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What are Epsom Salts?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Epsom salts are made up of a naturally occurring mineral that is found in water. More properly known as magnesium sulfate, the substance derives its popular name from the town of Epsom, England, where the compound was first distilled from water. The chemical formula is a rather simple one: MgS04-7H2O.

These salts are easily obtained at any drug store or supermarket. Inexpensive and versatile, the salts can be used for a number of different applications around the home. Many of the applications have to do with expediting healing, as well as improving the quality of the skin and helping with basic grooming.

Perhaps the most popular application is using these salts in a bath. As an ideal means of relieving stress at the end of a hard day, two cups of Epsom salts in a tub of hot water can help to soothe jangled nerves and restore a sense of well being. This one application makes these salts a staple in many bathrooms around the world.

Cleansing is also a common use for Epsom salts. Many people make use of it to exfoliate skin, applying a paste of Epsom salts with a little water to the skin, then rinsing with clean warm water. Homemade masks that help with oily skin can be created, using the salts as the base ingredient. Along with the salts, the mask requires a small amount of lemon juice, an egg, and a small amount of nonfat dry milk. In situations where there is not time to wash hair, Epsom salts can be used to partially clean the follicles, making it easier to comb and set the hairdo.

Treating minor sprains and bruises with Epsom salts is also thought to be very effective. A simple bath applied to the area of the sprain or the bruise will provide relief to the impacted area, helping to reduce swelling and minimize the soreness. Immersing the area in warm water and salts for twenty to thirty minutes not only provides physical relief from the ailment, but also can be refreshing for the mind as well.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including TheHealthBoard, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By anon940739 — On Mar 19, 2014

Where can I buy Epsom salts in Pangasinan, Philippines?

By anon338968 — On Jun 19, 2013

We do not have a bathtub so how can I take an Epsom salt bath?

By anon290360 — On Sep 09, 2012

I came here because a friend of mine recently lost her gallbladder and I'm doing my research on how to cleanse mine. I am not convinced by the claims yet and I have yet to try the rituals I've come across but hopefully they'll do something good!

By anon281735 — On Jul 25, 2012

A warning to Post53: It is not true what they claim: by drinking epsom salt and olive oil, liver/gallbladder stones get discharged in forms of green-colored candle-like textured solids.

What you are doing to yourself by following their instruction is to promote diarrhea as Epsom salts are not to be taken in large amounts.

The green candle-like solids you discard are no more than solidified olive oil.

By anon265146 — On Apr 30, 2012

I have been going through a depressive state lately and felt such pressure in my head and spent my time crying. I was so worried the pressure would not leave my head, then I added some epsom salts to almond oil and massaged my head, left it for some 30 minutes, and added a little to my makeup remover too. Then I relaxed in a hot bath with epsom salts, letting my head soak from time to time in the water. It really worked magic and eased that terrible pressure and burning feeling in my head.

I have done it over and over almost every night since last week and feel much better.

By anon264689 — On Apr 29, 2012

I've tried using epsom salts effectively to remove a liver/gallbladder stone. The procedures are as follows:

1. Drink at least five to six glasses of apple juice for five consecutive days.

2. On the fifth day, don't eat your meal at night, but at exactly 6 p.m., dissolve one teaspoon of epsom salts in a glass of water and drink it. After two hours, at 8 p.m. on the fifth day, dissolve again one teaspoon in a glass of water then drink again.

3. After two hours, at 10 p.m., mix a half glass of olive oil with a half glass of squeezed Calamansi or lemon juice then drink it.

In the morning when you wake up, you will surely go to the toilet and will discharge a lot of gallstones colored green of different sizes and the texture is like a candle. It's very effective so you better try it instead of undergoing some sort of expensive medical operation. Good luck!

By anon262666 — On Apr 20, 2012

Where are epsom salts extracted from?

By anon262057 — On Apr 18, 2012

My teenage son has daily seizures, and meds don't help. I have read ingesting epsom salts 1/2 teaspoon a day can stop them because of the magnesium. If this is true why isn't everyone doing it? I understand the drug companies have nothing to gain (like money), but it has been 11 years and I'm just hearing about this now? Is it dangerous at all to try? Can anyone help us?

