Magnesium Chloride vs Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom salts)

The health benefits of Magnesium are well documented, yet there is much confusion about the difference between magnesium flakes and Epsom salts – and trust me, there is a difference.

The confusion arises because both products contain magnesium. However, they are two quite different forms of magnesium, and it’s important to understand the difference when making your choice.

Basically, magnesium flakes contain Magnesium Chloride, while Epsom Salts contain Magnesium Sulfate. Both are used to treat a range of health issues.

Why Magnesium Is Amazing

Before we get into those different uses, let’s take a closer look at magnesium, and understand why it’s such an important part of our bodies.

Magnesium plays a part in regulating more than 300 enzyme systems in our bodies, including blood glucose control, muscle and nerve functions, blood pressure, energy production, and more. It is crucially important to our health and survival.

Our bodies get magnesium from a variety of sources, including whole grains, dark leafy greens, bananas, fish, nuts, even dark chocolate. However, it has been estimated that 70-80% of Australians are deficient in this vital mineral. Nature intended that we receive magnesium and other minerals from our food. This plan has been compromised by the decreasing mineral levels found in our food due to chemical fertilizers disrupting the natural regeneration of the soil. What little we do ingest is further depleted by chemicals in both food and water, and also by medications that often directly reduce cellular magnesium levels. Supplementation, therefore, is essential for good health.

Two ways of supplementation

We have two avenues to supplement our weakened diet with minerals; oral or topically (transdermally). There are many forms of oral magnesium supplements on the market, but this means of supplementation can take from 6 months to a year to really get cellular levels into the healthy range, depending on how absorbable a given form is (reported to be as low as 4%) and the degree of deficiency. Topical supplementation is the fastest means to increase total body magnesium levels to the needed levels for good health, sometimes taking only a month.  Topical supplementation can be done by soaking the body in a magnesium chloride bath salts solution, or by simply rubbing, or spraying, a solution directly on the skin. More and more people are using magnesium oil or cream as a very easy way to apply magnesium quickly to the skin. (70% absorbed) As the body’s biggest organ, our skin can actually absorb and deliver the nutrients we need and filter out toxins. It’s pretty impressive!

Magnesium Chloride vs. Epsom Salts

The form most used in topical applications (especially in bathtub soaking) over the years, has been magnesium sulfate, commonly known as Epsom salts. This form of magnesium is in many ways inferior to magnesium chloride. Magnesium sulfate is rapidly excreted through the kidneys and therefore difficult to assimilate, thus the need for much more magnesium sulfate in a bath than magnesium chloride to get similar results. Magnesium chloride is very easily assimilated and metabolized by the body; therefore, lesser amounts produce greater results.

The key difference between the two is that Magnesium Chloride contains chloride which combines with hydrogen in the stomach to form hydrochloric acid, a powerful digestive enzyme that breaks down proteins, absorbs other metallic minerals, and activates what is known as the intrinsic factor, which in turn absorbs vitamin B12. Using other magnesium salts is less advantageous because these have to be converted into chlorides in the body anyway.

Magnesium sulfate is better than no magnesium at all, but magnesium chloride trumps it every time because it is better absorbed and retained by cells. The body needs lots of chloride as it represents about 70% of total electrolytes. That means that magnesium and chloride bound together is a superfood and macro nutrient for cells.

Using magnesium flakes in your bath is great for:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • stress relief
  • improved sleep
  • cardiac health
  • restless legs syndrome
  • cramping & spasms
  • muscle and joint aches
  • headache relief
  • improved circulation
  • better nutrient absorption
  • faster wound healing
  • treating acne, eczema or other skin problems
  • improving skin hydration

Need to be Kneaded recommends using high quality Elektra from a local Gold Coast family run company. Elektra Magnesium Chloride Salts are naturally evaporated from alpine salt water in a pristine region of the Tibetan Plateau and are quality food grade salts which can be used for mouthwash and drinking water, as well as for foot soaks or bathing. Available to purchase in store now.


Magnesium Flakes 250g $13


Magnesium Flakes 1kg $35.20