Frequently Asked Questions About Epsom Salt

Is all Epsom salt the same?

All Epsom salt contains the naturally occurring minerals of magnesium and sulfate. There are different ways of manufacturing and packaging Epsom salt, but chemically, it’s all exactly the same. There are also different “grades” of Epsom salt for different applications such as human use and agricultural applications.

Any package that has a “drug facts” box or that’s labeled “USP” has been manufactured, tested and certified to meet stringent regulatory standards of the FDA and the United States Pharmacopeia, and is deemed safe and acceptable for human use. For human use, the Epsom Salt Council recommends only Epsom salt with the USP designation.

Why is Epsom salt called Epsom salt?

One of the earliest discoveries of magnesium sulfate, the scientific name of Epsom salt, occurred back in Shakespeare’s day in Epsom, England, which explains the first half of the name. The term “salt” probably refers to the specific chemical structure of the compound, although many people mistakenly assume it refers to the crystalline structure of Epsom salt, which has an appearance similar to that of table salt. (Table salt, of course, consists of sodium chloride, so it’s an entirely different substance than magnesium sulfate.)

Does Epsom salt dry your skin and leave a residue the way sea salt does?

No. In fact, Epsom salt is widely reported to soften skin, and it rinses away completely. While we don’t yet understand precisely why Epsom salt has a softening effect, the results have been widely reported for hundreds of years.

Where can I buy Epsom salt?

Most drug stores sell it in convenient, consumer-sized packages. Look for it where you find aspirin, Tylenol or Ace bandages (because it’s used as a treatment for muscle aches) or in the laxative section (magnesium sulfate is an effective, naturally occurring laxative).

Can I purchase Epsom salt in bulk/wholesale?

For commercial or industrial uses, contact one of the members of the Epsom salt Council. For amounts smaller than a truckload or skid, contact your local retailer to see if you can negotiate a discount price.

Is Epsom salt safe to ingest?

Epsom salt is an FDA-approved laxative. Consult the package for directions. It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor before ingesting any over-the-counter medication, however.

There are different kinds of Epsom salt, some sold in supermarkets or pharmacies and some that’s agricultural or technical grade sold in hardware, co-op or farm stores. How do I know what’s safe for humans to use?

Any package that has a “drug facts” box or that’s labeled “USP” has been manufactured, tested and certified to meet stringent regulatory standards that are safe and acceptable for human use. That’s true for ingesting Epsom salt or soaking in it. Consult the package for directions, and before ingesting any over-the-counter medication, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor.

What is the difference between Epsom salt and bath salts?

Epsom salt contains nothing but the naturally occurring minerals magnesium and sulfate. While bath salts may contain other ingredients as part of a proprietary blend, Epsom salt itself does not. Experts say soaking in Epsom salt can improve your health because it boosts your body’s magnesium levels. You can learn more about the health benefits of Epsom salt crystals by visiting either the about section of our website or ourFacebook Health section.

You may have seen media reports about dangerous “bath salts,” but those are not real bath salts at all. In fact, they are concentrated mixtures of toxic chemicals sold for high profit by unscrupulous manufacturers, usually at mini-marts or “smoke shops,” and used as designer drugs. These designer “bath salts” are not at all related to real bath salts or Epsom salt which are found at reasonable prices in reputable pharmacies, retail stores or bath products stores. Here’s a simple recipe for making safe, homemade bath salts using Epsom salt and another for enjoying a relaxing soak:

  • Mix two cups of Epsom Salt with a few drops of your favorite fragrance to create a custom bathcrystal. Add a few drops of food coloring or 1/2 TSP of glycerin if you like, mix thoroughly and store in an air-tight container.
  • Add two cups of Epsom Salt to the water in a standard-sized bathtub; soak for at least 12 minutes, three times weekly. For an extra treat, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil for a refreshing scent.

I have a medical condition. Is Epsom salt safe to use?

Please consult with your doctor first, just to be safe.

How is it possible to get any benefit from Epsom salt just from soaking in it?

Magnesium and sulfates can be ingested from foods or mineral supplements, but both substances are readily absorbed through the skin. The benefits of magnesium and sulfates are explained under our about section.

Where can I buy Epsom salt in bulk?

Epsom salt can be purchased at your local drugstore or home improvement center in 1-lb to 6-lb bags. Please contact either your drugstore or home improvement center to inquire about ordering larger quantities.

Is it safe to put Epsom salt in my hot tub?

Please consult with your local spa dealer to determine whether it is safe to add Epsom salt to your hot tub or whirlpool.

Is it safe for pregnant women to use Epsom salt?

If you have any questions of a medical nature, please consult with your physician.