How to Take a Better Bath

BathThe act of taking a bath doesn’t necessarily need gussying up. Simply submerging your body in hot water and rubbing yourself with an emulsifying agent will get you clean enough, with the potentially added benefits of wicking away stress and inducing relaxation. But in this age of high-tech shower heads and limited free time, the utilitarian shower has won out over the bath. You don’t have to wait for the tub to fill, you’re not stewing in your own juices, and the added pressure of the shower helps blast dirt, skin cells, and natural oils from your body. The bath just can’t compete with the shower for its cleaning prowess.

Who takes baths for cleanliness, though? Let’s face it: a bath is about relaxation. It’s about treating yourself, soothing sore muscles, catching up on a good book, and letting go and forgetting about the madness of what just transpired that day. It’s a mini-vacation. And there may even be some health benefits. Like anything with those qualities, it can probably be improved upon, or “hacked,” if you will. If we care about our health – and how much we enjoy the little things that make life worth living – we owe it to ourselves to take a better bath.

Here’s how to do it:

Add epsom salts or magnesium chloride flakes.

If you could make just one change to your bath routine, it should be to add a source of magnesium to your water. Epsom salts, available in every drug store I’ve ever entered, contain magnesium sulfate. Magnesium chloride flakes, available online and in aquarium supply shops, contain magnesium chloride (obviously). Both are helpful additions to your bathwater, and both can increase serum levels of magnesium when applied to the skin.

In one study (PDF), subjects took daily epsom salt baths for a week straight. Each bath was 12 minutes in duration and varied between 50 and 55 ºC. When the week was up, magnesium levels were significantly elevated in the majority of the subjects. In a few people whose pre-treatment levels were already replete, urinary excretion of magnesium increased, suggesting that excess magnesium does get absorbed but not retained. As an added bonus, epsom salt baths also provide ample amounts of bioavailable sulfate, a hugely important mineral in mammalian physiology.

Topical magnesium chloride has also been shown to increase serum levels of magnesium in human subjects (PDF). Every day for 12 weeks, subjects were given 20 sprays of magnesium chloride to the body and took a 20-minute foot bath in a magnesium chloride solution. After 12 weeks, hair mineral analysis showed that participants increased magnesium levels by an average of nearly 60%. They also improved their calcium:magnesium ratios.

Because they’re so heavy, epsom salts just aren’t very economical to purchase online. The shipping precludes it, unless you buy 25-50 pounds a time. Even then, most drug stores offer epsom salts for around a dollar a pound.

Magnesium chloride is more expensive than epsom salts, but also more effective. It’s also the form of magnesium found in seawater, the original (and world’s largest) bathtub. A nice compromise would be to add a cup or three of epsom salts to your bath, then spritz yourself with some magnesium chloride oil, which you can either buy or make yourself. I’ve found that this combination reliably helps me sleep and gives me vivid, enjoyable, memorable dreams.

Add other salts.

It’s tough to get real information on actual bath salts, because googling “bath salts” returns page after page of information on the notorious designer drugs masquerading as bath salts. As far as I can tell, the only significant body of bath salt research in existence deals with Dead Sea salts. It seems that bathing in Dead Sea salts, also called Tomesa therapy, improved the skin health of patients with psoriasis and normalized the levels of Langerhans cells (a kind of macrophage that helps with tissue healing and can get out of control in certain skin diseases). A bath in regular sodium chloride (salt) had no effect. Another study found that magnesium-rich Dead Sea water improved skin hydration, skin barrier function, and reduced skin inflammation in atopic dry skin.

Bathing in the Dead Sea had a positive effect on patients with both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis by reducing inflammation. In osteoarthritis of the knee, a two week Dead Sea bath treatment resulted in a 3-month abatement of symptoms. A recent literature review concluded that the Dead Sea makes for an effective resort for patients with various types of joint ailments.

Also interesting is the effect on type 2 diabetics. A single immersion in the waters of the Dead Sea lowered blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetics.

I suspect using other sources of bath salts, like Salt Lake bath salts, will offer similar benefits.

Add carbonation.

A lukewarm (36 ºC) bath full of carbonated water boosted the performance of competitive swimmers when taken before a workout. Subsequent lactic acid threshold was higher, heart rate took longer to become elevated, and muscles were more efficient after a carbonated bath. Swimmers who took a regular bath at the same temperature enjoyed none of the same benefits.

