Can I Use Epsom Salt in a Hot Tub?

Epsom salt’s benefits are often advertised in spa products and the luxury self-care treatment industry. Hot tubs exist within the same space, which means that people like you who have hot tubs are often interested in Epsom salt, wondering if they can use it in their own hot tub.

You cannot use Epsom salt in your hot tub without throwing off your tub water’s chemical balance and pH levels. Such imbalance can enable deposits, turn the water cloudy, and promote hardness. That’s why “No Epsom Salts” is the best house rule for a hot tub, and you should use dead sea salt instead.

In this article, you will learn about the different benefits of Epsom salts and alternative ways to get the same advantages without putting your hot tub in danger. Finally, you will learn about the Epsom salt alternatives you can add to your hot tub to have a relaxing experience without worrying about your tub’s pH, alkalinity, chemical balance, and water hardness.

Epsom Salt Benefits

While Epsom salt isn’t safe for a hot tub, it is beneficial for your skin and has other health benefits. In this section, we will explore some of these benefits so you can decide if Epsom-proofing your hot tub (also covered later) is worth it.

Epsom Salt Softens the Skin

Epsom salt has the incredible ability to soften up taut skin, which can have a de-aging effect on one’s face. Having softer skin also helps one have a better kinesthetic experience of life as the skin is more sensitive to pleasurable touch. 

Since the sense of touch is closely related to romance and commonly connoted with massages, it isn’t uncommon for Epsom salt to be featured heavily during self-care retreats and romantic giveaways. However, just because both spa treatment and hot tub qualify as self-care doesn’t mean their components are interchangeable. To reap these benefits, you must soak in Epsom salt water for over 20 minutes; that’s plenty of time for the salt to damage your hot tub.

Subtracting the hot tub: If you want to reap this benefit in the absence of a hot tub, you can use the Epsom salt face mask or body lather using the following recipe:

  • Get Epsom Salt from a reputable brand like Dr Teal’s
  • Get Almond oil, the purest kind you can get. NOW Solutions offers sweet almond oil that works well.
  • Fill half a cup with almond oil and add Epsom salt until saturated. The mixture will resemble a paste.
  • Apply the paste to your face and leave it there for over twenty minutes.
  • Rinse your face with warm water.

Epsom Salt Can Help Combat Muscle Soreness

Whether you’ve lifted way beyond your PR or are sore because of a recent body-taxing event, Epsom salt can be a recovery agent. You might not need to endure the smell of cold shoulder medicine after all. More importantly, the salt starts working towards easing your muscle pain in as little as 12 minutes. 

But in repairing your muscles, you cannot end up ruining your hot tub. At the end of the day, your muscles that require Epsom salt treatment constitute only a small area that can be easily covered topically without creating a plumbing-ruining salt soup in your bathtub.

Subtracting the hot tub: An easy alternative for this use of Epsom salt is to mix it with any body lotion and apply it topically to the area that’s aching. If the solution isn’t a cold cream, this works better because the warmer the lotion, the better it is at dissolving salt. 

That said, please don’t heat a bottled lotion as that can affect the moisture content. Certain lotions and topicals (like cold cream) naturally absorb and retain less heat. What you need to create your ideal mixture for muscle soreness is a more fluid lotion like Neutrogena Body Oil-Lotion.

  • Pour four tablespoons of CeraVe Moisturizing Cream into a small bowl
  • Add one teaspoon of Epsom salt to the bowl
  • Use the tip of the spoon handle to stir the small solution
  • Apply the modified lotion to the sore spot and let it rest for at least 12 minutes
  • Rinse it off with warm water

Epsom Salt Can Help With Bowel Movement

While using Epsom salt to relieve oneself isn’t the primary reason behind the substance’s popularity, it is known to have a laxative effect. Most Epsom salt bath aficionados report needing to relieve themselves after 20 minutes of a full-body soak. 

Since this method requires a full-body soak, you might think that there could be no possible alternative aside from filling your hot tub with Epsom salt; something that we’ve already established as harmful to the tub itself. Fortunately (and even ironically), the alternative is more effective than an actual body soak.

