Soaking in a warm bath is a time-honored way of relaxing and taking a few moments for yourself. Adding the health benefits of bath salts to your tub can really increase the effects it has on your physical and mental wellness.
There are lots of options when it comes to choosing the salts you want to try. You can go with sea salt or opt for the magnesium-rich Epsom salt. You can buy or make your own salt mix that has other ingredients like essential oils, herbs, or carrier oils.
No matter which type you choose, there's no doubt that bath salts are good for your body. Here's a look at the options to choose from and what their top benefits are.
Types of Bath Salts
Epsom salts are a very popular type of bath salt, although they aren't technically a salt at all. The salt-like crystals are made up of naturally occurring magnesium sulfate. They're named after a saline spring in Epsom, England. (1)
People have long used Epsom salts for all kinds of applications: beauty, health, household, and gardening. Their special power as a bath salt is the easy absorption of magnesium sulfate into your skin.
Magnesium is important for many functions in your body, including muscle and nerve function and the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. However, it's not easily absorbed as an internal supplement and can cause stomach upset.
Sulfates are substances that can help your body detox and may ease migraines.
Sea salts are produced naturally by the evaporation of salty sea water. Unlike table salt, sea salt is all-natural and minimally processed. It retains many trace minerals and nutrients that give it therapeutic properties for your body and skin.
One of the most popular sea salts is Dead Sea salt. It's harvested (no surprise) from the Dead Sea, which was once used by Cleopatra as a spa. Dead Sea salt is made up of sodium chloride with good amounts of magnesium, sulfates, and potassium.
Another popular type is grey bath salt. It's traditionally harvested from the Brittany region of France. Grey bath salt is unwashed and unrefined. It's low in sodium and filled with trace nutrients like iron, calcium, potassium, copper, and zinc.
Besides origin, your other choice to make for sea salt is texture. It's sold in a range from very fine grains to very large, coarse grains. Coarse grains tend to absorb essential oils better for bath mixes while fine grains blend well with herbs and are good for exfoliating skin.
Himalayan salt is harvested from the mountains of the Himalayas. It comes from ancient sea salt deposits that were protected by many layers of sediment from multiple volcanic eruptions. The many trace minerals it contains (up to 84) give it a lovely, pinkish hue.
Health Benefits of Bath Salts
One of the top benefits of bath salts is their ability to gently pull toxins out of your body. They help to detox your skin as well as deeper in your body. The trace minerals in sea salts and Himalayan salt can help to replenish your body as it detoxes.
Epsom salts are often the top choice for a detoxifying bath. The sulfates found in them help to flush out toxins, including heavy metals. You can also mix your salts together to get both the benefits of magnesium sulfate and the high mineral content of other salts.
Eases Soreness and Aches
Soaking in an Epsom salt bath is a tried and true way to ease muscle soreness, cramps, and other aches and pains. This is because magnesium plays an important role in healthy muscle function. It can even help with menstrual cramps and muscle spasms.
Sea salts can also be helpful for pain relief because of their mineral-rich nature. Dead Sea salt has often been used to help with the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.
Even when you don't have time for a bath, you can use this Muscle Mend salve that contains Epsom salt and other natural ingredients.
Soothing for Inflammation and Swelling
Besides pain, bath salts also have benefits for reducing inflammation and swelling. This could be skin inflammation like eczema and psoriasis or it could be internal swelling. Salt baths are a good tool to help certain injuries heal faster, although keep in mind that some injuries need cold treatment rather than hot.
For soreness and inflammation postpartum, try this Herbal Sitz bath blend with sea salt and soothing herbs.
Promotes Relaxation and Reduces Stress
If you enjoy taking baths, simply soaking in warm or hot water can reduces your stress levels. Adding in bath salts will help even more because they support proper nerve function and soothe your muscular system.
Many of the minerals and nutrients in bath salts support your mental and physical health and reduce tension. Magnesium is especially important because it gets drained when you're stressed. Replenishing your levels will help get your body back in balance and renew a sense of calm.
Aids Restful Sleep
Relaxing before you go to bed is sure to help you sleep better. This is something a salty bath can help with on more than one level. Not only will it calm your body and mind, but the minerals found in it have a soothing effect on your body.
Once again, it's magnesium that's the star of the show. It helps to regulate melatonin, which is a critical hormone for getting deep sleep. It also binds to GABA receptors in your brain, which can quiet down your nervous system so you can sleep. (2)
Evidence indicates that soaking in an Epsom salt bath will increase the levels of magnesium in your blood, so this might be the best option. (3)
Improves Energy Levels
While many people enjoy using bath salts to relax, they also have benefits for improving energy. The trace minerals that get absorbed through your skin can help with fatigue that comes from nutrient deficiency. Of course, getting better sleep will also build your energy over time.
Magnesium (again) is important for both energy and stamina. Soaking in salt water improves circulation as well, which will help your overall health and energy.
Hydrates and Soothes Skin
Bath salts have been used since ancient times for glowing, healthy-looking skin. In spite of the fact that salts are thought of as a drying agent, the mineral-rich varieties can actually improve hydration and relieve dry skin. They pull toxins and impurities out of your skin as well.
Bath salts are also recommended for certain skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. Both Epsom salts and sea salts can calm irritation and redness in skin, although everyone's skin will react differently.
Softens and Cleanses Skin
You're likely to leave a salty bath with softer and smoother skin, especially if you add in an exfoliating salt scrub. Fine sea salt is a great exfoliator and cleanser without being too harsh on your skin. The minerals in bath salts will also nourish your skin and help balance moisture levels.
Making Your Own Bath Salts
It's incredibly easy to get all the health benefits of bath salts at home. They are a perfect natural skincare ingredient and work wonders all on their own.
A Simple Salty Soak
You really only need bath salts and warm water to get a healthy and relaxing soak:
- Measure out 1/4 cup to 2 cups of bath salts (for a standard bath size) depending on how strong you want the salt level to be.
- Start running warm to hot water in the tub and add your salts.
- Swish the salts around with your feet or hands so they completely dissolve.
- Get in and soak for at least 15-20 minutes.
If you don't notice much happening after your bath, you may need to increase the amount of salt you use next time around.
DIY Bath Salts
There are many ingredients you can combine with bath salts to get an even more therapeutic effect. You can blend in herbs or essential oils for an aromatic bath. Or you can add in a moisturizing oil if you're struggling with dry skin. Oats, baking soda, and powdered milk are other options.
Essential Oil Infused Bath Salts:
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups of bath salts
- 20 to 25 drops essential oils
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon carrier oil
- Directions: Dilute the essential oils into your carrier oil before mixing them into your bath salts. Combine well and add to bath water.
Moisturizing Bath Salts:
- 2 cups Epsom salt (or sea salt)
- 1/2 cup olive oil or sweet almond oil
- Directions: Mix bath salts with oil in a bowl and add to your bath water. Be careful when getting out, since the oil may make your tub slippery.
Exfoliating Salt Scrub:
- 1 cup fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup oil: olive, coconut, almond, etc.
- 1-2 teaspoons honey (optional)
- 5-10 drops essential oils (optional)
- Directions: Mix all your ingredient together in a bowl. Take a small spoonful and gently massage into damp skin before rinsing clean. Store the rest in a clean glass container.
Have You Discovered the Benefits of Bath Salts?
Now that you know all about the benefits of bath salts, you have the perfect excuse to take a nice, relaxing bath. Besides enjoying it, you'll also support your body, calm your nervous system, and pamper your skin.
It's no wonder soaking in salty water has been a cherished activity since ancient times!