Bath bombs are something that I continue to find lots of interest in. I love my baths. There is nothing like soaking in some nice warm (or in my case super hot) water and reading a magazine. The world just gets tuned down for a bit. There are very few things more relaxing. Now if we add a bath bomb to the mix we get a whole new dimension. These little spheres will soak your surroundings in wonderful smells that will linger well after your bath. Most bath bombs are fizzy. Well maybe fizzy isn’t the correct term. Effervescence may be the more correct way to describe what a bath bomb does in the tub. Some bath bombs recipes will even have different oils and moisturizers to give your skin the same treatment your mind gets with a nice bath. The salts alone can benefit specific skin and neuromuscular conditions and when you add a little effervescence and some essential oils you have the workings for a nice soak! It’s important that we keep the ingredients natural and the scents pleasant in our recipes. I’ve been given and have even purchased bath bombs that smell like car air fresheners. That is not the smell I’m looking forward to carrying around all day!
Bath bombs have been getting some good press lately. I think because a store called Lush became really popular. I’ve never been to or seen said store but when I mention bath bombs I always get the question, “like Lush Bath Bombs?” And to be honest my answer is that I don’t know. At the bottom of this article there is a youtube with a fancy Lush bath bomb demo. Theirs is a little bit fancier than the ones that I’ve turned out. The one below is multi-color and really kicks out a lot of color. I’m not quite sure that I’m ready for that much artificial color bathing with me. That much color could also be a skin irritant. But to each their own.
If you are here to learn about how to make bath bombs don’t get discouraged when your first batch or two goes a little funky. Like all things, practice makes perfect. They seem pretty straightforward but it has been my experience that these little things are more an art than a science. But if you can make soap you can certainly make bath bombs. Sometimes the bath bombs will crack or won’t fizz in the bathtub. There are some tips below if you find yourself with those type of bath bombs. But these little guys really are easy. It’s basically just putting together a little baking soda and citric acid held together with Witch Hazel. The colors and the scents are what make them fun, and that is always where you should be willing to experiment.
The below is a base recipe. If your first batch comes out a little dry don’t be afraid to add a little oil to the 2nd recipe. I think the humidity in the air even effects these little balls of fun. So my recipe might not work out the Arizonians reading.
Bath Bomb Making Equipment:
- 2 Mixing Bowls
- Mold of some sort
- Drying area or towel
Bath Bomb Dry ingredients:
- Mineral Salts – 8 ounces (Bath salts and Epson salt will work fine. I actually use Bath salt for most recipes)
- Baking Soda – 16 ounces
- Citric Acid – 8 ounces –
- Corn Starch – 8 ounces
Bath Bomb Wet Ingredients:
- Water – 1.5 tbsp.
- Essential or Fragrance Oil – 2 or 3 tsp depending on how strong the fragrance is.
- Witch Hazel – Probably best used in a spray bottle to control wetness. Some climates will require less but should be less than 5 ounces.
- Coloring – I used the color that is used in my soaps. I’ve heard that others have used a drop or too of food coloring that has worked out well. Micas or other natural colorants are probably the best bet.
Blend the dry ingredients together. The baking soda and Citric acid will give the bath bomb the effervescence (fizz) we are looking for. It almost seems like we’re baking right? The above recipe has the ratio of 2 parts baking soda to every 1 part citric acid. That’s the general rule for making most bath bombs. Below we describe how to adjust that if you want a little more fizz.
After the dry ingredients are blended you’ll mix the wet ingredients together. Ever heard the phrase “mixing oil and water”? Well that is what we are doing even if it is a really tiny amount of water. Like I mentioned above, I like to keep the Witch Hazel in a spray bottle. So I will mix the color, tiny 1.5 tbsp of water, and fragrance together. You won’t get them fully to emulate and that is just fine.
So now you have your mix of dry ingredients and your mix of wet ingredients. It is time to star mixing them together. But we’re going to be doing it slowly. You want to take this process slow because if they are added together quickly the baking soda and citric acid will react to the wet ingredients. This might be great if we’re at a 5-grade science fair but we want our bath bombs to stay intact.
Start by adding a little bit of the wet ingredients into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and whisk them together. Now use the spray bottle. This is great just so you can control how little moisture is introduced to the dry ingredients. Repeat until the entire bowl of dry ingredients are mixed with the wet ingredients and sprayed down with the Witch Hazel. The consistency we are shooting for is that of slightly moist cake batter (told you we are baking). You will spray Witch Hazel until the mixture is just wet enough to hold together on its own. This is probably going to be drier than you are expecting. Really try not to overdo it with moisture here. Less is more.
