Epsom salt established its name 1600 years ago from the location where it was first discovered in Epsom Common, Surrey, England. It is most commonly marketed as bath products: powder, granules, crystal, flakes, and bath bombs.
Although similar to common table salt in color and texture, Epsom salt and table salt are distinctly different. Epsom salt (also known as epsomite or magnesium sulfate heptahydrate) is not really a salt but rather a naturally occurring mineral compound in crystal form composed of magnesium, sulfate, and oxygen.
Although most valued as an inexpensive, time-tested, 100 percent natural, and readily available treatment for aches and pain in all parts of the body, Epsom salt offers a diverse array of other health and beauty benefits as well as a number of useful home and garden applications. Read on to learn more about some Epsom salt uses for your home, garden, and overall wellness.
To get started, here is a table of contents so you can jump right to the type of Epsom salt uses you’re looking for:
- Epsom Salt Uses for Overall Wellness
- Epsom Salt Uses in the Garden
- Epsom Salt Uses for Cleaning
- Epsom Salt Uses for Pets and Animals
Epsom Salt Uses For Overall Wellness
Epsom salt is most well known for offering a variety of health and wellness benefits. There a few ways to improve your overall wellness with a variety of Epsom salt uses.
Combat A Magnesium Deficiency
The human body requires magnesium for a multitude of functions including stabilizing blood pressure and controlling nerve and muscle function. Magnesium-rich foods include dark chocolate, almonds, seafood, kelp, and tofu. However, due to our dependency on diets high in processed foods, many Americans remain deficient in magnesium.
A lack of magnesium can increase the number of health risks including heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, kidney disease, high cholesterol, hyperactivity, and atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. To combat a magnesium deficiency many health practitioners recommend soaking in bathwater with Epsom salt.
Improve Circulation And Lower Blood Pressure
Soaking in a bath with Epsom salt raises the body’s magnesium levels which helps improve circulation and lowers blood pressure. Research studies also indicate that raising our magnesium levels leads to better heart health by preventing the hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots, and regulating electrolytes.
Relieve Muscle Tension And Stiff Joints With An Epsom Salt Soak
A warm, relaxing soak in a bath enriched with Epsom salt also helps draw toxins and heavy metals from the body, relieve the pain of stiff joints, diminish bruising, relax muscle tension, calm inflammation, reduce swelling, ease stress, and aid in promoting restful sleep.
For patients suffering from the chronic stiffness and relentless pain of arthritis, healthcare providers recommend a daily soak in warm, Epsom salt infused waters.
Relax And Recover After Workouts
For centuries, practitioners of the healing arts have advised that dissolving Epsom salt in warm water allows magnesium and sulfates to be readily absorbed into the skin. It delivers much-needed magnesium and sulfates for soothing, fast-acting relief from the pain and muscle tension of prolonged physical exertion.
Boost Your Immune System
If you feel like you are coming down with a cold or the flu, it’s time to detoxify, rest, and recover. Research studies indicate that a good soaking in Epsom salt stimulates vasodilation — the increase of white blood cell production which helps boost the body’s immune system to fight off illness. In traditional Chinese medicine, Epsom salt is used to kill fungus and bacteria.
Soothe And Soften Irritated Skin
Epsom salt infused bathwater can soothe and soften dry, irritated skin and help treat and heal a diverse range of skin conditions including psoriasis and eczema. Epsom salt also proves useful in reducing the discomfort, swelling, and inflammation of acne.
Treat Acne Flare-ups And Insect Bites
For acne flare-ups or insect bites, an Epsom salt spot treatment can be applied to the localized area. Dissolve 1/2 cup of Epsom salt in a cup of hot water. Apply as a compress to problem areas with a cotton ball or saturated washcloth.
For a full-body immersion treatment to help heal acne of the shoulders, chest, back, or butt, add 3 cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
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Soaking in a warm bath infused with Epsom salt is also one of the best homeopathic alternative remedies for the inflammation, burning, itching, and throbbing pain of anal fissures, hemorrhoids, boils, episiotomy stitches, or perineal tears after childbirth.
Exfoliate Your Skin
Blend a cup of Epsom salt with enough almond, coconut, or olive oil to form a soft paste. Add a few drops of frankincense and clary sage essential oils to exfoliate dead skin cells and bring a rosy glow and smoother texture to rough, dry skin.
