House & Home

12 Uses for Epsom Salt

Posted September 27, 2013 1:55 p.m. EDT

When I hear the words "Epsom salt," I think of those containers I see in the store and how you're supposed to add Epsom salt to a bath when you have aching muscles. So I got curious when I saw our friends on Hometalk discussing a variety of uses for Epsom salt. What exactly is Epsom salt, and how can you use it?

If you're thinking "salt," think again. It's actually magnesium sulfate, named for Epsom, England, where it occurs naturally in hot springs as a result of rock formations. Visitors used to flock to Epsom to "take the waters" in an era when people believed that mineral baths conferred health benefits, and ever since then, we've been adding Epsom salts to bath water when we're feeling sore.

However, it can be used for a lot more than easing muscle aches and pains, and with Hometalk as my inspiration, I put together a list of uses for Epsom salt that you might not know about. 

1. Clarifying hair rinse

Hometalk blogger Anne advises mixing one cup lemon juice, one cup Epsom salt, and one gallon water, leaving them to stand for 24 hours, and using the mix as a clarifying rinse. If you have product buildup that's making your hair lank, dry, greasy, and hard to style, clarifying rinses can really help breathe back life into your hair!

2. Gentle exfoliator

Rough skin? Make a paste with Epsom salt and water and use it to gently lift away dead skin and break down calluses. Be patient; you may need to exfoliate over days or weeks to completely smooth your skin, and you don't want to rush it. This technique is especially helpful on your hands, where calluses can built up if you spend time in the garden or on other projects that require getting dirty.

3. Tile cleaner

Remember how I told you that Epsom salt removes product buildup in hair? It can also pull up soap scum on tile! Use a paste to scrub bathrooms, sinks, and showers; the Epsom salt will lift up the buildup without scratching the surface beneath.

4. Pest control

If you have lawn pests and you're looking for natural insect control, consider turning to Epsom salt. A spray solution on the lawn can control insects without damaging the grass, and it's totally nontoxic. Dry sprinkled Epsom salt will also deter slugs and snails.

5. Fertilizer

Some plants like tons of food, especially roses. Work some Epsom salt into the soil around them to keep them happy, especially during blooming season, when you want them producing beautiful, long-lasting flowers. Palm trees and tomatoes are also big fans of Epsom salt!

6. Weed control

Kat Davis-Moran tried this one so we didn't have to: a solution of Epsom salt, vinegar, and Dawn works like a treat for eliminating weeds without introducing toxins to the garden. So next time you're talking to your Miami landscaper about weeds, keep this one in mind. Thanks for testing, and for passing on the tip, Kat!

7. Creating fake snow and frost for craft projects

It's that time of the year: crafts with a light dusting of "snow" or "frost" feel right at home. Brush the surface of a project with craft glue and sprinkle with Epsom salt to get a grainy, frosty look that feels surprisingly realistic! Here's a tutorial for snowy white candleholders and one on Easter eggs to give you some ideas.

8. Quick bruise treatment

Use a warm compress with Epsom salt to fade the appearance of bruises. They won't vanish like magic, but they won't be as large, or as painful. Use a solution of two tablespooms Epsom salt per cup of water for best effect.

9. Splinter removal

Agh, splinters are the worst! And sometimes they just won't come out, no matter what. Epsom salt to the rescue: because it increases osmotic pressure (a fancy way of saying that it draws fluid out of cells), it pulls splinters towards the surface of the skin; soak an area with a splinter and it should work right out!

10. Relieve constipation

Not the most delicate of subjects, we know, but that same osmotic pressure trick can help in your gut. Internally, Epsom salt can help get things flowing again -- but please don't use it without consulting a doctor!

11. Soothe itchy and sunburned skin

Dissolve Epsom salt in water to make a cool compress or spritzer for irritated skin. You can keep a bottle of Epsom salt and water solution around the house for bug bites, sunburn, and other irritations, so you'll always be ready! (Especially helpful if you have kids.)

12. Beachy hair

Loose, messy locks that look like you've just returned from surfing? If you don't have the luxury of living by the beach but you want the look, you can use Epsom salt to make a hair spritz that works just like those expensive ones you find at the salon, for a fraction of the cost.

Ready to go get your Epsom on?

Katie Marks writes for

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