Epsom Salt: 21 Surprising Uses & Benefits for Health, Beauty, and Home

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How to use Epsom Salt for health beauty and home
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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.

Uses for Epsom Salt

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!

Epsom salt has dozens of uses and benefits, including a foot soak, body scrub, fertilizer, in house cleaning, improves sleep and more!
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


191 responses to “Epsom Salt: 21 Surprising Uses & Benefits for Health, Beauty, and Home”

  1. Joanne Hamelin Avatar
    Joanne Hamelin

    Dear Wellness Mamma..
    This is the first time that I have seen your site and I am blown away !
    The information from you and your readers is so helpful for myself and my family!
    I am sending all my 6 married children and 15 grown grandchildren who have given
    Us 4 great-grandchildren with 3 on the way including a set of twins!
    We can all benefit from this Epson salt advice!!! Thank you so much ,I am so glad that
    I googled uses for Epson salts and found your site, I will be buying this Today for body
    Uses and fertilizer uses!!!

  2. Jess Avatar

    I recently used it to help clear up conjunctivitis, just using a couple tablespoons in warm water and cotton swabs to wipe eyes, new cotton swab each time, don’t double dip.

  3. Bren Avatar

    I dilute epsom salt in water and put it on my face with a cotton ball. I then follow up with extra virgin coconut oil (lightly) for moisture. It has healed my acne and smoothed the lines on my face. My skin has now become soft and supple.

    1. Toby Avatar

      Hi, I just found this site. Quick question for Bren –
      How much Epsom Salt do you dilute and in how much water? I’ve tried this routine that you’ve mentioned, several times, and it doesn’t seem to be coming out right. Also, do you wash it off before putting on the coconut oil?

      Thanks so much!

  4. jazmin Avatar

    Thanks so much for all these tips!! I didn’t know there were so many. I use Epsom salts and baking soda as a detox bath for illnesses. It removes toxins safely and efficiently from the body. Also great for removing radiation from the body (from cell phone and other electronic devices).

  5. Tracy Avatar

    I would like to know if an Epsom Salt bath (with baking soda for his eczema) is safe to add to a nightly bath for my 18 month old. I have been doing this for him for a couple of weeks, to relax him before bed, but want to be sure its safe. (I use about a 1/4 cup of each) in a big tub.
    I can’t seem to find much information on its effects on a toddler his age. Thanks in advance, BTW, I LOVE LOVE your site and reference it ALL THE TIME.

      1. Becca Aurich Avatar
        Becca Aurich

        Is it necessary to rinse after using E.S. esp for children? Also, does it help with magnesium deficiency and since there’s probably not a test to say… how do we know when we’ve “upped” our magnesium “intake” whether internal or external via E.S.

    1. Kris Avatar

      There was a comment made earlier on about not using Epsom salts for more than 2 nights in a row because it can cause muscle weakness, or some other effect due to it causing an electrolyte imbalance.
      The 1/4cup sounds like a, “safe” enough amount, but this is something that you would want to speak to your physician or pharmacist about.

      1. kaye Avatar

        @Kris: “earlier comment…some other effect due to it causing an electrolyte imbalance.electrolyte”

        That was addressed as not being cause because magnesium is an electrolyte. Thought ‘weakness’ was more likely due to water being too hot, which can cause weakness and loss of electrolytes.

    2. Alexander Avatar

      My daughter uses Epsom salts with vitamin C and sometimes baking soda in baths. She started with her autistic son who also has epilepsy.The doctors marvel at how his skin tolerates the injections and IVs. In our family experience, the skin is a better moderator than the gut. No diarhea from magnesium baths. The vitamin C and the sulfate from Epsom salts are essential for the production of collagen. The body robs sulfur from the joints as part of immune response thus sore joints during flu. Stephanie Seneff has a lot to say about this. As a weekend warrior Epsom salts and vit C baths work wonders for me and teammates.
      MAMA: your husbands cure for a hangover is perfect. The ocean has all the minerals, 60 or so, in the ionic form the body uses, no digestion needed. I am 75 and been bald for 40 years. Recently I started swimming in the ocean where I now live in Ecuador. My wife says that my hair is regrowing. I think the coconut oil I apply after rinse with fresh water may also help. Polynesians always rinse and apply coconut oil after being in the ocean. The lauric acid from the coconut oil kills fungus and select bacteria. Since it is a major constituent of mothers’ milk maybe the hair is baby growth.

