February 25, 2015

DIY: Bath Bombs 101

There’s been an influx of bath bomb related noise on the interweb, I’ve noticed, and when one of my favorite Youtubers decided to post her DIY on the subject, I had to get in on it. It’s so much easier than I ever imagined and it’s honestly, a much cheaper process than I would have expected, too. Not to mention, it is entirely mind-boggling – all of the colors, scents, surprise “bursts” inside, much like Lush’s bombs that I adore so much just at half the price (or less!)…
I’m leaving a list of ingredients here and measurements, but it’s all relative to what you’re making, the humidity in your area, your preferences, etc. So adjust accordingly and don’t worry. Any screw ups can still be used at bath salt or exfoliant. You'll need...

-A binding oil (coconut, olive oil, shea, almond, grapeseed, just about anything you’d like)
-Cornstarch (helps to bind the bomb and soften the water)
-Baking soda (also helps to bind the bomb and soften the water)
-Citric acid (makes it fizz…cream of tartar can be substituted but I haven’t tried that)
-Epsom salt (gives a great bath for aching, tired muscles and it’s good for the skin
-Essential oils (gives great scent and it’s wonderful if you’re into aromatherapy)

Optional Base Ingredients:
  • Food Grade Extracts: these will add "oomf" to your bombs with scent and even light color. Almond extract, lemon, coconut, vanilla, your choice. Sparingly, it'll authenticate you bombs and boost the scent. Use this in place of any water; the mixture shouldn't get too wet.
  • Coloring: not necessary, but so cool. Straight up food coloring will work, food coloring gel (cake decorator's gel), or even powdered food grade mica will work. These colors won't be as saturated in your bombs as they will be in the water, so you may not get a primary blue from a few drops of food coloring, etc. It'll likely just be lighter in the bomb and it'll come out in the water.
  • Honey: this can be added in place of oil, but don't use too much, as honey isn't great in large doses for the nether regions of the body (just like sugar). It's good for the skin, though, and it's antibacterial. 
Optional Add-Ins - Go Wild!
  • Sugar pearls (cake decorating pearls)
  • Sugar crystals (colored or not), easy with the candy items, they make cute decorations but aren't good for certain parts of your body
  • Vitamin E oil is a great body-beneficial add-in (could substitute this for any of the aforementioned carrier oils)
  • Tea leaves have a cool effect in the tub
  • Body-safe charcoal (like you'd find for face masks, cleansers, etc.) would be a neat add-in for those experiencing body acne or those that want to simply detoxify
  • Mint, rosemary, lavender, or any other fragrant herb as an add in (find these in the chilled veggie section of the grocery story)
  • Tea tree oil can be a cool add in here; the scent is great, too
  • Oatmeal! Great for the skin, just add in with dry ingredients
  • Rose petals - how romantic!
  • Fruit rind/zest (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit) they're so fragrant and packed full of their own oil. Throw in with the dry ingredients
  • Powdered milk can be used to add a "milky" touch to the water; again, use with dry ingredients
  • Small toys can be "mashed" into the middle of bombs for an extra surprise (tiny dinosaurs, fake jewelry, etc., get creative!)
  • Food grade glitter or cake decorator's glitter has a neat effect in the tub!
I’m not giving an exact recipe or step-by-step process because, well, I don’t use either because like I said, everything’s relative. You’ll mix your dry ingredients (baking soda, salts, and citric acid) in a large bowl. (Wear a mask if you’re easily irritated, but overall, be gentle when mixing.) In a smaller bowl, portion out your carrier oil, food coloring, any other liquids you’d like to add, and your essential oil. Mix this together and then pour very slowly into the dry ingredients. Mix slowly but thoroughly. It’s easiest to do this by hand (with gloves, if you prefer) because you’ll want to know when it’s wet enough. It should be the consistency of wet sand. I.e. if you squeeze it in your hand, it takes the shape of your closed fist and doesn’t crumble easily. 

Once you’re mixed together, press the mixture into whatever mold you choose. You can use the typical clear plastic ball that comes in two halves. You can press it into a cupcake tin or a silicone muffin pan, the bottom of a plastic or Styrofoam cup, whatever. You can even go rustic and mold them free-style by hand and leave them to dry. Just pack it well with all your might so they’ll stay together. Leave these to dry overnight (I do mine after my bath at night so I’m not tempted to use them prematurely) and you’ll have a great reason to relax in the tub later on. 

Through much trial, error, and tons of bath salt, I’ve come up with some tips and tricks below to help guide you along your path of bath bombi-ness. 

