What is Epsom Salt?

By Daniel Fox

Magnesium sulfate or Epsom salt, its common moniker, is a type of salt that got its name from the town of Epsom, England. The mineral waters in the town facilitated the discovery of the substance. Since then, the applicability of Epsom salt has taken many forms. The world now finds the use of Epsom salt beneficial in numerous ways.

Epsom salt is used for a variety of purposes.


Magnesium sulfate, or MgSO4, is a chemical compound made up of one part magnesium, one part sulfur and four parts oxygen. It is either crystal-like or powdery in appearance and texture. Its molecular weight is 246.47. It has a density of 1.67 grams per milliliter at 4 degrees Celsius. Its melting point is 2,055 Fahrenheit. It is odorless and water-soluble.


Epsom salt gets its name from the town of Epsom, in the county of Surrey, in England. The residents discovered the substance in the mineral waters of the town in the 16th century. As a result of word of mouth regarding the benefits of Epsom salt, the town received a large influx of visitors from greater England and Europe interested in using it.


The most common use of Epsom salt is for bathing. The Epsom salt bath has long been a popular remedy for various ailments. It is also a favorite rejuvenation technique. The bather places the substance in a bath and soaks her entire body in the water. The most common purpose of an Epsom salt bath is the treatment of muscular pain. People use Epsom salt for cosmetic purposes on skin and hair, as it acts in an exfoliating capacity. Numerous industries also utilize magnesium sulfate, including such diverse fields as agriculture, plating, textiles and steel production.


Magnesium is one of the most effective chemicals we know of when it comes to the human body, thus accounting for the effectiveness of Epsom salt. Magnesium lowers blood pressure and reduces the risks of heart attacks. In addition, magnesium is the key culprit behind the effectiveness of Epsom salt in treating bodily aches and pains. Magnesium is susceptible to interference from other chemicals and foods when taken internally. Thus, the external application of Epsom salt yields better results.