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What Are Epsom Salts and How Will They Affect Your Drains?


What Are Epsom Salts and How Will They Affect Your Drains?

If you’re a human being on planet Earth, it’s likely that stress has been building up in your body. Sometimes, a warm bath helps you to let it all go.

As I shared in a previous LittlePinkTop article, I sometimes use bubble bath products because, as this Amy Sedaris GIPHY clearly shows, baths and beer need foooaaaammm!

You can get a bottle of Dr. Teal’s “Deep Marine Sea Kelp Foaming Bath” on Ecosmetics, which balances a purifying, natural kelp with a revitalizing lemongrass and orange. (Disclosure: Ecosmetics and Artnaturals are mentioned in this article; both are affiliate partners of LittlePinkTop.)

Photo from Ecosmetics

Not feeling the seaweed? It’s possible, and increasingly popular, to become even more of a “self-care” chemist with a kit of essential oils. Artnaturals offers a kit with the top 12.

Herbalist Suzanne Teachey says: “For a single bath, three to 12 drops of essential oil in a tablespoon (15 ml) of carrier oil is sufficient to create a very aromatic, therapeutic bath.”

Photo by Artnaturals

If you want to keep things simple (hello, the whole reason for doing this is to unwind), just get that bath tub running, adjust the temperature to your liking, and go with a bag of Dr. Teal’s Epsom salts like I often do. It has a pleasant and relaxing smell and might even help to soothe muscle pain.

Photo from Ecosmetics

What are Epsom salts?

As WebMD explains it: “Epsom salts aren’t like the stuff you put on your fries.” There, now you don’t need to go to med school. You just saved like half a million dollars.

Anyway, these salts have been used for hundreds of years to help with aches, pains, and skin troubles. Some people swear by them. Gwyneth Paltrow told Elle that she takes a bath every night in Dr. Teal’s Epsom salts.

Now, let’s roll up our sleeves and address a hard-hitting question:

Does Epsom salt clog drains?

It’s a reasonable question to ask, and some data shows that a lot of people ask it.

If you’re reading LittlePinkTop, you’re probably a shopaholic trying to up your fashion game. The goal isn’t to master a DIY approach to drain augers, while kneeling down on the dirty bathroom floor, in a pencil skirt and sky high pumps.

You want to save up your money for that bag on your Pinterest board, not home repair.

According to one website for finding contractors, homeowners typically pay plumbers between $146 and $206 to unclog a drain, though extreme jobs can go up to $500 and generous plumbers might charge as little as $54. The median cost is $195.

Another home maintenance site places the average at $227. It obviously depends on the severity of the problem. Your location and seasonal fluctuations in pricing might also affect how much money you’re metaphorically flushing down the toilet.

Are you freaked out yet? Well, don’t be.

Because no, epsom salt probably won’t clog your drain. It simply leaves you feeling smooth and fresh. Boiling water, followed by two tablespoons of Epsom salt, might even be a way to unclog your drains. This mixture of water and salt could possibly break up the obstruction.

Some plumbers advise people to check the label of bath salt or bath bomb products, and make sure that it specifically states that the product fully dissolves. Otherwise, assume that it doesn’t and try to capture residue with a strainer/mesh. Another plumber-promoted workaround is to actually place the bath bomb in a nylon sock and tie it shut before dropping it in the water. But with Epsom salts, you should be good.

Woohooo! You just rode the LittlePinkTop Epsom salt roller coaster ride! How was it??

(Disclosure: This is actually the Gröna Lund roller coaster in Sweden.)

Some bath bomb products might mess up your drain if there are undissolved chunks, especially if they merge together with your shedded hair, like in season three of “Strangers Things” when the rats explode and fuse together to create a gelatinous monster called the Mind Flayer (oops, spoiler alert).

Mike Diamond Services, a plumbing company active in L.A. and SoCal, even suggests Epsom salt as a way to secretly redeem the toilet you embarrassingly clogged in someone else’s home. (It was Thai food, wasn’t it?) If there isn’t a plunger tucked behind the toilet, snoop around the bathroom for a bag of Epsom salt, pour some in the toilet bowl, and let the fizzy chemical reaction do its magic!

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If the magic doesn’t work because you’re Neville Longbottom, just crawl out the window and block your friend’s number.

​​To address this issue even more thoroughly, Mr. Rooter Plumbing observes that “there are mixed thoughts” about Epsom salt and septic systems. They explain: “While salts can unclog a toilet, the effect Epsom salt has on your septic system will be minimal. You’d need a substantial amount of Epsom salt flushed into your tank to see the acidic benefits.”

Okay, ladies, so now that I’ve grossed you out and worked in two sci-fi pop cultural references, let’s wrap up what we learned so far:

  • Take a relaxing, warm bath with Epsom salts.
  • No seriously, do it. Everything will be fine.
  • Celebrities also do this, and we trust them for some unknown reason.

Should I really take a bath? I’m super busy… 

Yeah, you probably should. Gwyneth thinks you should, and so do I.

A quick word of caution: People with low blood pressure should be cautious about going to saunas or taking hot baths. If Amy Sedaris, Gwyneth, and LittlePinkTop still haven’t managed to convince you, here’s some science:

A 2018 cross-sectional study found that participants who took immersion baths in warm water each day experienced less fatigue, stress, and depression. Keep in mind, it was a very limited study, only 38 participants took part in it, but the results sound very compelling.  

There was another study conducted in Japan that sounds more reliable because it followed 30,000 people for about 20 years. Wow, I love the creepily intense scientific commitment! The subjects were divided into three groups: those who took baths two or fewer times a week, those who did so three to four times a week, and daily or almost daily bath-takers.

Guess what? The people who bathed almost every day had a 28% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 26% lower risk of stroke.

The researchers also factored in other behaviors that affect heart health, such as diet, exercise, and smoking habits.

Can I get a not-quite-there Amy Poehler mic drop?

Aaaaah, now bubbles…

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