I don’t mean upending cases of San Pellegrino into your bathtub (although that would be extremely effective, albeit prohibitively expensive). Bath bombs should do the trick. Alternatively, you could use the same formula used by American practitioners who were trying to replicate the famous carbonated baths of Europe:

  • Sodium carbonate: 1½ lbs
  • Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda): ½ lb
  • Calcium chloride: 3 lbs
  • Sodium chloride: 2 lbs
  • Sodium bisulphate: 1 lbs

Mixing vinegar and baking soda should also work, as would dumping in some dry ice.

Add essential oils.

First and foremost, essential oils added to a bath improve the sensorial experience. You pick an oil whose scent you enjoy, sprinkle a few drops where the water hits the bottom of the tub to disperse it, and revel in the herbaceous cloud enveloping you. That alone is worth it.

Second, inhaled fumes of essential oils may exert beneficial physiological effects on us:

Add a bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Every so often, I’ll make like the Romans and add a tablespoon or so of really good extra virgin olive oil to the running bath water. When you get out, your skin is covered in a thin layer of EVOO, and toweling off serves to rub it in. This will keep your skin well-moisturized.

Just make sure to wash the bottom of the tub before anyone else uses it. It gets very slick and dangerous.

Use bathing as a warmup before workouts, long walks, or any other physical activity.

Bathing is a good way to passively warmup. It, quite literally, warms up your muscles and prepares your body for movement. Stretching, dynamic warmups, and working out are all more effective and safer after warming up your muscles, whether through movement or through sitting in a hot bath. Hot baths are especially helpful in cold weather.

A hot bath before a workout may even increase fat loss. One recent study found that taking hot baths increased the release of free fatty acids from fat stores. Exercising immediately after a hot bath, then, will burn those free fatty acids and prevent them from being deposited back into adipose tissue.

You don’t have to make it a tough workout, necessarily. Even just a nice long walk after a bath will utilize the liberated fats.

Neutralize the chlorine/chloramine.

Chlorine and/or chloramine are added to most tap water supplies in order to disinfect it, but there’s some evidence that too much can have a negative effect on your health, probably by the same mechanism for which it’s put into our water supply: the antimicrobial activity of chlorine. Chris Kresser goes over the extensive evidence that chlorine/chloramine in our water supply also targets our intestinal bacteria in a previous post, and I’ve already written about the downsides of swimming in a chlorinated pool.

Luckily, adding a single gram of vitamin C in tablet or powder form can neutralize the chlorine/chloramine in most standard bath tubs.

Start hotter than you’d think.

Bathwater loses heat rapidly. And if it’s truly too hot for you, it’s easier to achieve the perfect temperature by drizzling cold water into hot than drizzling hot water into cold. Plus, higher temperatures will generally improve absorption of minerals and increase diffusion of scents.

That about sums up my approach to building a better bath. It’s served me well, and I think you guys will find my recommendations useful as well. That said, I’m sure I haven’t covered every approach to a better bath. What about you guys? What do you do to improve your bathing experience? Let us know in the comment section and thanks for reading!

TAGS:  skin/hair

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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141 thoughts on “How to Take a Better Bath”

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  1. I vote for natural hotsprings. Nothing beats that for a mini vacation!

  2. This is a post right up my alley! Hot baths that are available with a quick turn of the tap are one of the most amazing gifts of living today. I only recently started using Epsom salts in my baths and had no idea, after a lifetime of bathing, that these could actually increase my desire to take more baths. I entered the tub a sore mess last night, and left feeling warm, relaxed, and then slept like a baby — and woke up refreshed. I can’t wait to try your other ideas for Dead Sea salts, carbonation and using vitamin C to neutralize the chlorine!

    I do wish there was an easy way to do something with the greywater afterwards without having to haul buckets off to the garden, which is only useful in our climate for about five months of the year, anyway (and I wonder if it’s safe to do that with the Epsom salts in the water?). I always feel a little guilty about filling a tub with so much water, then draining it an hour later. Water is getting more expensive.

    1. I can’t say for certain about all plants, but I’m spraying water with Epsom Salts mixed in onto my bell peppers this summer, to encourage a larger harvest – so I’m thinking it might be beneficial. The recommended mix was 1 tsp to 4 cups of water – so pretty dilute.

    2. I give my orchids Epsom salts every September to boost flowering. It works. I don’t know about the effects of giving it to all plants all the time, but it IS a fertilization method.

      1. That’s a great idea! My orchids are always thirsty (dry climate).

    3. A friend of mine sprinkles Epsom Salts around her rose bushes. She says they love it!

    4. You could have your plumbing changed so that your tub (and some or all of your sinks, if you desire) drain into a collection barrell. I’ve seen these systems on tv…they collect all the graywater in a big barrell, usually in the basement, and then that water is hooked up to a hose hookup on the outside of the house where the water can be easily accessed for watering the lawn and garden, washing the car, etc.

