Mustard Bath is a fantastic, centuries-old concept. Whether you're looking to aid sleep, soothe sore muscles, or just pamper yourself, try it!
Originally published September 2, 2020. Updated on 7/30/2021
I just woke up from my first night of 7+ hours sleep in a while, so I guess it’s time to finally blog my DIY Mustard Bath Gift Set.
My Sleep Problems
Bit of background: I used to effortlessly sleep 8 hours a night. I didn’t have to think about sleep, I had no trouble getting to - or staying - asleep, and life was good.
If something happened and that changed, it was a big red flag that something was wrong - generally, it was that I’d become over-medicated for my hypothyroidism. Adjustments would be made, and I would sleep properly again.
Then - back in March - I was given an antibiotic that crippled me, took my heart rate to all kinds of ridiculous speeds (for months!), and completely screwed with my ability to sleep.
My usual easy 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep became 2-3 hours of sleep, then WIDE awake and unable to fall back to sleep. 2-3 hours a night for weeks on end, with the odd “good” night of sleep at 4.5-5 hours. It’s been hellish.
I’ve tried everything. Sleep meds do NOTHING. Melatonin may actually be doing the opposite of what it’s supposed to, as I actually sleep better on the nights I don’t take it.
Buying a Hush Blanket was the biggest help of all - it took me from 2-3 on average, to 5.5-6 hours on average. That was a HUGE help, and I can’t wait to see how it is once the underlying issue resolves!
... but I still missed my 8 hours of sleep.
Enter: Barefoot Venus!
Concurrent to all this going on, I became acquainted with Mustard Baths.
When the pandemic started - and use of hand sanitizer became more frequent - our hands were in rough shape from it.
I ended up getting a sample of a Barefoot Venus Instant Hand Repair Cream in a monthly subscription box, and was IMMEDIATELY obsessed - as was my husband. CANNOT recommend it enough, far and away the best hand cream we’ve ever had. Just amazing.
We ended up ordering some more hand cream directly from Barefoot Venus, during a promotion where you’d get a mystery bag of stuff - awesome.
When it arrived, one of the samples was another hand repair cream that made me suddenly understand cats and their reactions to catnip. I wanted to just rub it on my face, roll around in it, etc. The smell was intoxicating, and just really brought on an amazing feeling of calm and wellness.
It took me a minute to figure out what was up - it was ”Mustard Bath” scented... and smelled like A-535. LOL.
As a former child athlete who was pretty hardcore, I think I have a bit of a Pavlovian response to A-535, an analgesic cream here in Canada. Even the smell of it - decades later - is enough to bring on a feeling of “Ok, things are going to be fine”. Smell memory is a powerful thing!
Of course, I had to take a look at that whole line of products. It was their Mustard line, and I decided to try their mustard bath .
I did some reading, and learned that mustard baths were a traditional English thing, used for muscle problems, colds, fevers, and more.
I remembered reading about how mustard plaster - a paste made from mustard powder, water, and sometimes other ingredients - was used way back in the day to combat viral and bacterial infections... and frankly, it sounded miserable.
The mustard is supposed to heat you up and make you sweat out the bug... and it’s been known to cause burns, blistering, and more. I think the idea was that the cure may be bad, but if it saves your life... oh well?
With that trivia kicking around in the back of my brain from my old microbiology-as-a-special-interest days, I’ve got to say... the idea of a mustard bath was kind of off-putting. The description on the site didn’t help - it referenced pulling toxins from the skin.
However, I was so completely in love with the hand creams, I had full confidence that Barefoot Venus would not put out something awful, and I bought some.
When I received it, I noticed that it mentioned “mild sedative effect”, so I decided to wait til evening to try it.
LET ME TELL YOU, that product was mislabeled. “Mild sedative”? No. Let’s try “DO NOT MAKE ANY $%^$#^ PLANS”.
I got out of the bath feeling like I’d taken a hardcore sleep med, and went to bed early. No hyperbole - I got our of that bath and felt like I’d been drugged.
I woke up 8 hours later. WILD.
I raved on my Facebook profile, and my friends were intrigued - several ordered some for themselves.
However, one friend commented with disappointment that she wouldn’t be able to order any, as she was allergic to ragweed. I had NO idea, but apparently people with ragweed allergies also tend to react to chamomile, which was one of the ingredients in the mustard bath.
