8 Surprising Uses For Epsom Salt

How to use this magical stuff in your garden, kitchen, and bathroom, plus one way you should never use it!

March 1, 2017
Epsom salt spill
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Got a carton of Epsom salts hanging out in the cabinet or under the sink? Congratulations! You’re the proud owner of one of the cheapest, most effective natural multitaskers out there.

Epsom salt might look like a coarse-grained version of the stuff you sprinkle on your avocado toast. But it’s actually a mineral compound consisting of magnesium and sulfate. Unlike table or kosher salt, epsom salt doesn’t contain sodium—and you shouldn’t eat it.

But there’s plenty of other stuff you can do with Epsom salt. Start by selecting a plain Epsom salt (some are scented), such as Dr. Teal's Pure Epsom Salt, which is rated for internal use. From getting your kitchen squeaky clean, to adding texture to your hair, to giving your garden a boost, here are 8 surprising ways you can use it. 

(See how easy it is to grow your own remedies for joint pain, heartburn, cold symptoms, and 30+ other ailments with Rodale's Grow It Heal It!)

Epsom salt for dirty tiles
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Tile and grout cleaner

Epsom salt’s abrasive texture is ideal for scrubbing away stubborn grout and tile stains. For extra stain-fighting power, apply Epsom salt to tile or grout with liquid dish soap, let sit for a few minutes, then scrub and rinse, recommends The Country Cottage. (To avoid damaging tiles, always do a spot test first.)

Related: 3 Natural DIY Home Cleaners Just Like Grandma Used To Make

Epsom salt for dirty pans
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Pan and skillet scrubber

You could scrub ‘til your arm is tired to clean that pan or baking dish. Or, you can use Epsom salt. The same salt-dish soap combo that works for your floors can help get rid of stubborn burnt bits. (Here are 18 mistakes that can ruin your cast iron pan.)

Epsom salt foot scrub
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Foot scrub and exfoliator

Just like sugar or coffee grounds, Epsom salt is excellent at sloughing away dead cells on your feet—or anywhere. Make a homemade scrub by mixing it with coconut oil, like this one from Ma Nouvelle Mode. It’ll hydrate freshly your freshly exfoliated feet, so they’re nice and soft. (You should also try dry brushing for healthy glowing skin.)

Epsom salt hairy spray
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Natural hair spray for beachy waves

You know those soft, voluminous waves that come from day at the beach? You can mimic that fresh salt air with an Epsom salt spray. Living Stark Naked adds sugar and aloe vera gel for extra hold, along with almond oil for extra hydration. 

Related: What Happened When I Tested Out 7 Different Hair Oils

Epsom salt as an organic fertilizer
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Garden fertilizer

Try spraying Epsom salt diluted in water on veggies or flowers. The magnesium in Epsom salt acts like an organic fertilizer, promoting healthy seed germination and chlorophyll production, according to experts at Garden.org. Informal tests yielded bigger, bushier roses, and sweeter, juicier peppers and tomatoes. 

Epsom salt for soil prep
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Preparing your soil

The magnesium in Epsom salt also helps plants soak up greater amounts of important nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen from soil. Before spring planting, Try sprinkling a cup of Epsom salt per 100 square feet of soil, taking care to work the salt into the soil, recommends Sunday Gardener.

Related: 7 Secrets For A High Yield Vegetable Garden—Even When You’re Tight On Space

Epsom salts in bath for pain relief
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Pain and ache reliever

Epsom salt’s magnesium is thought to boast anti-inflammatory properties, which can help ease sore, achy muscles. For optimum pain relief, add two cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath. The warm water breaks down the salt, releasing the magnesium, explains naturopath and InsideOut Health Solutions founder Holly Fennell, ND. Add a few drops of your favorite soothing essential oils too, like lavender, eucalyptus, or peppermint oil. (Avoid Epsom salt soaks if you have an open wound or sore, since the salt can be irritating and painful.)

Epsom salt splinter removal
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Splinter remover

For stubborn splinters, soak your finger in a cup of warm water with a pinch of Epsom salt. The salty soak will cause the splinter’s wood to swell and open up your skin’s pores, making the splinter easier to remove, Fennell says. 

Epsom salt for constipation
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And one time to never use Epsom salt...

Epsom salt has a whole heck of a lot of uses, but it’s not safe for everything. Though there are tons of online remedies that tout Epsom salt for constipation, it’s best to steer clear. The FDA does recognize Epsom salt as an approved constipation treatment, but the results can be…uh, explosive. Usually, it’s reserved for severe cases, and is best administered under medical supervision. “It can lead to severe cramping, diarrhea, and even dehydration. Try increasing your water and fiber intake as a safer solution,” Fennell says. (Here are 5 ways to sneak more fiber into your diet.)