a half cup with mineral flakes and another with mineral sea salt, 2 bottles of essential oils and some white towels

How to Take a Detox Bath — 1 to 2 easy ingredients, and why to take more baths!

I may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. I am not a doctor; please consult your practitioner before changing your supplement or healthcare regimen.

Detoxification through the skin makes sense. After all, the skin is the body’s largest organ. When we want to get well or promote optimum wellness, a multifaceted approach is best: diet, yes, but also other healing modalities, including detox baths. Let’s learn exactly how to take a detox bath with only one to two easy ingredients (or more) and why.

woman in bath tub in top photo and lower photo shows baking soda, a dry brush, mineral salts and magnesium flakes and essential oils

HOW TO TAKE A DETOX BATH

Detox baths work because they help to draw out toxins from the body through the skin. If a dry brush is used, which I discuss more below, the dead skin cells are also sloughed off, which further reduces the toxic load. Several different ingredients, all of which are discussed more below, can be used in a detox bath to help draw out toxins or, alternately, to nourish the body:

  • baking soda
  • mineral sea salt
  • epsom salt (active ingredient: magnesium sulfate = magnesium + sulfur)
  • magnesium salt
  • essential oils such as lavender or clove
  • apple cider vinegar
  • seaweed

Length of Time and Temperature

A forty minute soak is usually suggested for a baking soda bath: Twenty minutes of the hottest bathwater that is comfortable helps pull toxins to the surface of the skin. As the water cools, the final twenty minutes serve to expel the toxins out through the skin. Cold water may also be added to the tub during the final twenty minutes.

While most don’t relish the idea, the contrast of a very cold bath after a hot bath (hydrotherapy) is great for overall organ function, including mental health, and reducing pain. (source) Simply allowing your bath water to get cooler is a good approach for detoxification.

Regarding temperature, use cooler water for children. Also, use cooler water for mineral products, such as epsom salt and magnesium salt, which dissolve and absorb into the skin, in addition to drawing out toxins.

After a detox bath, drink water according to thirst, to help with flushing out toxins. If you’re tired, rest. The body works hard to detoxify, and you may feel it.

Personally, if I take a bath before noon, I’ll sometimes lay down on my grounding sheet (find it here) for twenty minutes after my bath, to rest and restore energy.

Ingredient 1

Baking Soda: Baking soda is an anti-fungal with cleansing properties. It helps skin to have the proper pH (and leaves the skin feeling wonderfully silky smooth) as well as helping the whole body to detoxify. Baking soda is my favorite detox bath ingredient for regular use.

  • You can buy baking soda in bulk from Costco or here.  I love how affordable this option is! You’ll use 1-3 cups of the healing powder in every bath. Use 1 cup for children and 3 cups for adults.

Ingredient 1 Alternative

Epsom Salt or Mineral Sea Salt: These products are relatively inexpensive and rich in magnesium, good for detoxification, bone, tissue and joint health. Bathing opens our pores and increases circulation; this combination allows minerals to be absorbed and toxins to be expelled. (Read more about the benefits of swimming in seawater for its health benefits here, called balneotherapy.)

OR Magnesium Flakes: Alternately, Magnesium Flakes can be used. If you’re suffering from a magnesium deficiency (find out more here), adding magnesium flakes to your bath is a great way to recover and overcome symptoms. While the body has a hard time absorbing magnesium from food, it does quite well absorbing magnesium through the skin. While epsom salt offers just a small amount of magnesium, Magnesium Bath Flakes are a concentrated source (find them here). Mg flakes are a great option for children before bed, to calm and help them sleep better (as well as adults). In terms of gut healing, magnesium is required for glutathione to be synthesized, so magnesium flakes are a good choice for anyone on a gut-healing diet. (source)

  • Stock up on Epsom Salt or Mineral Sea Salt. Children under 60 lbs. should use 1/2 cup for a standard size bath. Those weighing between 60 and 100 lbs can add a full cup.  Adults and those weighing over 100 lbs can add 2 cups or more to their bath. (source)
  • Use 1 cup magnesium flakes in warm, not hot, water for kids. Use up to 3 cups magnesium flakes in warm, not hot, water for adults.

Ingredient 2

Lavender and/or Clove Essential Oils: Lavender’s benefits make it a suggested ingredient: relaxing, headache healing, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-itch.  If a patient’s need is just detoxification, not necessarily headache or stress relief, clove essential oil is recommended.

  • Choose lavender essential oil (here) and/or clove essential oil (here). 3-4 drops of either essential oil, depending on your bath size.

