Benefits Of Epsom Salt In Bath

Epsom salt: What is it?

What is Epsom salt? Is it like table salt? What is it used for? This article has all the answers to your questions.

It all started when Henry Wicker, a local cow herder was walking across the Epsom Common. This is when he came across a pool of water. His cattle did not drink from this water despite them being thirsty. The strange water tasted  bitter and formed a salt-like substance when it evaporated. This is when Epsom salt became popular and was used to relieve constipation during the 1618s.1

Epsom salt is made up of the chemical components magnesium, sulfur and oxygen - its chemical component is MgSO4. The name Epsom is obtained from the town Epsom in Surrey, England, where it was originally discovered.

Therefore - No! Epsom salt is not table salt. Table salt,  also known as sodium chloride, is made up of the elements sodium (Na) and chlorine (CL). The reason why it is called a salt is due to sharing the same physical characteristics as table salt. However, these two compounds are completely different and provide different benefits. 

Benefits of epsom salt in the bath

Epsom salt is widely used to ease minor health conditions such as muscle soreness or foot aches. Additionally, Epsom salt can be useful in cleansing the skin, as it naturally exfoliates the skin thus keeping it healthy. It can also provide the hair with more volume and shine. Furthermore, consuming food-grade  Epsom salt can relieve  constipation and keep the gastrointestinal tract healthy whilst enabling detox of the body.2

Difference in ‘food grade’ and non-food grade epsom salt

Epsom salt in different products are the same but there is a difference between the ‘food-grade’  and non-food grade salt. 

Food-grade Epsom salts are 100% natural and are formed naturally in underground deposits. These food-grade salts do not contain any additives, artificial ingredients and are not modified in any way. The food-grade Epsom salt has to meet the standard of the FCC.3

On the other hand, non-food grade Epsom salt may be produced in the factory and is definitely not edible. These salts are usually found in your local convenience store and are mainly used for bath rinses.

The reason why Epsom salt is so useful is due to its two major components magnesium and sulphur. These two components are essential minerals that enable favourable health. 

Magnesium: on its own, it is regularly used in our body. For example, magnesium is responsible for supporting our muscle and nerve functions. It also aids our energy production.4  Low levels of magnesium are not known to cause any risk to health. However, high levels of magnesium can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.4  Additionally, magnesium is a cofactor in helping enzymatic processes that is involved in protein and DNA synthesis, as well as aiding in the regulation of blood pressure and glucose levels. This also helps in detoxifying the body. Magnesium plays an important role in regulating nerve, muscle and heart functions. This is done by helping with the uptake of calcium and potassium.3

Sulphate: is a crucial part of the body as it is important for cell growth and for healthy development of the organism. It is a key factor in various biological processes such as biosynthesis and detoxification. This occurs through the sulfation of endogenous and exogenous compounds.5 Sulphur is a biological compound that usually occurs in the gut. It helps the gut release essential enzymes such as protease, lipase and amylase, all these enzymes help facilitate the digestion of food. Sulphate keeps the intestinal tract healthy and lubricated for smooth movement in the intestine. It also prevents intestinal bacteria from leaking into the bloodstream. Sulphates are also crucial for the prenatal development of brain tissue.3

The above minerals are naturally found and required in the body. Epsom salts cannot be consumed for these benefits.

What are the benefits of epsom salts?

The benefits are as follows:

