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From Body to Garden, How to Use (And Not Use) Epsom Salts

Known for soothing aches and pains, people have been using Epsom salts for years topically on the body, ingested as a supplement, and even as a gardening secret ingredient (spoiler alert: don’t!). Most people use Epsom salts without even knowing what it truly is, so I’m breaking down some of the common myths, best uses, and Epsom salt benefits you can utilize at home.

glass vase with oatmeal bath ingredients inside

Epsom salt was first discovered in England during the 17th century. People soon realized there was something very special about it! Fast forward to today, and you can find it at just about any pharmacy or grocery store.

Chances are, you’ve used Epsom salts before in the bathtub, whether that was due to advice from a doctor, massage therapist, or your mom. If you are like me, at the beginning, you probably had no idea why you were doing so or what those magical crystals even were.

Today, I want to break down some of the most common uses and benefits of Epsom salt, as well as debunk some myths surrounding the use of Epsom salts in the garden. When properly used, it can be a really great ingredient to have in the home!

This post will cover…

Pretty Peony Bath Epsom Salts Recipe

What is Epsom Salt?

Epsom salt gets half its name from where it comes from and the other half from its chemical structure. These salts are originally found in the town of Epsom in England, where the mineral waters are very rich in Epsom salts.

And while it does have salt in the name, it’s very different from table salt. Only the chemical structure is similar.

A chemical compound, Epsom salt is made of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. Hence, it’s also known as magnesium sulphate. Magnesium is key to the success of Epsom salts and why it makes people feel good. Most people do not get enough magnesium in their diet.

While you can technically eat it, most people use Epsom salts externally as a bath salt. It dissolves right in the water and is used to treat many ailments. It’s easily found at grocery and drug stores in either the pharmacy or cosmetic sections.

epsom salts for the bath

Epsom Salt Uses

Magnesium and sulphate can be absorbed through the skin, meaning you do not need to consume them to get all the Epsom salt benefits. However, you can apply it both topically or take it as a magnesium sulphate supplement or even as a laxative.

As the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, humans require quite a bit of magnesium but few get enough of it. Adding Epsom salt to your regular routine can help you boost your mineral intake. While the best way to enhance your magnesium intake is by ingesting it, Epsom salt baths can help.

I use magnesium as the base in many of my bath salt recipes. Combined with herbs and essential oils, my baths become very therapeutic as well as enjoyable to the senses.

I also apply magnesium topically in this magnesium lotion to help soothe aches and pains before going to bed. It really has helped and remains one of my most popular recipes as others have found the benefits of adding magnesium to their routine.

While there have been few studies as to whether or not magnesium can actually be absorbed through the body, I can only speak from personal experience. It definitely does the trick for me and I have made it a part of my daily routine.

Epsom Salt Benefits

So what happens when you use Epsom salts and up your magnesium intake?

Boosts Sleep

Sleep, something we could all use more of I’m sure, can be enhanced by getting enough magnesium. The mineral helps to produce neurotransmitters in the brain that reduce stress and stimulate sleep. Likewise, low magnesium levels can result in poor sleep quality.

Relieve Aches and Pains

Many people also use Epsom salt to help with muscle aches and even relieve cramping. In fact, athletes will often soak in Epsom salt baths after exercising as part of their recovery. Lots of magnesium in the body helps your body use lactic acid and glucose.

In addition to helping muscles relax, magnesium sulphate also helps to reduce pain and swelling. Many people who suffer from arthritis and fibromyalgia use Epsom salt baths to help with their pain management. This is why I also highly suggest my magnesium lotion to help with all kinds of aches and pains.

Helps Ease Constipation

What people don’t talk about as often is how much it helps with constipation. Drawing water into your colon, magnesium sulphate helps to encourage bowel movements. For this effect, you want to take it orally rather than absorb it topically. An FDA-approved laxative, 2-6 teaspoons dissolved in water should do it!

Lavender Bath Salts Mason Jar

Epsom Salt in the Garden

When it comes to using Epsom salts for plants, there are a lot of recommendations for it on the internet and social media. People tote it as their best-kept gardening secret or miracle cure they learned from their grandma. Whether or not you should use it has turned into quite a divisive topic.

