In the world of salts, where the culinary landscape and wellness rituals are seasoned with a myriad of choices, two contenders often spark confusion: Epsom salt and table salt. While they may share the word “salt” in their names, these two substances couldn’t be more different in composition, uses, and effects. In this article, we embark on a journey to unravel the distinctions between Epsom salt and table salt, shedding light on their unique properties, applications, and the reasons why one is a staple in the kitchen, while the other finds its place in soothing baths and gardening beds. So, let’s dive into the salty world of Epsom salt and table salt to discern the crystals that set them apart.

What is Epsom Salt?

Epsom salt, chemically known as magnesium sulfate (MgSO4), is a naturally occurring mineral compound that consists of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. It is named after the town of Epsom in Surrey, England, where it was first discovered in natural springs.

Can You Eat Epsom Salt?

Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate, is generally not intended for consumption as a food or seasoning salt. It is primarily used for therapeutic and external purposes, such as in baths or as a laxative when taken orally under medical supervision.

Consuming Epsom salt in large quantities or without proper guidance can lead to magnesium toxicity, which can have serious health consequences. Symptoms of magnesium toxicity may include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, irregular heartbeat, and in severe cases, kidney problems and cardiac arrest.

What is Epsom Salt Used For?

Epsom salt is used for a variety of purposes due to its potential therapeutic and practical properties. Here are some common uses of Epsom salt:

  1. Epsom Salt Baths: One of the most well-known uses of Epsom salt is in baths. Dissolving Epsom salt in warm bathwater is believed to help:
    • Relax muscles and relieve muscle soreness and tension.
    • Soothe aches and pains, including joint discomfort.
    • Promote relaxation and reduce stress.
    • Improve sleep quality.
  2. Gardening: Epsom salt is used as a fertilizer in gardening. It provides magnesium and sulfur, which are essential nutrients for plant growth. Gardeners use it to:
    • Promote healthy foliage and green leaves in plants.
    • Enhance the flavour and nutrient content of fruits and vegetables.
    • Improve soil quality by correcting magnesium deficiencies.
  3. Beauty and Skincare: Epsom salt is sometimes used in beauty and skincare products. It can be found in:
    • Bath salts and scrubs for exfoliation and skin softening.
    • Face masks for their potential skin-soothing properties.
  4. Laxative: When taken orally and under the guidance of a healthcare professional, Epsom salt can act as a laxative. It is used to:
    • Relieve occasional constipation.
    • Prepare for certain medical procedures or surgeries by emptying the bowels.
  5. Magnesium Supplement: Some individuals use Epsom salt as a source of dietary magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a role in various bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, bone health, and heart rhythm. However, using Epsom salt as a primary magnesium supplement is not typically recommended due to its laxative effects.

If you are considering using Epsom salt for any purpose, it is crucial to follow the recommended guidelines and consult with a healthcare professional or gardening expert if you have specific questions or concerns about its usage. When using Epsom salt, it should be used in moderation and only for its intended purpose, whether that be for bathing, gardening, or as a laxative, and always as directed by a knowledgeable authority in the respective field.

What is Table Salt?

Table salt, often just called “salt,” is a common kitchen ingredient that comes in small grains or crystals. It’s one of the most popular seasonings used to add flavour to food. Salt is made from a mineral called sodium chloride, which is found in salt mines underground and in seawater.

Table salt comes from the ocean and the ground. People take the water from the ocean and let it dry in the sun, leaving behind the salt. They also dig deep into the ground to find salt deposits. Then, they clean it up and make it all nice and fine, like grains of sand.

People have been using salt for a very long time, even way back in ancient times. It doesn’t just make food taste better; it also helps to preserve food so it doesn’t spoil too quickly.

When you sprinkle a little salt on your fries, popcorn, or other dishes, it enhances the flavors and makes them taste yummier. But it’s important to use salt in moderation because too much salt can be bad for your health. So, while salt can make your food taste great, it’s best to use it in just the right amount.

What is Table Salt Used For?

Table salt is a versatile seasoning and food preservative that has a wide range of uses in cooking and food preparation. Here are some common uses of table salt:

  • Seasoning: Table salt is primarily used to add flavour to a variety of dishes. A pinch of salt can enhance the taste of foods like soups, stews, pasta, and grilled meats. It can also be used in small quantities to balance the sweetness in baked goods and desserts.
  • Preservation: Salt has been used for centuries as a preservative to extend the shelf life of food. It helps inhibit the growth of bacteria and molds by drawing out moisture from foods like fish, meats, and vegetables, making them less prone to spoilage.
  • Boiling: Adding salt to boiling water when cooking pasta, rice, or vegetables can help these foods cook more evenly and retain their colour.
  • Baking: Salt is a common ingredient in baking recipes, where it not only adds to the flavour of baked goods but also strengthens the dough by improving its texture and controlling yeast activity.
  • Pickling: Salt is a key ingredient in pickling solutions, where it preserves and flavours vegetables like cucumbers, peppers, and onions to make pickles.
  • Seasoning Popcorn and Snacks: Many people enjoy sprinkling salt on popcorn and snacks to enhance its flavour.
  • Table Use: As its name suggests, table salt is often used as a condiment to season food at the table. It’s typically placed in salt shakers or salt cellars for easy access.
  • Curing Meats: In certain culinary processes, such as making cured meats like bacon and ham, salt is used to draw out moisture and preserve the meat.
  • Cleaning: Salt can be used as an abrasive cleaner for scrubbing pots, pans, and kitchen surfaces.
  • Homemade Cleaning Solutions: It’s sometimes used in homemade cleaning solutions to help remove stains and odours.

It’s important to note that while salt is a valuable seasoning, consuming excessive amounts of salt can have health implications, including an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Therefore, it’s recommended to use salt in moderation and be mindful of your overall salt intake.

The Main Difference Between Epsom Salt and Table Salt

The main difference between Epsom salt and table salt lies in their chemical composition and intended uses

Chemical Composition:

  • Epsom Salt: Epsom salt is composed of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. Its chemical name is magnesium sulfate (MgSO4). It does not contain sodium chloride, which is the primary component of table salt.
  • Table Salt: Table salt, also known as sodium chloride (NaCl), is composed of sodium and chlorine ions. It does not contain magnesium or sulfur.

Culinary vs. Therapeutic Use:

  • Epsom Salt: Epsom salt is primarily used for therapeutic and external purposes. It is often dissolved in bathwater to relax muscles, soothe aches and pains, and promote relaxation. It can also be used as a laxative when taken orally under medical supervision.
  • Table Salt: Table salt is used as a seasoning and preservative in cooking. It is commonly used to enhance the flavour of various dishes and can be found on dining tables worldwide for people to sprinkle on their food.


  • Epsom Salt: Epsom salt is bitter in taste and is not suitable for culinary use due to its unpleasant flavour.
  • Table Salt: Table salt has a salty taste and is the type of salt typically used to enhance the taste of food.


  • Epsom Salt: Epsom salt typically appears as small, colourless or white crystals.
  • Table Salt: Table salt is finely ground and appears as small white grains or crystals.


In summary, while both Epsom salt and table salt are types of salt, they differ in their chemical composition, intended uses, taste, and appearance. Epsom salt is primarily used for therapeutic purposes and contains magnesium sulfate, while table salt is a common seasoning in cooking and consists of sodium chloride.