      Changing the plumbing is an initially large investment, but it has a great payoff and impact.

      1. Sadly, many state & local laws prevent this practice, so check before you plan. We have had many Summer droughts here… painful to see precious water go to waste.

        1. Yes, that is true. Although, most hired plumbers will pull a permit with the local government for such an installation.

      2. Love this idea — I’m renting now, but when I do own my own home, this is something I would definitely consider doing — if the logistics worked out. We have a very short growing season, so there would be more than half the year where this would not be possible (nowhere to put the water).

      3. In Australia, about 7 yrs ago, we bought a grey water system from a local hardware store for peanuts, even though it was officially against the rules… and used it for years… We were in the throws of the worst drought. You couldn’t even wash your car with buckets of water legally… except the windscreen… I couldn’t stand letting our washing machine throw all that water away…

    5. I was at the garden center the other day and was surprised to see Epson salts as a fertilizer.
      Also, I bought some of the magnesium oil and someone mentioned that it tingles…. I would use a different word – it stings.

      1. Magnesium oil is powerful to relieve sore muscles. I have found that it only stings on broken or very sensitive skin… Use coconut oil with it to alleviate this problem. Enjoy it, it’s great stuff!

    6. My heirloom tomato plant, Mr. Stripey, was getting blossoms that never developed into fruit. I googled that problem and one site recommended working into the soil round it 1 to 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt. It worked. The magnesium in the salt is what my plant was needing.

  3. I love a good sulfur hot spring. It makes my skin feel so soft. Plus you get to go naked in public and the water never cools off.

  4. The only thing I’d add to your ideal bath is to have Paul Togioka’s Hawaiian slack string guitar album “Ki ho’alu Inn” playing in the background. It’s such peaceful, happy music, it always takes me away.

  5. I love Epsom salts baths. They were my saviour after the kids were just born. Helped to soothe, heal and give me a mental break from motherhood. Here’s to a good soak in the tub . . .

  6. About water temps, I prefer my bath on the cooler side, because water too hot makes me feel light-headed. I wonder if that’s because I have low blood pressure. My husband, on the other hand, has high blood pressure and likes his baths very hot (taking a bath together was ruled out soon after the honeymoon stage!) I also find a hot-tub very uncomfortable for more than a minute or two. Anyone know whether it’s true that blood pressure has anything to do with bath temp preference?

    1. Good question– I too have very low blood pressure, but I prefer hot/warm baths myself. My husband has high blood pressure and loves icy cold baths after a long bike ride or heavy workout. So we’re the opposite of you and your husband.

      Speaking of ice baths, anyone else like those for after-workout? I find them uncomfortable but effective in preventing muscle soreness.

      1. I’d like to know more about ice baths too. We used them all the time post-practice and conditioning in college, but an old teammate of mine is convinced that icing after workouts is detrimental to muscle repair (She’s now a crossfit trainer). Anyone have any research to back either claim?

      2. I’ve read in 4-hour body by Tim Ferris that ice baths (or just cold exposure) can improve fat loss and help you fall asleep easier.
        It was very uncomfortable, when I tried it once and my whole body was shaking for at least 30 minutes afterwards. I don’t think I wanna do it again 🙂

        1. At the end of my showers I slowly turn off the hot tap leaving only the cold one running. It is wonderful and I can stand there for a minute or two before getting out… I did this for weight loss but no proof it helped of course…. but it felt amazing! And Im a super hot water shower lover…

    2. Justine, I too feel light headed when the water is too hot. I have low blood pressure, but also thyroid issues and cortisol issues. No idea which one is to blame.

      1. I feel sick and dizzy if the bathwater is too hot. I have low blood pressure, so don’t know if there is a connection. According to Ancient Minerals Magnesium Bath Flakes, if the water is too hot, you will actually lose magnesium, so they recommend only having the water warm for best absorption.

        1. Heat will cause the blood vessels to dilate hence potentially lowering blood pressure further.

          That would be my guess.

        2. The chlorine in shower or bath water can make you light headed. I think the hotter the water the more chlorine you absorb and breathe-it’s a bad combination.

        3. The chlorine in shower or bath water can make you light headed. I think the hotter the water the more chlorine you absorb and breathe-it’s a bad combination

  7. The reason I bought my home in Utah was due to the large jetted tub in the master suite. There is nothing better than soaking in hot water after a day in the field. I use it mostly in the winter, not as often in the summer. I will need to include epsom salts and essential oils. I usually burn the oils for their scent.

