Yes, an Epsom salt soak may bring images of the old great-aunt soaking her bunion-bound feet, but it’s a remedy whose efficacy shouldn’t be discounted. Epsom salt is made up of magnesium and sulfate, which have a surprising array of health and beauty benefits. The salt soak is a lost art whose time for revival has come. But beyond the classic Epsom salt bath, the inexpensive ingredient can be put to splendid use in a number of other ways as well. For starters:
1. Improve Overall HealthAccording to the National Academy of Sciences, American’s collective magnesium deficiency (a growing problem over the last 50 years) is partially to blame for high rates of heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, arthritis and joint pain, digestive maladies, stress-related illnesses, chronic fatigue and other ailments. Modern farming has depleted many minerals from the soil, including magnesium – and the standard western diet with its fat, salt and sugar actually abets depletion of the important mineral as well. Researchers say that soaking in an Epsom salt bath and absorbing the minerals through the skin is one of the easiest ways to increase the body's levels of both magnesium and sulfate. Use 2 cups of Epsom salt per bath, soak 3 times weekly for at least 12 minutes.
2. Treat Body AchesSulfate is important for joint and tissue function. Increasing the body's level can lessen discomfort from sports injuries, arthritis, sprains, strains, the flu and other aches. Use 2 cups of Epsom salt per bath, soak 3 times weekly for at least 12 minutes.
3. Fade BruisesTo lessen the appearance of bruises, make a compress by soaking a washcloth in cold water mixed with Epsom salt – use two tablespoons per cup – then apply to the skin.
4. Remove SplintersAccording to the Epsom Salt Council, Epsom salt increases osmotic pressure on the skin, which draws foreign bodies toward the surface. Dissolve one cup of Epsom salt in a tub of water and soak the affected area.
5. Natural Hair VolumizerFor big, bouncy hair, give it a volumizing mask by mixing one part hair conditioner to one part Epsom salt and work the mixture through your locks. Leave on for 20 minutes, rinse and style as usual.
6. Make a FacialBoost your the magnesium in your facial skin while also exfoliating and deep-cleansing by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of Epsom salt with cleansing cream. Massage on skin, rinse with cool water and dry.
7. Feed House PlantsHouse plants love the minerals in Epsom salt, feed them monthly by mixing in two tablespoons Epsom salt per gallon of water.
8. Grow Ginormous PumpkinsThe world's largest pumpkin, grown by pumpkin whisperer Ron Wallace, weighed in at 2,009 pounds. Wallace's secret weapon? Epsom salts. "People think that you use it for your feet but it's also a great form of fertilizer," said Wallace.
See more uses at the Epsom Salt Council.