By anon257027 — On Mar 24, 2012

For my arthritis, I boil two tablespoons of epsom salts and two tablespoons of celery seeds in two cups of water. Then I simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the liquid and keep in fridge. I take one dessert spoon of this each morning before breakfast. It really seems to help.

By anon255095 — On Mar 15, 2012

Just had a relaxing ES bath and as we are shortly on water restrictions, I was wondering if the cold bathwater would have any adverse effects on my garden if I used it to water my plants. Anyone know?

By anon220380 — On Oct 07, 2011

Yeah, an Epsom salt bath is pretty darn amazing. To think mother nature has some of the best natural resources to help us stay healthy and relaxed. So, what are you waiting for? Go Buy Epsom Salts now!

By anon214128 — On Sep 13, 2011

Is epsom salt good for pre-planting green peppers?

By anon186026 — On Jun 14, 2011

I want to know if epsom salts are good to drink every day? I understand that it is a good laxative supplement. Are there any side effects other than a loose bowel?

By anon177335 — On May 18, 2011

Can Epsom Salts help hives?

By anon147672 — On Jan 30, 2011

Please can someone tell me if all Epsom Salts are safe to take internally as well as externally? Or is there a special grade of salt that you only use to drink? Thanks.

By anon136943 — On Dec 25, 2010

I am presently at Kolkata (India) and Please let me know from where I will got the epsom salt and what is the hindi version of epsom salt.

By anon128013 — On Nov 18, 2010

I relax in an ES bath every couple of days or so. I know I'm deficient in magnesium so this is one way to try redress the balance.

A study conducted by Birmingham University (UK) showed it absorbed readily through the skin and a by product of that study was that several of the over-60's who took part reported that rheumatic pains had been relieved.

One sign of having too much magnesium sulfate in your body is the laxative effect.

By anon126476 — On Nov 12, 2010

Where can I buy epsom salts in singapore? Can someone please help.

By anon106204 — On Aug 24, 2010

Taking an epsom salt bath helps with fibromyalgia pain too! It's also good for dry itchy skin, especially in the winter, and makes your hair very shiny as well. Soak on, everyone!

By anon92726 — On Jun 29, 2010

A teaspoon of Epsom Salts in cup of hot water and splash of lemon juice is my normal routine taken first thing in the morning to help aid bowel movement. I skip 2-3 days every so often so as not to allow dependency. Epsom salts cleanses the blood and is so very good for acne and boils.

By anon89061 — On Jun 08, 2010

I find epsom salt soaks are the great to help relieve hemorrhoids.

By anon87250 — On May 29, 2010

I will try epsom salt: if it's really works because I have a multiple cholelithiases. I just want to know when I will stop drinking the epsom salts? is it good for one day only?

By anon87093 — On May 28, 2010

where can i buy epsom salt? very urgent please.

Please send me your answer.

By anon84747 — On May 17, 2010

@15 wrong - pharmaceutical Epsom salt is mined from the ground.

By anon84208 — On May 14, 2010

can epson salts get rid of cyst in an ovary or mayuma?

By anon75031 — On Apr 05, 2010

Has anyone used Pepsom as a laxative with the Liver cleanse? I'm terrified to drink it but I have a colonoscopy in two days and was told to drink a solution with four tablespoons of Epsom salt with water, followed by olive oil and grapefruit to purge the intestines and detoxify the liver.

I refuse to drink the chemical solution the doctor prescribed. I figured if I have to do anything, it better be good for my body!

By anon70380 — On Mar 14, 2010

re: Some of the previous posts. Since skin is a living absorbent tissue. Whenever I take an epsom salts bath, I do find it relaxing but for some reason it always affects me like I've taken a laxative and sometimes I even get stomach cramps. I don't drink the stuff and don't put the crystals on my tongue as some others mentioned before me. Has anyone else had that problem?