  8. Great subject for a post!

    When we bought our house one of my absolute requirements (besides a natural gas kitchen….nothing like cooking with fire) was a jetted tub. We paid extra for it but it’s worth it and I use it every day, sometimes twice a day. I run the water so hot that my wife can’t even touch it and usually add epsom salts or some scented, aromatherapy type substance. I’ll have to try the EVOO…never thought of that.

  9. Epsom salts and some baking soda did some wonders for me last night. I was recently diagnosed with a moderate-to-late stage of Lyme, and in the process have been cleaning up my diet and going heavy with weights. The 150 weighted squats during my workout on Saturday caught up with a vengeance on Monday morning. I put on some relaxing thunderstorm music, ran a hot bath with fresh ginger, 2 c. of epsom salts, and 1 c. of baking soda, and today I feel a lot better. I’ve been told it’s also great as a detox bath as my body tries to rid itself of the nasty Lyme spirochetes.

  10. Anyone have tips for fitting comfortably in a modern tub? I’m about average size, but dislike baths because I can’t get all of me underwater at once! Is there any solution rather than to just shift positions every few seconds?

    1. They make over-flow covers so you can get an extra 2-3 inches into your tub… or you can get an extra-deep tub installed.

    2. You wont be able to get your whole body under water at once in a modern tub. I’ve dealt with modern tubs by installing a bath pillow and a jacuzzi machine that hangs on the side of the tub. The bath pillow makes up for the bad back slope most modern tubs have, and the jacuzzi makes the water bubble up and seem deeper.

    3. I have the same problem (I’m 5’9″). My next house will have a nice soaking tub, but for now I plug the overflow with a washcloth and let it fill to the very tippy-top. Either my knees or my shoulders still sticks out, but most of me gets in, and if I make the water hot enough then I want a little skin out for cooling anyway.

    4. I had the same problem, but took some inspiration from the film, Elizabeth: the Golden Age and now wear a long-sleeved tee in the bath (just in the winter). It keeps me very warm. Before that I used to drape a bath towel over me (it would also get soaked with the hot water), but found the tee-shirt more effective.

  11. Following a tip from a comment on another post about magnesium, I found I can get 20kg of Magnesium Chloride flakes for about 14$ the the local agricultural coop. That lasts quite a while!

  12. Epsom salts baths while my laptop is propped up on the toilet playing Game of Thrones on HBO Go has replaced wine for me.

    1. You could drink a little wine while you bathe and watch your show! I do that…super relaxing. I turn off the lights and light some candles too…helps offset the blue light from the computer screen.

  13. I keep a canister of Epsom salts and a bottle of bubble bath handy. We just remodeled the master bathroom and put in an extra-deep tub for soaking. Built a deck behind the tub for my tropical plant and orchid collection. We love soak baths now. I’ll have to try the Vitamin C.

  14. Now can you just tell me how not to pee as soon as I get in the tub? 🙁

    1. …yeah, always makes me feel like I gotta pee too…hold it…lol 😉

  15. I have been doing Epsom salt baths for my son since he was a year old. Works wonders for the sensory processing kiddos.

  16. I looove my baths…daily! I attribute this to the fact that people say that I am “ageless”. The shower just doesn’t cut it. I am looking forward to trying the olive oil…NOW! lol 🙂

  17. I love putting Epsom Salts in my bath – good to know it is good for something other than sore muscles and an exfoliator.

  18. I guess I’m a weirdo because I’ve never liked baths– they make me feel restless and uncomfortable instead of relaxed, & I never feel quite clean afterward, as I do from even a quick shower. Also they seem to dry out my skin. But I would love to get some of those Epsom salts advantages– is there no other way than soaking?

    1. “spritz yourself with some magnesium chloride oil, which you can either buy or make yourself. ” second section, last paragraph

        1. Would soaking your feet help?
          A footbath with Epsom salts is just as good for relaxing.

        2. I use the spray on magnesium oil and it really helps with my restless legs. I also take magnesium caps, and that makes sleep easier for me. Although it can give you vivid dreams!

    2. Adding sea salt and oil to your bath, and Vitamin C to neutralize the chlorine, will all help the water not dry out your skin.

    3. You could also try doing just an epsom salt foot soak! You can still do other things while your feet are soaking, so it will probably be more enjoyable for you than a bath.

      1. Thanks Alyssa for suggesting the footsoak! I got ahead of myself!

        1. Thanks to *both* of you for the foot bath idea– that sounds great actually– I could even sketch while I soak!

          I just did a bit of topical-magnesium research & discovered it was highly recommended for restless legs, which I’ve had all my life. Who knows, maybe after enough Epsom soaking I’ll be able to sit still for an actual bath!! 😀

  19. 1 C epsom salts (1/2 lb)
    1 C mined sea salt (“real salt” brand), also 1/2 lb
    1/2 C baking soda
    Hot water


    Will probably start adding a splash of olive oil as well.

