What’s So Great About Bath Salts?
Bath salts, also known as Epsom salts, are made by soaking dry magnesium sulfate (sea salt or Epsom salt) in warm bath water. As with any other soak, you want to take your time and be gentle. People have used bath salts for centuries as a relaxation treatment. They can also be used for sports such as massage and chiropractic adjustments.
Although bath salts aren’t technically “self-care” products, they do make excellent gifts for anyone who enjoys relaxing in the bath. They also make great gifts for the whole family. In fact, bath salts have become so popular that many specialty stores sell gift sets, usually with a dozen different kinds of bath salts. They’re also easy to make as well. Here’s how:
Soaking is easy – just soak for at least 12 minutes. Be sure to include at least 12 minutes of undisturbed time in the shower, too. Most importantly, be careful to gently massage your scalp while soaking. Dead sea salts and Epsom salts contain high levels of magnesium, selenium and zinc, all of which are known skin relaxants. They also soothe inflammation, ease redness and heal irritation.
Next, add a few drops of essential oils. Most essential oils are non-irritating, which makes them great choices for soaking. A few to start with are lavender, chamomile, geranium, sandalwood and Rosemary. It’s best to experiment with a couple different essential oils to see which one gets the best results. If you’re using running water when soaking, add about half a cup of extra running water to the mix for even greater moisture.
When it’s time to rinse out the bath salts, use running water as opposed to soap. Soap tends to dissolve faster. Adding running water afterwards speeds up the process. If necessary, pour out as much of the salt and soaking solution as possible and rinse again.
One of the key things to keep in mind is that herbs do not react to each other. To get the most benefits from bath salts, mix together equal parts of dried herbs and water. If using fresh herbs, soak them overnight and add enough hot water to cover them by the next morning. Pour out the solution into a container. This gives you the exact amounts of herbs for use in your recipes. Or, purchase pre-measured mixes of bath salts that you can just measure out into a measuring cup.
Herbs used with bath salts provide natural healing, too. Lavender, chamomile, and Rosemary oils are excellent for relieving skin aches and pains and soothe tired muscles. Peppermint has similar effects for an energizing “smelling” sensation. A tea made with the roots of these herbs mixed into hot water can help with muscle aches as well. Cinnamon and cardamom offer anti-inflammatory properties that ease muscle pain or inflammation. And clove oil, when applied topically, offers relief from sunburn and other irritations.
Using bath salts in their proper combination can produce many positive health benefits. Just remember that essential oils and herbs have their own properties and should be used with caution. Essential oils may affect your body in a negative way or interact with other substances you may be taking. Always speak to a qualified professional before adding any new products to your diet. And don’t forget to keep your bath salt ingredients handy; you never know when you’ll need them!
To buy bath salts or make your own, buy a good quality essential oils or herbal products. There is nothing worse than making a batch of bath salts only to find out your recipe didn’t work for you. Always use quality products that the labels indicate that they are made with a concentration of 15% or higher. Look for Epsom salt or sea salt. They are both excellent natural ingredients for bath salts.
The main ingredient in bath salts – magnesium sulfate – has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. You should also stay away from products that contain magnesium sulfate. That’s because it causes tissue death in the cells of your body. The nice thing is that magnesium sulfate is excreted in your sweat and leaves behind a compound of sulfates called sulfate crystals. This powdery substance is what makes your skin feel smooth and soft.
Some bath salts are not actually composed of magnesium sulfate, but of other mineral substances. The main active ingredients in coarse sea salt and Epsom salts are magnesium and sodium ions. Other salts are made from copper, sulfur and sodium, while still others are made from zinc and tin. If the main active ingredient in your product is not one of those mentioned, you might want to check out its composition. There are a lot of other types of minerals out there that are more appropriate for your skin.