I felt like this was a tremendous injustice, so I set about making a homemade version, without the chamomile.
I figured that chamomile tea had never had much of an effect on me, so it was doubtful that the bath was dependant on it for its “mild” sedative effect.
To replace anything that may be lost by the exclusion of the chamomile, I added some lavender. Lavender is also known to have a relaxing / mild sedative effect, and I knew the scent would fit in just fine with everything else.
... and it worked so well, I decided to come up with a couple other related bath items!
As a note, I’m still going to buy the Barefoot Venus bath, and alternate use with my own. If you don’t have any issues with ragweed, I *wholeheartedly* recommend their Mustard Bath. I just wanted to come up with an option for my friend with ragweed allergies, and anyone else in that position!
I have no idea if this Mustard Bath will have as strong of an effect on everyone, as it does on me.
I don’t know the mechanisms involved with the sedative effects, and how much olfactory input played into it all. As someone with extremely heightened senses, there is always a chance that I am more sensitive to whatever’s going on in this mustard bath mix, than others are or would be
All I know is that when I use either Mustard Bath - the Barefoot Venus one, or my chamomile-free version - I feel like I do in the moments before going under general anesthetic, and then pass clean out for a full night of sleep.
... and when even hardcore sleep meds aren’t doing anything at all for me, that’s *remarkable*.
Whenever you’re trying out something new on your skin - especially if you have sensitive skin - you should test it out on a small match of skin, to see if you have any reactions. If you ave any problems, discontinue use.
If you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications that may be affected by any of the ingredients in these products, you should talk to your physician before using them.
This site is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the site to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. While I’ll only ever link to items that I, personally, wholeheartedly recommend, I do need to put that disclosure out there!
Related: I do not have a relationship with Barefoot Goddess, aside from “raging fangirl” :). I love their products and am happy to sing their praises to all who will listen, absolutely free of charge. Really fantastic stuff.
Looking for More Homemade Gift Ideas?
We have a few DIY gift tutorials, with even more coming! For now, be sure to check out:
Booze Bouquet Tutorial.
DIY Citrus and Cedar Bath Set
DIY Cutting Board Tutorial - Colourful Squares
Homemade Cutting Board Tutorial - Log Cabin
Homemade Hop Spa Bath Set
Homemade Peppermint Eucalyptus Spa Set
How to Sew A Cute Makeup / Toiletry Bag Travel Set
Mop Doll Air Freshener Covers
DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater Masks
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Now, on to those tutorials!
DIY Mustard Bath Gift Set
From my point of view, Mustard Bath may sound weird, but would make a fantastic gift for so many people: People with a lot of stress (and hey, in 2020... who *doesn’t* fit this category?)... athletes, physical labourers, and anyone else with muscle aches... Those who like to pamper themselves, and more.
Of course, gifting to yourself is a thing, also. Treat yourself!
One thing I recommend when giving anything like bath products as a gift is to make a list of the ingredients you use, and label it in some way. This can be a sticker on the bottom/back of your jar or packaging, or printed out on a bit of cardstock and tied on with a ribbon.
Especially when you’re using essential oils, it’s important for the recipient to see what’s in it, and be able to make sure those ingredients will be safe for them.
Chamomile-Free Mustard Bath
The first thing to help me sleep after getting floxed, and the product that started me off on a wild path of creating different bath soak recipes (stay tuned!)
A few things to mention before getting to the recipe:
I find that Epsom salt almost always has chunks in it that need to be broken down. For that reason, I like to make this Mustard Bath in a plastic baggie.
I measure the ingredients into the bag, push most of the air out, and just sort of massage the bag a bit to work out the clumps, and to properly mix everything.
It’s easier than stirring it in a bowl, and makes FAR less of a mess!
A note on the use of Lavender flowers in this: They look pretty in the jar, and they look pretty in the bath ... but you absolutely will have to rinse the tub out well to get rid of them all, afterwards!
If you don’t like the idea of tiny flowers floating around, you can use a spice grinder to process them down to a finer powder.
Bath Tea Bags
Bath tea bags are an option to contain the mess of the flowers in the bathtub, and it’s one I’ve been ALL over, lately. This is the pack I buy, which is the perfect size for my bath soaks.
