Inside: The benefits of homemade bath salts for stress, growing pains and more, plus how to make them for yourself or to share as a beautiful, handcrafted gift.
Relaxation in a jar <– That’s how I’m labeling some of the homemade bath salts I’ll be giving away this year.
Not only are they an invitation to take a moment for yourself, they contain magnesium – the “Magic Mineral” that combats stress, supports detoxification and helps maintain healthy energy levels. Over the last hundred years our soil and water supply has undergone a rapid depletion of this vital mineral, leaving many of us deficient. Fortunately, because magnesium is easily absorbed through the skin, bath salts are an easy way to help replenish the body’s stores.
Magnesium baths help to relax achy muscles and also calm the mind by supporting the production of the neurotransmitter GABA, which is why they’re often recommended for soothing tired muscles, frazzled nerves, restless legs and growing pains. You can read all about the benefits of magnesium here.
Do magnesium baths really help with relaxation?
In my experience, absolutely. However, just like you can’t out-supplement a nutrient-poor diet, a one-time magnesium bath can’t replace consistent magnesium supplementation, either through regular baths or oral magnesium supplements. (More on supplementing with magnesium below!)
What kind of magnesium should I use?
Great question. There are two forms of magnesium used in bath salts – magnesium sulfate (epsom salt) and magnesium chloride. You can read all about the differences in this post on choosing the best magnesium supplements, but here’s the gist:
Magnesium sulfate (epsom salt) is cheaper than magnesium chloride, but is not absorbed quite as well and can cause problems for individuals with CBS gene mutation due to the sulphur molecule that is attached to the magnesium. I have the CBS mutation and experienced severe nausea after trying out a float tank that was filled with magnesium sulfate. However, I can handle small amounts just fine.
Magnesium chloride is more expensive but according to the NIH it has a higher percentage of magnesium and is therefore preferable to magnesium sulfate for quickly raising magnesium levels. (source)
Want to give some as a gift?
Bath salts can be a super simple blend of magnesium and essential oils, or they can incorporate dried flowers such as calendula, rose petals and/or lavender blossoms to add beauty and additional therapeutic benefits. I’ve included some tips for packaging baths salts as a gift at the bottom of this post.
Homemade Bath Salts Recipe
* It used to be thought that epsom salts alone would disperse essential oils throughout the water, but more recently it has been observed that they sometimes clump together on the surface where they can encounter skin undiluted. For that reason, it’s now recommended to add a dispersant to the recipe in order to ensure that they are well diluted throughout the water. Solubol, which is made in France from natural ingredients, works best.
However if you don’t want to buy it, you can add the essential oils to 1.5 tablespoons of liquid castile soap and pour it directly into the bath while the water is running. Adding essential oils to castile soap and then mixing with magnesium is not recommended because – depending on your water type – it may react with the magnesium and water in a way that prevents all of the magnesium from dissolving in the bath.
- 3 tablespoons calendula petals – You can use what you have left over to make soothing calendula oil or
- calendula salve
- 3 tablespoons rose petals
- 3 tablespoons lavender blossoms
Add the essential oils to the Solubol and mix thoroughly, then blend with the epsom salt/magnesium chloride. Add in flowers if using, spoon into an airtight container, and store out of direct sunlight.
Fill bath with water, add 1 – 1.5 cups bath salt, and swish with your hand until dissolved. Soak for 20-30 minutes.
Suggested Expiration Date
Epsom salts will stay good indefinitely. However the fragrance and potency of the essential oils may fade after about 6 months.