By anon59162 — On Jan 06, 2010

I take epsom salts each morning before anything else. Just a 1/2 teaspoon to the back of the tongue and a quick glass of water and I don't even taste it. It relieves arthritic pain for me and doesn't purge or have any other side effects for me.

By anon57211 — On Dec 21, 2009

Cleanse your liver (a use for the Epsom salts). Eat a no-fat breakfast and lunch such as cooked cereal with fruit, fruit juice, bread and preserves or honey (no butter or milk), baked potato or other vegetables with salt only. This allows the bile to build up and develop pressure in the liver. Higher pressure pushes out more stones.

2:00 PM. Do not eat or drink after 2 o'clock. If you break this rule you could feel quite ill later. Get your Epsom salts ready. Mix 4 tbs. in 3 cups water and pour this into a jar. This makes four servings, ¾ cup each. Set the jar in the refrigerator to get ice cold (this is for convenience and taste only).

6:00 PM. Drink one serving (¾ cup) of the ice cold Epsom salts. If you did not prepare this ahead of time, mix 1 tbs. in ¾ cup water now. You may add 1/8 tsp. vitamin C powder to improve the taste. You may also drink a few mouthfuls of water afterwards or rinse your mouth.

Get the olive oil and grapefruit out to warm up.

8:00 PM. Repeat by drinking another ¾ cup of Epsom salts. You haven't eaten since two o'clock, but you won't feel hungry. Get your bedtime chores done. The timing is critical for success; don't be more than 10 minutes early or late.

9:45 PM. Pour ½ cup (measured) olive oil into the pint jar. Squeeze the grapefruit by hand into the measuring cup. Remove pulp with fork. You should have at least ½ cup, more (up to ¾ Ornithine 4 to 8, to be sure you can sleep. Don't skip this or you may have the worst night of your life!

Large plastic straw to help drink potion. Pint jar with lid (RECIPES 557 cup) is best. You may top it up with lemonade. Add this to the olive oil. Close the jar tightly with the lid and shake hard until watery (only fresh grapefruit juice does this).

Now visit the bathroom one or more times, even if it makes you late for your ten o'clock drink. Don't be more than 15 minutes late.

10:00 PM. Drink the potion you have mixed. Take 4 ornithine capsules with the first sips to make sure you will sleep through the night. Take 8 if you already suffer from insomnia. Drinking through a large plastic straw helps it go down easier. You may use ketchup, cinnamon, or brown sugar to chase it down between sips. Take it to your bedside if you want, but drink it standing up. Get it down within 5 minutes (fifteen minutes for very elderly or weak persons).

Lie down immediately. You might fail to get stones out if you don't. The sooner you lie down the mote stones you will get out. Be ready for bed ahead of time. Don't clean up the kitchen.

As soon as the drink is down walk to your bed and lie down flat on your back with your head up high on the pillow. Try to think about what is happening in the liver. Try to keep perfectly still for at least 20 minutes. You may feel a train of stones traveling along the bile ducts like marbles. There is no pain because the bile duct valves are open (thank you Epsom salts!). Go to sleep, you may fail to get stones out if you don't.

Next morning. Upon awakening take your third dose of Epsom salts. If you have indigestion or nausea wait until it is gone before drinking the Epsom salts. You may go back to bed. Don't take this potion before 6:00 am.

2 Hours Later. Take your fourth (the last) dose of Epsom salts. Drink ¾ cup of the mixture. You may go back to bed.

After 2 More Hours you may eat. Start with fruit juice. Half an hour later eat fruit. One hour later you may eat regular food but keep it light. By supper you should feel recovered. How well did you do? Expect diarrhea in the morning. Use a flashlight to look for gallstones in the toilet with the bowel movement. Look for the green kind since this is proof that they are genuine gallstones, not food residue. Only bile from the liver is pea green. The bowel movement sinks but gallstones float because of the cholesterol inside. Count them all roughly, whether tan or green. You will need to total 2,000 stones before the liver is clean enough to rid you of allergies or bursitis or upper back pains permanently.

The first cleanse may rid you of them for a few days, but as the stones from the rear travel forward, they give you the same symptoms again. You may repeat cleanses at two week intervals. Never cleanse when you are ill.

