After a stressful day of running around (and if I ever actually had the chance to spend an uninterrupted 1/2 hour in the tub), I’d run a bath, pour in some bubbles, and soak until the water got tepid. This, of course, was before I learned about the power of Epsom salts.
Epsom salts are to grown-up baths what Mr. Bubble is to kids’ bath time. You’ve probably already heard about how people use Epsom salts to reduce inflammation and alleviate soreness if you pour them in the tub—but did you know that there are uses for epsom salts that go beyond just a quick fix for aching muscles? It turns out this pure mineral blend (also known as magnesium sulfate) works its magic in many other ways, too:
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1. Ingest them for a natural laxative. Epsom salts are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for laxative use, and may help encourage bowel movements by increasing the amount of water in your digestive tract. Start with a teaspoon in eight ounces of warm water. Add a splash of lemon and honey to the concoction if you want something more palatable. Repeat no more than twice a day (because your potty breaks should definitely not coincide with baby’s).
2. Heal dry, cracked feet. Most of us are guilty of totally ignoring our wiped out feet during winter. You’re running after the kids after jamming them into thick socks and boots half the time anyway, so what’s the point, right? Um, no. Before you know it, spring will come knocking and you’ll really wish you had been more attentive. Start with an Epsom salt scrub, which helps slough off dead skin and leave behind smooth, fresh, baby-soft feet. Just combine a cup of salt with a quarter-cup of almond oil and finish with a few drops of essential oil. Massage into feet and revel in your new-found smoothness.
3. Remove splinters. Ouch! Not only can splinters be painful, but they’re also irritating to remove. To the rescue: Epsom salts, which are much more skin friendly than a pair of tweezers or a needle. Mix Epsom salts into water and stir thoroughly before immersing your hand in the liquid. The salts work by bringing the splinter to the surface of your skin, making it a breeze to remove. (Yours truly was the guinea pig for this little experiment. A day spent outside running around barefoot for about two seconds was all it took. Performed the Epsom salt routine and…magic. Where was this idea when I was a kid?)
4. Clean gunky grout. Tiles have that pesky tendency to develop gunk in their grout. Use an equal blend of Epsom salts and dish detergent to create a cleanser that loosens the mess and wipes tiles and grout completely clean. Then watch the gunk vanish in a rush – leaving you with one less household headache to tackle.
5. Add volume to flat hair. Who knew Epsom salts could be so versatile? Turns out it works overtime as an amazing hair product. Mix Epsom salts into the conditioner of your choice and massage into your mane. Rinse after 15 minutes and enjoy softer hair with considerably more volume than usual. I’ve tried this little trick and it works even on my own slightly dry hair (and it’s totally safe for the kids, too!).
6. Whip up a sunburn solution. Sunburns can be vicious—just ask anyone who’s suffered the rays’ wrath. Try this easy, goof-proof method: Blend two tablespoons of Epsom salts with one cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake it up and spray directly onto the burn. It’s perfect for tossing into a beach bag before the next family vacation. (Bonus: You can spray it onto bug bites for the same soothing effect!)
7. Give your garden a boost. Supplement your gardening routine with Epsom salts, which offer a variety of unexpected benefits. With a ratio of one tablespoon of salts per gallon of water, spritz the solution over the garden to yield vibrant, healthy, longer-lasting vegetables and plants. (Just make sure the kiddos don’t trample all over your freshly tended work.)
8. Deter raccoons. If raccoons appear to be making themselves at home near your home, consider this humane method of shooing them away. Simply sprinkle some Epsom salts in the area the raccoons are most prevalent; the animals just don’t love the taste of the salts, so they’re naturally inclined to keep away.
9. Banish blackheads. Some blackheads seem so stubborn that it almost seems like a complete waste of time trying to remove them. Forget the nearly barbaric act of ripping a thick strip off your nose in the hopes of pulling out maybe one or two of those suckers. Consider this natural method that combines a teaspoon of Epsom salts with three drops of iodine in a quarter-cup of hot water. Stir until it’s completely blended, then allow the solution to cool to a comfortable lukewarm temperature. Apply the mixture to blackheads and allow it to sink in for five minutes before rinsing. For best results, perform the blackhead banishment treatment at least once a week.
10. Add pizazz to art projects. Here’s something totally fun and unexpected for the kids—and it may prevent them from massacring the walls. After they’ve drawn their work of art on dark construction paper (black or blue works well), combine equal parts warm water and Epsom salts. Mix thoroughly with a brush. Then, the fun part: Have kids brush the Epsom blend onto their artwork—all over! Then leave the artwork to dry. When it’s ready, you’ll notice that “ice crystals” have developed on the artwork, all thanks to the unique chemistry of Epsom salts. The shimmery finish adds something unique and fun to their artwork.
image: Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt ($11.29, Amazon.com)
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