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How Much Epsom Salt Do You Put In Your Bath To Fight Anxiety & Pain?

Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
Author: Medical reviewer:
September 16, 2019
Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
mbg Health Contributor
By Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
mbg Health Contributor
Gretchen Lidicker earned her master’s degree in physiology with a focus on alternative medicine from Georgetown University. She is the author of “CBD Oil Everyday Secrets” and “Magnesium Everyday Secrets.”
Leah Johansen, M.D.
Medical review by
Leah Johansen, M.D.
Board-certified family medicine physician
Leah Johansen, M.D., practices alongside Robert Rountree, M.D., at Boulder Wellcare in Boulder, Colorado. Johansen earned her medical degree from Trinity School of Medicine and completed her residency training in family and community medicine at Case Western Reserve University.
September 16, 2019
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There are endless self-care rituals that are worth adding to your wellness routine, but Epsom salt baths are no doubt at the top of the list. They combine the soothing qualities of soaking in hot water with the anti-pain, anti-insomnia, and anti-anxiety powers of magnesium.

Epsom salt baths pack a serious punch against stress and everyday aches and pains. That is, as long as you do them correctly.

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Are you making this common Epsom salt bath mistake?

If you're wondering how you could possibly mess up soaking in a tub, I hear you. Pouring some Epsom salt into hot water doesn't exactly require a lot of brainpower.

So what do I mean by Epsom salt bath "mistake"? I mean that it's common to not be adding enough Epsom salt to your bath. This might not seem like a big deal, but if you skimp on the salts, you won't get the benefits of the magnesium they're made from.

And you definitely want the benefits of magnesium as it's an essential mineral that plays a role in over 300 biochemical reactions1 in the body. These reactions play a role in anything from blood sugar balance to muscle relaxation to DNA synthesis, but it also happens to be one of the most common mineral deficiencies in the body.

Magnesium has been studied2 as a treatment for headaches, muscle pain and spasms, constipation, skin inflammation, insomnia, and anxiety—just to name a few of its exciting benefits.

Are you adding enough Epsom salt to your bath?

You've probably noticed that Epsom salts come in a giant bag. (And by giant, I mean giant. There are bags of Epsom salts for sale on Amazon that weigh as much as 55 pounds, although they're typically between 3 and 5 pounds.) This is on purpose. You need a lot more Epsom salt per bath than you might expect.

The directions typically instruct users to add 2 cups of salts to their bath, but many people just sprinkle in a handful or two assuming that will do the trick. But according to Will Cole, D.C., IFMCP, a functional medicine doctor and mindbodygreen Collective member, that won't quite cut it. "Using the recommended amount of Epsom salt is important to get the maximum potency. If you dilute it, you'll lessen the benefits," he says.

One study from the University of Birmingham found by using a concentration of 1% Epsom salts 2-3 times per week there was a significant increase in plasma magnesium levels. This would equate to using 4-5 cups (or ½ 5 lb bag) of epsom salts per 30 gallons, the typical bath size.

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Are you soaking long enough in your Epsom salt bath?

Once you've gotten the amount of Epsom salt in your bath just right, make sure you're not wasting it by not soaking long enough. According to experts, you should be in there for at least 10 minutes. "The amount of time you soak is important because the nutrients need time to take effect. I generally recommend soaking for 10 minutes minimum but closer to 20 or 30 minutes is ideal for most people," says Cole.

And while the hot baths are soothing, if you want the full benefit of the mineral or have a magnesium deficiency—and it's estimated that more than half of us3 aren't getting enough of this mineral through our diets—it's a good idea to take an oral magnesium supplement to promote benefits both locally and systemically.

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Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
mbg Health Contributor

Gretchen Lidicker has a B.S. in biology and earned her master’s degree in physiology with a concentration in complementary and alternative medicine from Georgetown University. She's the author of CBD Oil Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Hemp-Derived Health and Wellness and Magnesium Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Epsom Salts, Magnesium Oil, and Nature's Relaxation Mineral. A Kripalu Center for Yoga and Ayurveda-trained yoga instructor, expert bread baker, and farmers market fanatic, she believes that no day is complete without a good dance party.