etc. Worked pretty well, I’d have a pang or two, go low fat for a couple of weeks, it would go away. They were acting up one day, a friend noticed and told me to try the coffee/lemon juice. Took it 3 maybe five days in a row, I think twice a day that first time. It was over 40 years ago, LOL. Anyway, over the next couple of years, I’d get that little pain in my side now and then, take another dose or two of LJ/coffee, it would go away. Finely got a decent insurance plan again, and thought I’d just go ahead and have the surgery, told the Dr. about the past history (not about my little cure), they did an x-ray and looked at me like I was crazy. They were gone. Now, I had gone through 2 more pregnancies, and a surgery for another problem, like I said they had showed up three times, a whole layer of those little puppies in there.
After that first year, there would be that little sharp pain in my side maybe once or twice a year usually after having ham. Gradually they have gotten further apart. Go low fat for a day or two, drink a cup of cure, past 15 or 20 years I have had very few of those little pains. Maybe every 2 or 3 years. At 73, I just don’t worry about them any more.
You’re right about the pain. Worse than child birth if you ask me. Have a great day.
Tina, please get your gallbladder removed! I had those awful gut pains for a long time before going to the doctor – my gallbladder had shown up in a Catscan as normal, but an ultrasound showed it was terribly diseased. The operation was so simple, as was the recovery – no pain at all. And now I am a new person! You do not have to change your diet at all, which is what prevented me from getting the surgery for so long.
Glad your surgery worked, however my daughter has had more problems worse than before getting the gallbladder attacks. 3 years since her gb removal and she has gastric dumping ie she eats anything even a 4 ounce glass of juice or milk and has to run to the bathroom and poops bile. In the mornings she throws up bile. She cant go out to eat its embarassing for her to leave the table mid meal and come back 30 mins later…It’s been hell for her and she’s 23. I’m not getting mine out. I find lemon and water quell an attack and magnesium 500 mgs before bed.
Susu has awful advice Tina. please don’t listen to that nonsense and look into liver and gallbladder cleanses. for over 2000 years it has been known how to remove gallbladder stones through cleansing. since the days of the roman empire. Mainstream medicine ignores that and removes your vital organs taking years off your life. Do the cleanse, pass the gallbladder stones, and you will be in no more pain. Also you will still have the very important component of the bodies filtering system called the gallbladder.
I would avoid surgery at all cost. It is a simple operation these days with laparoscopic but God gave us our organs for a reason. Removing them will affect your health sooner or later. Of course sometimes there is no choice but do every thing else first!
Magnesium supplements have a side effect that may cause loose stools. If you have an issue with constipation, try adding a magnesium supplement of 400-500mg daily. This will help bring regularity as well as many other positive effects. Many people are deficient in Magnesium.
FYI – alcohol depletes magnesium as well as B vitamins from the body
Milk of magnesia works just fine and you can get cherry flavored and it doesn’t taste bad at all. I’ve been using it for years to relieve constipation.
Alma Charlotte Engelbrecht
not too bad, but be carefull as it can have a laxative effect…
Someone asked what it tasted like. It tastes very much like it smells, awful.
If you’re mixing it to drink it and you have a strong taste you might be adding too much. The ratio is 1tsp:1c. I usually do a 1/2c hot water so it dilutes all the granules then I add the other 1/2c something cold and I don’t taste the epsom salt at all.
u may add here it is used in sensory deprivation chambers!
I’ve been 3 times to a sensory deprevation tank and love it!! It’s helped my daughter with her depression for one. Many benefits. Lots of videos on YouTube about them
I put essential oils in it for a great fabric softener!
Just a question, on # 13, what is better about magnesium flakes for making magnesium oil? I have wondered this for a while. Is magnesium chloride a more available form to the body than mag sulfate? I made mag oil with epsom salt a while back and it seems to work well. Was just wondering if one might get more benefit from the mag oil made from mag chloride flakes?
The chloride is more absorbable nut if it is working for you… go for it…
i’ve used epsom salt to heal a staph infection on my foot following a mud run. it works great for clearing up skin infections so quickly! i also had to soak in epsom salt baths following a surgical draining of a cyst. so far i seem to find the most use for epsom salt in avoiding major infections. 🙂
How much epsom salt do I put in a cup of water, to soak an inflected thumb?
To find out how much Epsom salt to soak with, whether it is a finger or your whole body, first check the packaging on the salt. If you cannot figure out the answer from there, ask your pharmacist or your physician.
Is all epsom salt created equally? Like, is the kind from the drug store (cheap) the same stuff as the health food store variety (more expensive), as long as it says that the only ingredient is epsom salt?
For the most part yes 🙂 Both are safe and work great…
Where do you get food grade Epsom salt?
so I can use the CVS Epsom salt for my tomato plants?