Gently rub the mixture on your skin, concentrating on dry spots such as elbows, hands, and heels. Rinse skin well and pat dry.
Treat Dry, Itchy Scalp
If you have a dry and itchy scalp, relieve the discomfort with an Epsom salt rinse. Mix a cup of Epsom salt with a quart of warm water. Pour over the scalp after shampooing and conditioning.
Make A Face Mask
If you are plagued by clogged pores, mash a ripe avocado with a cup of Epsom salt to make a blackhead-zapping facial mask. Chock full of natural oils and water, avocado makes a skin-soothing base for an exfoliating face mask to help unclog pores and reduce scarring.
- Mash avocado until smooth
- Mix in Epsom salt to form a thick paste
- Spread evenly over the face, avoiding eye area
- Allow mask to dry for 30 minutes
- Rinse with warm water
- Pat dry
Epsom Salt Uses In The Garden
A great many homesteaders rely on a variety of Epsom salt uses to help their garden grow. Epsom salt, incorporated into the soil at planting time increases seed germination, improves the uptake of other important garden nutrients, deters voles and slugs, enhances overall plant growth, and helps promote an abundant harvest.
Provide Magnesium To Your Peppers and Tomatoes
Peppers and tomatoes often experience a magnesium deficiency in midsummer. If leaves begin to yellow or fruit production decreases, mix a tablespoon of Epsom salt to a gallon of water and soak the soil around the roots.
Repeat weekly throughout the remainder of the growing season. However, keep in mind that while an application of Epsom salt water perks up tomato plants, it does not prevent tomato blossom end rot which is caused by a calcium deficiency in the soil.
Deter Raccoons From Your Garden
If raccoons raid your garden, Epsom salt can help repel their presence. Sprinkle it around your plants. Raccoons hate the taste and smell of the stuff.
Grow Beautiful Roses
Growers of prize-winning roses depend on Epsom salt for enhanced cane growth, lush deep green foliage, and bigger blooms. When transplanting roses, incorporate 2 cups of Epsom salt in the soil at the base of the plant and water well. To encourage spectacular blooms, water roses bushes weekly with Epsom salt dissolved in water.
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Apply a cup of Epsom salt mixed in a gallon of water to soil at the base of the plant when buds first begin to open in the spring. Continue to use Epsom salt dissolved in water (half a cup of Epsom salt per gallon of water) applied as a foliar spray throughout the growing season.
Epsom Salt Uses For Cleaning
While Epsom salt has many uses for overall wellness, it’s also a great ingredient to keep on hand for cleaning your home.
Brighten Dull And Stained Tile Grout
If the grout in your laundry room, kitchen, or bathroom tiles look less than their best, brighten and whiten dull and dirty tile grout with a mixture of Epsom salt and Dawn dishwashing liquid.
Mix 1/2 cup of dishwashing liquid, 1 cup of Epsom salt, and 1 cup of water. Place the mixture in a spray bottle and apply to the tile. Allow the mixture to remain on the title for 20 minutes, scrub with a soft brush, and rinse.
Eliminate Shower Scum
Use the same formula for cleaning tile to remove built-up soap scum on tubs and showers and glass shower enclosures.
Deep Clean The Toilet Bowl
Stained and discolored toilet bowls sparkle like new when scrubbed with Epsom salt, dishwashing liquid, and white vinegar.
Use ½ cup of Dawn dishwashing liquid, 2 cups of white vinegar, and 2 cups of Epsom salt in a bucket of hot water to wipe down the lid and toilet exterior. Next, pour the liquid in the toilet bowl, and scrub as usual. Allow the stain-removing mix to soak for 20 minutes. Then scrub again and flush for a fresh and sparkling clean commode.
Clean Your Washer With Epsom Salt
Does your washing machine emit an unpleasant odor? After a while, they can get stinky from detergent and laundry residue trapped in the machine. Epsom salt solves the problem by removing stains, built-up soap film, and oily substances left behind.
The experts at the Farmer’s Almanac advise filling the washing machine with hot water, 1 quart of white vinegar, and 1 cup of Epsom salt. Allow the machine to agitate for a few minutes, then pause and allow the cleaning mixture to soak in the machine overnight. In the morning, finish the cycle and drain. Your machine will sparkle and smell great again.
