Epsom Salt Baths Improve Health

Epsom salt baths improve health benefits

Epsom salt baths have become my latest indulgence. When I want a quiet, relaxing moment, I pour an Epsom salt bath, lock the bathroom door so my kids don’t barge in, turn down the lights, start my MP3 player on my favorite music, and … soak.

Yet Epsom salt baths don’t just calm noisy souls, they improve health as well!

That’s because Epsom salt isn’t salt at all, but really magnesium-sulfate. It’s merely called “Epsom” because magnesium-sulfate was discovered in Epsom, England. The Journal of the American College of Nutrition says that at least 68% of us are magnesium deficient (most likely more), leading to a host of health problems. Thankfully, Epsom salt baths can be one more tool to help us combat that deficiency and improve our health.

Why are we magnesium deficient?

Depleted soil.

Industrial agriculture depletes soil of nutrients. Rather than fertilizing with rich, vibrant compost, we treat the soil with synthetic fertilizers. In the The Fatal Harvest Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture, Jason McKenney writes about the effect synthetic fertilizers have on the soil:

We now know that massive use of synthetic fertilizers to create artificial fertility has had a cascade of adverse effects on natural soil fertility and the entire soil system. Fertilizer application begins the destruction of soil biodiversity by diminishing the role of nitrogen fixing bacteria and amplifying the role of everything that feeds on nitrogen. These feeders then speed up the decomposition of organic matter and humus. As organic matter decreases, the physical structure of soil changes. With less pore space and less of their sponge-like qualities, soils are less efficient at storing water and air. More irrigation is needed. Water leeches through soils, draining away nutrients that no longer have an effective susbstrate on which to cling. With less available oxygen, the growth of soil microbiology slows, and the intricate ecosystem of biological exchanges breaks down.

Magnesium is among the myriad of minerals lost to industrial agriculture practices. If the nutrients aren’t in the soil, they aren’t in our food.

Municipal water supplies.

In 2007, Life Extension Magazine ran a report on magnesium deficiency. In it, they pegged city water supplies as one of the main culprits:

Our human ancestors evolved in a world in which healthy drinking water came directly from streams, rivers, and lakes, rich in mineral content. The human body became reliant on obtaining a considerable proportion of its daily mineral needs from natural water sources.

Fast-forward to the twenty-first century. We obtain drinking water from a spigot or a plastic bottle. Pesticides and other chemicals seeping into the water supply have made everyone suspicious of water quality. As a result, municipal water-purification facilities have intensified their efforts to remove contaminants like lead, pesticide residues, and nitrates from drinking water. Unfortunately, these modern water-treatment methods also deplete drinking water of desirable minerals like calcium and magnesium.


Too much calcium.

We need calcium to absorb magnesium. Yet’ it’s a delicate balance because the two minerals compete for resources within our body. If you eat too much calcium, you actually hinder your absorption of magnesium.

Studies indicate that taking a calcium supplement without enough magnesium can increase the shortage of both nutrients. Researchers have found that many Americans have five times as much calcium as magnesium in their bodies, although the proper ratio for optimum absorption of both minerals is two to one.


For more on magnesium deficiency, read Magnesium Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments.

How do Epsom salt baths improve health?

According to the Epsom Salt Industry Council, correcting magnesium deficiency leads to:

  • Improved heart and circulatory health, reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure.
  • Improved ability for the body to use insulin, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes.
  • Flushed toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances.
  • Improved nerve function by electrolyte regulation. Also, calcium is the main conductor for electrical current in the body, and magnesium is necessary to maintain proper calcium levels in the blood.
  • Relieved stress. Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well being and relaxation.
  • Reduced inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps.
  • Improved oxygen use.
  • Improved absorption of nutrients.
  • Prevention or easing of migraine headaches.


Furthermore, the sulfate in Epsom salts:

  • Improves absorption of nutrients by starting the cascade of digestive enzymes released from the pancreas.
  • Helps form the mucin proteins which line the gut walls. Mucin stops the intestine’s content from ‘sticking’ and blocks the transport of toxins from the gut to the bloodstream. Patients who have a leaky gut (like those with IBS) have low blood plasma sulfate levels.
  • Helps with the formation of brain tissue. Pregnant ladies, pay attention! When en utero, neurons are created on chains of sulfated carbohydrate. Reduces sulfation may lead to fault neural connections and dysfunction later in life!
  • Plays a key role in detoxifying drugs and environmental contaminants from your body.


