What is Epsom Salt: History, Origins, and Uses

Regardless of its name "Epsom salt", it's not an actual salt that should be used in the kitchen. There are so many health benefits and health claims attached to Epsom salt, it's no wonder people are always quick to add it to their cart whenever they go shopping.

However, do you know exactly what it does, or you are just following the bandwagon?

This article is focused on everything about Epsom salts, and why you'll need to use them in moderation as well.

What is Epsom Salt?

What is Epsom Salt

Epsom salt is a naturally occurring pure mineral salt that's composed of magnesium and sulfate. It's called "Epsom salt" because of its chemical structure, and the name "Epsom" was derived as a result of where they are found. Epsom is a place in England, where Epsom salt was supposedly discovered first.

What is the Chemical Composition of Epsom Salts?

Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) also known as bitter salt, is a chemical compound made up of magnesium, sulfate, and oxygen.

Where is Epsom Salt Found in Nature?

Epsom is a rural community in England, where Epsom salts are found in natural springs.

Brief History of Epsom Salts

Epsom salt is named after the town of Epsom in England, and these salts were naturally gotten by boiling the mineral water that glided through. So, in essence, Epsom salt shouldn't be considered a salt, but a naturally occurring mineral compound of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen.

According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, it was first discovered in 1618 by a local cowherd in "Epsom Common" whose cattle refused to drink from a particular spring.

Upon careful observation, he realized that the water had an extremely bitter taste, plus it left a residue when evaporated. He also realized that the animals that took their baths in the water had a faster healing rate than the others.

After a while, the news began to spread, and people started coming to partake in the health benefits. People who came benefited from its laxative effects, while it was beneficial to others in relieving muscle soreness.

In the 1690s, it was named by a British anatomist and physiologist Dr. Drew, where he documented these "bitter purging salts" as Epsom salt. Soon after, he acquired a patent for the exclusive manufacturing of Epsom salts.

Where Did Epsom Salts Originate From?

Epsom salts originate from a rural community in Surrey, that's 15 miles southwest of London, within proximity to the town of Epsom.

How Are Epsom Salts Made?

How Are Epsom Salts Made

Unlike other salts, Epsom salts cannot be made in the lab, because it's one of the many naturally occurring minerals. Magnesium sulfate can only be obtained from the main source.

Epsom salts can be made by evaporating water from lakes that have a high percentage of magnesium sulfate.

How Does Epsom Salt Work?

How Does Epsom Salt Work?

When dissolved in water, Epsom salt dissolves and forms two minerals; magnesium and sulfate. The theory behind this is that soaking in an Epsom salt bath allows the minerals (magnesium and sulfate ions) to get absorbed into the skin.

Epsom salt baths have been proven to help relax muscles and provide relief to sore joints. For example, dissolving Epsom salt in warm water and taking a long soak, can help relax the muscles surrounding the skull, and this will help in treating headaches.

Remember that Epsom salt also known as magnesium sulfate is different from table salt, hence it shouldn't be used in cooking.

Although the scientific evidence surrounding the benefits of Epsom salt is a bit limited, however, it's still serving as natural remedies to individuals, hence why people are convinced of its profound health benefits.

What Epsom Salts Can Be Used For?

What Epsom Salts Can Be Used For?

Epsom salts have lots of health benefits, however, it isn't limited to that. Let's go over the other benefits of Epsom salts researchers were able to discover.

Beauty Benefits

Do you know that extracted Epsom bath salts can be used as exfoliators for the skin? You can make use of Epsom salt to exfoliate and clean your skin, leaving it soft and plump.

Epsom salt is best used when dissolved in water; as it'll help promote the regulation of neurotransmitters that enhance the quality of your sleep through relaxation. The best way to achieve this is soaking in Epsom bath salt before bed time.

Most people use Epsom salts to prepare foot soak that'll get rid of fungus and foot odor. You can also incorporate Epsom salts into your hair care regime, as they'll be helpful in removing residues of hair products like spray and gel. It's recommended that you make use of it before using your shampoo.

If you have any insect bites, using Epsom salts will be effective in relieving the itching.

Home/Gardening Benefits

You can use Epsom salt to get rid of gunk and dirt build up in your washing machine. Also, if the floors in your home are tiles, use Epsom salt as a detergent, as this will keep it sparkling for a long period.

Putting Epsom salts at all the entry points in your home, including the windows will keep slugs away from your space.

