When I was little, taking a bath meant filling up a bucket with hot water and using a bar of soap and a “tumbler” (a cup like utensil) to wash up. Later on, I got lucky when Dad installed a hand shower, a luxury because you didn’t have to use the tumbler anymore and washing your hair became magically easy! It was still called “taking a bath” or “bathing”. Years later, I came to the US and in passing, mentioned to someone that I take my bath every night before bed, which in my world meant taking a shower. That drew odd looks from my colleagues. “Every night?” they asked. That was when I learned, to my utter amusement, that a “bath” in the US meant filling up a massive tub with gallons of water, adding some bubble making soap and soaking in it for a good 30-60 minutes. Funny how different words have different meanings in different countries. Now I can see why this would draw the odd looks because boy, THAT is a lot of water to use every night. 🙂
I still feel guilty the 3 times a year that I do indulge in a bath. I cannot bring myself to waste that much water when there are people in drought ridden countries walking miles to carry a few gallons of water home for basic needs like cooking and drinking. While I’ve never gone through what they have, I still understand the value of water. Growing up, water was a luxury for us too, especially during the summer months. It would be turned on for an hour and a half at 10 am sharp and you better have every bucket and large pot and every able bodied person in the house ready to fill up when it was turned on. It also meant taking hot showers when the heater had water running through it or wait for the evening when it could be heated on the stove top.
Where am I going with this? So couple weeks ago, I injured my back. An impinged L5-S1 nerve I’m told. Recovery involves steroids, pain management, rest and 30-45 minutes in a hot epsom salt bath, preferably 2-3 times a week. While I would love to alleviate my pain, 2-3 times seems tad excessive. Not to mention I’ll have to kill my soul to fill the tub. So I got creative and googled for less water intensive applications of epsom salt. Google never disappoints and voila! 15 minutes later I have 2 ways to achieve the same results as a bath but with far less water consumption.
Epsom salt compress – Dissolve 2 tbsp of the salt into 8 oz of water and soak a washcloth in it. Remove the washcloth from the solution, squeeze out the excess water so it’s damp but not dripping and lay it over the area to be treated for 20 minutes. Rewet the cloth if it starts to dry out before the 20 minutes are up.
Epsom salt paste – Mix 2 tbsp of epsom salt with 1/2 tbsp of water and make a paste. Apply the paste on the area to be treated and cover with a warm, wet washcloth. Allow it to stay for about 20 minutes as well.
In both cases, the magnesium and sulphates in the salt are absorbed through the skin and accelerate the healing just like a bath would. I’m super excited and while I can’t exactly jump up and down because it hurts, I can do the next best thing! I can try out both options and see which one brings the most results. Bath dilemma averted!