To top it all off, both magnesium and sulfate are more easily absorbed transdermally through the skin than they are internally!

How to take an Epsom Salt bath.

If you want truly therapeutic levels of magnesium, this study found consistent, significant improvement in magnesium levels after participants soaked for at least 15 minutes in a 1% solution of Epsom salts. For a typical bath tub, that’d be about a pound of Epsom salt per bath! Participants complained that the 1% solution was too “soapy” feeling.

Since my goal is comfort as well as therapy, I opt for less Epsom salts and a longer soak.

To make an Epsom salt bath:

Dissolve 2 cups of Epsom salts in a bathtub full of warm or hot water. Soak for at least 20 minutes before you attend to any personal hygiene like washing your hair or shaving.

Take this soothing Epsom salt bath about 3 times per week.

To make an Epsom salt foot soak:

Epsom Salt Bath Sore Feet Soak

When I was younger, I never understood why all the mothers in my life soaked their feet in an Epsom salt foot bath.

What made the Epsom salts any better than plain hot water?

Turns out, an Epsom salt foot bath is great for reducing foot aches and pains because of its documented anti-inflammatory properties.

To make a foot soak, dissolve 1/2 cup of Epsom salt in a large bowl or small tub of warm or hot water. If you want a relaxing fragrance for your foot bath, add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the water. Soak your sore feet for at least 15 minutes and watch your aches melt away!

Where to buy Epsom salt.

Epsom Salt Bath Improve Health Benefits EpsoakEpsom salt is ridiculously cheap. You can often find it in your grocery store or drug store, but I’ve found that those tend to be more expensive, hopped-up Epsom salts with questionable perfumes or other ingredients. They typically sell a pound of these juiced-up salts for about $3-7.

But online, I can get 20 lbs. fo Epsoak Epsom Salt for $1.50/lb. including shipping! How cheap is that??

Click here to buy Epsom salt in bulk.

For more information, read:

Bath Salts: A Relaxing Bath Salts Recipe
Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms

(top photo by Eric Piasecki from Katie Ridder Rooms; foot bath photo by InterContinentalHongKong)


  1. Caitlin Grace says

    Hubby and I regularly have a good soak in Epsom salt baths. Such a great way to relax and destress at the end of the day.

  2. Karli says

    I used to do this to my chickens when they got diarrhea. Clears it right up. They rather enjoyed a warm bath, too!

  3. says

    Dollar Tree is where I usually get my Epsom salt. I usually find a 2lb carton for $1… so $.50 per pound. That’s the best deal I’ve been able to find!

  4. Carie says

    You can get Epsom salt at nearly every drug store, super market, or warehouse store here where I live and pretty much everywhere I’ve ever been in this country (USA). It’s super, super cheap! It costs around a dollar or less per use at about 1 lb per bath.

    I’ve been told by my massage therapist that soaking in Mineral Salts is good, too. Is this the same thing? If not, anyone know what the differences are in benefits?

  5. staci says

    Can anyone explain why there is always an “orange ring ” around the tub whenever my husband takes an Epsom salt bath?

  6. says

    we’ve been doing Epsom salt baths here for teen PMS resolution. PMS is a sign of Magnesium deficiency among other things. I also just discovered magnesium “oil” which is so handy when you can’t soak in the tub. Just spray it on the soles of your feet or your belly or your back and get the transdermal effects that way. There are a couple of companies that sell it through our Frontier co-op.

  7. e says

    for anyone who has a child on the Autism Spectrum:
    its called Sulfation. if the child is agitated, you make a bath and put about 2 cups of Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate). Sit the child in the bath to soak in it for as long as they are willing to hang out there (of course watch the child all the time he/she is there). It will calm them.
    Good to do if you see the melt-down starting, don’t wait, if possible, till its full blown. its a help.

    • Gwen says

      We’ve been giving our whole family epsom salt baths. I was encouraged to find out some time ago that it was particularly good for kids on the spectrum as they tend to lack enough sulfate to process toxins efficiently. We have found that it can help bring peace and calm on a particularly hard Aspie day…for all of us!

  8. patty says

    I thought the foot baths detoxed as well, but you did not mention this in the article. Baths I expect detox more, but do footbaths detox as well?

    • KristenM says

      Epsom Salts are different because they’re not really salt. They’re magnesium sulfate, so they specifically help with upping magnesium levels and sulfation.

