Guide to bath salt ingredients
As simple as the basic bath salts recipe is, you can have limitless fun trying out different combinations of ingredients. Here's my guide to bath salt ingredients.
(For ideas on how to combine ingredients to maximum effect, check out The Handcrafter's Companion – not only does it have a ton of recipes, it also shows you how to create your own unique recipes.)
Bath salts – the key ingredient!
The salts themselves are the heart of any bath salt recipe. But even here you have a ton of choice. There are a lot of different kinds of bath salt, each with its own look and therapeutic properties. Please note: I'm not a doctor, and you should always consult your doctor before attempting to use any ingredient therapeutically.
Salts come in different grain sizes, and different salts also have their own color. Combining different sizes and colors can make a more interesting looking bath salt than just using one.
- Epsom salt
This is the classic bath salt, known for centuries for its relaxing properties. It reduces inflammation, and so has historically been used as a soak for sore and tired muscles. It can also be soothing to various skin problems, such as sores and acne. Chemically, it's magnesium sulphate; many people are deficient in magnesium, and bathing in epsom salts for upwards of 20 minutes allows you to absorb magnesium through the skin. It's thought that this can raise seratonin levels, increasing relaxation and improving your mood, and lowering stress and adrenaline. It's often used in flotation tanks.
- Sea salt
Sea salt is about 97% sodium chloride – the chemical that we use for table salt – but unlike table salt, it contains other salts as well. Which ones depends on which sea it comes from, as different seas have different concentrations of minerals.
- Dead Sea mineral salt is different from other sea salts. The Dead Sea is land-locked, and the salt levels are ten times more concentrated than in the oceans – that's why you can float in the Dead Sea. Its therapeutic properties have been known since ancient Egyptian times. Unlike regular sea salt, Dead Sea salt is only about 15% sodium chloride. Dead Sea salt baths are used today to treat arthritis, and skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema. It stimulates blood circulation, and some people use it as an anti-aging treatment. It contains sulfur, chlorine, iodine, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and bromine. It's also a great choice for a bed-time bath salt, as it makes you sleepy! There's a comprehensive article on Dead Sea salt and what it can treat at SaltWorks.
- Himalayan pink salt
As the name suggests, this comes from the Himalayan mountains, and is a beautiful shade of pink. Himalayan pink salt is ancient, having formed deep underground in prehistoric times, and so is very pure. The pink color comes from its iron content. Himalayan pink salt has been used for healing for centuries. It soothes tired muscles, stimulates blood flow, reduces acid reflux, lowers blood pressure, and removes toxins.
See the resources page for information on where to buy bath salts.
Essential oils are the most common choice for fragrancing bath salts, as they're pure, natural, and have aromatherapeutic properties. See my page on essential oils for bath salts for details.
You can also use perfume oils. These can be natural or synthetic, but make sure they're 'skin safe' perfume oils, not the kind used in oil burners.
Soap coloring is the best option here, and again, you want to look for 'skin safe' here, or 'cosmetic grade'. Food coloring isn't a great idea, because it can stain your tub.
Other common ingredients
There are other things that you'll often find listed in bath salt recipes. Here are some:
- Dendritic salt
This helps preserve fragrances and stop salts clumping. You only need a little – about 5% of the volume of your salts – and it's best to mix it with the fragrance before adding the other salts.
- Baking soda
We all know that baking soda cleans brilliantly. It can also be soothing for skin problems.
- Citric acid. Combine with baking soda to create the fizz for fizzing bath salts or bath bombs.
A dash of nut oil or other vegetable oil will soften the skin wonderfully. Too much will make your bath salts clump, though!
Odd as it sounds, oatmeal can be very soothing for irritated skin. Make sure to grind it up as small as you can!
Another soothing ingredient.
Powdered goat milk or buttermilk is also soothing and softening.
There are a ton of ways to decorate your bath salts, from dried flowers and herbs, to glitter and other sparklies, to ribbons or raffia to tie around the jar.