By anon52243 — On Nov 12, 2009

I have some table salt that I will throw out unless it is safe to soak in and has the same health benefits as epsom salt. Can you enlighten me if this is a good idea?

By anon46868 — On Sep 29, 2009

fern09. Thanks for suggesting Pepsom brand because I just tried it and I would never go back to the generic again. I got information on other great epsom salt uses from their website as well as other stores that carry it. Everyone should give this a try!

By anon43633 — On Aug 31, 2009

When I raised chickens as a world war two farmer Had some of them get sick and couldn't walk. I was told to put epsom salts in their water and it seemed to correct their paralysis. Can anyone tell me how that worked and how much to put in the water?

By anon38690 — On Jul 27, 2009

I have a friend and she and her husband take a teaspoon of Epsom salts in water every morning. What benefit or danger is this for them. Is this healthy?

By anon36873 — On Jul 15, 2009

The salts do not have any calcium in them. however magnesium sulfate does help your body absorb calcium from other sources more effectively.

By anon36642 — On Jul 13, 2009

is there any calcium in the salts?

By anon33940 — On Jun 14, 2009

Epsom salts can be eaten as a form of laxative. Although anon29927 states "magnesium oxide with sulfuric acid", but what s/he fails to realize is that all salts are formed by the neutralization of an acid and a base.

For that matter, Table salt is NaCL - NA - Sodium, which is explosive when dropped in water in its pure form, as well as extremely dangerous when it comes into contact with skin or inhaled; and CL, Chlorine, a poisonous and corrosive gas. Even though the constituents of this molecule are extremely hazardous in their individual states, they are extremely important to the human body in combined form.

Don't believe everything every internet users state- a half informed mind can be more dangerous than a completely ignorant one.

By anon30977 — On Apr 28, 2009

Does epsom salt cause salt build up in soil when used as fertilizer?

By anon29927 — On Apr 11, 2009

*Epsom salts* can't be eaten because they are prepared by the reaction of magnesium oxide with sulfuric acid.

By anon28162 — On Mar 12, 2009

are you my mother?

By fern09 — On Mar 10, 2009

I recently discovered a really neat soaking product! Since I see others here talking about epsom salts I thought I should mention my new found love of taking a hot epsom salt bath after a long day of work. A few weeks ago I was in Walgreens looking for a bandage for my knee when I stumbled upon a new epsom salt product called Pepsom Sports. It had a great spearmint scent and after a quick soak my knee was feeling much better. Plus it was only about $3.00 which was great for my wallet. Everyone should try out this wonderful and easy way to stress relief and ease pain. Happy soaking!

By bigjacky — On Feb 08, 2009

Can epsom salt be eaten?

By anon25883 — On Feb 04, 2009

Where can you buy epsom salt because i really need it?

By anon25092 — On Jan 23, 2009

the magnesium seeps through your pores into your skin and helps relieve pain and promotes tissue repair. the warm water also makes blood flow to the affected area (like feet) and promotes healing.

By noemi — On Jan 09, 2009

Can Epsom Salt be eaten?

By anon20331 — On Oct 29, 2008

Well, some people take Epsom salts as a laxative, but I am not sure I would want to eat this stuff.

By anon20178 — On Oct 27, 2008

Can Epsom Salt be eaten?

By anon19942 — On Oct 22, 2008

I've heard that epsom salts can be used as both a purgative and a diuretic, but I'm not sure it would be the best choice for either.

By anon19768 — On Oct 19, 2008

can it be used as a purgative?

By anon19101 — On Oct 06, 2008

Same for me. Epsom salts in the bath water seem to help me relax and I sleep better, even if the day was stressful. I also use epsom salts in hot water to soak my feet when they hurt.

By anon19082 — On Oct 05, 2008

Why is an epsom salt bath better than a regular bath? What effect does the salt have?

By solomonh — On Aug 09, 2008

I love taking an epsom salt bath, whether it's scented or not, it is so relaxing and my muscles really do feel better afterward!

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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