Epsom salt is a versatile household staple with a variety of uses, but a common question is: does Epsom salt expire? The good news is that Epsom salt has an extremely long shelf life and does not technically expire. However, some degradation can occur over time, especially if it is not stored properly.
Epsom salt is an essential item because of its usefulness. It has a wide variety of life-saving uses. That’s why it should be included in your first aid kit and INCH Bag.
However, the packaging does have an expiration date, but why? We will answer this question in greater detail and the best way to store Epsom salt as we continue through the article.
Does Epsom Salt Expire?
It’s only logical to ask, “does Epsom salt expire?” when there is an expiration date on the packaging. However, we tend to think of this date as a “best by” date, and the manufacturing company is legally obligated to print a date. Epsom salt doesn’t expire in the sense that it’s no longer usable.
Even though the date might have passed, that doesn’t mean the Epsom salt is no longer effective. It might be less potent or clumped together, but it’s still safe to use.
Epsom salt can be effective for many years. You might be wondering, “Just how long is Epsom salt good for?” don’t worry, that’s what we cover next!
How Long Does Epsom Salt Last?
Does Epsom salt go bad? If so, can you use expired Epsom salt?
Epsom salt can go bad in theory, but it’s an implausible scenario. The most common way for Epsom salt to go bad would be when it dissolves.
If properly stored, the Epsom salt shelf life can last well over a decade. Even if it clumps together, that doesn’t mean it’s no longer beneficial to us. Because Epsom salt is a mineral, it can last much longer than many of our other preps.
What is Epsom Salt?
Epsom salt is the common name for Magnesium sulfate. It’s a naturally occurring chemical compound made up of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. Epsom salt is named after the town of Epsom in England, but there are Magnesium sulfate mines worldwide.
Epsom salt looks like table salt, but it typically has larger granules. In some instances, it is scented, and while this might be nice to relax sore muscles after a challenging workout, the scent isn’t going to aid you if SHTF, so I prefer the unscented Epsom salt.
Epsom salt has many medicinal and cleaning purposes, which we will discuss in detail later, so it’s essential to always have an ample supply on hand. Keeping several gallons in a sealed container is not uncommon amongst preppers because we know there will always be a reason to use it, and it doesn’t spoil quickly.
5 Reasons to Have Epsom Salt as a Prepper
While there are more than five reasons to stock up on Epsom salt, for the sake of your time, I’ll list the five most important uses. However, these are not scientific facts; they are home remedies that haven’t been scientifically proven or tested.
So take them with a grain of salt! Haha, I’m sorry I couldn’t help myself!
Magnesium sulfate is a natural laxative, so if you’ve been eating MREs for too long, you might need to drink a glass of water with Epsom salt dissolved in it. Remember that this is saltwater and won’t have a pleasant taste.
I recommend starting with a small dose (a teaspoon’s worth) and only increasing the concentration if it’s not helping you. If you’re in a wilderness situation, then you’ll still need to purify the water before dissolving the Epsom salt.
2. Sunburn Relief
Epsom salt can help relieve sunburn. Fill your bathtub with water and add about two cups of Magnesium sulfate. Soak in the tub for 15 minutes. This won’t eliminate your sunburn, but it will help relieve pain for a little while, and if you catch it early enough, the burn might not be as severe.
If you don’t have a tub, use damp cloths soaked in an Epsom salt solution. You can also get the fabric wet and put magnesium sulfate in the center, then fold the fabric over itself and let the cloth absorb the Epsom salt.
Salts, including Epsom salt, are natural sterilizers, making them an excellent addition to first aid kits. I’ve personally used Epsom salt on an open wound to keep it from getting infected. Unlike other salts, Magnesium sulfate doesn’t sting as badly.
You can clean medication needles using an Epsom salt-water solution or even keep the needle in some Epsom salt because the salt will kill bacteria that thrive on metal surfaces.
The resistance to bacteria and coarse nature of Epsom salt lend it to being an excellent cleaning agent for many things.
4. Allergic Reactions
If you happen to have an allergic reaction that causes swelling, you can use the same method as treating sunburn to help relieve it. This is not a replacement for an EpiPen, but it is better than doing nothing.
I was clearing brush one time and unknowingly came across poison ivy. The next day I had a rash from my wrist to my bicep, the exposed skin. I couldn’t stop itching, but the most significant relief I found was soaking my arms in an Epsom salt bath. So I can personally attest to the relief Magnesium sulfate provides for rashes from poison ivy.
The nature of Epsom salt makes pests dislike it. So not only does it help fight off bacteria, but it will also help keep away insects and slugs. If you’re having problems with maggots in your rice, you might try adding Epsom salt to deter the maggots from eating the rice. It just might let you store rice for longer.
It is excellent for gardens; one cup of Epsom salt for every five gallons of water spread on and around your plants will keep many pests at bay and add little nutrients to the soil.
How to Store Epsom Salt
How you store Magnesium sulfate will go a long way to lengthen Epsom salt’s shelf life. While we still have the comfort of living indoors, keeping it is relatively simple. However, it becomes a little more complicated during wilderness survival situations.
Away From Moisture
Epsom salt will dissolve in water, so it must be kept far from moisture. My wife and I stored a small container of Epsom salt under the sink in the bathroom, and the steam from the shower caused it to clump together. It was still usable, but it was a pain to get out of the container.
The sun will break down minerals, so storing Epsom salt out of direct sunlight is essential. The medicine cabinet or in a closet off the ground are good places to keep the container. My wife and I got this part of storing Epsom salt correct when we stored it in a cabinet out of direct sunlight.
Free From Pests
While Epsom salt might keep insects away, it doesn’t drive rodents away. So you need to store it in a rodent-proof container and in an area where rodents are not likely to find it. Nothing is worse than needing something for an emergency only to discover rodents have beat you to it.
Can You Use Expired Epsom Salt?
Yes, you can use “expired” Epsom salt.
We previously answered the question, “Can Epsom salt expire?” and concluded Epsom salt does not expire even though the container has an expiration date.
Epsom salt rarely goes bad, so you can use it well after it has expired according to the date printed on the container. Salts are natural preservatives, so they are beneficial even after a long time.
Epsom Salt vs. Magnesium Chloride
Magnesium sulfate is not the same as Magnesium chloride. Both have medicinal characteristics, but they are used for differing purposes. Epsom salt is used primarily outside of the body, such as soaking and cleaning. If you ingest too much Epsom salt, it will cause severe diarrhea.
Magnesium chloride is how we can instill more magnesium into our diets to help with over 300 bodily processes. It often comes in a pill or tablet form. It can be used for soaking, but its primary purpose is as a nutritional supplement.
Ideally, we would have both, but if I had to choose one over the other, I would select Magnesium sulfate, AKA Epsom salt, because we can absorb some magnesium through our skin while soaking. It’s not as good as ingesting Magnesium chloride, but once again, it’s better than nothing.
Final Thoughts On Does Epsom Salt Expire
We began this article by asking, “Does Epsom salt expire?” and quickly discovered it doesn’t even though it has an expiration date. This is great news considering all the benefits Magnesium sulfate can bring to everyday life, especially in a survival situation.
The first aid benefits alone are worth stockpiling Epsom salt, plus it’s relatively simple to store!