  1. Epsom salts in a warm bath promote the detoxification of the body naturally. This process also helps promote healing and helps you to destress6
  2. Epsom salt soothes the skin. Its salt softens  rough, dry skin and naturally dead skin cells. Epsom salt also helps with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.6 It is important to consult your doctor before soaking in Epsom salt if you have a skin condition present, as it can also cause the skin to be irritated and make the condition worse
  3. Epsom salt is mainly popular for relieving soreness and pain. It may help with pain relief and reduce swelling. It is seen to be beneficial for  various types  of arthritis. Additionally, low magnesium levels  were shown to relieve pain in people with arthritis. Epsom salt contains magnesium which helps get rid of the toxins present in the body alongside reducing swelling, pain and stiffness6
  4. Reduction of stress. The magnesium in Epsom salt promotes brain neurotransmitters which enable a good night’s sleep. When the Epsom  salt dissolves in the bath, the magnesium component can also promote melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone). Individuals suffering from stress can find an Epsom salt bath grounding. Research has shown that people with mental health illnesses  and/or physical stress benefit when their magnesium levels are balanced.6 Despite the study looking at oral supplements, it is possible  that Epsom salt can have a similar effect. The effects of having a long bath can allow  a person to reduce muscle tension and refresh after a long day
  5. Epsom  salt has been observed to help soothe Athlete’s Foot and help treat ingrown toenails by helping the feet to heal faster. All you have to do is soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt. This helps the feet from itching and prevents foot odour
  6. Soaking your feet in Epsom salt and warm water enables the skin to become soft and also reduces any inflammation. This is particularly useful  when drawing out splinters

Other uses and benefits of epsom  salt

Epsom salt  can be utilised for various reasons. If you have food-grade Epsom salt you have to dissolve it in plenty of water. This can be used as a laxative for someone who is feeling constipated. However, anyone planning to use this method should consult their doctor first, in case you are on medication or have an underlying health issue.6

Epsom salt can help to:

  • Soothe inflammation
  • Ease itchiness
  • Ease the discomfort caused by  sunburn
  • It can help itchiness from poison  ivy
  • Bathing in the salt can reduce your stress levels
  • It can help promote recovery after exercise
  • It helps prevent magnesium deficiency
  • It can help the skin to be smooth, radiant and also enables health hair growth
  • It can help relax tired and aching feet
  • It can also help fertilise your garden

Side effects and other concerns

In general, Epsom salt is quite safe. It can help with relieving a lot of skin conditions. However, it is important to test it out before submerging yourself in it. The easiest way to test out the salt is by doing a patch test with the salt and water to see if there is any reaction to the skin. 

It is important to prevent having an Epsom salt bath when your skin is broken as it can cause it to burn, and may cause the abrasion to become worse. If you find yourself feeling itchy, or having an allergic reaction such as rashes or hives and a skin infection, please stop immediately.

It is also good to consult your GP before you take regular baths with Epsom salt.7


In summary, Epsom salts are  useful for removing  toxins from your body. It also helps the body physically and mentally. Epsom salt has food-grade and non food-grade versions.

Epsom  salts are also shown to have various effects on the body and in our environment. It is mainly effective when having a bath to ease inflammation from your feet and reduce muscle soreness. Epsom salt needs more research done on its benefits as the evidence for its benefits is limited. It is also important to check with your doctor about the effects of Epsom salt on your body before using it as physical therapy.


  1. Zimmerman E. A Brief History of Epsom Salt: What is it, Exactly? Why Do We Bathe In It? And, Really? People drink it?. Apartment Therpy; 2019
  2. Salt WI. Epsom Salt: 10 Benefits for the Bath and Other Uses.
  3. What is food grade epsom salt? [Internet]. The Salt Box. [cited 2022 Dec 29]. Available from:
  4. Pros and cons of taking a magnesium supplement [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. [cited 2022 Dec 31]. Available from:
  5. Markovich D. Physiological roles and regulation  of mammalian sulfate transporters. Physiological Reviews [Internet]. 2001 Jan 10 [cited 2022 Dec 31];81(4):1499–533. Available from:
  6. Epsom salt detox: Benefits and how it works [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2022 Dec 31]. Available from:
  7. Epsom salt bath: uses, benefits, and risks [Internet]. Healthline. 2018 [cited 2023 Jan 1]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Jolanda Roberts

Masters of Science- MSc Psychological Therapies in Mental Health, Queen Mary University of London
Bachelor of Science- BSc Psychology with Neuroscience

Jolanda is currently an Assistant Psychologist within the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. She has built a plethora of skills within research, hospitals and community settings. She is dedicated to spreading Mental Health Awareness among people from all backgrounds and is knowledgeable in applying theoretical concepts to real-life scenarios. In the future, Jolanda aspires to qualify as a Clinical Psychologist and provide the best holistic care to meet individual needs in a compassion-driven way.

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