And I hate to be the one to burst your Epsom salt bubble, but I would not recommend using it in the garden. Here’s why.

Blossom End Rot

One of the most common things people like to say about Epsom salts is that it helps to prevent and stop blossom end rot. This can be caused by a lack of calcium in the plant and its inability to pull enough from the soil. As we now know, Epsom salt is a fancy word for magnesium sulphate. No calcium whatsoever.

In fact, adding magnesium to the soil can actually hurt your plant when it has a calcium deficiency. The magnesium and calcium ions in the soil compete to get into the plant.

It’s actually very rare to have calcium deficiency in the garden. Blossom end rot is most commonly from improper watering. Always water at the base of the plant so it gets deep into the soil.

Pests and Diseases

Some people also claim that mixing Epsom salt in water and applying it to plants can help eliminate all kinds of pests and diseases. In reality, there’s no real evidence to support this.

When it comes to pests and diseases, there is no blanket solution. You can learn more about different natural pest control methods here.

Aphid infestation


In very rare cases, you can use Epsom salt as fertilizer. It’s a soluble method of adding magnesium and sulphur to the soil. But most home gardens are not deficient in these two minerals. Typically, only very acidic and sandy soils for commercial crops would require this.

Most of the time, gardens are deficient in macronutrients such as phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium. While people say that Epsom salts can make your roses bloom more, result in fruit bigger and more prolific, and result in lusher gardens, most of these are typically associated with macronutrients rather the magnesium sulphate.

Since it’s so water-soluble, using magnesium sulphate in the garden when you don’t need it can actually pollute groundwater.

Frequently Asked Questions About Epsom Salt

How Does Epsom Salt Work?

Magnesium sulphate can be easily absorbed through the skin, increasing your body’s overall magnesium levels. Most people, especially those after exercise, take Epsom salt baths with the salt dissolved in the water and soak in it. This can help improve muscle function and pain in the body.

Magnesium sulphate can also be ingested for use as a supplement or laxative.

homemade bath salts

What Is Epsom Salt Good For?

Also known as magnesium sulphate, Epsom salt helps to increase the overall levels of magnesium in the body. Since most people are deficient in magnesium, increased levels of the mineral can help improve sleep, pain management, nerve and muscle function, and energy levels.

How Long Should You Soak in Epsom Salt?

To reap the benefits of an Epsom salt bath, you need around 2 cups of Epsom salts for the average-sized bath. Once fully dissolved, soak yourself in the tub for at least 15 minutes to receive the effects of mineral baths.

After your bath, keep well hydrated and try to relax for at least two hours. For this reason, an Epsom salt bath is best done in the evening once you’ve done everything you need to do for the day.

Making Peony Bath Salts

When Should You Not Use Epsom Salt?

Most side effects from Epsom salts result in oral use. If taken in extreme amounts, it can cause nausea, headaches, and lightheadedness. But if taken in the right amounts according to a package or doctor, you shouldn’t experience any intense side effects.

Epsom salts should not be consumed by pregnant women, children, and those with kidney conditions. If you’re ever unsure, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor first.

And of course, do not use them in the garden. They provide no real value to the average home gardener and can pollute groundwater.

Can Epsom Salt Help With Constipation?

It sure can! Epsom salt is actually listed as an FDA-approved laxative.

To use Epsom salt as such, dissolve 2-6 teaspoons into an 8-ounce glass of water. Drink the whole glass and you should experience laxative effects as soon as 30 minutes later upwards to 6 hours. Just make sure you’re using supplement-grade Epsom salt. You don’t want any of the cosmetic bath salts that have fragrance and colouring.

You may experience bloating and diarrhea, known side effects of consuming magnesium sulphate. Be sure to drink plenty of water to help reduce these symptoms. It also should not be a regular solution but an occasional laxative.

Lavender Bath Salts Handmade Gift Idea

I hope you have learned something new today, whether that’s the benefits of Epsom salts or to keep them out of the garden. Let me know if you have any more questions about using Epsom salts in the comments down below!

More Ways to Use Epsom Salts

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