This is because of the degree to which our bodies soak up Epsom salt. There’s very little peer-reviewed academic evidence that the human body absorbs Epsom salt. The closest thing that the salt detox industrial complex has in evidence is a 2004 study, which had only 19 participants (a very weak sample size), showing higher levels of magnesium and sulfate in blood after bathing with Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate). 

Compare this to direct ingestion, and you can see why the latter can be more effective. However, the salt’s potency means you can easily overdose and must be careful with this alternative solution.

Subtracting the hot tub: In this alternative solution, you’ll ingest Epsom salt according to Healthline’s guidelines of 10 to 30 grams for adults and 5 to 10 grams for children. It is up to you whether you mix it in warm water or find any other palatable way to ingest the salt orally. 

But once you’ve done so, make sure you’re around a toilet within 30 minutes. And if you make it to the washroom but do not feel the urge to go, you might have to remain within its vicinity for up to 6 hours. Knowing this, you can see why it isn’t the go-to laxative for most people and is better left as a potential side benefit.

It Helps Get Rid of Splinters and Relieve Ingrown Toenails

As mentioned earlier, Epsom salt can help soften up your skin. This can also have the secondary benefit of reducing inflammation and drawing out anything that’s wedged in your skin, especially if it is too small to pull out with your fingers. But by now, you’re aware of how we manage to get the most benefit out of Epsom salt without opting for a full-body soak: we use the product topically.

Subtracting the hot tub: If you have ingrown toenails, you can create a foot bath in a small tub or even a large bowl or bucket. Adding Epsom salt to hot water you’ve taken out of your hot tub with a bucket or using your hot water faucet are both practical options. 

Once the water is warm enough for consistent soaking, add Epsom salt to the bucket and place your feet in it. Soak for at least 12 minutes. For splinters elsewhere on your body, you can use the paste method explained in the skin softness section or the muscle easing lotion modification method.

Epsom Salt Helps You Relax and Reduces Stress

The final benefit and the flagship marketing achievement of Epsom salt is its ability to reduce stress and help you unwind. Part ritual, part chemical benefit, this effect is an interesting combination of placebo and science. 

There’s plenty of evidence that magnesium can help boost brain function in areas that reduce anxiety and stress. In other words, the parts of the brain that fire up and freak out when you’re under stress get to take a backseat when your body absorbs magnesium.

A one-hour full-body soak in an Epsom salt-filled tub will lead to enough magnesium absorption alongside calming stimuli acceptance that you’ll come out of the bath feeling less stressed. But if you do this in your hot tub, you’ll immediately get worried about the tub’s pH and potential deposits. 

That’s why an Epsom salt soak isn’t your ideal solution for a relaxing hot tub bath. But unlike most alternatives in this article, this isn’t one that can be knocked off using a cream or other solvents because a major part of it is the experience that one has to have in hot water.

Subtracting the hot tub: One way to get an Epsom salt full-body soak is to use a regular bathtub and fill it with hot water before having a standard soak. But you have to choose whether you’re more attached to the Epsom salt or the hot tub. If you insist on relaxing in your hot tub, this solution, despite being practical, might not be the one you would go for. But fret not. There is an alternative solution.

Subtracting the Epsom salt: Bad news is that you can’t use Epsom salt in a hot tub. The good news is that there are other products that will have a similar relaxing effect. All you have to do is pour these according to package instructions into your hot tub and have a one-hour full-body soaking session.

Top Epsom Salt Alternatives for Hot Tubs

Below are some alternatives that are safe for your tub’s plumbing and pH. They all have varying degrees of relaxing effects, and ideally, you should get all of them for variety’s sake.

Final Thoughts

Hot tubs are expensive and, unlike regular bathtubs, are too expensive to arbitrarily drain. And Epsom salt affects the tub water’s pH and can even enable deposit formation. That means it would be unfeasible to add Epsom salt to your hot tub every time you pop in for a body soak. Fortunately, alternatives like elixirs and dead sea salt exist, and they don’t affect the hot tub’s pH and chemical balance the way Epsom salt does.

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

Recent Posts