Just measure a cup of the Mustard Bath into a bath tea bag, pull the strings to gather, and tie a knot close to the gather.
I like to also tightly wrap a couple loops around the bag itself, just under the gather, and knot THAT off. That prevents any of the flowers from escaping out of the opening.
This recipe can be multiplied to make much larger batches, if so desired. If you’re making more than a double or triple batch, you’ll want to do it in a large bowl.
I like to use gloved hands to physically break up any clumps of Epsom salt in the bowl, before adding the other ingredients. It just makes it a lot easier to get a consistent final product.
- Measure your Epsom salt , mustard powder, and dried lavender* into your plastic baggie.
- Press most of the air out of the bag, and close the zipper on it.
- Manually crush any clumps in the salt, and work to combine the ingredients.
- Open the bag, use an eye dropper to measure the essential oils into the baggie.
- Push out the air and close the bag one more time,
- Massage, shake, or otherwise agitate the bag to distribute the essential oils throughout the mix.
- Transfer mixture to an airtight container, or measure into bath tea bags. Filled bath tea bags should also be stored in airtight containers.
- To use, measure 1 cup of Mustard Bath - or throw one bath tea bag - into a hot running bath. Soak for 20 minutes, rinse off.
Mustard Bath Salt Scrub
Several years ago, I was at Thermea in Winnipeg (Ah, my happy place!) for the first time.
In the exfoliation shower, they had a eucalyptus mint salt scrub. Sure, it exfoliated... but the weird thing was that it made my muscles feel SO good. Alive!
With that memory in mind, I decided to do up a Mustard Bath Salt Scrub, for the same reason. Given the anti-inflammatory and circulatory properties of some of the ingredients in the Mustard Bath itself, it seemed like a good idea.
... and it was!
This scrub not only exfoliates, it’s SO nice on sore muscles. I especially like to use it after a workout.
For something like this, I tend to use Baby Oil. It's cheap, good for the skin, and the other scents in this are strong enough that they mostly overpower the baby oil scent.
If you really hate the smell of baby oil, I recommend using sweet almond oil, but there are other options as well.
Many people use coconut oil when making homemade scrubs... and many people say to never use coconut oil on the skin, as it clogs pores. Some people use olive oil, some use hemp oil, some others even use vegetable oil.
Go with what works for you.
Salt scrubs are more harsh than sugar scrubs, and are meant for body use, not on the face. Be sure to not use it on broken or freshly shaved skin.
This scrub should last between 1-3 months, depending on how well it’s cared for.
Keep it in an airtight container, away from sunlight. Shake well before use.
Use a very clean hand - or, better yet, a mini scoop like these - to take a bit of Mustard Bath Salt Scrub out, when using. The more you can protect the contents of the jar from contamination from bacteria or mold, the longer it will last.
I don’t like the jar pictured, as the lids don’t stay on well. I’ve been using these ones lately, and I like them a LOT better.
Mustard Bath Salt Scrub
- Measure all ingredients into a glass bowl - Use eye droppers to measure essential oils.
- As an aside, I usually mix everything but the lavender together, and then mix the lavender in.
- Mix until well combined and all ingredients are well distributed
- Transfer to an airtight jar.
Mustard Bath Soap
Mustard Bath Soap came about when I was using some melt-and-pour soap for another project, and decided to mash it up with the idea of a Mustard Bath Scrub.
While the Salt Scrub is more of an exfoliation scrub, this soap bar - using a mold with nubs - is more a matter of getting a bit of a massage in, while washing up. The nubs are great for working out knots in sore muscles - especially as they’re warmed and loosened from sitting in a hot bath!
I like to use these Shrink Wrap Baggies for packaging soaps either to give away, or for storage. No sense letting all the goodness in these soaps evaporate!
Mustard Bath Massage Soap
- Chop soap base into small pieces
- Following the recommendations on your choice of melt and pour soap, melt the soap base.
- Gently stir mustard powder into melted soap base.
- Use eye droppers to measure essential oils into melted soap base. Stir well - but gently - to combine
- Pour soap into soap molds
- Allow soap to fully cool and harden, about 1 hour
- Carefully remove soaps from mold. Store in an airtight container, and/or seal in shrink wrap baggies to protect soaps while storing.
- If gifting, consider wrapping with ribbon, as pictured