Combining Ingredients

My favorite and very affordable bath is simply two cups baking soda + 3 to 4 drops lavender or clove essential oil. Baking soda and essential oil can also be combined with epsom salt, mineral sea salt or magnesium flakes:

  • Combine 2 cups baking soda and essential oil of choice with 2 cups epsom salt and, optionally, 1 cup mineral sea salt in your bath water. Some sources recommend adding 1/3 dried ginger powder as well, which can help with aches and pains as well as circulation. (source)

aerial view of a jar filled with magnesium flakes

 

TIPS

  • Carve out 40-45 minutes for yourself 3-4 times per week. I like to do this in the evening. Detox bath time is good alone, restful time that many of us wouldn’t otherwise get — great for rejuvenating one’s spirit, as well as healing one’s body. And, if you use salts in your bath, the magnesium helps many to sleep more soundly. I find it relaxes even my mind, which helps me get to sleep.
  • Also, on a mama note for those of you with little ones, I love to let my littlest guy crawl in with me when the water cools down a bit. He relishes alone time with me and this way he gets the detox bath too.

Dry Brushing, ACV, Seaweed …

I dry brush before taking my bath. But if I’ve already dry brushed in the morning and I’m bathing at night, I do not dry brush twice in one day. See my How to Dry Brush video if you’re new to dry brushing here. It helps to see how to do it! (Learn how to clean your dry brush here.)

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride recommends rotating your bath ingredients. In this way we reduce the likelihood of acquiring a sensitivity to a certain product, and we derive the full variety of benefits offered by the different healing ingredient options.

Two ingredients I haven’t yet mentioned that are also wonderful for detoxification are apple cider vinegar and seaweed. Apple cider vinegar has a beneficial effect on the pH of the skin and may help with eczema. ACV also inhibits candida and several types of bacteria. (sources 1, 2) Seaweed is rich in iodine, which both balances and energizes the body, as it nourishes and regulates the thyroid. (source) The Greeks used seawater for its many health benefits; the practice is called thalassotherapy. While direct contact with seawater is best, seaweed brings many of those properties to the bathtub. Combining mineral sea salt and seaweed in bathwater is one approach for simulating the benefits of ocean water.

  • If you use ACV: Put 1 cup in your bathwater, for standard size tubs, 2 cups for large bathtubs; or use 1/2 cup for children. The apple cider vinegar smell isn’t always pleasant, so it’s nice to add lavender essential oil to it. (source)
  • With seaweed, try The Seaweed Bath Company (here). Use 2 tablespoons in children’s bathwater and 4 for adults. (Seaweed makes bathwater brown and may cause a temporary ring in the tub after being drained, so be warned.)

mom and child in bath tub in top photo and lower photo shows baking soda, a dry brush, mineral salts and magnesium flakes and essential oils

For those on The GAPS Diet

Healing diets usually include additional alternative therapies to assist in the wellness process. Years ago, after two years on the GAPS diet, I realized that I was missing an important piece: detox baths.

Most people benefit from detox baths. In this modern age, with toxins bombarding our bodies, detoxing is recommended for most. I mention GAPS as part of my personal story and also to help many of you who are on the GAPS diet, so you don’t miss this piece like I did.

The first few times most of us read and refer to the GAPS book there is A LOT to take in, just in terms of implementing the diet.  And it’s a crazy phenomenon that so many of us are basing years of healing on one book, without perhaps the added help of a knowledgeable practitioner. At least that’s how it used to be when our family started the diet, about 9 years ago. Now many GAPS practitioners are indeed accessible, and Facebook groups help with support. You can do the GAPS diet alone, but you’ll likely miss a few key components for optimum healing.

I was able to glean many insights that Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride does include in her book, but other points aren’t emphasized, or I missed the recommendations. For me, detoxification baths were at the top of this list. When I realized what I’d missed, I began dutifully soaking, and that’s when I learned the content of this post.

I’ve been taking detox baths for the last 7 years, and I love them to this day. The ritual is still a part of my weekly detox protocols … and one that’s nice!

Final Thoughts

Detoxification baths can be a daily ritual or can be done as seldom as three times a week, for optimum benefits to be derived. For me, baking soda and lavender essential oil are staples, the ingredients I use most often. Epsom salt and magnesium flakes provide magnesium; epsom salt also provides sulphur and tends to be less expensive. Foot baths are a great alternative if you have less time or the weather is hot. Mineral sea salts, seaweed and apple cider vinegar each have their unique attributes and benefits.