      Redmond Salt is just salt — sodium chloride. It’s a totally different animal with a different set of benefits.

  9. Michele says

    When I heard of GAPS a couple years ago, I started taking more baths to help detox. At first, I was just using epsom salts all the time, but then I heard that it is good to rotate what you use in the bath – epsom salts, baking soda, ACV, etc. So I started switching it up.

    After a while, it occurred to me one day when I was drawing an bath with ACV that it was similar to when you make a bone broth and put ACV in the water to help draw out the minerals from the bones.

    My question about this is, will ACV baths actually deplete your minerals over time in the same manner? Should you just stick to epsom salts for baths if you are already mineral deficient? Or is it totally different since your bones are not directly exposed like they are in a bone broth?

    Would love to hear your thoughts :)

    • says

      I’d like to weigh in with knowledge of GAPS, detoxing, and the body. ACV is an excellent addition and won’t deplete your body of minerals. You’ll benefit from the nutrients, like potassium, in the ACV, and it works well with salts to help your body release toxins. It can soothe inflammation. Cheers!

  10. liz says

    i love epsom salts!! i put my 6 year old autistic son to soak for as long as he wants every night in a bath with 2 big handfuls. it helps calm him ready for bed and doesn’t dry his skin out, it has helped with excema (sorry for the poor spelling) and his itchy skin, then i rub him all over with virgin coconut oil, i recommend this to anyone with a skin condition.

  11. Amanda says

    I love Epsom salt baths and foot soaks! Get to relax before sleeping while pregnant. Do you know if it is bad for young kids who still drink the bath water? I’m guessing this would be undesirable because of the toxins it draws out…

    • Karen says

      I would do a bit of research, since I heard somewhere that taken internally, Epsom salts has a laxative effect. Might not be quite what you are after. Can’t remember where I found that, other than just a few simple searches.

    • LuckyMe says

      You can drink epsom salts mixed with water for a laxative. So it can be ingested, but of course it will loosen the stool, so it should be monitored carefully.

  12. Jess says

    Good article, one note: Epsom salt baths are good for detoxing, but counter-indicated for people with high blood pressure.

    • michelle says

      So can you do this bath detox if you have high blood pressure. Mine has been under control for the last 3years and my docter is about to take me off of my medications.Actually the only reason why I am still on it is because it is also a water pill and since I am trying to lose weight he said it would help. Thanks

  13. Ralph Bigio says

    I’m a big fan of epsom salts…

    DOLLAR TREE… (IF you have it in your neighborhood:
    2 pounds for a dollar… (unfortunately not listed on their website.)

    Every time I see a new shipment, I try to buy them out. (Supply/Demand kinda thinking.)

  14. Patti says

    Dollar stores (Dollar Tree, etc) carry 2 lb cartons of Epsom salts. That’s 50 cents a pound, Folks! Much cheaper than the bulk price and nice manageable packaging.

  15. Bebe says

    Kristen, do you know if source matters? I have done no research as far as that goes but I sure do enjoy me regular Epsom salts baths.
    I started taking near nightly soaks last winter when I was having my mercury amalgam fillings removed. It was actually part of a detox protocol for removing heavy metals that my DNP gave me.
    I latched right on to bath therapy and, although I do take them less often these days, I am a lifetime subscriber!
    I used to make a bath salt recipe that used Epsom salts, sea salt and bicarbonate of soda, plus a tablespoon of almond oil and essential oils of choice. Sometimes I add ginger if I want to sweat or essential oils (for their various properties).
    I added thieves oil blend when I was fighting the flu earlier this month. It was a tough bug but not nearly as bad for me as it was for our friend who brought the bug to Christmas dinner at our house. He ended up with pneumonia and antibiotics! Of course I had other weapons in my arsenal, from bone broth to herbal teas, to supplemental C, D and others to FCLO, but I am grateful that although it lingered for a full three weeks and I felt fairly weak and crappy for most of that time, I was only bedridden for two full days and none of my symptoms were near as bad as others were reporting.

  16. says

    I’ve recently been indulging in an epsom salt bath about once a week and they definitely refresh my spirit and lighten my load! I always add an essential oil to attend to what my life calls for in that moment. Some recurring favorites are lavender, ylang ylang, and rose for their calming, de-stress qualities. :)

  17. says

    I’m so glad you’re bringing this to readers’ attention. Magnesium is such a crucial nutrient that regulates muscle, nerve and enzyme function. We need at least a 1 to 1 mag to calcium ratio, and that’s overlooked by conventional “unwisdom.” Soaks are awesome, especially during pregnancy.

