Epsom Salt Bath: Easy Instructions and Variations for Added Relaxation

hand scoops out epsom salts with wooden spoon for relaxing bath time

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

  • Working Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 12 - 20 minutes
  • Estimated Cost: $0.25 per bath

Whether you're seeking relief from aches and pains, a way to melt away your stress and worries, or a soothing skin treatment to pamper yourself, an Epsom salt bath might just be the thing.

Epsom salt is a naturally occurring mineral with a reputation as a muscle relaxer. When dissolved in bathwater, its magnesium and sulfate ions are released, providing some surprising benefits. This simple ritual may help reduce stress, promote sleep, and generally relax you physically and mentally.

Making an Epsom salt bath is simple, and a few variations with natural ingredients you have around the house can make the already relaxing experience even more enjoyable.

What You'll Need


  • 2 cups Epsom salt
  • 20 to 30 gallons warm water


  • 1 standard size bathtub
  • Measuring cups


  1. Run a Warm Bath

    a white tile tub is filled warm water to take an epsom salt bath

    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    In a standard size bathtub, run warm water at a temperature between 92 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The water should be warm to the touch, but not too hot.

    Fill it as you would a normal bath—not quite overflowing or to the brim but with enough water for you to soak your body in, which is equal to about 20 to 30 gallons of water.

  2. Measure Out Epsom Salt

    hand scoops out measured epsom salts with wooden spoon for warm bath

    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    While the water is running, dip your measuring cup into your container of Epsom salts and measure out 2 cups total.

    If you purchase packaged Epsom salt with instructions, follow the amount that they specify for the best results.

  3. Sprinkle Epsom Salt Into Water

    hand holds wooden bowl of measured epsom salts above bathtub full of warm water

    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    Sprinkle your 2 cups of Epsom salt directly into your bathwater. You can either do this while the water is running, which will help it mix, or after it’s done. 

  4. Gently Stir Until Dissolved

    person uses hands to mix epsom salts into warm bath water in tub

    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    Use your hands to gently mix the salts with the warm water to help encourage the salts to dissolve. Mix your water and Epsom salts for about a minute. The water will look slightly cloudy with a white tinge. 

    As the Epsom salts will dissolve in the water, the compound will break down into magnesium and sulfate ions. The idea is that your skin can absorb these ions to take advantage of any potential health benefits.

  5. Soak

    woman lays in hot epsom salt bath with lit candles and washcloth over eyes

    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    Turn on some relaxing music, light a candle, and climb into your tub. Soak in the relaxing Epsom salt bath for about 12 to 20 minutes. 

    Once you’re finished and feeling soothed, pat yourself completely dry with a towel and drain your bath as you would with any other bath. Although you may feel a bit salty, resist the urge to rinse off after your Epsom salt bath so as not to wash away any magnesium on your skin. 

    Because the salts dissolved, they will drain easily without clogging up your plumbing.


Relaxing Epsom Salt Bath

dried lavender and dried chamomile in a woven basket are variations on epsom salt bath

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

To up your Epsom salt bath’s relaxation, add your favorite essential oil. Lavender and chamomile are known to have calming effects, which means they are great additions to an Epsom salt bath after a stressful day or as a sleep aid before bedtime.

Add about 20 drops of your preferred essential oil to your warm bath water after sprinkling in the Epsom salt, then mix it all together until the salt dissolves.

Epsom Salt Compress

epsom salts, essential oils, candles, and towels are supplies for an epsom salt hot compress

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

If you desire the relaxing effects of Epsom salts but don’t want to go through the process of taking a bath, make a warm Epsom salt compress.

In half a gallon of warm water, dissolve one cup of Epsom salt. Gently mix it all together for a minute to make sure the salt dissolves as much as possible. You can then soak a towel or washcloth in the mixture, wring out extra water, and apply the Epsom salt compress to your skin for 12 to 20 minutes.

Add 5 to 10 drops of your favorite essential oil for aromatherapy effects.

Epsom Salt Shower

showerhead blasting hot water for epsom salt shower with plant in background

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

Baths aren’t for everyone. If you prefer to take showers, you can still relax with Epsom salt.

To make an Epsom salt shower, simply sprinkle about one cup of Epsom salt around the bottom of your shower and take a shower with warm water as you normally would. As the warm water hits it, the Epsom salt will dissolve and release a soothing steam. Again, you can add a few drops of essential oil to make the experience even more relaxing.

Epsom Salt Foot Soak

woman soaks feet with lavender and epsom salts in a warm bath bowl

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

Foot soaks are a great way to relax after a long and stressful day, especially if you spent much of it on your feet. Soaking your feet in an Epsom salt bath once or twice a week will help you relax and soothe your aching feet. 

Make an Epsom salt foot soak by filling a bowl or bucket with warm water—enough to cover your feet up to your ankles, but not so much that it will overflow when you stick your feet in.

To the warm water, add about a half of a cup of Epsom salt and mix it around for a minute gently with your hands to dissolve it. You should be left with slightly cloudy water. Place your feet in the basin and soak them for up to half an hour to relax. 

After you’re finished with your Epsom salt foot soak, dry your feet with a towel. You can apply an exfoliating foot scrub and moisturize your feet to add to your DIY spa experience.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What's the difference between Epsom salt and table salt?

    Epsom salt comes from the naturally occurring magnesium sulfate mineral epsomite whereas table salt is made of sodium and chlorine.

  • What's the best ratio for an Epsom salt bath?

    The best ratio for an Epsom salt bath is two cups salt to 20 to 30 gallons of water, but if the salt package instructs differently, you should follow its instructions.

  • Is Epsom salt safe for drains?

    Too much salt can corrode pipes, but an occasional Epsom salt bath is virtually harmless.

View Article Sources
  1. Cho, Mi-Yeon, et al. "Effects of Aromatherapy on the Anxiety, Vital Signs and Sleep Quality of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Patients in Intensive Care Units." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013, 2013., doi:10.1155/2013/381381

View Article Sources
  1. Cho, Mi-Yeon, et al. "Effects of Aromatherapy on the Anxiety, Vital Signs and Sleep Quality of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Patients in Intensive Care Units." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013, 2013., doi:10.1155/2013/381381