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Make your own bath salts & disperse January blues!

January 2018, posted by Emma

January is a month associated with the colour blue, and not for the best of reasons. Its common to feel low in this deepest of winter months, when festive frivolities have past and spring sunshine can feel like a distant dream. Frazzled nerves, mental exhaustion and anxiety often go hand-in-hand with low mood, perhaps especially at this time of year, so this is a month when I’m extra-thankful for citrus peel oils. Gently inhaling any one of our commonly used citruses instantly uplifts my spirits and reminds me of sunnier times to come. Most people seem to have a positive association with one of more citruses, so I find them particularly useful in my client work at this time of year.

One common concern about applying citrus peel oils to the skin is possible photo-toxic reactions, though it should be noted that the levels of risk varies between citruses. However this is much less of a worry in winter, when direct sunshine is in short supply and few of us venture out with uncovered limbs. Even so, be aware of the risk – a good general rule is to allow 12 hours before exposing bare skin to UV rays (including sunbeds) after applying citrus peel oils, particularly grapefruit, lime and bergamot.

In a recent small-scale study at a mental health treatment centre in Utah, USA, 57 participants inhaled bergamot oil for 15 minutes. Increased positive wellbeing was reported, leading the researchers to conclude that aromatherapy interventions using bergamot may be an effective adjunct treatment for mental health and wellbeing (Han X et al, 2017). We all have mental health of course, so this is a good time to utilise bergamot and its citrus cousins to boost our own emotional wellbeing.

One of my favourite ways of using essential oils is in a hot bath, which is a particularly enticing way to spend an hour on a cold winter evening. One way of doing this is by combining essential oils with salt (in addition to soluble, see below). Salt is an ancient mineral healing tool; Hippocrates, Ancient Greece’s Father of Medicine, recommended salt water for a variety of ailments.
Materia Aromatica stock salts from the Dead Sea which are reputed to have the highest mineral contents.
There are a wide variety of salts on the market these days, with some variations in therapeutic values attributed to each. Be aware that not all are from guaranteed sustainable sources, so a little bit of salt research is recommended. In general, salt baths are credited with helping ease muscle aches, managing stress, cleansing and softening the skin and more. Its important to combine your essential oils with a base oil or soluble first, to protect your skin from exposure to neat essential oils and so reduce the risk of skin irritation – essential oils do not dissolve or disperse in salt. On the subject of skin reactions, be aware that citrus peel oils are all high in monoterpenes. These are quick to oxidise (thus increasing skin irritation risk), so double-check that your oils are within their use by dates.

Bath Salts Suggestions

200g sea salt
20mls soluble or vegetable oil.
14 drops essential oils (2% dilution)
This is enough for approx. 2 baths. Combine your essential oils with the soluble or preferred base oil, then thoroughly mix with the salt. Swirl into your hot bath water, lie back and enjoy.

MORNING BOOST – to help restore frazzled nerves, cut through lethargy and calm anxiety.

5 drops Grapefruit (Citrus Paradisi)
3 drops Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
3 drops Thyme linalol (Thymus vulgaris CT linalol)

BED ZEDS – to instil optimism, calm the mind & ease nervous tension.

5 drops Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis)
4 drops Geranium (Pelargonium x asperum)
1 drop Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides)

CONNECT & RESTORE – to calm anxiety, raise low mood, ground the mind and generally restore the spirit.

5 drops Bergamot (Citrus aurantium ssp bergamia)
4 drops Black pepper (Piper nigrum)
1 drop Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobile)

Emma Charlton


• Han X et al (2017), Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) Essential Oil Inhalation Improves Positive Feelings in the Waiting Room of a Mental Health Treatment Center: A Pilot Study. Accessed 04/01/18, available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28337799
• Kallevig D (date unknown), Bath Safety: how to use essential oils in the bath, Tisserand Institute, accessed 04/01/18, available from http://tisserandinstitute.org/safety/bath-safety/
• Han X et al (2017), Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) Essential Oil Inhalation Improves Positive Feelings in the Waiting Room of a Mental Health Treatment Center: A Pilot Study. Accessed 04/01/18, available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28337799
• Mojay G (1996) Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit (1996) London: Gaia Books Limited
• Mojay G (2015) Aromatherapy & Oriental Medicine Reference Notes (ITHMA course text, unpublished)
• Worwood VA (1996) The Fragrant Mind, London; Bantam

Additional bath Salts information from:-