  18. DrCatherine Rott ND, DNM says

    Thank you for such an awesome article! I should have written one myself!! Now, thanks to your expertise, I don’t have to do so! I would love to give kudos to Dr. Carolyn Dean, Dr. Andrea Rosanoff, Dr. Mildred Seelig and George Eby who have done much to educate so many to the benefits of magnesium! http://www.mgwater.com/seelig.shtml

    If we include magnesium in our health regimens, the national health care costs would go down by at least 85%!! This figure was from a presentation to members of Congress in March of 2005. This is probably the single most important, inexpensive thing you can do to improve your health! Daily baths are not a luxury, but a necessity, in my opinion!

    Again, thank you for a well done article!

  19. Brandy says

    In the summer I put Epsom salt in the water tub that my boys play in so that the garden in nourished by their play. I did not realize ask the benefits for them from such a simple ingredient.

  20. Tiffany says

    Epsom salts are also a traditional remedy for pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, and are often the only thing that I can get to break a cluster of migraines. I swear by them–as do my kids; when they’re sick, they ask for Epsom salt baths. There’s an online company named Saltworks that sells them even cheaper than your Amazon link. They had free shipping all of last year, not sure what it is right now.

  21. says

    Costco wholesale club in the US sells plain epsom salts by the 12 lb box at a great price as well. I think the last time I was there it was around $12. It is in their pharmacy area and is not listed on their website. I love epsom salt baths – and my whole family regularly takes them, usually with a few drops of essential oil added.

  22. says

    Epsom Salts is inexpensive for a reason: it is not easily assimilated, as it is rapidly excreted through your kidneys. Magnesium Chloride is much more effective. Look for links in Kristen’s Resource Page for reputable sources of this valuable mineral.

    • Gwen says

      The Sulfate portion is important though, for it’s ability to remove toxins. I can’t speak for the benefits of Chloride in doing the same–does anyone know?

  23. Micha says

    I’m an avid Epsom salt wonder believer, although sometimes it can leave the skin feeling taut so I will add mineral salts too sometimes. Have you read or heard anything regarding the temperature of the bath? I recently heard it should be tepid water and not hot because hot temperatures will cause the body to hold on to what should be released. Have you come across similar information?

  24. says

    Great and informative article, as well as the info. in the comments. I read recently that magnesium deficiency may play a role in morning sickness in pregnancy and having had Hyperemesis Gravidarum (the most severe form of morning sickness), I’ve been greatly intrigued by that claim – and subsequently what I can do to change it. Thanks for the great info! I really appreciate coming across something like this. Looks like I’ll be picking up some Epsom salts in the near future.

  25. Nancy Floeter says

    Thanks for this great info on Epsom salt baths. I’ve been taking them for years knowing some of the benefits but now I have even more reason to “indulge”! Thanks so much for the link to “SaltWorks”. I ordered the 50lb bag for 42.99 with free shipping. Fantastic deal!

  26. says

    Epsom salts are nice but taking a bath with regular salt is truly the way to go to get the energy flowing and the glow going. So shake it up using epsom but take the regular salt bath and you’ll feel amazing.

    Goes along great with the Tropical Transformation CD.

  27. Jerian says

    Please help; I eat a pretty good nutrient dense WAPF style diet, lots of FCLO, bone broths, etc.

    I have had two infrared sauna experiences and one epsom salt bath that have left me with chapped peeling lips. I drink a fair amount of water and other liquid and did not think I was dehydrated. I am wondering if my lips are a sign of detox?

    Should I keep taking the epsom salt baths or wait until my lips clear up?

  28. Rebecca says

    I have really enjoyed reading the article as well as all the comments from everyone. I’m a newbie to Epsom salt baths and have only done them a few times. I do find them relaxing and although I haven’t noticed huge changes thus far, I’m eager to continue taking them. My question is can you take too many ES baths a week and can you use too much ES in your bath? My first bath I just poured the salt in without measuring…probably at least 3 cup fills (maybe more)! Also, I used the dry brushing technique before my bath tonight and boy did my body feel different. Is dry brushing recommended each time or just occasionally? Thank you so much!

  29. says

    Based on the aquatic ape theory human ancestors evolved in water environment (possibky sea) 5-7 million years ago. Could that be the reason for salty bath positive health effects?