  • Any time you introduce water to the mix with citric acid, it’ll fizz. Don’t panic. The mix will fizz when you add generic, food grade liquid coloring, just mix quickly and it’ll be fine. I don’t use water at all, save for the coloring.
  • Coconut oil melts at body temperature but otherwise, it hardens up nicely. This is my favorite oil to use in my bath bombs because they generally stay put together well.
  • Store these bombs in an airtight container or baggie away from water; these could ruin and fizz prematurely.
  • Did the bath bomb break or you just messed up somewhere along the way? Throw broken pieces or leftovers into a jar and keep them by the tub for straight up bath salt. No biggie.
  • You can use any kind of carrier oil: shea, almond, coconut, olive oil, etc.
  • Be careful with these bombs; any oil used can make the tub slick.
  • Cornstarch can be left out in lieu of more baking soda and citric acid.
  • Citric acid is an irritant. When airborne, it can rough up the respiratory system. Be careful and use a mask and glove when/if you need it.
  • Epsom salts can come pre-scented. You’ll usually find these in the bath item area near the cosmetics or bath/shower gels. Unscented salts will be near the medicinal items like athlete’s tape and peroxide.
  • If you do use the pre-scented salts, there’s no need for essential oils!
  • Try to use all food grade items. These will be better for your body overall. You’re not going to want warming or heating oils for oil lamps getting on your skin or in your tub.
  •  I don’t notice staining in my personal bathtub when I use regular liquid egg dye, but if you’re not sure, test a spot (like with hair color) or just have spray bleach handy for when you leave the tub.
  • Citric acid can be tricky to find. My Walmart has a canning section (lots of green labels, near the cooking utensils) and they carry citric acid here. You can also find it online and in health food stores.
  • Cream of tartar can be a substitute for citric acid, but I haven’t tested this at all. There are recipes involving this swap online. They may not fizz, though.
  • You're not going to want to use sugar (or much of it, anyway), in your bombs. Soaking in sugar isn't good for the downstairs area. If you're making exfoliating salts/sugars for the shower, though, it's fine.
  • Essentials oils aren’t hard to come by. I get mine from Amazon, but you can get them from grocery stores (try the health food aisle, the vitamin section, the cake decorating section for baker’s scents and flavors, etc.).
  • You can use just about anything as a mold; I’ll list somewhere.
  • Look up what essential oils do and you’ll be able to get creative. Some uplift the senses, some are good for respiratory health, some relax you, and some stimulate the mind. Go wild with these.
  • Do let these dry before getting to them! They’re very much worth the wait.

Mold ideas…
  • Cupcake tins! Any size, from ultra mega muffin tins to the tiny tart tins, they make great sizes all around.
  • Clear Christmas balls as molds (the ornaments?) that kinda snap together? These are perfect.
  • Silicone molds! They have these in cake decorating sections, usually.
  • Holidays bring about the cutest silicone molding pans.
  • Use two cups/small dishes (like spice dishes) to create a ball shape.
  • Again, go rustic and just make shapes with your hands!
  • You could mold them into cookie cutters that have been set on foil or parchment.
  • Use votive candle holders make neat little bombs, too.
  • Get creative! Use what you have or think outside the box.
  • Also, check online with eBay, Amazon, Etsy, just wherever. Also, craft stores will be loaded with options here for molds.

Oh, did ya’ll want to get fancy?
  • When you mix your batch, separate the mix before you color it (save the food coloring for last) and put different colors in each part of the mix. This way you can do half/half color combinations (scents, too!) and get super creative.
  • Pack in stuff like dried herbs, food grade glitter, sprinkles, etc. to your bombs when you’re molding them. These make neat surprises in the tub! (Toys, too!)
  • Put sprinkles, glitter, dried herbs, etc. into the bottom of a muffin pan or your silicone molds before pressing in your bomb mix. It’ll be very pretty once it’s removed from the mold.
  • Lush will throw strings of glitter mix throughout their bombs to create the swirling gorgeousness that they do. I am going to try to do the same with honey and food grade glitter as I pack my bomb mix into molds. Not sure but definitely going to try!
  • The scent possibilities are endless!! Mix and match to get a unique blend, but be sure to write everything down, recipe, scent blends, substitutions, measurements, etc. If you really like something you’ll want to know how to make it again!

This post covers most if it, I think, and I hope it inspires you. If I've left something out, just give it a Google, it's probably there somewhere. It's very neat to be able to make something like this on your own. It's relaxing to make them and even more relaxing to use them. They also make great gifts. Thank you, too, for giving this long article a read! Happy bathing!

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