Make DIY Fabric Softener
If you like your clothes and bedding smelling sweet and feeling soft, but don’t like to use commercial fabric softener liquid or dryer sheets with all those chemicals and artificial fragrances, you can achieve the same soft and fresh-smelling laundry by adding Epsom salt to your laundry room product arsenal.
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Make your own fresh laundry crystals by adding 5 to 8 drops of your favorite essential oil to 1/2 cup of Epsom salt. Add the scented salt at the beginning of the wash cycle. When washing foul-smelling pet blankets and pads, double the recipe.
Epsom Salt Uses For Pets And Animals
Just as you can use Epsom salt for your own wellness, your pets and homestead animals can benefit from it too!
Give Your Dog A Muscle-Relaxing Epsom Salt Soak
If you know how soothing a long hot soak in an Epsom salt bath can be, you can guess how much your dog will love the same treatment. Available at any grocery or drug store, Epsom salt is an organic, nontoxic way to relieve aches, pain, and muscle strain in older dogs with hip dysplasia or arthritis.
Dogs with allergies, or dry, irritated skin can benefit from bathing in warm Epsom salt to soothe and relieve the itchy discomfort of irritated skin.
Repair Your Dog’s Cracked Or Sore Foot Pads
If the pads of your dog’s feet are sore or cracked, soaking them in an Epsom salt bath relieves inflammation. If your pooch suffers from foot fungus, or you need to remove a splinter or thorn from an injured paw, soaking his or her feet in Epsom salt water with its powerful anti-bacterial, anti-inflammation, and anti-fungal properties, is a non-toxic, effective, and inexpensive treatment.
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A word of caution: Don’t let him drink it. Ingesting Epsom salt water can cause pets to have stomach discomfort.
Provide Relief For Canine Hot Spots
Canine hot spots (also known as moist pyoderma or moist eczema) are painful, weepy bald spots in a dog’s fur caused by allergies, parasites, ticks, fleas, or a generalized skin infection. No matter the cause, if your dog develops hot spots, he is miserable.
An effective home remedy of Epsom salt and sage brings relief. Mix 3 teaspoons of powdered sage with 2 cups of Epsom salt dissolved in a quart of boiling water. Allow the mixture to cool and apply as a moist compress or in a spray. Apply twice daily until the hot spot heals.
Provide Relief For Horses With Hoof Abscess
If you have a horse with a hoof abscess, cure it with Epsom salt. Soak the infected hoof in a bucket containing warm water and 2 cups of Epsom salt or make a saturated compress from a disposable baby diaper and secure the compress in place with a horse bandage wrap.
Cautions And Concerns
There are different grades and types of Epsom salt — from agricultural or technical grade sold in farm cooperatives or hardware stores to the Epsom salt manufactured for human use and sold in pharmacies or supermarkets.
Choose Epsom Salt With A USP Label
When purchasing Epsom salt for bathing, look for packaging featuring a “drug facts” box and USP label.
That way, you can be confident what you are putting on your skin has been manufactured, tested, and certified to meet the strict standards of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) and has tested safe for human use.
Stop Use If You Have An Adverse Skin Reaction
Although considered safe for most people, it is possible to be allergic to Epsom salt. If you manifest an adverse reaction such as hives, swelling of the tongue or lips, a rash, or trouble breathing, stop using Epsom salt and contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Always Rinse Off Epsom Salt Completely
For some skin types, Epsom salt may leave an uncomfortable, drying residue on the skin if not rinsed off completely. Avoid soaking in Epsom salt if you have an open wound.
Don’t Take Epsom Salt Internally
Keep in mind that even though Epsom salt is commonly used as a naturally occurring laxative, the mineral compound is intended for external use only. There are no medical research studies proving Epson salt is beneficial or safe when taken internally.
Ingesting Epsom salt can result in dangerous side effects including severe diarrhea and dehydration.
- Absorption of magnesium sulfate, Salt Works
- Epsom Salts – Miracle, Myth or Marketing, Washington State University
- Epsom Salt as a Home Remedy, Michigan State University Extension
- The Epsom Salt Myth, North Dakota State University – Yard and Garden Report
- Horticultural Myths, The University of Vermont Extension