Homesteading: Epsom Salt

>> Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What exactly are epsom salts anyway? And how do you use them? These were some questions I had a few years ago when searching the aisles for some relief for my sore, tired muscles during a particularly tiring marathon training season. I settled on a lavender variety and didn’t ask many more questions, since the solution did its job in melting my pains away.

Fast forward to today, and I use epsom salt for far more than just foot soaks. And you should, too! Here are 10 ways to use epsom salt in your home and on your body. Feel free to leave your own ideas in the comments!


#1: Super Soaker

I’ll go with the obvious first. Sticking your tired, achey feet into a warm bucket with some epsom salts (I do 1/4 to 1/2 cup) is both soothing for your feet and good for rough skin. I love to make a habit of this once a week during the winter months. PS: We don’t do anything fancy -- just use one of those standard 5 gallon buckets.

#2: Restorative Bath

Not only will an epsom salt bath leave your skin feeling wonderful, it will also help replenish your stores of magnesium. That’s right! Epsom salt IS magnesium sulfate, and there’s no better way to absorb it than through your pores. Add 2 cups to your bath, soak for 15 minutes, and repeat 3 times each week for the maximum benefit.

#3: Ice Bath

I’m still not keen on ice baths, but Stephen loves them after his particularly hard workouts. He started adding 1 to 2 cups of epsom salt to aid with the anti-inflammatory goodness of the whole thing. So, if you’re into the deep freeze, give this method a try.

#4: Tile Cleaner

If you need a tough, but cheap bathroom cleaner, look no more! Epsom salt mixed with castile soap does the tough job for you without chemicals and other harsh additives. Just use equal parts epsom salt and castile soap -- maybe a couple splashes of water -- and scrub using one of those scour sponges.

#5: All-Purpose Remedy

Two tablespoons of epsom salt mixed with one cup of water can do wonders for bug bites, bee stings, poison ivy, and even sunburns. Soak a washcloth in this solution and apply it to the impacted area. For larger areas, you can also use a spray bottle or just bathe using the instructions above.

#6: Insomnia Cure

I’ve gone through bouts of insomnia throughout my life. Though I’ve never tried this method myself, I’ve read that taking a bath in epsom salts (as instructed above) can help tremendously with winding down. Add some essential oils to the mix or buy prepackaged mixes like this Dr. Teal’s Lavender variety. (I also love the Eucalyptus Epsom Salts, since that’s my all-time favorite scent.)

#7: Great Gardening

I came across a thread of green thumbs who swear by adding epsom salt to their gardens, especially for growing tomatoes. So, I did a little research and discovered that serious gardeners use epsom salts as a natural fertilizer to "speed up plant growth, increase a plants nutrient uptake, deter pests, increase flavor of fruit and veggies, plus increase the output of vegetation.”

#8: Water Magic

If you don’t have a garden, you can give any house plants a boost by adding epsom salt to your watering can. A little goes a long way, so just add a couple tablespoons. Then water as normally and see if you can observe a difference in the health of your plants. My mums are loving it.

#9: Volumizing Hair 

If you have oily, stick-straight hair like me, you can use any help you can get. You can use a little epsom salt in both your shampoo and conditioner for different treatments that fight the grease and even volumize. My favorite mix is simply half epsom salt, half conditioner for a nice deep conditioning treatment. Make sure to massage into your scalp, since that’s the real source of the grease to begin with.

#10: Healthful Spray

If you don’t have a tub or don’t like bathing (I kid!), you can try this awesome Sprayable Magnesium Oil made using epsom salts. Just combine equal parts epsom salt (or flakes) with water, heat in a pot to dissolve the crystals, and pour into a spray bottle. I added this tip last because I’m planning to make my own tonight -- I’ll report back soon! (You can also buy Magnesium Oil, and I’ve read many good things about Ancient Minerals.)

Do you incorporate epsom salt into your everyday routine?


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