By Kim Robson
On Green-Mom, we’ve discussed salt and its many various health and household uses. Epsom salt is the common name for magnesium sulfate, an extremely versatile household product, with many helpful applications ranging from providing DIY spa treatments to soothing sore muscles to fertilizing soil. Epsom salt has been around for hundreds of years, but it’s currently gaining new fans who have been looking for natural, inexpensive alternatives to overpriced store products in wasteful packaging. Epsom salt is safe, easy to use, available at any grocery or drug store; and it costs next to nothing.
The elements magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen combine to make magnesium sulfate, a salt which can help improve health in numerous ways. Up to 78% of Americans don’t get the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium, which helps regulate the activity of more than 300 enzymes in the body. Magnesium deficiency can contribute to high blood pressure, hyperactivity, heart problems, and other health issues. Sulfur is essential for many biological processes, helping to flush toxins and form proteins in joints, brain tissue and mucin. Doctors recommend soaking in an Epsom salt bath as a safe, easy way to increase the body’s levels of magnesium sulfate.
I’ve long enjoyed soaking in a hot bath with a couple cups of Epsom salts to relax tired muscles. Epsom salt works by drawing toxins from the body, and it is also a mild sedative to the nervous system. No wonder it’s so relaxing! When magnesium sulfate is absorbed through the skin, such as in a bath, it draws toxins out of the body, soothes the nervous system, reduces swelling and relaxes muscles. An Epsom salt bath leaves your skin feeling soft, too, as it is a natural emollient and exfoliator. Here are some other uses for Epsom salt in your home spa:
· Foot Soak: Soothe aches, remove odors, and soften rough calluses with a foot soak. Add 1/2 cup of Epsom salt to a large pan of hot water. Soak feet for 20-30 minutes. Rinse and dry. Or try an Epsom Salt Peppermint Foot Scrub!
· Homemade Bath Salts: A mason jar of pretty, fragrant homemade bath salts makes a wonderful gift. They’re very easy to make with Epsom salt, food coloring, and essential oil.
· Splinter Remover: Soak in Epsom salt for 10 minutes. The salt will draw out the splinter.
· Facial Cleanser: Mix a half-teaspoon of Epsom salt with your regular facial cleanser. Massage into skin and rinse with cold water.
· Homemade Skin Mask: For normal to oily skin, mix 1 tablespoon of cognac, 1 egg, 1/4 cup of non-fat dry milk, the juice of 1 lemon, and a half-teaspoon of Epsom salt. For normal to dry skin, mix 1/4 cup of grated carrot, 1-1/2 teaspoons of mayonnaise and 1/2 teaspoon of Epsom salt. Apply the mask to damp skin. Let sit for 15 minutes and wash off.
· Skin Exfoliator: Massage Epsom salt onto wet skin, starting with your feet and continuing upwards towards the face. Take a bath to rinse it off.
· Remove Excess Oil from Hair: Epsom salt soaks up excess oil from hair. Add 9 tablespoons of Epsom salt to 1/2 cup of shampoo. Apply one tablespoon of the liquid to your hair when it is dry; rinse with cold water. Pour lemon juice or organic apple cider vinegar through hair, leave on for 5-10 minutes, then rinse.
· Remove hairspray: Combine 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of lemon juice, and 1 cup Epsom salt. Combine, cover and let sit for 24 hours. The next day, pour the mixture into your dry hair and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then shampoo as normal.
· Hair volumizer: Combine equal parts of deep conditioner and Epsom salt. Warm in a pan. Work the warm mixture through your hair and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse.
The Epsom Salt Council has an excellent website brimming with ideas for using Epsom salt. In addition to the above uses for health and beauty, Epsom salt also improves the quality of your garden’s soil. The minerals help improve phosphorus and nitrogen uptake, resulting in more and larger yields. Simply add the appropriate amount of Epsom salt to water. Different plants, trees, and shrubs will need different amounts. Click here for specifics.
I bet you never thought of using Epsom salt in arts and crafts, did you? Epsom salt has different qualities than sugar for use in crafts. Epsom salt has larger granules for texture, and light reflects off it better. Also, fresh Epsom salt crystals have high water content, so when the translucent crystals are exposed to air, they begin to dry and turn white. This natural process can occur in about a week. So, you may want to decorate a glass luminary with translucent crystals, but prefer white crystals for paper snowflakes. Some craft ideas:
· Make shimmering “frosted” votive candle holders by coating glass luminaries in Mod Podge and rolling outsides and rims in colored Epsom salt. Let dry. Finish with a clear sealant.
· Make greeting cards, snowflakes, or fridge art by using colored Epsom salt just as you’d use sprinkles and glue.
· Paint the tops of fall gourds with Mod Podge and sprinkle with Epsom salt for an “early frost” effect.
· Make winter-themed sparkly “snowballs” by painting Styrofoam balls in Mod Podge and rolling in Epsom salt. Use the snowballs to make festive snowmen!
· “Frost” your windows with a mixture of light-colored beer and Epsom salt. Great fun for the kids, they can draw pictures or words in the “ice frost,” which lasts for up to three weeks.
· Make sparkly colored Easter eggs by coating plastic pull-apart eggs with Mod Podge and rolling in colored Epsom salt.
So, next time you see that humble carton of Epsom salt under your bathroom counter, pull it out and start enjoying the many, many benefits it offers to mankind.