While I am definitely a believer in magnesium oil (magnesium chloride), I respect your knowledge and I applaud your recommendation for Epsom Salt (magnesium sulfate). It most certainly works. I agree that it is a cost effective option. That is one reason I still use it, especially in baths. I have found that a mixture Epsom Salt and baking soda does wonders for tight or sore muscles. Do you have other recommendations for using epsom salt?
ASSESSING BENEFITS OF CHLORIDE VERSUS SULFATE FORMS OF MAGNESIUM
Apart from issues of cost, how would you assess mg chloride on its own merits? Do you believe mg chloride and mg sulfate are substantially similar in terms of effects? Are you aware of potential differences between them? Have you ever tried using mg chloride?
There may be more people discussing mg chloride right now, but I see plenty of support for Epsom Salts (for starters, see the Epsom Salt Council website). In my personal experience, I find mg sulfate quite effective. But is it possible that different people have different needs in this regard? Are there cases or applications when magnesium chloride is best, and other times when mg sulfate is more appropriate?
Mg chloride holds the huge advantage of better absorption and retention in the body. This partly relates to the fact that it is hygroscopic, and remains "wet" on skin where it is likely to be absorbed for many hours. Mg sulfate dries quickly, and then becomes "powdery" on the skin. You lose the benefit of continuous absorption. Who has time to stay in a bathtub all day? Mg chloride allows you to absorb magnesium while living life.
NO COST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAGNESIUM CHLORIDE & MAGNESIUM SULFATE
What about costs? Here is a cost analysis that may surprise you:
1. One gallon (128 oz) of Magnesium Oil (mg chloride) may cost $95. If I use 1 oz per day (directly applied to skin), then the cost is 74 cents daily. A gallon will last more than 4 months.
2. One 64 oz carton of Epsom Salt costs $3. If I use 2 cups (16 oz) per day in a bath, the cost per use is 75 cents. The box will last 4 days.
There is no significant cost difference, by this estimate. The cost is approximately 75 cents per use for mg chloride and for mg sulfate.
I grant that direct application of magnesium probably is less expensive than using it in a bath (because you may need to use less when applying it directly on skin). On the other hand, I've never used epsom salt except in baths. Is it suitable like magnesium oil for direct use on skin? If not, there's another limitation to consider.
I also grant that you might pay less, say $2 for a 64 oz carton of epsom salt. By the same token, some places sell one gallon of magnesium oil for $50. I see substantial cost equivalence between mg chloride and mg sulfate.
I welcome an analysis showing major differences in cost. If my estimate even is close to accurate, then epsom salt is just as "highly priced" (per dose) as the so-called "expensive" magnesium oils.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
In the big picture, neither form of magnesium is very expensive, especially if you consider transdermal magnesium therapy an investment in health.
If costs per use are similar, then why not use the form of magnesium that in most cases is considered more effective, i.e., magnesium chloride? Or better yet, why not use both forms of magnesium, depending on what is most needed for a given application.
MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS
Regarding sulfur and MSM, do you believe mg sulfate is a better (or equally good) source of sulfur? I'm not trying to promote MSM here, just curious about your opinion.
And regarding chlorides, I wonder that given declining sodium intakes whether high-quality chlorides (e.g., as found in natural Sea Salt s like Celtic Salt or Royal Himalayan salt) are missing from the diets of many people. You indicate that most people are high in chlorides (at least relative to sulfur). Other than sodium intake, what sources do you see causing high chloride levels? Is it possible that people are low in quality chlorides and in sulfur?
It strikes me that people are probably more deficient in magnesium than in sulfur. I suggest this not because people aren't sulfur deficient, but because of the well-known deficiencies of magnesium relative to its importance for human health. I see, however, that magnesium sulfate has a unique role to play by offering both sulfur and magnesium. Any more thoughts on sulfur in relation to chlorides, or to magnesium?