To revive your spirits at the end of a long day, there's nothing like a leisurely foot soak. All it takes is a bowl big enough to hold your feet comfortably, a soft towel, and a sprinkling of aromatic bath salts that you can blend right at home.
Before beginning, make sure you have everything you need within reach. Place a towel on the floor in front of your chair to rest the bowl on and to dry your feet with when you're finished. Put on some relaxing music, choose a low, comfortable chair, and add a pillow for back support (so you can sit upright and place your feet firmly in the bowl).
If you want to massage your feet while soaking, place a layer of polished pebbles in the bottom of the bowl before filling it with hot water and a handful of bath salts. Work the balls of your feet over the pebbles, relax, and enjoy.
Add bath salts to your soaking bowl to soften your feet and to act as a gentle cleanser. When paired with essential oils, the salts will give off a delightfully soothing or invigorating aroma.
Here's a recipe for bath salts from Stephanie Taylor of Juniper Tree (510/647-3697), a Berkeley store that sells supplies to make bath and body products.
1. Place coarse sea salt (8 oz. makes enough for four foot soaks) in a large bowl. Sprinkle with essential oil (see below). Add 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil.
2. Stir to mix, then store in an airtight container. To use, put a small handful in a basin, add hot water, and let salts dissolve.
For 8 ounces of bath salts, add one of the following types or blends of essential oil (available at natural body product shops and health stores): Eucalyptus (revitalizing), 4-6 drops; Jasmine and rose (relaxing), 3-5 drops each; Lavender (relaxing), 6-10 drops; Rose and lavender (relaxing), 3-5 drops each.
To add color to your soak, blend in bath pigments or cosmetic-grade dye (often used in soapmaking; do not use food coloring ― it could stain your basin) from a craft store. Or stir in a small amount of rose petals or dried lavender buds.