And now we want to get these little bath bombs into a press of some sort. If you plan on making a lot of these I would recommend a bath bomb press. If not, you can use whatever you have around the house. Think of those plastic Easter eggs but slightly bigger if you can. I try and shoot for 2” in diameter. I’ve seen the clear plastic Christmas ornaments, meat-ballers and just about everything in between used. And they all seem to work great. I’ve also just seen muffin pans work out just fine. It just depends on how spherical you want your finished bath bombs to be. And if they are just for you to use then they don’t have to be beautiful, especially if this is your first time making them.
After you have the ingredients mixed you do want to be fairly quick about getting them in ball form. They tend to try out relatively quickly. If using a Christmas ornament or other sphere that isn’t a bath bomb mold it might make sense to do half at a time. You can mold one half, take it out of the mold then then mold the other half. If they are set on top of each other to dry then they should stick together. You don’t want to smoosh them to hard together but just enough for them to dry together. This is a great way to make multi-colored bath bombs as well. There are thousands of pictures of bath bombs online and many of them are multi-colored. It is simply making two (or multiple recipes) and having the different colors dry together. The colors are almost as fun as the scents.
As soon as they are molded, and will stay together on their own, gently remove them from the mold. We are squishing them together and then moving on to the next bath bomb. You don’t even need to use a drying rack for the bath bombs. A simple plate or plastic surface will work just fine. If they are a little bit bigger than 2″ their own weight may make an edge on the side down. It might be best to have them rest on a soft, dry surface. I wrap mine in a towel to dry. They will cure after a day or so but once again this depends on the climate where they are made. Give them 48 hours just to be sure.
Bath Bombs Variations:
You don’t have to work with Essential oils. It’s just my preference. You can use whatever fragrance you want. 3 tbsp. per batch is definitely plenty especially if you are working with an oil like peppermint or cinnamon. Strong scents are great but we don’t want to go overboard. Also the oils can sometimes cause skin irritations if there is too much applied.
The above basic recipe calls for a little color and some scented oil or fragrance. The world is your oyster here. There are more variations to bath bombs than I can count. It can be really fun to experiment. You can even make different batches and match 2 different types together to form a multi-colored bath bomb. The below is a list of some of the better ones I have worked with.
|Baby Shower||Baby Blue||Lavander|
|Bridal Shower||Yellow or soft Red||Geranium|
|Christmas||Light or Pale Green||Frankincense/Myrrh|
|Fall||Light Yellow/Brown||Clove or Cinnamon|
|Halloween||Light Orange||Orange Peel|
|Summer||Peach||Lemongrass or Vanilla|
Tweaks to the Bath Bomb Recipe:
I want more fizz! – Some baths are bigger than others and you may want a little more fizz from your bath bomb. You can add more citric acid to your recipe but you need to deduct what you add in citric acid from your baking soda to keep all things equal. The closer you get to a 1 to 1 ratio of the baking soda to citric the more fizz you will get. I would never recommend having more citric acid than baking soda. The citric acid can be a skin irritant if you don’t have the baking soda to react against it. The baking soda is the base, the citric acid is the acid. Mixed together they make sodium citrate and give off carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is what makes soda fizzy. And that is what makes your bath fizz as well.
I want foam! – You can add Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate to the recipe. You don’t even need to subtract any of the base ingredients. You can have this make up 5% – 10% of your overall dry ingredients.
Common Problems with Bath Bombs:
Oils float to the top of tub – This is normally seen when carrier (vegetable) oils are added to the recipe. I do like Sweet Almond Oil as much as the next person but I found that this made the tub a mess. And I’ve also read that if you do use any botanicals (lavender, dried flowers, etc) that they will also stick to the carrier oils and float. It sounds kind of like taking a bath in a swamp. If that is your thing that is just fine. But I’d rather not have to clean out the tub after every bath. It’s still probably better than a bunch of artificial ingredients and colors but y tub gets plenty dirty as it is! If you find your bath bomb makes floaties and makes the bath tub slick try using Witch Hazel or even Isopropyl Alcohol instead of oils.
Bath Bombs do not stick together – This happens when there isn’t enough liquid in the recipe. Add more Witch Hazel, alcohol, or carrier oil to the batch. It’s a fine line in getting them just wet enough to hold together and overdoing it. You really don’t want the recipe too wet.
Bath Bombs are expanding out of the mold – This happens when the batch is too wet and the citric acid and baking soda are already expanding. This will happen in wetter clients as well. It is tough to fix the current batch that you are working on but in future batches less Witch Hazel, alcohol, or carrier oil need to be added to the batch.
Hopefully you find as much joy with these little ball of happiness as I have. Creating them is almost as fun as using them. Almost. Go experiment and make mistakes. That is the only way we learn! You’ll turn out bath bombs that look a little ugly and smell great. You’ll turn out bath bombs that feel wonderful but have a funky color. And you’ll make bath bombs that are masterpieces. One thing I do know is that you’ll love them a lot more than the $8 bath bombs you can throw your money away at.