Looking for other methods of detoxification?

  • Learn here about How and Why to Drink Bentonite Clay. This post also shares how to use clay in your bath!
  • Learn here about Why and How to Take Diatomaceous Earth.
  • Here‘s How to Use Red Root to Detox.
  • And here‘s my favorite infrared sauna company, which is a practice I do about 3 days a week. We have one in our bedroom. 🙂

Comments 31

  1. Great post Meagan! I love my eppie baths! I also love that you are ok with baking soda from Costco LOL! I get the same big bag because I go through so much of it between my baths a few times per week and my girls’ baths once a week!

  2. I need to try this. Thank you for the recipe. We use some baking soda and epsom salts in the bath from time to time but I was never sure how much to put in…

  3. Thanks for the info! This gave me some great ideas for all of my GAPS detox baths.
    About how much do you use when you are combining different ingredients?

    1. I use 3-4 cups baking soda, because we have a huge tub. And 4 drops essential oil. If you want to use half baking soda, 1/2 mineral salts together in the same bath I would just use half of what is recommended for each in the article. 🙂

  4. I know it is not as cheap but please take a look at Bob Mill’s Baking Soda. It is more natural. Arm & Hammer’s is derived by a chemical process. I use Arm & Hammer’s for cleaning but Bob Red Mills for anything going in or on my body. Just a friendly suggestion.

        1. Yes, I love that! I wonder how our toxins would affect plants. I don’t know at all. If you try it, I’d love to hear your results… maybe on some corner of the garden that needs love but that you won’t mind if it dies, lol??!!

  5. I do this every morning in the summer but have to cut back to 3 x’s week in winter. My skin gets too dry from the salts. I love mixing different essential oils, depending on my mood.

    1. Thanks for sharing that!! Do you also dry brush? That helps me never have dry skin; but I know what you mean… it can get itchy when you do have dry skin and no one likes that!

  6. I’m such a fan of epsom salt baths. I take one each week. I’d like to switch to flakes, but the cost is prohibitive compared to the salts I can get at my local feed store. I am linking to an article I wrote about how epsom baths help fitness.

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      Author

      So true, Bethany: the cost. I like that you get your epsom salt at your feed store, pretty cool. I’ll have to check that out in ours. This morning I had a Mg bath, and it was SO relaxing. I like to have it on hand for when I really need that. Cheers! 🙂

  7. What are your thoughts on not having a whole house filter and taking detox baths? Will we absorb toxins in the water as we absorb the magnesium??? Maybe the benefits of the detox would out weigh what we might be absorbing in a city water supply? I have taken an espon salts bath and enjoyed it. Felt very relaxed; would love to do this weekly. Then I read something online about not having a whole house filter. Thanks 🙂

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      Author

      Hi Kristi, we have always had well water at home, and it’s been tested, so I haven’t had that challenge with bathing, but you make a good point! Certainly if we were on city water we would be filtering our bath water and ideally all the water. I can’t even wash my hands with city water without it affecting them, especially when we owned our restaurants and were washing our hands all day. We added filters. I think it’s a good step!

  8. Any ideas for how older people who have trouble getting up and down in the tub could achieve the same results? Sponge baths? Foot baths? Thanks.

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      Author

      Hi Barbara, great question. Yes, foot baths are effective and wonderful! I think they’re a great solution for older people! 🙂

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          Author
  9. Is it recommended to rinse off after a detox bath…particularly if using the magnesium bath flakes? I used the Ancient Minerals brand of bath flakes one time for my son who had really bad eczema and he cried because he said that it hurt. I was conservative on the amount that I used since it was the first time and it seemed ok after he rinsed off, but I wasn’t sure if it was still effective. We have done lots of detox baths with baking soda and Epsom salt, but I’ve been hesitant to try the flakes again after that first episode :O). Great article! I personally love detox baths too!

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      Author

      Hi Jen, great question. The experts on supplemental Mg topically say that if Mg stings (a lot) and tingles, it suggests a greater Mg deficiency … and this means we need to start with less and more slowly, and increase over time. So he could have a really mild Mg bath, and then yes, rinse it off. If he’s in the bath for 20 minutes, that’s enough time for him to absorb magnesium.

  10. I just read how baking soda disrupts the protective barrier of our skin (the “acid mantle”) because it requires a slightly acidic environment. Therfore, any product that is too acidic or basic disrupts this delicate environment. Also, you mention both baking soda and apple cider vinegar as being beneficial for skin ph, why?

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