Yes. three teaspoons of epsom salts around the stems of your roses work wonders! Every three weeks
Can I use epsom salt and ocm together for my night routine? and which should i use first, should i cleanse ith oil first then put an espom salt mask or vice versa?. Thank u and God bless!;)
I recently read that some Epsom salts are not natural and are made in a factory and are filled with lead, mercury and cadmium. Is this true? How do you know what brands are free of heavy metals?
Been buying Dr. Teal’s “Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution” for years. It’s made in the US and I enjoy the fragrances. Currently am using the Eucalyptus & Spearmint scent. Ingredients on the bag say Magnesium sulfate, eucalyptus leaf oil and spearmint leaf oil. Don’t consume it, but do soak my feet in it and also add 1/8 c to my laundry. Softens the water and the fragrance doesn’t overwhelm. So far hasn’t riled up my sensitive skin. Have found it in Dollar General (marketplace) and Walmart.
I have heard that you should be careful as to where it comes from. The ones from China are full of metals.
For a 4 lb bag, at Target, its like 2.68$
Alma Charlotte Engelbrecht
I don’t think there is a difference. I use to buy the more expensive one, but then I tried the cheaper one and personally find no difference…
I priced epsom salt at Walmart…. It was much cheaper in the larger bag in the laundry aisle than in the smaller bags in the pharmacy section. Best price was at Sam’s Club.
I use it to promote healthy skin and for healing the beginning of bed sores on disabled daughter. It works great for a number of things. We just put it in the bath water.
I suffer for years with goldblader problems at the age of 71 I suffer a very painful tommy and finished in the Royal Prince Hospital Sydney. The doctor says many things Like pancreatic problem, and other names about goldblader at the end I went to see a Dr in San Vicent Clinic and said to me remove it because is a treat life people died about that. At the end I refuse and not more problems in 5 years only I change my diet, not milk not to much fatty food all with moderation. I think the chocolate, pork and egg combination during the day bring me some problems. If si have some problems with food I take 1/2 tsp of Bi-Carb Soda.?
Thank you for these!
need to start using epsom salt more!
One scoop per laundry load as fabric softener…can add a few drops of essential oils for a soft scent.
is this okay for sensitive skin?
we tried it and daughter tried it, but it made us itchy after it was put in the fabric softener cup.
How much is a scoop? A cup….less? Thanks for the great idea!!
I use 1-2 Tablespoons of Epsom Salt in the softener dispenser (or directly to the rinse water) depending on the load size. If you want fragrance, add 10-20 drops of essential oil (lavender or lavender/lemon- get creative) to 4 cups of salts and mix well to disperse oils. Store in an airtight container.
From painful experience, lavender and natural lavender oils and products are well-documented skin and bronchial irritants. May cause moderate to severe contact dermatitis and should be avoided for babies, children, and those with sensitive skin and asthmatic conditions.
I would love to read the documentation on this. I have used CPTG lavender essential oil in coconut oil on skin irritations on my son with great success. I also add it to the wool dryer balls I made, and no one in my family has had issues.
Here is a brief breakdown. I’m actually kind of surprised that you’re surprised. All you have to do is search google for “lavender oil irritant” and you’ll get thousands of hits. Your family is lucky they haven’t had problems. I love the scent of lavender and wish it weren’t an irritant. However, I already have areas of hyperpigmentation on my skin and certainly don’t want to use anything that will make it worse. Hope this helps!
An interesting response to the article on Paula’s choice blog.
Does that apply to all candles, regardless of scent? I have COPD, primarily, emphysema. I have results from aroma-therapy and would hate to give up all candles.
ME TOO MY COPD GETS SERIOUSLY BAD WHEN I COME NEAR PERFUME AND NEARLY ALL DOMESTIC AIR FRESHNERS & CLEANING PRODUCTS ;(
Also not recommended for males since lavender can have feminizing effects
Is this a joke?
Yes it develops a breast
wait, I’m confused…you place it right in the fabric softener dispenser dry? Or do you dissolve it before?
Thanks!!! Ive been looking for a new and natural fabric softener!!
Vinegar works good. White distilled. It deodorizes amazingly and disinfects as well as softens clothes. I add 1/2 c to wash with detergent. I just like having everything extra clean. After camping my blankets smelled like bonfire so horribly so a few washes in vinegar and the smell came right out. (Sorry went off track a little).
Since this is a salt, will it corrode the washer?
its not salt its magnesium.
Can you dilute it with vinegar?
I use raw, unrefined organic apple cider vinegar in my soaking water…for my feet, face & body. I also spray it all over my body & face after taking a shower for a glowing and softer skin. And it’s also good for your dog’s skin problems like yeast infections ;o)))
Another use is in your asparagus beds to help grow healthy asparagus!
If you have gout in your feet, soak them in a pan filled with epsom salt and warm water.