    ~~~~~ My son has had an odd bumpy rash on his legs since he was four months old (5 1/2 years now). Going 80% primal helped the rash considerably but a month of daily baths according to the above formula has erased the rash completely. Must have been some sort of nutrient deficiency.

  20. I buy 50# bags of magnesium sulfate (aka epsom salts) at the local feed store for around $15. The same pure white stuff your pharmacy sells!

  21. There is the possibility of real danger with this bath salt formula! Sodium Carbonate reacts with water and forms Sodium Hydroxide, a highly caustic substance, that can easily blind you or severely damage your eyes, given a high enough concentration (Na2CO3 + H2O -> NaHCO3 + NaOH). Handle with great care and dilute enough before bathing in it. The rest, except NaCl, are irritants in their concentrated forms as well. I wouldnt really recommend using them for someone without a little lab experience.

    1. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate — not carbonate. It tends to make the water softer is all.

      I have been using epsom salts, sea salts and sodium bicarbonate in my bath for literally decades with no negative effects.

  22. Rose oil is one of the most expensive oils on the planet (or should be).. and two things to watch out for with essential oils: 1) some will “melt” (at least stain) your tub if it’s not metal, even at one or two drops and 2) it’s *incredibly* hard to get quality oils – most on the market are just synthetic perfume at best useless and at worst dangerous. As a rule of thumb, if you can buy pure rose oil without wincing and you’re not rich, it isn’t rose oil. If they sell Linden Blossom, laugh and exit..

    1. I was unable to find a local source for Rose Absolute except Whole Foods, where 2ml was ~ $40. I have recently been purchasing it from here: It’s still expensive, but now at least I get 5ml for $40. The great thing about rose oil though is that you need very, very little of it to get a powerful scent. I put just 10 drops in 4oz of EVOO and I literally can’t smell the olive anymore, all I smell is roses. So just 1 5ml container lasted me a year.

    2. Try Young Living Essential Oils – they are very good quality, not cheap but good

  23. Or go cold. I’ve found that a morning cold soak does wonders for my summer insomnia. Even better if followed by a warm epsom salts bath after a good workout.

  24. I hope someone can advise me. I love bathing but cannot anymore. Oh to soak in a bath with oil because my skin becomes so dry in winter. The shower doesn’t compare.

    When I bath, I get horrible bartholin cysts as the water affects the PH level of my ladies’ area. Is there something I can put in the bath to stop that from happening? Is it the chlorine in the bath that gives me terrible thrush that then leads to bartholin cysts?

    1. Make sure your tub is clean. Use vinegar or bleach to clean it thoroughly. If you’re having “thrush” as you said, that means you have yeast overgrowth.

      Put vitamin C in your bathwater to neutralize the chlorine, as mentioned in the article, and consider asking a health care professional for a prescription for NYSTATIN cream/ointment to apply after your bath. Nystatin is an antifungal, and is safe and very effective for controlling yeast overgrowth. If you use it, use very tiny amounts of it with a little bit of scent-free lotion.

    2. Kathy: pH level of lady parts is supposed to be about 3.5-4.0. I too was concerned about pH, especially because I have very hard water here in west central Florida. What you can do is get a spritzer bottle and add a few “crystals” or ascorbic acid and a dash of either white vinegar or citric acid, until the pH is 3.5-4.0. (Yes, I have full-spectrum pH strips and use them for everything related to my skin and hair care.) After your bath, spritz the lady parts with your pH-appropriate water. Also, if you are using antibacterial soap, or harsh soap, stop. pH in those is usually way too high, and they contain sulfate cleansers.

      1. The pH water is a great suggestion…I might try that myself.

        And I agree about soaps…basically you don’t really need soap at all. Grok (probably) didn’t have soap. Probably didn’t need it.

  25. Well I am an oddball. I DO take a bath for cleanliness. I feel a bath gets you cleaner than a shower does because of the soaking.
    However it does take a little more time so in a rush I take a shower.
    I love baths for cleaning though..

  26. For pure luxury, if you have a good hot water supply and don’t care about the water usage, I like a showerbath. Fill the tub halfway, climb in, turn on the shower, drain and refill as needed. It’s like a hot tub in a rainforest during a warm rain with a wall of white noise. It’s how I got through weeks 36-42 of my pregnancies. Also good for pertussive coughs. Also also good pertussive coughs during weeks 36-42 of pregnancy. 😛

    1. This is the most fantastic thing ever. Keep it hot enough to steam, turn off the vent fan, and shut the door for the most steamy therapy for when you’re sick, queasy, or hung over. Usually I like to read books in the tub, but when I’m under the weather the “showerbath” is the best.

