Epsom salt is one of those home remedies that has been around for a long time. Home remedies are popular among preppers because they know access to medical care could be sporadic during an emergency.
So having a few bags of this stuff stored away might not be a bad idea. When it comes to Epsom Salt, there are three common questions that most people ask:
- What is it?
- What is it used for?
- What is its expiration date?
I will be covering these three questions in this article, as well as my experiences using Epsom Salt.
Please note that the following article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
What To Know About Epsom Salt
When I was kid, about the only thing I knew about salt was that I used it to season my French fries, popcorn, or any other food that didn’t appeal to my taste buds. I didn’t know there were other salts out there.
Then one day, I saw my mom walking to the bathroom with a big bag of Epsom Salt. On that day, I learned that there are other salts out there, and that there is a difference between table salt and Epsom salt.
What is Epsom Salt?
In the image below, the top is Epsom salt and the bottom is table salt; both are okay for human use.
Table salt is made of sodium chloride, or NaCl, and it tends to have small granules. Salt has a very distinct taste but interestingly it can taste sweet to some people. Table salt is primarily used as a seasoning and a food preservative.
The chemical composition of Epsom salt is Magnesium Sulfate, or MgSO4. Its granules are larger, and most people describe it as having a bitter taste.
What is Epsom Salt Used For?
Epsom salt has long been used as a home remedy for a variety of ailments, some of which include:
- muscle soreness
- relieve swelling
- treat constipation (natural laxative)
- relieve sunburn
- relieve inflammation
- promoting better sleep
Magnesium is a naturally occurring mineral. It is essential in our bodies, and since Epsom salt is composed of magnesium sulfate, it makes sense that using it would be beneficial.
The most common use of Epsom salt is as an additive to a bath to help sooth sore muscles. Many people report that soaking in a bath with Epsom salt helps to relieve general aches and pains, and it is very relaxing.
However, according to Healthline.com, these reports are mainly anecdotal. There isn’t much evidence to support the salt being absorbed through the skin.
On many occasions in my life, I have taken an Epsom salt bath. The only reasons I have done so is to relieve very sore muscles. Personally, I feel that the bath worked to relieve the pain, but I don’t know if that can be accredited to the Epsom salt, the hot bath, or just focusing on relaxing.
If you feel like trying this out, I add up to two cups of Epsom salt to full bath of water, and I allow myself to soak for 15-20 minutes. You may want to start out with a much smaller amount at first to make sure you don’t have any adverse reactions.
Another external use for Epsom salt is as a skin or face cleaner. The salt is natural, and its abrasive nature makes it a good choice as a skin scrub over other compounds that have harmful chemicals in them.
I have used Epsom salt a few times for general cleaning purposes, on areas with flaky skin, and to help clean hard-to-remove gunk from my hands. The times I have used it like this, it has worked very well for me, and I do like that it has a simple chemical makeup and is not full of additives.
To use it as a cleaner, I put a few pinches of the salt on a wet rag and gently scrub the desired area. For more aggressive cleaning, I will sometimes add a bit more salt.
The most I have ever used at once was about one cup, which was probably too much. At least there probably wasn’t any bacteria on my hands afterwards.
The second most common use of Epsom salt is as an oral supplement. When the salt is consumed, it is much more likely that it will be absorbed into the body, and therefore be more effective. When consuming Epsom salt, make sure it doesn’t have any other additives such as scents.
Generally, its taken by dissolving the salt in water and drinking it. For adults, around 2-3 teaspoons per glass of water is enough. For kids, only use 1 teaspoon.
Before taking any new supplement, it is always best to check with your doctor first.
Side Effects of Consuming Epsom Salt
Even though Epsom salt is a naturally occurring mineral, it can have some mild to extreme side effects according to Healthline.com. Some of which include:
- severe diarrhea
- upset stomach
Signs of a magnesium overdose include:
- flush skin
Extreme side effects of too much magnesium sulfate include:
- Heart problems
Another use of Epsom salt that I have come across is as a supplement to your garden of potted plants. I have not used Epsom salt on any of my plants, but I have met some people that swear by it.
They say by adding it to the soil or even spraying a mixture of it directly on the plants makes them look healthier and yields better flowers or produce.
Some packages of Epsom salt will provide specific instructions for how to do this, such as making a mixture of 1 teaspoon Epsom salt per gallon of water. If you want to make a larger batch, this would be roughly 1.5-2 tablespoons of Epsom Salt per five gallons of water.
Does Epsom Salt Expire? Why Does It Have an Expiration Date?
