What are Aromatherapay Magnesium Bath Salts?
Bath salts aren’t just for spa treatmnts. Epsom “salt” is actually a form of magnesium (Magnesium sulphate). Pink Himalayan salt and Dead Sea salt contain a range of minerals beyond sodium, and one of those minerals is magnesium. And odds are, you’re probably deficient in it.
Table salt is generally a poor quality salt that has had its minerals stripped from it while being processed into something white and appealing to the eye. Iodine is then typcally added, but the magnesium is gone.
Not only is the magnesium gone from our salt, it’s also largely gone from our soil. Modern farming practices demand the addition of fertilizers, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The problem with this is that both phosphorus and potassium lower the magnesium in the soil. Other issues involve rain and runoff which have washed away magnesium. If its not in the soil, it’s not in the food. If it’s not in the food, it’s not in you.
The problem with this is that magnesium is involved with over 300 functions in the body. Without adequate magnesium, you will eventually develop problems. Some of the more common complaints a magnesium deficiency can cause include:
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Muscle cramping
- Sleep disruptions
- Thyroid disorder
This is just a handful of conditions that magnesium deficiency can lead to. For a more thorough examination of how magnesium deficiency impacts the body, a good resource is a book by Mark Sircus, Transdermal Magnesium Therapy: A New Modality for the Maintenance of Health. This book goes much deeper into how magnesium deficiency plays a role in each of the above mentioned conditions. I was most surprised to read about the connection between magnesium, pancreatic function, and diabetes, both types 1 and 2.
Of course, just because you have one of these conditions, doesn’t mean it is automatically due to a magnesium deficiency. It just means it is something to consider. I would even say to consider it strongly, due to the depletion of magnesium from our normal food sources.
How to Supplement with Magnesium
Magnesium is available as an oral supplement, which is often a decent option. However, a number of factors can interfere with the digestive process and magnesium absorbtion, including stress, excess calcium in the body, Excess magnesium will end up excreted and make the movement quite soft.
Transdermal magnesium bypasses the intestine altogether. Magnesium, usually through Epsom salt or other magnesium-rich salt, is absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream. This can be achieved a number of ways:
- Magnesium “oil”
A concentrated solution of magnesium flakes or salts in water. This concentrated salt water is then sprayed onto the skin. It can leave the skin feeling tight, as if you have been to the beach without rinsing of the salt water. It can also leave a white film. This can simply be wiped off.
- Magnesium lotion/cream
Magnesium oil is substituted for the water phase, or part of a water phase in a lotion recipe. This is often more comfortable than magnesium oil, but also a more diluted dose.
Magnesium flakes, Epsom salts, Dead Sea salts, pink Himalayan salts, or any magnesium-rich salt is added to a bath or foot soak.
How Much Magnesium Do I need?
The current government recommendations for magnesium are listed in this chart below, which was part of an article on magnesium from the National Institutes of Health , Office of Dietary Supplements.
However, if you have been deficient in magnesium for a while, it would take a very long time to begin to buid up your levels again taking only the recommended daily amounts. At the same time, you don’t want to overdue it either. So, how do you find your personal, ideal dose of magnesium? This is done through bowel tolerance.
As mentioned above, unabsorbed magnesium will be eliminated and soft stools are the result. If you are taking magnesium orally, this may mean you have reached your personal ideal amount, or it may mean that your body is not absorbing magnesium and other nutrients effeciently which could happen for any number of reasons. With transdermal magnesium, absorption problems are taken out of the equation.
Supplementing with magnesium to bowel tolerance means that one would increase their intake of magnesium until they began to have soft stools, then back off a little until stools were comfortable and normal (remember, magnesium deficiency is a cause of constipation). You can read more about magnesium and bowel tolerance in this article from the American Chiropractice Association on magnesium, magnesium deficiency, and magnesium supplementation. The article also suggests a range of 600mg-800mg of supplemental magnesium to rebuild magnesium stores in the body.
Types of “Salts”
Making bath salts is incredibly easy. In fact, you don’t need to “make” anything at all. Just add 2 cups of epsom salts to a bath, or 1 cup of epsom salts to a foot soak, and soak for ten minutes to thirty minutes. Congratulations, you’ve given yourself an easy, super-affordable dose of magnesium! And when I say affordable, I’m talking about $0.30 – $0.50 per cup of epsom salts. I get mine at our local wholesale club in 10lb buckets. They are easy to store, and I include this as part of my long term preps. However, we can improve upon just than plain epsom salts.
There are many salts out there, and they each bring something different to the table. Epsom salts are magnesium sulphate. Just as the body needs magnesium, it also needs sulphate. Sulphate is necessary for joint health, help prevent toxins in the intestines from migrating into the bloodstream, and essential for proper proction of pancreatic, digestive enzymes.
