Simple Solutions for Soothing Soaks

Experts agree that taking a warm bath can calm upset nerves, sooth frazzled minds and unkink sore muscles. Whether you're drawn to bath bubbles that change color or shaped bath "confetti" that fizzes, the beneficial effects of a luxurious soak can be enjoyed by nearly everyone. But have you ever wondered why your favorite peach mango bath salts smell funny after a few weeks? Consider that most commercial bath products contain artificial fragrances and preservatives that break down over time and often work in reverse of products' intended purposes. For example, when we soak ourselves in products full of sodium lauryl sulfate, a common ingredient in health and beauty items, how many of us realize we're soaking in a common detergent that tends to cause dryness?

Why not apply the same standards to your bath products that you might to your food choices? While colorful bath offerings may be tempting, consider making your own healthy bath products with ingredients you can pronounce. One wonderful way to do this is with essential oils.

Essential oils come from different parts of herbs, including the bark, flower, leaves, root or seeds. Because they are so concentrated, they are measured by the drop and are used sparingly in bath recipes, with excellent results. Note that essential oils are not meant for internal consumption.

While essential oils are initially more expensive than, say, that neon green, 18 oz. tub of bubble bath for $3.97 we've all walked past in the store, the investment is well worth it. Fragrance oils, which may often have some essential oil as an ingredient, will not provide the same health benefits and will most likely contain artificial ingredients to enhance scent. Stick with the real thing for the best results. When using essential oils at bath time, avoid putting drops straight into warm or hot water because the oil will puddle and evaporate before you've had an opportunity to enjoy its wonderful powers.

My husband's favorite bath blend helps him ease sore muscles after intense volleyball matches. But this blend isn't just for sports nuts; it's also the favorite of a friend who chases after her active seven year-old. Eucalyptus and rosemary's astringent properties stimulate circulation, making them ideal essential oils for helping the body flush itself of lactic acid, the compound that causes muscle soreness. If you're pregnant or nursing, check with your doctor before beginning any new health routine, including the use of essential oils. Check with your child's doctor to determine how much and what kind of oils to use with young children.

Use these simple ingredients for your next relaxing muscle soak. Essential oils are available online, by mail order and through health food stores.

Ingredients:

  • 9 drops lemon oil

  • 7 drops rosemary oil

  • 7 drops eucalyptus oil

  • 1 cup sea salt (available in most food markets)

  • ½ cup baking soda

  • Glass container with tight-fitting lid

Combine sea salt and baking soda. Add each essential oil to this mixture one at a time, mixing after each addition. Do not exceed 26 drops of essential oil per one cup of sea salt. Use one or two generous scoops for each bath, keeping the remainder sealed tightly in a glass jar out of sunlight. The mixture will smell very strong in its container but will dissipate in bath water, leaving a relaxing, luxurious scent.

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