Bath salts get a bad name

Baggies of typical bath salts are seen in Washington, D.C. Bath salts that dissolve in your tub are being confused with a dangerous street drug of the same name. That's making it hard for bath-salt sellers to relax.

Kai Ryssdal: So there are bath salts, right? That you actually bathe with. And then there are bath salts that have nothing at all to do with a bath. They're drugs -- really bad drugs -- that have been linked, in all seriousness, to zombie-like behavior and that gruesome Miami cannibalism attack.

Which is bad in and of itself. Even worse if your business is making actual legitimate bath salts. Marketplace's Adriene Hill reports.


Adriene Hill: People understand the difference between Coke the soda and coke the drug. Ditto for the distinction between a pot that plants grow in, and pot that you smoke.

But there’s some confusion about “bath salts.”

Naomi Novotny is president of Salt Works. It sells the bath salts you put in the tub, not the ones that bring on hallucinations and paranoia.

Naomi Novotny: In the very beginning there was some misconceptions. People calling saying how can you be selling those.

Now she says the company gets a different kind of call from folks looking to score.

Novotny: People calling and leaving messages on our voicemail at midnight, looking for bath salts.

She says all the headlines about bath salts the drug haven’t hurt her sales. But it’s been annoying, inconvenient, to have the name of a harmless product getting muddied by a drug sporting the same name.

Lee Williamson: It doesn’t look good when you type in “bath salts” in Google and Yahoo and the first thing that pops up is that some guy has eaten another guy's brain or something.

Lee Williamson is one of the co-owners of the San Francisco Bath Salt Company. He says his company used to be at the top of web searches.

Williamson: Now this whole bath salts drug craziness is going on, we’re halfway down or at the bottom of the page.

His company has issued press releases explaining the difference between bath salts that help you relax and the other kind. To educate the public, he says, but also to capitalize on people’s curiosity and maybe grab a little extra visibility for his company.
Lemonade from lemons and all that.

I'm Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

About the author

Adriene Hill is the senior multimedia reporter for LearningCurve.

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