  6. katie w. Avatar
    katie w.

    I want to use epsomsalts in a gallbladder flush, but I didn’t know if the amount I would ingest would be safe for a nursing baby. By the end of two days you are supposed to take 4 tablespoons. what is your opinion?

    1. Hal Avatar

      I’ve used that amount twice now in a liver flush, I didn’t experience any problems, I’m not a doctor of course but no problems here and I got that info out of a book for doing a liver cleanse

    2. Carter Avatar

      I did a gallbladder flush which worked great. The epsom salt was used the last day to relax the bile ducts so the stones would go through easier. I did it the firs time I did the flush but have since skipped that step because I didn’t like the taste of the epsom sait. It didn’t change the outcome.

    3. Kris Avatar

      Wellness Mama is not a physician. She cannot diagnose, or state a prescribed amount, or whether or not something is safe. Pretty much anything that a nursing mother ingests will be in her milk and transfer to her baby. If someone has a question as to whether something is, “Safe” to take while nursing, should be speaking with their doctor, their doctor’s nurse, or a lactation specialist.

  7. Ramona Avatar

    I just love you, Wellness Mama! You are a true source of inspiration, I’m reading all kinds of new and helpful things on your website, I just don’t know how you have the time to manage it all, being a mother, growing a garden, developing recipes, etc.

  8. Bill Avatar

    Restore a dead or weak car battery.

    Basically the acid in the battery cystalizes around the plates when the battery gets older slowing the acid flowing over the lead plates. The epsom salt breaks down these crystals allowing the acid to flow again.

    Just add one teaspoon per cell.

    Can even be done on maintenance free batteries.

    Just be careful and wear goggles in case you splash any acid.

  9. Jean Avatar

    Septic tanks are rendered useless by the stuff. Don’t let it down the drains.

    1. Cathy Martin Avatar
      Cathy Martin

      You should be adding Bioclean or similar to you septic system. Soaps and oils run into it will get the “action” of the system off. Just add with warm water monthly. We’ve lived here 22 years. No problems.

      1. Vee Avatar

        I had a septic man tell me that once a month I should cook up a pot of beans and let it set on the stove a day or so and then put it down the toilet. He said it gave my septic system the bacteria needed to keep working as it was supposed to.

  10. Angela Schwindt-Paul Avatar
    Angela Schwindt-Paul

    I like to add esential oils like Lavendar to use in the bath!

  11. Dana Avatar

    I rub it on my feet and torn ligament in my heel. No pain anymore, as well as the swelling in the heel has gone down.

  12. Sheila Orr Avatar
    Sheila Orr

    I use it to make bath salts for gifts. A little essential oil about four drops and a little food coloring. Makes lovely gifts. Also use it for grass fertilizer.

  13. Lois Pimentel McGeoghegan Avatar
    Lois Pimentel McGeoghegan

    Thanks for this, it reminded me how good Epsom salt is. I used it in warm water foot baths for the elderly I cared for. They all loved it and I’m sure it was beneficial to them.

    1. Pedro Serrano Avatar
      Pedro Serrano

      Folks, can anybody say with certainty whether it is safe to apply as a nasal spray? I dont want to keep using it until I know for sure, but when I did it helped me get rid of mucus and inflamation.

  14. Jane Cooke Avatar
    Jane Cooke

    My Boxer has trouble with anal glands in warm weather. We sit her in tub with Epsom Salts and very warm water to soak and really seems to help.

