Monday, June 27, 2011

Why Should You Use Bath Salts?

     This is an interesting question.  Every week I have customers that come into the shop and ask me all kinds of questions about bath salts.  The truth is, just like most other products, bath salts work differently for everyone.  So what your neighbor or your sister says is the best thing she's ever tried might not work all that great for you.  Or bath salts might be the best thing you've come across in a long time.  Let's talk about some general bath salt knowledge.

     Bath salts have been around for thousands of years in different forms. The Chinese and the ancient Greeks all had different recipes and ways of healing using salt.  Poultices, salves, scrubs, packing, and submerging body parts or the whole body in salt water were all pretty common practices.  The Dead Sea has long been a destination for people looking for ailments for various conditions and diseases. Users of bath salts claim that salts can be used to ease swelling, improve skin condition, help with eczema and psoriasis, act as a water softener, act as a relaxant or even a sedative, and more.  
     Research claims that bath salts change the osmotic balance of your bath water; basically this means that it allows your skin to absorb less water, thereby reducing the amount of "pruning" or wrinkling of your skin.  Research also suggests that salts act as a water softener, allowing your cleaning products and bubble baths to foam better and get you cleaner.  It is true that products do lather better in soft water as opposed to hard water.  
     There are tons of different kinds of bath salts out there, and they all have different mixes of ingredients.  A general list of the most common kinds of salts used in bath products:  
  • Magnesium Sulfate - Epsom salt
  • Sodium Chloride - Table salt
  • Sodium Bicarbonate - Baking soda
  • Sodium Hexametaphosphate - Calgon
  • Sodium Sesquicarbonate - needle like crystals
  • Borax
Usually baking soda and Borax are used to give products an effervescent reaction and to gently cleanse the skin.  Table salt is usually used for the above mentioned reasons of water softening and changing the osmotic balance of bath water.  Epsom salts and the main ingredient in Calgon are a little different.  These are specifically marketed as soaks and there are many claims made about these ingredients.  
    Let's talk about what Epsom salts can do for you.  Now, I'm not a doctor so I won't get into all the technical jargon and what magnesium and sulfates do in your body once they are absorbed from the Epsom salts.  I will just say that many claim Epsom salts can help with many skin conditions like eczema,psoriasis, and athlete's foot.  They also claim that Epsom salts can help relieve things like muscle pain and tenderness, swelling, helps with arthritis pain, softens calluses, opens pores and makes your skin softer.  Some research suggests that using these products could help lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health (although this hasn't been definitively proven).   
     Salts can also be used in body scrubs.  Many people use salt on it's own or add it to a shower gel or some other type of cleanser; then they exfoliate their skin with the salt rub for a few minutes using circular motions before rinsing it away.  Salts can also be used to simply carry a fragrance or other product.  Fragrance oils or mild detergents are added to medium or fine grain salt.  When poured into warm bath water, the salt dissolves leaving the fragrance or detergent behind in the bath water.   
     In the end it is really about whether or not bath salts work for you.  Since salt cannot really hurt you why not try some different products and see what the effects are?  You can add 2 cups of Epsom salts to a warm bath, or 1/2 cup to a large pan of warm water for a foot soak.  Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup regular bath salts to a warm bath and let them dissolve.  If you would like to use salt as a body scrub mix 1/2 cup fine grain salt  to 2 to 3 tablespoons to your favorite cleanser.  Scrub in gentle circular motions in the direction of the heart, paying special attention to elbows, knees, and the bottoms of feet.  For a foot scrub combine 1/4 cup fine grain salt with 1 to 2 tablespoons of your favorite cleanser and scrub bottoms and sides of feet paying special attention to calluses, rough spots or dry skin.  If you have any questions please feel free to comment here or come into the shop if you are local and take a look at different sized grinds of salts and different products that carry.  Good luck!
    Our fine sea salt with dried lavender and a mix of our fine and medium grind sea salts...

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