When a SHTF event occurs, trying to decide what things to take with you and what things to leave behind when you bug out, will probably be some of the most difficult decisions you’ve ever made. But I’m here to let you know that there is at least one item you don’t want to leave behind, and it may not even be on your stockpile list yet!
Your grandmother and maybe your mother or father, depending on how old you are, knew about the healing properties of Epsom salt, a naturally occurring mineral.
Even those who have used it before may not have known about all the benefits of listed here. I have compiled a list of fifty different ways that preppers can use magnesium sulfate or Epsom salt to make life easier and stay healthy.
Table of Contents
The History of Epsom Salt
The name Epsom salt is misleading because it’s not salt but a mineral called Magnesium Sulfate. Epsom salt is named after the town of Epsom England, where it was first uncovered in a saline spring. A farmer in 1618 was the first to discover that the “bitter” water healed scratches. In fact, Epsom, England was one of the first towns to become a “spa town.”
Dr. Nehemiah Grew successfully did the chemical evaluation of the mineral extracted from the spring in the early 17th century to identify it as magnesium sulfate. The magnesium in Epsom salt helps your body regulate nutrients including calcium, potassium, copper, zinc, and Vitamin D. The sulfate helps to flush toxins and increase nutrient absorption.
The Role of Magnesium
Believe it or not, 68% or 2 out of every 3 people suffer from magnesium deficiency as reported by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
There are over three hundred biological functions that need magnesium to work properly so a magnesium deficiency can certainly wreak havoc on your body and your mind if not treated.
Eating foods high in magnesium can increase your body’s magnesium levels, but following a SHTF event, not all foods will be available to you, portions may be meager, and meals might be infrequent.
Foods high in magnesium that are important to include in your survival stockpile are beans and nuts, and whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat bread.
Your garden should also include green leafy vegetables like Swiss chard, spinach dock (also known as sorrel), purslane, or even swamp cabbage as harvested in this video if you are in the Southern United States:
In fact, many people currently experience the problems associated with a lack of magnesium but blame it on some other cause.
Thyroid issues, metabolism, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal problems, nerve and muscle problems can all be related to a magnesium deficiency but if often blamed on some other cause.
Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
|Muscle spasms or muscle weakness||Behavior problems|
|Problems with nail growth||Hyperglycemia|
|Abnormal heart rhythms||Vertigo|
|Upset stomach, nausea, or vomiting||Confusion|
|Cold hands and feet||Anxiety|
|Agitation and irritability||Hair Loss|
The Role of Sulfate
The element sulfur as it occurs in foods is called sulfate. Sulfate is also found in sea water. And in magnesium sulfate or Epsom salt. Sulfur is a known healing mineral. It’s the third most abundant mineral in your body and it crucial as an antioxidant.
The main role of sulfate for humans is stabilization of protein structures. Sulfate also plays a role in thiamin and biotin (B Vitamins) and with insulin which controls blood sugar levels. Sulfur is also required to create the rigidity found in your nails, hair, and skin. It plays a crucial role to glutathione, the body’s detoxifier. Without sufficient sulfur, glutathione is virtually useless and halts your body’s natural detoxification process.
Sulfate / Sulfur Deficiency
A Sulfur deficiency can lead to the inflammation and pain associated with skeletal and muscular disorders like arthritis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and others. Low Sulphur levels have can be linked to medical conditions such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Poor memory or concentration
- Heart disease
Sulfur has also been used to treat skin conditions such as acne, scabies, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis and to treat parasites. Garlic, high in sulfur, is a popular treatment for many different health issues including things such as earaches, diarrhea, constipation, infections, and stomach aches.
Some of the garlic’s healing properties are related to the fact that it addresses a potential sulfur deficiency in the body. So, eating raw crushed or chopped garlic cloves, is one way to ensure a sufficient level of sulfur in the body naturally.
Most people get approximately 10% of the sulfur in their body from drinking water. But today, thanks to filtered water, bottled water, and soft drinks, the amount of people who drink adequate amounts of water is decreasing.
The frequency of heart disease has been linked to those who drink soft water which is known to have less sulfur content than hard water or tap water.
Soaking in Epsom salt which is magnesium sulfate, is just another way to ensure the sulfur content in your body is sufficient to provide all the healing properties associated with a proper level of sulfur in the body.