  15. Gayla Smith Avatar
    Gayla Smith

    I have a dog who has a skin condition where he loses his fur and it creates a scrape looking wound that does not scab. It is also very itchy and his vet says that it is a skin allergy. Would epson salt work for this?

    1. virginia Avatar

      My dog had food allergies and was licked his paws and was very itchy. I had to find a dog food that didn’t have ingredients he was allergic to. Some of the ingredients that are most common that causes skin problems is corn and wheat. My dog was allergic to those, soy and rice.

      1. Jan Avatar

        I have a cat that was just fine for a year then all of a sudden her hair was falling out all over and she was chewing at the skin. Wasn’t mange because the other 2 cats were not affected. I had some organic unrefined coconut oil and mixed it in her food and in a couple weeks she was cured if whatever it was and full furred again. Also my male cat had urinary blockage couldn’t urinate easily, I noticed and put coconut oil in his food every time I fed him wet food and the blockage was cured.

  16. Lisa Flood Avatar
    Lisa Flood

    An Oriental Medicine Doctor once told me that in hospitals around the world patients use a magnesium drip to lower high blood pressure. And on that note he had recommended magnesium mineral supplements to a family member.

    1. Catie Avatar

      Hospitals absolutely use magnesium to lower blood pressure. I had preeclampsia something terrible when I was pregnant in ’09. They immediately hooked me up to a magnesium drip to lower it. It made me super hot, but it did the trick and kept me out seizure territory until I could have my c-section a day and half later.

    2. Amirh Avatar

      Some ERs will also put magnesium in IVs for asthmatics. It relaxes muscles and bronchial tubes and can shorten the stay.

  17. Elizabeth Mitchell Avatar
    Elizabeth Mitchell

    I taught my children how to take a cup of salts, a few drops of food coloring, drops of fragrant oils (such as lavender or eucalyptus) and mix together in a Ziploc bag. they would make several colors, layer in a clear jar (with lid) and call it “Rainbow Bath Salts” and have an inexpensive gift for grandmothers. (Later the boys made it for gifts to girlfriends.)

  18. andy Avatar

    Have not tried this myself, but I’ve read that you can make your own non-freezing windshield washer fluid if you mix Epsom salt into water in your windshield washer bucket. I’ve also read that some people pour in methanol (Heet gas-line antifreeze in the red bottle) to the mixture. Again, I don’t know if it actually works or what it might do to your rubber window seals, hoses or paint. I would think the salt might coat the windshield, but since I’ve not tried it myself, I don’t know…
    Mixture is:
    1/2 cup Methanol (Heet gas line antifreeze, red bottle, not the yellow bottle)
    1/2 teaspoon powdered dish detergent, for cleaning
    1 cup Epsom salts
    1 gallon water (distilled is better but not mandatory)
    Mix well and then pour into your fluid reservoir. Old “summer” fluid will dilute this mixture, so you might want to remove it first before pouring your mixture in.
    With the steep rise in store bought washer fluid, this appears to be much much cheaper.

    1. Lita Avatar

      Or you could just use powdered cream of tarter from the baking section in any store along with a few drops of Dawn dish washing soap in your homemade windshield washing solution. The Cream of Tarter prevents ice formation.

  19. Chantellee Brown Avatar
    Chantellee Brown

    It is really good for toothaches, especially the kind of toothache that you feel your heartbeat in. I had a painful toothache one time and I placed some Epsom salt and warm water on my tooth and by the next day, the pain was gone and I found a bubble of puss sitting on the surface of my gum where the toothache took place. The Epsom salt pulled the inflammation and infection from my tooth. I eventually popped the bubble and then went and got the tooth extracted.

    1. Layla Avatar

      I know this is kind of late, but cloves work really well for tooth pain. My stepfather has awful teeth from a past addiction to crystal meth. When his teeth start hurting, I boil a whole clove for a few minutes, just until it starts to soften. Then you just take it out and bite it with whatever tooth is hurting. It relieves pain quickly, plus clove is known to be antibacterial and antiviral so it will help with infection as well.

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