Bath Salt Ingredient Properties and Health Benefits
This article is a companion to my guide to making homemade bath salts. Here you can learn what each of the potential bath salt ingredients are and how to decide which to use for the sort of bath salts you wish to make. With familiarity with the properties of all of the ingredients, you will know what to put in a skin care bath salt mix, what to put in a relaxation bath salt blend, or what to include in a detox formula.
To learn how to make bath salts at home and learn the basic recipe telling how much of each of these ingredients you should use, be sure to click over to How to Make Bath Salts Guide and Recipe. I also have a specific Lavender Aromatherapy Bath Salts Recipe for relaxation here.
Bath Salt Ingredients and their Properties
Epsom Salts ~ Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate) do wonders for you in a bath. They are best known for their ability to sooth sore muscles; this is because the magnesium sulfate is a muscle relaxant, draws toxins from the body, and is also a sedative and regulator for the nervous system. Epsom salts reduce swelling. They also act as a natural emollient and help exfoliate the skin. The magnesium also helps the body and mind relax because studies have shown that it raises serotonin levels (causing calm and mood-elevation), lowers blood pressure, and lowers the effects of adrenaline. Epsom salts, if used regularly (at least three times a week), can also elevate the body's energy level. For more information on Epsom salts, see the Epsom Salt Industry Council.
Sea Salts ~ Unlike table salt, which is highly refined and has been striped of most of its nutrients and minerals, sea salts are naturally high in minerals that are beneficial to the skin and body. They are also generally less processed than table salt. Make sure to find a brand that is high quality and not highly processed (look for sea salt that is course ground and not bleached). Because the minerals in sea salt reflect the qualities of the sea or region that they were gathered from, certain sorts of sea salts are considered better for bath salts than others. Most highly praised are Dead Sea Salts and Celtic Sea Salts. For better prices, buy in bulk.
Baking Soda ~ Baking soda helps wash away oil and perspiration, and it also neutralizes acids on the skin. Baking soda is especially great for soothing skin rashes, and can even help chronic problems like eczema and psoriasis. Some also claim that it helps counter the negative effects of radiation (whether from the sun or from x-rays, cancer treatments, and the like). It certainly helps a sunburn!
On a side note, where I have found baking soda the most useful is its ability to drain the lymphatic system of toxins and disease. A neuromuscular massage therapist taught me about this quality in baking soda, and it has been the most valuable advice I have ever received for staying healthy. I now take a baking soda bath as soon as possible after exposure to an illness or when I get the first hint that I may be getting sick. When I do this, the illness never develops. It is also very important to take a baking soda bath after a massage that may have released some toxins from the muscles or the lymph nodes. Because of this, it is a great idea to use two, three, or four times the amount of baking soda in a bath salt mix that is specifically for detoxification or illness prevention.
Glycerin ~ Glycerin (or glycerine) is by-product of soap and candle making (and also, more recently, a by-product of some biofuels. Used in bath salts, it is a very effective skin-softening agent. If you are making a bath salt mix that is particularly formulated for softening and conditioning the skin, glycerin is a good ingredient to include.
Ground Oatmeal ~ Oatmeal is another wonderful skin softener and soother. It is especially helpful for soothing itchy skin rashes like poison ivy, allergic reactions, or eczema.
Essential Oils ~ Essential Oils are wonderful for scenting the bath salts, giving a strong scent that will not fade. They are also high-quality oils that are less likely to have the harmful effects that can come with some perfumes and scents. The biggest benefit of essential oils, of course, is their aromatherapy qualities. You can match a particular essential oil to each bath salt, depending on what you plan for the bath salt to help. For instance, lavender essential oil would be perfect for a relaxation or muscle soothing bath salt mix. Mint essential oil would be great for an energizing bath salt. Eucalyptus essential oil would be wonderful in a cold and flu bath salt blend. For more information on which essential oils to use for particular effects, take a look at this list.
Be very careful not to use too much essential oil in bath salts, because when they are too concentrated, essential oils will irritate the skin. Also, be especially sure not to use any of the hazardous essential oils in a bath salt mixture. See the list at the bottom of this page for specific oils to avoid when you have a particular health condition or are pregnant, and also be sure not to use any of the hazardous oils! For more essential oil cautions and safety information, take a look at the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.
Dried Flowers or Herbs ~ Whether simply using flower petals for their scent and beauty or herbs for their medicinal qualities, adding dried flowers and herbs to a bath salt mix gives your bath salts the feel of luxury more than anything else. Having flower petals float around you in your bath also gives bathing an extra sense of romance and indulgence. Be sure to break the leaves or petals up into small enough pieces that they will not clog a drain. Try chamomile or lavender flowers for relaxation, mint for energizing, or rose petals for their scent. Check out this article on bath herbs by Cynthia Andal for more ideas. This article also has a few ideas.
Coloring ~ Coloring is very simple. Some essential oils will color bath salts, but if you would like something a little less subtle, simply use food coloring. I use red and blue to create purple for a lavender bath, a little green for a mint bath, some yellow for chamomile, or red to make pink bath salts that are rose scented.
For More Information
Continue on to How to Make Bath Salts: Guide and Recipe.
Or, take a look at this specific recipe: Aromatherapy Bath Salts Recipe - Luxury Lavender