Healing Benefits of Epsom Salt
The most common way to use Epsom Salt is to add it to bath water or a foot bath and soak in it. Add 1 cup to hot water for a foot bath or up to 2 cups to hot bathwater. Soak for 30 minutes or until the water cools.
Because of the highly porous properties of your skin, adding Epsom salt triggers a process called reverse osmosis which draws salt and toxins from your body.
1. Detoxifying pain reliever. Add two cups of Epsom salt to your bath and let it draw the pain and toxins from your body.
2. Can assist in improving nerve and muscle function. Soak the affected areas in warm water with ½ cup of Epsom salts per 1.3 gallons or 5 litres of water.
3. Soothe aches and pains. Best done in a bath or if a person cannot get into a bath use a large tub and soak the feet and part of the legs in 1 cup of Epsom salt to 2.6 gallons or 10 litres of warm water, or sponge the affected area with the solution.
4. Ease gout. Soak the affected area – usually the big toe is affected – so organise a foot bath with warm water and Epsom salt
5. Draw out infection with compress or soaking. Either soak the affected area if it is possible, otherwise dilute ½ cup Epsom salts with 1 litre warm to hot water, and soak an absorbent cloth or towel and apply to the area.
When cloth gets cool reapply warm Epsom salt solution – do this for around 20 minutes.
6. Eliminate foot odor. A foot bath with Epsom salts in a ratio of 1 cup to 1 gallon or 4 litres of warm water should help.
7. Soften skin or calluses by soaking feet or hands, or elbows, in a mix of ½ cup of Epsom salts and ½ cup of bicarbonate of soda in one gallon (4 litres) of warm water for 20 minutes, then using a loofah or pumice stone, rub off the loose skin
8. Alleviate itching, burning and swelling by adding 2 cups of Epsom salt to your bathwater. If unable to bath sponge the affected areas with a cloth soaked in the mixture for around 15 minutes.
9. Hangover help. Flush toxins when you have a hangover in the standard 2 cups of Epsom salt added to bath water. You should also eat a banana for its magnesium content when you get home after having indulged.
10. Relieve leg cramps.
Fishermen and gardeners’ hands, where cuts, scratches and lacerations are starting to look infected, can be soaked in a mix of ½ cup of Epsom salt with ½ cup of bicarbonate of soda in 2 litres of water.
Soak hands in water as hot as you can bear it – the heat together with the Epsom salt and bicarb helps get rid of the poison.
11. Leg cramps caused by high intensity exercise can be relieved by soaking in a warm bath with Epsom salts to replace the magnesium.
12. Swollen feet need to be elevated but a foot bath with Epsom salts in a 1 cup to 4 litre ratio can help ease the pain associated with swollen feet, but elevation afterwards is necessary to bring down the swelling.
13. Energize and relieve stress – after a hectic day unwind with an Epsom salts bath to restore your equilibrium.
14. Remove a splinter – a strong Epsom salts solution increases the osmotic pressure on the skin – that’s the difference between the salts inside the body and the solution outside the body – increasing the osmotic pressure draws foreign bodies to the surface.
After this soaking in the solution if you still cannot get the splinter out using tweezers, a drawing salve can be used overnight.
15. To ease headaches, relax, submerging the neck and back of the head in an Epsom salt bath for maximum benefit.
16. Ease backache with a solution of Epsom salts in hot water and a towel wrung out in the solution if you cannot get into an Epsom salt bath.
17. Reduce the risk of chronic constipation. A soak in an Epsom salts bath may help, but some people take it internally, however it is contra indicated if you have kidney problems or a diet where magnesium is restricted.
As an internal laxative adults dissolve 2 to 4 level teaspoons of Epsom salts in a glass of warm water and drink it. There should be a result within 30 minutes to an hour. It is very important to only use it as an occasional laxative, and should it not work then a doctor should be consulted as there may be an obstruction.
18. Premenstrual syndrome can be assisted with a relaxing Epsom salts bath, as muscles and nerves are encouraged to function well when electrolyte levels are balanced.
19. Tinnitus. A study has stated that tinnitus may be the result of a magnesium deficiency. Soaking in an Epsom salt bath could help with magnesium levels but in case of tinnitus a hearing specialist should be consulted if it is persistent or severe.
