Lavender Oil & Epsom Salt Bath

13 Aug 2009, Posted by Jennifer Iannolo in indulgences, wellness

For me, nothing relieves stress better than a hot bath, and I was so happy to move into my new apartment because the old one didn’t have a tub! I had a gorgeous multi-jet shower (we nicknamed it the “Porn Shower”), but oh, how I longed to soak my weary self on many an occasion.

Back in the day when I could afford massages regularly, my darling of a masseur recommended that I take a hot bath afterward with lavender oil, Epsom salts and buttermilk to offset the lactic acid buildup. The elixir always left me feeling rejuvenated, and I rarely suffered from the soreness typical of deep-tissue massages. And though I now have to skip the massage part of that joyful experience (boo!), I am still a huge fan of the bath combo. It also makes the house smell incredible.

Note: Epsom salts are not the same as regular salts — they are actually a combination of magnesium and sulfate. Magnesium is supposed to assist the pain receptors in the body to settle down a bit, which is my layman’s explanation, but please be patient with me, as I’m learning this stuff right along with you. I do welcome your comments below if you have better explanations than mine.

This trifecta of goodness offers natural healing properties to soothe the nervous system, ease aches and pains, and evoke the aromatherapeutic effects of calm. I also get extra-excited when I can use real foods and ingredients as part of my wellness regimen, and all of the items can below are completely edible (as long as you use culinary lavender, but feel free to use either). Consider it comfort food:redux.

The next time you’re filling the tub with hot water, simply add in:
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1 cup of Epsom salts
drizzle of lavender essential oil

Climb in, close your eyes and let the stress disappear.


If you want to get some skin-soothing action in there, and prefer a dry mixture to make in bulk and store (just multiply the measurements below in proportion), prepare a dry mixture of the following:

1 cup Epsom salts
1/2 cup powdered milk
1 cup rolled oats
2 Tbsp lavender buds

Put all the ingredients in the food processor and grind to a fine powder. I make this in bulk and store it in a pretty jar in my bathroom. (It also makes a wonderful gift for your favorite stressed-out people.)

P.S. I’ve now also seen lavender Epsom salts available in drug stores, so if you can’t find or afford the real essential oil, this does work as a decent substitute, but will not afford you the true benefits of the oil, which you can find in natural health food stores or online at Sun’s Eye, where I get mine.

Let me know how it goes for you. It sure was good for me.

  • Ah, yes, a long hot bath (with a good book!) is really perfect for relieving stress. I must prepare this wonderful combination for my husband who so needs it.

  • Jamie, it is heaven on earth. I need some right now, in fact!

  • debra

    Soaking in Epsom salt 2 – 3 times a week just for the stress relief and muscle tension. I found some wonderfully fragrant Epsom salt at Bed Bath & Beyond – cant wait to get home tonight!

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  • michael

    can I soak in bath salts everyday?
    how much soaking is over-doing it?
    and what are the problems of over-doing it?

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    Lovely recipes for bath treats. They are easy, I’ve made them with a Sunday School full of 2-5 year olds, who were thrilled to wrap the containers in foil and give their parents a real, sweet smelling present they had made themselves.

    If you stay in the tub more than 20 minutes, you begin to absorb the minerals through your skin, so I use food or pharmaceutical (USP) grade minerals for my bath salts.
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