  27. I find the tub itself can be a factor in the healthfulness of a bath.

    A tub needs to be clean, first and foremost, as well as the rest of the bathroom. Also, the type of tub or the shape of the tub can be important…I just bought my first home recently, and a major selling point was that it came with a claw foot bathtub…in my ideal, a clawfoot is the best type of tub…it is deep, and the back is sloped perfectly so that you can lay back and put your feet up against the straight side and truly let your body relax without slipping down into the water. The depth makes it a good soaking tub, and the high sides help keep the water from spraying everywhere when you’re actually washing off.

    Also, I think people need to reevaluate the importance of taking a bath…it does so many good things for the body.

    1. Ahhh you make me remember my first dorm room at college- the bathroom between each room had a giant claw foot tub! I LOVED it.

      Yes, that was a really old dorm…

      FYI : if you use oil in your bath, or apply it after a shower BEFORE toweling off- it will gunk up your towels!

      My husband did this, and even washing them in hot water did not completely remove the oil. After several wash days I was wondering why the “clean” towels felt odd…

      Had to pitch them finally and threaten my husband if he continued to oil up! 😉

    1. What about showers ? Also, value of Everyday Coconut products like Face Wash, etc. sold at WholeFoods ? Is a wash cloth ok, or a better way to apply those products or whatever products you recommend for healthy bathing and skin care.
      Thanks, Wayne

  28. There’s nothing like a hot bath to escape in. My baths often do double duty. I add a couple tablespoons citric acid, a quarter teaspoon of ascorbic acid, and this neutralizes the chloramine and “softens” the water. I submerge every part of me except my face, and soak for a long time. It’s so relaxing, and the treated water removes hard-water build-up from my hair (just like a chelating shampoo, but not as harsh).

    The relaxing effect of the epsom salts sounds good, too. I will have to try that soon. (Wonder what effect it would have on my hair ????)

  29. WARNING:
    Quote: “Each bath was 12 minutes in duration and varied between 50 and 55 ºC.”
    I think those temperatures are dangerously hot!!!
    Must be a mistake.

    1. Agreed. I have a tub with a thermometer and 40-43 or so is hot. 50-55 degrees submerged would cause problems. Possibly 12 minutes in 50 degrees of shallow water is tolerable, if the object is to sweat a lot…

  30. What do people clean their bathtubs with? I just can’t seem to get over the idea of taking a bath in the tub that I stand in and then clean with Comet. Not the kind of stuff I want to soak in.

    1. I clean my tub with bleach, but I make sure to dilute the bleach a lot, and then rinse very thoroughly, and then let it sit for several hours before bathing in it. You could also use vinegar, which I do sometimes.

    2. Comet! That’s pretty toxic. What are you doing in that tub to require such harsh chemicals?

    3. Bon-Ami! I love it for scrubbing sinks, tubs & toilets. You get a slightly more abrasive action (than just soap or vinegar) and no harmful fumes. Also, I’ll use a little squirt of Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap on my sponge to make it feel aromatheraputic.

  31. I’ll probably need a bath like this soon.

    I’m studying in fairly concentrated fashion for the MCAT right now and physics and inorganic chemistry are not my friends.

  32. In terms of less toxic cleaners, I’d suggest (there is also good recipes for food based treatments)

    The last bath I had used up leftover coconut cream and an old banana= blend for a hair treatment… bathroom smelt amazing. It did make me hungry though…

  33. Alas, I am a poor renter and have only a shower stall. Also, my water heater runs on propane. Just long enough to get clean, that’s how long my showers are! Not complaining. Hot, clean water at the turn of a tap is pretty high on the luxury list even if it doesn’t run into a big deep bathtub.

  34. I also try to add salt to my bath.Its fell god refreshing. firstly i am scaring for some reactive result.but nothing happen like that .so it is healths better without any chemical used .so you must try for your bathing .

  35. If you are pregnant or trying to conceive (men and women), look up the recommended temperatures for baths first. I believe TOO hot is considered harmful, though I don’t know what temperature is currently advised.

  36. Actually, I’ve never understood why anyone would want to spend time hanging out in a tubful of dirty, soap-scummy water when a shower is so much faster and cleaner. I’ve known people who shower first, then fill up the tub for a soak, then shower again to get rid of the tub residue. Ridiculously wasteful if you live in a dry area where water restrictions are often a fact of life.