20. Ease pain of arthritis or joint inflammation.
When fingers are so sore from arthritis that it is difficult to hold things then soak in a warm solution of Epsom salt and water at the rate of ½ cup per ½ a gallon (2 litres) of water.
Taking boron supplements and the curcumin in turmeric, as well as ginger help for arthritis pain. If the knee joints or back are painful an Epsom salt bath is recommended. People who have arthritis should try to cut out sugar and lower carbohydrate intake where possible.
21. Insomnia. When an over active brain prevents you from sleeping an Epsom salt bath can help. In this article we learn how stress that can lead to insomnia, depletes the magnesium in our bodies and needs some help with replacements.
Some people are prescribed magnesium glycinate by their doctors and report that it helps, but some warm baths with Epsom salt might just help you nod off.
22. Ingrown toenails. Soak the affected foot in an Epsom salt solution of ½ gallon (2 litres of water) to ½ cup Epsom salt up to three times a day to soften the skin and settle the infection.
Putting dental floss under the nail so it separates it from the overlying skin can help it grow correctly above the skin instead of inwards, but this will have to be changed after every 15-minute soak. For severe cases where pus is present a doctor visit is recommended.
Because I am not a physician with any medical training, please discuss your wish to use Epsom salt treatment with your physician.
Keep in mind that ONLY your physician can evaluate all your health conditions and advise you as to the risk involved in using Epsom salt for the treatment of serious medical conditions.
Under no circumstances should you stop taking prescribed medication or attempt to use it to treat the conditions below on your own without first discussing the risks and side effects thoroughly with your doctor.
All of the following can benefit from a warm Epsom salts bath:
23. Regulate blood pressure
24. Regulate insulin levels
27. Eclampsia and preeclampsia (If pregnant a doctor’s recommendation is vitally necessary)
28. Restless leg syndrome
29. Prevention of cardiovascular artery hardening
30. Depression – low magnesium levels in the body can be a factor contributing to depression
31 Acne (1 teaspoon combined with 3 drops of iodine and a half cup boiling water, let cool and apply with cotton ball and leave on overnight)
32. Soothe bee stings. First, remove bee stinger with tweezers if possible. Soak a cotton cloth in an Epsom salt solution (2 tablespoons to 1 cup cold water).
33. Help treat poison ivy with Epsom salt paste for small patches or with an Epsom salt bath for all over itching. Be sure to wash any affected areas with cold water before treating.
34. Relieve Sunburn pain. Mix 1 tablespoon to ½ cup water in a spray bottle. Spray on affected area to soothe.
35. Reduce Itching from mosquito bites. Use 1 tablespoon Epsom salt to ½ cup water and apply as wet compress
36. Rinsing your face and eyes with a warm Epsom salt solution may help heal sties, conjunctivitis, and even cataracts.
37. Use food-grade Epsom salt as a laxative. 2 to 4 teaspoons to a glass of warm water for adults. Not recommended for children under 12. Also not to be taken for prolonged periods of time.
38. Athlete’s foot and toenail fungus.
Toenail fungus is notoriously difficult to treat. You will need to soak in an Epsom salt foot bath of ½ cup Epsom salt to ½ gallon of warm water for 15 minutes three times a day.
When skin and nails are softer after the treatment dry feet thoroughly and apply a few drops of tea tree oil and rub in carefully as it needs, in the case of toenail fungus, to get in the corners of the nail and through the nail to where the fungus sits under the nail.
Athlete’s foot clears easily with this method – after the Epsom salt foot bath put the tea-tree oil between the toes, making sure you have dried the area thoroughly with paper towel – do not use a towel or you will risk infecting someone else who uses the same towel, or reinfecting yourself.
Socks and shoes should be thoroughly disinfected before wearing. Do not borrow someone else’s socks either as you do not know if athlete’s foot spores – it’s a fungus – are in those socks.
Garden and Outdoor Uses
39. Produce bigger, more colorful, more flavorful produce. Add 1 tablespoon Epsom salt per gallon of water and sprinkle over plants just before you do your regular watering. Epsom salt enhances plants’ ability to absorb nutrients from the soil.