Epsom contains magnesium and sulfate, and these minerals are essential for the growth and survival of plants. So, fertilizing your plants every morning with Epsom salt will keep them fresh and enable them to grow better.

If you have a lawn in your home, and you are wondering how to keep the grass greener, save yourself the stress of getting lawn experts, and pour a reasonable amount of Epsom salt all over the lawn. Epsom salt contains magnesium, which is a key element in the chlorophyll molecules found in plants.

You can also use Epsom salts as insecticides; sprinkle it all over your garden to get prevent insect pests from ruining your plants.

What Are the Benefits of Epsom Salt?

What Are the Benefits of Epsom Salt?

The health benefits of Epsom salt are numerous, and that's why it's still increasing in popularity. It serves as natural remedies for different symptoms.

Some people even go as far as drinking it for its laxative benefits, although you'll need to be careful, so you don't complicate your symptoms, as an overdose of magnesium might lead to heart problems.

According to the Epsom salt council, if you must use Epsom salt for ingesting or soaking purposes, make sure it's marked as "USP" and has a 'Drug Facts" tag on its package. This will indicate that's FDA-approved and safe for consumption.

For athletes who work out a lot, Epsom salt not only helps with muscle aches but helps the body use up glucose and lactic acid. With just a sprinkle of Epsom salt in your hot tub, you'll feel a lot better after your workout session.

Other health benefits of Epsom salt bath include;

  • Home treatment for arthritis and swelling of the muscles/joints

  • Regulate blood sugar levels

  • The active ingredients in Epsom salt makes it a detoxifying agent

  • Reduces your stress levels

  • Reduces soreness from diarrhea

  • Provides relief from constipation

  • Helps soothe aches and ailments

How to Use Epsom Salt?

You can utilize Epsom salt in different ways, according to your purpose. However, before using Epsom salt, see your doctor for approval, especially if you are currently on any medical prescription.

Let's update you with information on how to get the best out of Epsom salt;

As A Body Wrap

If you are experiencing pain or swelling in any part of your body, Epsom salt can help provide relief, plus it's safe to use. Pour about two tablespoons of Epsom salts inside 3 litres of warm water. After it's fully dissolved, saturate a small towel with the water and position it on the affected area. Leave it for about 30 minutes, and repeat the same process twice a day.

To Treat Open Wounds

Before trying this out, make sure you speak to your doctor first.

Epsom salt can be applied to a superficial wound, as long as it's not a very deep and open cut. Dissolve two tbs of Epsom salt in warm water and saturate it with a clean towel. Put it directly on the wound, and apply a little pressure. Let it sit for about 20 minutes before removing the towel.

As an Epsom Salt Bath

As an Epsom Salt Bath

This is the fastest way to enjoy the soothing benefit of Epsom salt because your body is directly absorbing its magnesium and sulfate properties.

Add about 6 cups of Epsom salt into your hot tub filled with warm water, and allow it to dissolve completely. Soak your body for about 30 minutes, and let the part of your body that hurts the most stay longer in the water. This a quick recovery solution for pain, and even doctors recommend an Epsom salt bath once in a while.

As a Laxative

Epsom salts can be ingested as laxatives or a magnesium supplement. For adults, it's recommended to take 10-30 grams per day, and for kids, 5 grams is enough.

However, you need to do your research as not all brands produce FDA-approved magnesium sulfate. If you don't have the consent of your doctor, never consume more than the stipulated dosage, not only would it hurt your stomach, but it can also cause severe complications.

Does Epsom Salt Have Any Side Effects?

Taking excess magnesium sulfate is classified as food poisoning, and it might result in a medical condition called "hypermagnesemia" which might lead to death.

Other effects of consuming more than the needed dosage of magnesium sulfate include;

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Heart problems (irregular heartbeat)

  • Headache

Conclusion

Epsom salt is listed as one of the most popular home remedies for treating different health conditions. While it's true that researchers have not been able to find concrete evidence linked to these reported benefits, a quick Epsom salt bath will make you a believer.

It's important to note that Epsom salts are safe and won't cause you any harm when added to your bath water. Also, with constant usage, you'll definitely see positive results.

FAQs

1. What is the Difference Between Epsom Salt and Sea Salt?

Epsom salts contain magnesium and sulfate, while sea salt contains sodium chloride and other trace minerals. Plus, unlike sea salt, Epsom salt is not actually salt.

2. Is Epsom Salt Natural?

Yes, Epsom salt is naturally occurring and it's composed of oxygen, magnesium, and sulfate

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