  37. Well I don’t have a bath tub (whomp whomp) but..I do live across the street from nature’s bathtub, the ocean, so all is good. When I do have access to a tub, I like to lather myself up in Coconut oil pre and post tub (again..make sure to really clean the tub after so no one slips) but I can’t tell you how soft it leaves my skin. Candles and some good tunes also make it a total experience.

  38. I take baths and foot baths using epsom salts or magnesium flakes. I think it makes a difference with inflammation.

    Dr. Carolyn Dean mentions throwing in a tablespoon of clay powder to absorb the fluoride in the tap water. Maybe it works for the chlorine too? The clay powder I use is redmond clay

    Thanks to everyone who posted about buying magnesium sulfate at the feed store. Is it the same as Epsom salts? It seems like an obvious question, but is there any reason to be careful?

    1. I keep a jug of mixed salts next to my bath tub — about 1/2 epsom and 1/2 white sea salts (pink sea salts tend to leave bits of mineral in the bottom of the tub after it drains). Then I add as much Dead Sea Salt as I feel I can afford at the moment (usually around 10% of the total.) Dead Sea Salt is expensive but quite lovely to use.

      I also keep a collection of essential oils next to the tub. I put about 1/2 cup of salts in at the start of filling, then use about another 1/4 cup or so for a carrier for my chosen oils of the day. Many oils have the ability to be toxic, so use care — for most oils I never use more than 6 drops of oil total for the whole tubful. I sprinkle this in the water as the tub finishes filling — soon enough for the salts to dissolve in the water, so I can inhale the lovely smell as I step in.

      Two oils are exceptions — lavender oil (NOT spike lavender) and tea tree oil. Both can be used safely directly on the skin and generally don’t cause the average individual any problems. I tend to add a few drops of lavender oil as an addition to the other 6 drops of oil because I love the scent and the soothing effect of lavender. Tea tree smells a bit astringent for my taste, but could be used.

      Essential Oils I like in my bath:
      Juniper Berry or Scotch Pine give a nice outdoorsy feeling in the tub.

      Marjoram oil and/or lemon grass oil are good for sore muscles — but the marjoram oil leaves me craving Italian food.

      Grapefruit oil is a nice picker-upper and good for morning baths. My favorite orangey oil is Mandarin oil — it mixes nicely with grapefruit.

      After making custom oil mixes at every bath time, I find my hand just goes to the oils that my body craves that day — be it relaxation, mental stimulation, whatever. Lavender goes in almost every day!

      If you have a jetted tub, essential oils are okay to use. Don’t add additional oil such as olive oil though — it’s bad for the jets (replacing the motor is expensive, believe me.) If you are using a soaking tub, add some oil. You might also try coconut oil — it will go liquid at bath temperatures and is a great body oil. I add the oil as a quick body rub right after I get out of the tub, while my skin is still damp — it keeps the moisture in.

  39. One more Great Addition to the bath:


    If you live near the ocean and can collect your own, it is a nice outing and you can enjoy seaweed baths all year from a single collection day (just rinse off the sand and hang to dry.)

    Inland, you can buy Nori or other seaweeds in the Oriental food section of the grocery store. Just throw in a sheet or two of nori in the tub, along with your bath salts and any essential oils you want to add. Don’t use you jets if you have a jetted bath — the seaweed can get stuck in them.

  40. Ok, I had always thought epsom was a good thing, until I read this article,

    He points out the in-accuracies in your reference to the study by RH Waring.
    The body does not absorb salt through the skin. While topically, salts and oils may be good for skin health, and the “feeling” of a salted bath may lead to a more relaxed state the rest of you probably does not benefit from Epsom Salts.

    Feel free to show me some more reference proving otherwise.

    A warm bath in general most likely assists in better performance and healing due to the reason you listed of heating up muscle groups and lymph which is responsible for removing damaged cells and inflammation.

  41. I had no idea about the vitamin C neutralizing chlorine. That’s fascinating. I don’t know why I read this, because I don’t even have a bathtub, but I do have a sauna. Maybe it’s time I got a bathtub though? 😉

  42. Kinda perfect timing…just instituted a nightly epsom salt/EO bath with my toddler 🙂 thanks for the information!!

  43. I guess this post describes one of those “cutting edge recovery techniques”.
    I recently got banned from the local campgrounds so I can’t shower anymore. I have to use the river to rinse.

    1. Also reminds me of a scene from the X-Files when Mulder, Scully, and Skinner are all talking on the phone to each other somehow (I think it was on-the-other-line, not a three way call) while having bubble baths.

      1. When I played football I used to go for a quick swim in the family’s above ground pool after practice, like a cool water plunge. The water was chlorinated, but it seemed to help me recover.
        Suspension in water + movement is good for your muscles and joints

  44. I have found that taking a warm bath with some of the mineral salts mentioned in this article (Epson, peppermint, etc.) seems to delay DOMS for me after a hard strength training session.