Do not use on growing sage (Salvia officinalis) as the plant does not respond well. Roses and hibiscus plants will benefit from a couple of tablespoons dug in near the base of the plant, where it can slow release when rain occurs or the plant is watered.
40. Use in garden as a fertilizer but only if a soil test indicates your soil needs magnesium sulphate otherwise if the soil is balanced you are wasting your money and could possibly harm your crop.
41. Repel slugs by sprinkling around the doors of your home or in the garden to repel slugs – they avoid the crystals as they can cut their skin causing them to dehydrate and die.
42. Repel raccoons and other animals that don’t like the smell of it. Simply sprinkle Epsom salt on top of the garbage can lid and around the area where you are disposing of garbage. Reapply if it rains.
43. Regenerate batteries. Dilute 1 ½ oz. Epsom salt in a half cup distilled water warmed. Add the solution to each battery cell and then recharge it. An Epsom salt solution improves conductivity because it is an electrolyte.
Cleaning with Epsom Salt
There are a variety of ways that you can use an Epsom salt solution to clean not only in areas of your home but also for personal hygiene.
44. Clean grout and kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Use a half cup of Epsom salt with warm sudsy water as a mild abrasive on grout and other surfaces
45. Clean burned food from pots and pans. Apply a warm solution and leave to soak for a
46. Use as a facial scrub or skin exfoliate (2-parts olive oil to 1-part Epsom salt)
47. Brushing teeth. Use 1-part water with 1-part fully dissolved Epsom salt to whiten teeth and guard against periodontal disease.
48. Combine with conditioner to use as a hair volumizer or to remove oil from your hair.
49. Clean washing machine with a warm solution.
50. Use with coconut oil as a hand soap.
Where to Get It
Disclosure: This post has links to 3rd party websites, so I may get a commission if you buy through those links. Survival Sullivan is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See my full disclosure for more.
- on Amazon, of course
- from your local pharmacy or grocery store (look near pain relievers or laxatives)
- from a natural food or health store
- from your local garden supply or feed store
Cautions When Using Epsom Salt
- Epsom salt should only be used externally as a soak or spray. If you do need to ingest it (to treat constipation for example) use only the food grade kind and consult your physician before beginning treatment.
- Discontinue use if you experience any signs of an allergic reaction such as breathing problems, hives, or inflammation of your lips, tongue, throat, or face.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding must consult their physician or OB/GYN before using Epsom salt by any method.
- Those with diabetes or kidney problems must discuss the use of Epsom salt with their physician before use as it can affect how some medications work.
- Too much magnesium can cause nausea and vomiting, low blood pressure and slowed heartbeat, respiratory paralysis, mineral deficiencies, coma, arrhythmias, diarrhea or stomach irritation.
- Do not use when growing sage
Storage and Shelf-life
One of the best things about Epsom salt is its stability. It can be stored in a cool place away from direct sunlight in a sealed container for up to five or even ten years or longer with proper storage. If stored in an open container shelf-life is reduced to one year.
Consider Epsom salt as a potential treatment for the chronic medical conditions listed here, but discuss with your doctor beforehand and remain under close supervision for any problems. If it does work for your chronic ailments, you stand a better chance of survival when SHTF and pharmacies empty out than if you have no alternative at all.
The potential healing properties of Epsom salt are worth giving it a try before you resort to over the counter medications for minor issues. There is certainly nothing to lose by trying Epsom salt baths or a compress before resorting to OTC solutions for those non-life threatening medical issues.
Make sure to check with your doctor before using Epsom salt if you have a serious medical condition. You may just find that by including Epsom salt in your stockpile, you will be even more prepared if your supply of over the counter medicines dwindles.
The information in this article is provided “as is” and should not be mistaken for or be a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your physician before trying any of the advice presented on this page. Always seek the help of a professional when delivering a baby. Neither the author nor www.SurvivalSullivan.com or the company behind the website shall be held liable for any negative effects of you putting into practice the information in this article.
updated 08/17/2020 by Jeanie Beales
Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart.
For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared for whatever may come along. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of nine grandsons and one granddaughter, is learning everything she can about preparedness, basic survival, and self-sufficient homesteading. She is passionate about sharing that knowledge so that others can be increasingly prepared to protect their families.