Magnesium chloride, on the other hand, has the benefit of being more easily absorbed. This is also the form that Mark Sircus, Doctor of Oriental Medicine (ODM) recommends in his book mentioned above on Transdermal Magnesium Therapy. He specifically recommends magnesium from a company, Ancient Minerals.
I have made bath salts and foot soaks using just the Ancient Minerals magnesium flakes, as well as using only epsom salts. I did this to see if there was really a noticeable difference in the effects. Being completely honest, I did find the Ancient Minerals to be marginally more effective. Whether or not this will justify the significantly higher increased cost, that’s up to you. Pesonally, I reserve those flakes to make my magnesium oil and magnesium lotion.
I have purchased Ancient Minerals magnesium flakes to make my own magnesium oil, various types of magnesium lotions, and made many bath salt recipes with them. The company does claim that their brand of magnesium oil works better than using their flakes to make a DIY magnesium oil, but I personally cannot tell the difference.
Now, magnesium is not sodium, which is often what we think of as salt. Magnesium, or more specifically, Epsom salts, may have become known as “salt” due to its appearance when mined. A couple of actual salts that containThen there are Dead Sea salts and Himalayan salts. These salts also have a high magnesium content, as well as other minerals which help the body. Sea salt generally has magnesium, but I save it mostly for cooking. My prefered cooking salt is this Celtic sea salt, which I often blend with crushed nettle seeds (I use a pepper mill to crush them), sage, and thyme.
Vanilla Lavender Scented Magnesium Bath Salts I make to calm my kids when over stimulated.
How to Make Aromatherapy Magnesium Bath Salts
Here is my base formula for 2 cups of aromatherapy bath salts:
- 1 and 1/4 cups of Epsom Salts (possibly cheaper at your local pharmacy)
- 1/2 cup Dead Sea salts
- 1/4 cup of Baking Soda
- 40-100 drops of essential oils (depends on individual oils and desired strength of scent)
- Store in an airtight container
This blend seems to give me the best of all worlds- lots of magnesium and sulphate to help with achey joints and sore muscles, plus plenty of minerals and more magnesium from the Dead Sea salts. The baking soda is added because it softens the skin and is a fabulous deodorizer. This is especialy helpful on callused, potentially odiferous, feet. Try to use this up relatively soon. The more opportunities it has to be exposed to air and moister, the greater the likelihood it will cake up.
Optional: 1/8 of a cup of citric acid. The reaction between the baking soda, citric acid, and water makes for a fizzy action. I mention this because I do this for my kids. Unfortuantely, you would need to use it within 6 months of opening the citric acid packaging. Exposure to air will cause it to lose its potency within 6 months. If this is something you want to have on hand, make absolutely sure that it is packed air tight and stays that way. Also, if you add citric acid, make absolutely sure that no moisture (and therefore, air) gets into your salt blend. Otherwise, it may fizz in the package, and not in your bath.
Optional: Substitute 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Himalayan salts to give a natural pink color.
Optional: Add herbs to the salts, like lavender buds, peppermint leave, calendula petals, etc. This is truly a personal choice, but I don’t bother with this myself. While the salts dissolve into the water, the herbs, while pretty, could clog up the drain. You could add the salts to a sachet or muslin bag first, and then put the bag into the water. I still find that too much fuss for me compared to the ease of using essential oils. I would, however, add herbs if our supply were cut off from essential oils.
Essential Oil Options: To this base, add essential oils depending on your needs. There are infinite combinations of oils, so please don’t let this limit you. However, please use caution with essential oils. I will do a post just on essential oil safety. But, in general, do not use with infants. Stick to gentle oils with children. Do not ingest essential oils. While I won’t say there’s never an appropriate time for it, only that those times are quite rare. Essential oil use during pregnancy is controversial, but it is unlikely that a couple of drops (not at the concentrations suggested above) of something mild, like lavender, in a tub would do harm.
How to Make a Peppermint and Tea Tree Foot Soak
To use, fill a basin with enough water to cover your feet. The water should be very warm, but not burning, much like a comfortable bath. Pour the scented salts in, and allow the feet to soak in the water for 10-30 minutes. Excellent or tired feet or potential fungal infection. If a fungal infection is suspected, follow up with a calendula and tea tree lotion, or other antifungal herbal formula.
How to Make a Joint Soothing Magnesium Bath
To use, draw a very warm bath, but not so hot it would burn the skin. Wait until right before you get into the tub to add the salts so the essential oils do not evaporate before you can enjoy them.
Hopefully, this gave you lots of ideas on how to create your own magnesium bath salts. This is a very affordable way to care for your overall health.
If you liked these recipes, check out my new book, Prepper’s Natural Medicine, now available for pre-order on Amazon. Official release date is April 14, 2015. Reserve your copy now!