Bath time is taken to a whole new level when you indulge in an Epsom salt bath with essential oils. Here’s how to make sure your essential oils stay safely diluted while you soak.
When you’re not feeling your best, have a headache, or maybe worked too hard at the gym or in your yard, there’s nothing like sinking down into a warm, soothing bath.
The water and silence seem to float your cares away.
Well, only if you lock the door first, because there’s also nothing like sinking into a bath only to be interrupted by small people (or not so small). Just me?
While a tub full of warm water is fabulous on its own, bathtime becomes even more soothing when you add Epsom salts and essential oils to the water.
But before you just drop essential oils into the bathwater, or even mix them with your Epsom salts before adding to the bath, pause. Doing that can leave you with painfully irritated skin and make your bathtime anything but soothing.
It’s important to take a few simple safety precautions if you’re going to enjoy an Epsom salt bath with essential oils. Thankfully, this is really easy and doesn’t require any special ingredients!
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What Is Epsom Salt & How Do They Help in a Bath?
Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulfate, so it’s not a salt at all. Since this form of magnesium comes in salt-like crystals, it’s become known as salt. The Epsom part comes from a town in England where they were discovered.
Epsom salt dissolves easily into the bath, making mineral-rich water that’s perfect for soaking.
Many natural health experts believe magnesium deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the modern world. Magnesium deficiency is linked to headaches and migraines, muscle cramps, constipation, PMS, and many other common health conditions.
Magnesium is also an interesting mineral because you can get it through your diet (leafy greens are a great source, among other foods), but it can also be absorbed through your skin.
That means that a humble Epsom salt bath can be a great way to naturally boost your magnesium levels!
Epsom salt baths and localized soaks (like a foot soak) can be used for a variety of health benefits:
- To help soothe sprains and injuries
- To ease strained or pulled muscles
- To gently nourish the body during infection
- To help relieve headaches
- To help reduce stress and promote a general sense of wellness.
For such an inexpensive and easily found home remedy, Epsom salt has a lot to offer you!
How to Safely Dilute Essential Oils in a Bath
Just like Epsom salt takes a bath to the next level, so do essential oils. The aromatherapy experience combined with a soak in warm water is heavenly!
Too often, though, instructions for adding essential oils to the bath miss a crucial step that protects your skin: correctly diluting them.
Contrary to what you might read online and even in some older essential oil and herbal books, many common bath ingredients won’t safely dilute essential oils through your bath. These include:
- Epsom salts
- Sea salt
- Baking soda
- Dry clays
What Happens If You Don’t Dilute Your Essential Oils in a Bath
If essential oils aren’t thoroughly diluted through your bathwater, you run the risk of experiencing skin irritations like redness, itching, stinging, tingling, burning, welts, or even slight swelling. Depending on the type of essential oil in your bathwater and how much you add, these reactions can be quite severe and painful.
You see, your skin is extra sensitive when you’re in the bath. The warm water makes your skin more permeable, so anything it’s in contact with will have a greater impact. This is why the best time to apply a moisturizer is after a bath or shower.
If your essential oils aren’t safely diluted, that means they’re hitting your skin at full strength. Undiluted, or neat, essential oil use is almost always something you should avoid, and this is especially true when your skin is extra sensitive.
Options for Diluting Essential Oils in the Bath
Thankfully, you don’t need any special ingredients to safely dilute essential oils in your bathwater. You have a few simple options:
- Add them to a carrier oil at a safe dilution, then add to your bathwater. This will leave your skin extra soft, but also leaves an oily residue on your bathtub.
- Add them to a bath or shower gel at a safe dilution, then add to your bathwater. This won’t leave a residue but it can be difficult to find a bath gel that doesn’t contain potentially harmful ingredients (this shower gel could be one option).
- Add them to liquid Castile soap at a safe dilution, then add to your bathwater. Castile soap is completely natural and will dilute your essential oils, but it can also dry out your skin.
If you need help knowing how to safely dilute essential oils, The Essential Oils Quick Reference Guide can help. It’s my printer-friendly downloadable guide full of helpful dilution charts, safety checklists, and more that makes safe home essential oil use easier than ever.
There are also special ingredients aromatherapists and skincare formulators may use to disperse essential oils in water, but they aren’t really necessary for most people. If you’re interested, you can read more about them here, though.
My favorite way to add essential oils to an Epsom salt bath, or any other bath for that matter, combines two of the methods above for one super simple, easy to clean, and skin-nourishing bathtime treat. More on that in a moment!
Which Essential Oils Work Best in Your Bath?
Some essential oils can be really irritating to your skin, especially in full-body applications or on sensitive areas. Unless you’re doing a localized bath, like a foot or hand soak, you’ll have best results if you avoid the following essential oils and those like it:
- Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
- Cinnamon leaf and bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
- Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
- Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
- Citrus oils, like sweet orange, lemon, and grapefruit
That doesn’t mean you can’t use a favorite blend in your bath if it has a tiny amount of a citrus oil in it, but adding even more than a drop of these oils can start to irritate your skin in the bath.
Instead, focus on skin-soothing oils that also have fragrances you love. Some great options to consider are
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- Roman chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
- Sweet marjoram (Origanum marjorana)
- Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)
- Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
- Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata), just one drop will do with this one
- Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii)
- Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
- Helichrysum (Helichrysum angustifolium)
- Frankincense (Boswellia carteri)
If you need to know if an essential oil is safe to add to your bathwater, I recommend checking the book The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils by Julia Lawless. It’s an easy-to-understand reference book and will tell you if an essential oil is potentially sensitizing or irritating. I consider it a must-have!
How to Take an Epsom Salt Bath with Essential Oils, The Easy Way
Now that you understand why you can’t just add essential oils to your bathwater or even to your Epsom salt first, and you also know why it’s so important to safely dilute them before adding to the bath, it’s time to share my favorite (read: the easiest) way to get the job done.
You won’t have to hunt for a specialty bath or shower gel.
You won’t end up with a slick oil ring on your bathtub.
You just need two simple ingredients that most naturally-minded homes keep around: Castile soap and a liquid oil, like olive oil, avocado oil, or almond oil.
Here’s how to safely take an Espom salt bath with essential oils, the easy way:
- In a small dish, combine 1 teaspoon Castile soap with 1 teaspoon carrier oil, like olive oil, avocado oil, or almond oil.
- Add 3-5 drops of essential oil and stir to thoroughly dilute.
- Add the mixture to your running bathwater. You can add the Epsom salt before or after you add the diluted essential oils.
- Enjoy your soak!
As you can see, this isn’t a complicated process and you don’t need any special herbal and aromatherapy techniques to do it.
But it’s important. Safely diluting your essential oils in the bath will give you a relaxing experience that can even boost your overall wellness. Forgetting to dilute them, or diluting them ineffectively, can leave you with a painful skin reaction you won’t soon forget.
Oh, and don’t forget to lock the bathroom door before you hop in the bath, too. That’s important, too.