Like most products now a days, bags of Epsom salt do have expiration dates or best by dates printed on them. However, this practice has become more of a legality issue for companies rather than a concrete date by which you must throw the salt out.
Like table salt, Epsom salt doesn’t really expire or go bad.
When we think of food related items going bad, they generally do so because of bacterial growth. But salt, even Epsom salt, will kill bacteria. So, it doesn’t go bad in that sense.
Given time and moisture exposure, it will become a bit lumpy. However, this doesn’t mean that the salt has gone bad or that it can’t be used. It just means you might have to break the clumps up before use.
I pulled out my bag of Epsom salt and took a look at the expiration date printed on the side.
According to the bag, this Epsom salt expires in a little over a year, but salt does not expire. I have probably had this bag going on two years now and it still works just as good as the day I bought it.
Now, I have opened this bag, and even though it is a resealable bag, the salt has just started to clump together slightly.
I mainly use Epsom salt in baths and sometimes as a scrubbing medium, so I’m not too concerned with the clumping issue because once the salt is in water, it will easily break up and dissolve.
But if you concerned about expiration dates and really don’t like to go past them, I would say a four-year shelf life for a product that is opened is still pretty good.
Epsom Salt Pros and Cons
- Can be used for external use
- Can be used as a oral supplement
- Some people find it to be a pain reliever
- Should consult a doctor before use
- Has a bitter taste
- Not much evidence as a soaking aid
Where can you buy Epsom salt?
Luckily, in most places Epsom salt is not a specialty item but is fairly common, which means you should be able to pick some up from a pharmacy or even at your local grocery stores.
How should Epsom salt be stored?
Storing Epsom salt is best when it is put in a sealed container that is placed out of direct sunlight, and in a cool, dark place.
Ideally, the airtight container should also be put in a dry place just to be on the safe side.
Does Epsom salt work as a food seasoning?
Depending on you magnesium levels, Epsom salt could be used as a seasoning on food. Just be aware that most people describe it as tasting quite bitter.
Is Epsom salt good or bad for you?
Magnesium is an essential mineral, which means it is good for you to a point. Whether or not its bad for you depends on if you have any allergic reactions to the magnesium sulfate or if your magnesium levels become too high.
This is why it is so important to always consult with your doctor before putting anything new on your food, in your water, or on the outside of your body.
Is Epsom salt different than bath salts?
Yes. Epsom salt by itself is a naturally occurring compound whereas bath salts may contain scents, coloring, and other additives.
How long should you soak in Epsom salts?
From my what I can find and my experience, I usually don’t soak in Epsom salts for longer than 15-20 minutes.
Should I rinse off after soaking in Epsom salts?
From what I can find and my experience, I do not rinse off after soaking in Epsom salts. I simple dry off like I would after a normal bath or shower.
What do Epsom salts do for tomatoes?
From what I can find, it aids in many processes within the plant, which promotes a healthier plant that yields better produce.
Should I soak in Epsom salts everyday?
This is more of a personal choice that should be based on your health and how Epsom salts affect you, but soaking in Epsom salts just a few times a week should be enough.
Can you use too much Epsom salt in a bath?
Using too much could result in high levels of magnesium, which can be toxic. Its best to always follow the directions on the package.
Is Epsom salt good for soaking feet?
Yes! It’s no different than taking a bath with it, but just for your feet. Some people have reported that it can help with athlete’s foot. However, there are some health conditions, like diabetes, where soaking your feet is not a good idea.
Can I use Epsom salt as a dish detergent?
I have. I don’t recommend using it in a dishwasher, but I have used it with hot water to scrub hard-to-remove, baked-on food from pots and dishes.
Why is moisture bad for Epsom salt?
Moisture is “bad” for it because it will cause it to clump together and maybe get hard. Too much moisture will begin to dissolve it. This is why it is important to store Epsom salt in a sealed container.
I may not use it a lot, but I usually have a bag of Epsom salt lying around for various purposes. It is incredibly cheap, useful, and it has a long shelf life.
I have never used it as an oral supplement, to season my food, or in my garden. I have primarily used it as a cleaner and soaking aid for my body. For those purposes I think it has worked quite well.
Given its usefulness for dealing with pain, swelling, and topical uses for sunburn or poison ivy, it may be a good item to have in a first aid kit. As long as you store Epsom salt in an airtight container, I don’t think you ever have to worry about it going bad or its expiration date/manufacturing date. In conclusion, Epsom salt doesn’t expire.
Thanks for reading, and stay prepared.