  45. Hi, wondering where I can buy the sodium chloride? Local stores rather than purchasing online. Thanks! Sounds intriguing!

  46. My three-year-old loves to take baths with me. It’s really one of his favorite things.I had the bath torn out of the master bath because finding one to fit my wife or me was not practicable, but if you’re three foot three inch, they’re reportedly very enjoyable.

  47. I absolutely LOVE hot baths with epsom salts and essential oils. I’m fortunate that we have well-water (tested safe) so no worries about chlorine, either.

    And, you’re right about it making a great pre-workout warm-up! This is how I start most mornings… hot bath, then work out. (Coffee first, of course!)

  48. One of these days I’m going to take a “super bath.” I’m going to combine every hint, trick and tip offered here in one awesomely luxurious bath of the Gods and emerge more powerful than Superman!

  49. I enjoy a bath pretty much daily.

    First it is a great way to unwind after a long day, and pretty much the only quiet time I get to read.

    Second, my theory is that raising your body temp is a good way to help ward off flu and cold bugs. Your body gives you a fever to help your immune system fight the infection, so if you start having hot baths the moment you feel a sickness come on, your body can hit the cold or flu harder and sooner.

    I often get in the tub with only a few inches of water, point the shower at the wall, close the curtains tight and enjoy hot steam with my bath. It helps me with chest ailments.

    Not sure if this is true, but I follow this mentality, and I tend to beat the same flu and colds friends and family fight with days sooner.

    I will probably buy some epsom salt soon. The Japanese have hot springs with certain mineral contents which are known to fight specific ailments… seems to work well for them.

  50. I’m curious. Do you wash the salts off at the end of your soak or just rinse? Does using soap prevent absorbtion of the salts through the skin? Should you wash and then soak or soak and then wash?

    1. Hmmm. Maybe these are about personal preference? I don’t know about absorption, but I generally don’t rinse off. I usually use Epsom salts and baking soda, which eliminates filmy residue on the tub, so I figure I’m not to filmy either…

  51. if you don’t have access to a bathtub, you can mix Epsom salts and equal parts water in a spray bottle and spritz it onto yourself, or just do an Epsom salts foot bath. Our naturopath recommends spraying down with Epsom salts immediately after leaving a chlorinated pool. If you are having a detox, take an Epsom salts bath. It works wonders!

  52. Lucky and grateful to live in Hawaii where I’m surrounded by the Pacific Ocean; full of healthy minerals.
    I remember going to the beach to soak in the ocean when I ached after a too long bout of racewalking. I knew my body wouldn’t ache after the soak and I would sleep quite comfortably that night.
    Once in a while I like to draw a hot bath and soak, but why waste precious fresh water when I have the ocean at my doorstep?

  53. Baths are nice, but I’ve always felt guilty with “wasting” water. After developing a chronic pain syndrome (which persists even after dropping everything from my diet, though I feel infinitely better in many other ways), I now take baths every morning. I use Epsom salts, baking soda, sometimes hydrogen peroxide, and sometimes essential oils. It has changed my life. I can get out and do things consistently that I was not able to do before (playing with my dogs 2x daily, rock climbing 3x a week, enduring a full work day). I’m sure this is, in part, because of the physical benefits of the bath, but it is also in part because it has become this soothing step between pain and function. The physical AND mental leap between the two, for me, was too big to jump. I’m so lucky to have found that middle step that now gets me from point A to point B and back on track with life. I still struggle with the guilt, but I remind myself the benefit outweighs the cost. I’m a better contributor to society!!!

    1. Next time you take a shower, plug the tub and see how much water you are using for the shower. You may be surprised that you can take a nice hot bath with less water than a shower!

  54. A recipe for bathsalts in a Rosemary Gladstar herbal book called for borax — apparently a traditional bath salt ingredient for the water softening. I’d found it quite curious and shocking and did more research and found a fabulous essay detailing that a doctor used a diluted amount to treat osteoarthritis in Australia and after he tried to give publicity to the success was suddenly attacked….boron is one of those necessary trace elements. There were also dilutions used to fight systemic candida if I recall. Anyway, I toss some into my bath if I think of it but epsom salts are my fave.

  55. bath tub i put a little dawn dish soap in spray bottle with hot water. I have a jet tub cant use abrasives. Works well
    2 c epsom salt
    1 c baking soda or 1 c Apple cider vinger or change off
    detoxes body as warm water as you can take
    You may experience sweating at night the first night or two and diarhia the next day does not last past usually a couple days.. I am on day 4. Feel much better