What is the Difference Between Epsom Bath Salts and Magnesium Bath Flakes?

Posted on: September 14th, 2015 by
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Epsom Salts, also known as magnesium sulfate: Photo credit, Fotolia

Epsom Salts, also known as magnesium sulfate: Photo credit, Fotolia

Epsom salts, chemically known as magnesium sulfate, and magnesium bath flakes, chemically known as magnesium chloride, are similar, yet different, products. It is important to know the differences between the two ingredients as the use of magnesium bath flakes is on the rise, competing with the long time favorite of Epsom salts. Here’s a quick look at the similarities and differences between Epsom salts and magnesium bath flakes.

Magnesium Components of Epsom Salts and Magnesium Bath Flakes

Epsom salts are chemically composed of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen; magnesium accounts for about 10% of the chemical make-up of Epsom salts (National Garden Association).

Magnesium hydroxide is a white powder produced from sea water by the addition of calcium hydroxide. Add in hydrocloric acid, and magnesium chloride is produced. (Encyclopedia Britannica). Magnesium chloride is said to produce about 12% of magnesium that is readily available for absorption (National Institutes of Health).

Magnesium Deficiency in the Body

Magnesium is just of many minerals that the human body needs to function correctly. A deficiency in magnesium results in vomiting, lack of appetite, nausea, numbness, tingling, muscle cramps, seizures, heart problems, and eventually hypocalcemia or hypokalemia (National Institutes of Health).

Magnesium can be found in many food sources and ingested this way. It can also be absorbed through the skin in the form of Epsom salts (Epsom Salts Council) and as magnesium chloride bath flakes. Some sources infer that the effects of magnesium in magnesium bath flakes last longer than those of Epsom salts.

Magnesium as a Product

Magnesium sulfate is readily available as Epsom salt which, in the aromatherapy product making business, is commonly used in the bath. Magnesium chloride is available to purchase as bath flakes for bath use.

Epsom salts are also used in the garden, to produce a higher yield of plants, and in household cleaning products. Magnesium chloride is available as an “oil” – essentially a mix of magnesium chloride and water which produces an “oily” feeling. Magnesium oil should not be used in the bath.

Benefits of Epsom Salts

Epsom salts may have the following benefits:

  • act as a skin exfoliant

  • stress-relieving

  • help with muscle aches and pain

  • flush out toxins from the body.

Benefits of Magnesium Bath Flakes

Magnesium bath flakes may have the following benefits:

  • improve skin hydration

  • enhance wound healing

  • decrease inflammation

  • stress-relieving

  • help with muscle aches and pain.

Magnesium Sulfate vs. Magnesium Chloride for the Bath

Both magnesium sulfate and magnesium chloride (as bath flakes) are recommended for use in the bath and are said to be readily absorbed through the skin.

Although Epsom salts have historically been used for a long time, the use (and effects) of magnesium chloride as bath flakes is not as well known. In researching information for this article, I had difficulty finding verifiable (non-commercial) information relating to the proven benefits of magnesium chloride for bath use, although I did find independent studies relating to the use of Epsom salts (Epsom Salt Council). That does not mean that the use of magnesium chloride is not advisable but, as an aromatherapy product maker, I am more familiar with the use of magnesium (sulfate) in the form of Epsom salts. The use of magnesium chloride bath flakes, as its benefits become more widely known, may rise in popularity in the future.

Learn More About Aromatherapy Product Making with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about making aromatherapy products with ingredients such as Epsom salts, consider one of the Sedona Aromatherapie home study aromatherapy courses. Visit the courses home page to learn more!

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