  30. Ryan says

    Where would you surgest buying epsom salts? Im looking a buying some to use in the bath. I have looked in the supermarkets but it looks like i can save money getting them online. My worry is that can i trust te online stores? Is there a brand of epsom salts that i can trust? Here is a link to the Epsom Salts site that im looking at… http://www.epsomsalts.co.uk

    • says

      There is no salt in Epsom Salt baths. This is what I meant to convey when I wrote, “That’s because Epsom salt isn’t salt at all, but really magnesium-sulfate. It’s merely called Epsom because magnesium-sulfate was discovered in Epsom, England.”

  31. Beverly O says

    What about buying the large sacks of mag sulfate from the feed store? Is there any reason, other than big pharma trying to scare us away and making us think it must be purchased in a drug store, not to use it?

  32. Diana Curtis via Facebook says

    Hubby does the soaks once a week, I use magnesium oil as a spray, daily.. we feel overall healthier for it, and it feels like being pampered at the same time.

  33. Dawn Shatto via Facebook says

    Been doing this love it, and will continue, but heard Magnesium Citrate is more easily absorbed dermally. FYI – everyone.

  34. Christy Mattingly via Facebook says

    Epsom salt baths are recommended on the Feingold program to help a child detox from a reaction due to food/chemical sensitivities. I give my kids epsom baths a couple times a week.

  35. Tanya Fleenor via Facebook says

    The only one I took gave me a blazing migraine. I’m scared to try again.

    On the other hand, my daughter takes them a couple times a month. She loves it.

  36. Nicole Vangen via Facebook says

    I take two to three epsom salt baths a week. I been looking to buy in bulk but haven’t any luck. Any leads?

  37. Karen Tressler via Facebook says

    3 to 7 times a week, depending on how much time I’m in the pool and how dry the weather is outside. I love it….

    • Simon says

      I just recently read that Epsom Salts contain lead, and that it’s not a good idea to use them because it goes straight into your system. Have you heard about this issue, and if so do you know of any Epsom Salt sources that don’t contain lead?

  38. Laura says

    I used to live in the country where I had well water. I took regular Epsom salt baths there. I have recently moved to the city where all I have is city water. I have read many places how city water is full of chemicals (I take the shortest showers here that I can). I have not done my Epsom salt baths since moving because of not wanting to soak in city water. Can anyone tell me if city water is safe for Epsom salt bathing?

  39. Cynthia B. says

    My understanding is that you use hot water to get rid of toxins and you use warm water to absorb the magnesium in Epsom Salts, If you use hot water with you Epsom Salts you are just wasting it because your feet aren’t going to absorb anything. Think “sweating” feet.

  40. bonnie brauer says

    Magnesium Chloride flakes from “Ancient Minerals” (Amazon has them ~ about 1.6 lbs for about $11.00) ~ put 1/2 c in 2 cups of water and spray all over yourself before bed, or after bath, drying off, of course & leave it on. That amount lasts for weeks. It’s much cheaper than the mag oil and can be used in any body orifice! Our manic depressive son’s all-over-skin irritations from years of meds was gone in a week. My 72 year old skin is growing hair. For full benefits, google “sodium bicarbonate benefits” ~ a pdf of unparalleled help!

  41. bonnie brauer says

    To make it clear, the spray bottle of magnesium chloride flakes lasts for weeks, & there is still plenty of flakes left to mix in the next batch!

  42. Joyce Moore via Facebook says

    As a massage therapist I’m always telling clients & students about the benefits of epsom salts. They’ve been around forever and they still work..

  43. Heather Muñoz via Facebook says

    We have a salt water pool in our community and feel amazing after swimming. Is this a similar effect?

  44. Danielle Corrick via Facebook says

    Salt water pool will not have the same effect as it’s the magnesium in the Epsom salt that is so good. Correct?

  45. Jeff says

    Another good source of inexpensive Epsom salt is from a local feed store. It often runs about $.40 per pound and if you can find it nearby there are no shipping costs. It generally only comes in 50 pound bags but if these baths are a regular part of your routine it adds up to significant savings.

  46. Yeongyi Suen via Facebook says

    I just bought 6 lbs yesterday. 3 lbs for me, 3 lbs for the garden. It’s good for roses and peppers

  47. Holly Helzer O'Neal via Facebook says

    Google to find a local “feed” store. I got a big bag for crazy cheap and split with a friend.

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