Epsom Salt: The Kayaker’s Friend

by Nancy Soares on February 22, 2016

Epsom salt - the kayaker's friend

Epsom salt – the kayaker’s friend

Now I’m retired I spend my time pursuing mostly physical interests. Yoga, martial arts, skiing, hiking, camping, and kayaking are pretty much what I do. In order to keep vigorous and resilient I have a regimen. To stay healthy, I eat right and get plenty of sleep, regular massages, and take at least one Epsom salt bath a week. Especially when I‘m sore, or better yet if I think I’m going to be sore, Epsom salt baths soothe my muscles and joints. They really work.

According to the Epsom Salt Council, Epsom salt is used to relieve sore muscles, help remove splinters and fade bruises. It can be used as a beauty product.  Athletes use it for pain relief and gardeners use it to improve crops. It is also an effective treatment to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with bee stings, mosquito bites, sunburn and poison ivy.

Epsom salt crystals

Epsom salt crystals

Not only effective, Epsom salt is relatively cheap. You can buy it in cartons or bags at places like Bi-Mart and Rite-Aid, and sometimes it’s on sale so you can stock up. My hairdresser told me about the Grange Co-op where I can get a fifty pound bag for $21.99 – a steal! I keep a jar of salt by the bathtub and fill it up from the bag in the garage. So nice!

Epsom salt has been traditionally used as a component of bath salts. For relief from muscle pain, Epsom salt is commonly added to bath water before soaking for a minimum of 12 minutes. For other localized treatments, Epsom salt can be mixed with water and soaked into a washcloth or towel to apply directly to the skin. I dissolve the salt in a bucket of water after hiking to soothe sore feet. Also, Epsom salt is composed of both magnesium and sulfate, and soaking in the dissolved salts can help raise the body’s level of both of these vital nutrients.

One soaker tub, one giant bag of salt

One soaker tub, one giant bag of salt

Epsom salt take its name from a bitter saline spring in Epsom in Surrey, England, where the salt was produced from the springs that arise where the porous chalk of the North Downs meets non-porous London clay. Now it is on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system, so you know it’s good stuff.

I highly recommend that kayakers keep a supply of Epsom salt handy. There’s nothing like a hot Epsom salt bath after a long day on the cold water. Even in warmer climes than ours here in the Pacific Northwest, an Epsom salt bath can soothe your pain away after a heavy workout.  It’s my belief that repeated usage keeps the body flexible, strong, and pain-free. Haven’t tried them yet? You don’t know what you’re missing!

Do you use Epsom salt? How do you like it? Share you story here.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony Moore February 22, 2016 at 10:57 am

I love the old-time remedies! They are always cheaper, and often work better. One example: Kaopectate. It used to be a combination of kaolin (an absorbent clay), and pectin (a soluble fruit fiber), and it worked fine. Now, they reformulated it…no kaolin, no pectin, just a drug. Gentian violet was an excellent local antiseptic, but now (more expensive) antibiotics and antifungal drugs are used. And on another note, all faucets used to have washers. You could buy a whole package of assorted washers for very little money. Then, they “improved” things…instead of washers, you have poppet valves, springs, o-rings, etc. It takes significantly more skill to replace, and the cost has increased exponentially! I’m not against progress, but the new technology should be significantly better than the old, without making you have to take a loan out. That’s my rant for the day!


Nancy Soares February 28, 2016 at 8:15 pm

Thanks for your rant, Tony. I share your thoughts. As one of my college professors used to say, progress is great. But progress literally means going forward. Sounds good, right? But what if going forward means walking off a 2,000 foot cliff? Still good? Not so much. So many things today are done differently but not better. Didn’t know about the Kaopectate but thanks for enlightening me – it’s a classic example. Coke is another one. I stopped drinking Coke a long time ago. But give me a Mexican Coke with real sugar? I’ll take it. (I have heard that the original contained cocaine – thus its name. But would that be any different from the stuff they put in Red Bull and Monster and that ilk? I think not.) At any rate, always good to hear from you 🙂


Jen McGahan March 17, 2016 at 10:37 am

We absolutely sue epsom salts in the bath. I like to put a few handfuls in a baggie and add a few drops of 100% pure lavender essential oil or some other calming essential oil, and smoosh it around so the salt gets infused with the oil. It makes the bath smell heavenly and helps relax and soothe tired muscles even more!


Nancy Soares March 17, 2016 at 9:18 pm

Hey, Jen, thanks for the suggestion! I love lavender and I’ll have to try that. I know someone who uses geranium essential oil along with lavender in her Epsom bath – she’s had two hip replacements and apparently it’s really soothing for nerve damage post surgery. But I don’t think she “smooshes”. I really like that idea – I’m thinking it might make the bathtub easier to clean? Regardless, it’s a great idea. Thank you for reading and thank you for commenting.


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