If you love baths and hot soaks to relax and relieve every part of your body, you have probably already been introduced to Epsom Salt as a soothing additive that enhances the cleansing experience.
The rest of you may be wondering, “Who was this guy (or gal) Epsom and what is the connection to a non-edible salt product?”
It turns out that Epsom is a place, not a person. Nestled in County Surrey, England is a bitter saline (salt water) spring in the town of Epsom.
Epsom itself is a very interesting locale in the North Downs area, featuring a chalk upland ridge that rises imposingly from the south:
The Epsom Downs Racecourse is world-famous for its thoroughbred horse training facilities and races, notably the annual Epsom Derby.
So what is Epsom Salt? It turns out that it isn’t salt (sodium chloride) at all: the chemical name is magnesium sulfate. A sulfate is a combination of sulfur and oxygen. Epsom Salts looks like small, clear crystals:
Epsom Salt was discovered in the 17th century, and most of the world’s production is used for agricultural purposes – as a soil additive and fertilizer to boost depleted magnesium – but it is also a popular beauty product.
Here’s how to prepare a wonderful, calming bath with Epsom Salt:
- Run a tub of water as hot as you can comfortably stand.
- Dissolve a handful or two of Epsom Salt in the bath water.
- Add essential oils as desired. (Lavender and eucalyptus are recommended.)
- Get in the bath and lose all your troubles as you soak for 15-20 minutes.
The amount of Epsom Salt you use depends on what you want to achieve. For general health and wellness, use between 250-500 grams (9-18 ounces or a cup or two). For deeper muscle relaxation, double the dosage to 500-1000 grams (18 to 36 ounces or 2-4 cups) for a normal-sized bath.
Use Epsom Salt to treat bruises and sprains, ease muscles tired by a physical workout, reduce arthritis pain, or loosen stiff joints. WebMD gives an impressive list of additional benefits Epsom Salt has to offer:
- Fibromyalgia, a condition that makes your muscles, ligaments, and tendons hurt, and causes tender points throughout your body
- Ingrown toenails
- Psoriasis, a disease that causes red, itchy, scaly skin
- Soreness from diarrhea during chemotherapy
- Sunburn pain and redness
- Tired, swollen feet
Taken internally, Epsom Salt acts as a natural saline laxative. It also helps the body produce and use insulin. It may help “regulate blood sugar, lowering the risk of diabetes and improving your overall daily energy levels,” according to Natural Living Ideas.
Returning to the garden, the advantage of using Epsom Salt as a soil amendment is that it is completely harmless, pH-neutral, and doesn’t build up over repeated applications.
Best of all, Epsom Salt is not very expensive and easy to find in the health and beauty departments of many grocery stores – so go ahead and soak it up!