What is the difference Between Epsom Salts and Magnesium Flakes?

By Camille Pierson

Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, from muscle relaxation to nerve function. There are several ways to supplement magnesium, and two popular forms are Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) and magnesium flakes (magnesium chloride). Though both offer benefits for health and wellness, they differ in composition, absorption, and uses.

  1. Composition
  • Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulphate)
    • Chemical Formula: MgSO₄
    • Composition: Consists of magnesium, sulphur, and oxygen.
    • Origin: Named after a saline spring in Epsom, Surrey, England, where it was first distilled from water.
  • Magnesium Flakes (Magnesium Chloride)
    • Chemical Formula: MgCl₂
    • Composition: Made up of magnesium and chlorine.
    • Origin: Often sourced from ancient seabeds or salt lakes, like the Dead Sea or the Zechstein seabed in the Netherlands.
  1. Absorption and Bioavailability
  • Epsom Salts
    • Absorption: Magnesium sulphate is absorbed through the skin when dissolved in a bath, providing a way to boost magnesium levels without ingestion. However, the absorption rate is generally lower compared to magnesium chloride.
    • Bioavailability: Can be less readily absorbed into the body compared to magnesium chloride, meaning the body may not utilize as much magnesium.
  • Magnesium Flakes
    • Absorption: Magnesium chloride is more efficiently absorbed through the skin than magnesium sulphate, making it a preferred option for transdermal magnesium supplementation.
    • Bioavailability: Higher bioavailability ensures that more magnesium is available for the body to use.
  1. Uses and Benefits
  • Epsom Salts
    • Uses: Widely used in baths for muscle relaxation, stress relief, and soothing sore muscles. Also used as a natural remedy for various ailments, and in gardening as a magnesium supplement for plants.
    • Benefits: Apart from providing magnesium, the sulphate component can aid in detoxification processes and support joint health.
  • Magnesium Flakes
    • Uses: Primarily used for transdermal magnesium therapy in baths and foot soaks to relieve muscle tension, promote relaxation, and improve skin hydration. Also used in cosmetic formulations for its hydrating properties.
    • Benefits: Known for its superior absorption, magnesium chloride is effective in replenishing magnesium levels, improving skin health, and providing a more potent relaxation experience.
  1. Additional Differences
  • Ease of Use: Magnesium flakes dissolve more easily and fully in water compared to Epsom salts, making them a more convenient option for bath soaks.
  • Storage and Stability: Magnesium chloride (flakes) is generally more stable and less prone to clumping than Epsom salts, which can absorb moisture and form clumps over time.
  • Cost: Epsom salts are typically more affordable and widely available than magnesium flakes.


While both Epsom salts and magnesium flakes can enhance your wellness routine, they cater to slightly different needs and preferences:

  • Epsom Salts are great for their muscle-relaxing and detoxifying properties and are a cost-effective option for baths.
  • Magnesium Flakes offer superior absorption and bioavailability, making them more effective for raising magnesium levels and providing skin hydration.

Choose the one that best fits your requirements or enjoy the benefits of both as part of your wellness regimen.

For more details and products incorporating these wonderful minerals, visit The Float Spa shop

About the Author:

Camille Pierson
Camille is the managing director of the Float Spa and a Trustee of the Brighton Yoga Foundation. She’s immensely proud of the community she’s built at the float spa and takes real pleasure from seeing yoga & floating transform people’s lives. She’s also a mother of two.

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