Today we’re going back to basics and will talk about how to make bath bombs. Making homemade bath bombs is fun and you can really get creative with it.
My kids absolutely love bath bombs and they make for really nice homemade gifts. To me it is so much fun to see the bath bomb fizzing away in the tub. It simply gives your bath time this special sparkle and excitement while at the same time delivering gorgeous scents and skin loving goodies. What’s not to like?
I’ve experimented with different ingredients and techniques over the years. In this article I will show you how to make bath bombs using a very easy bath bomb recipe. It doesn’t require a ton of ingredients and they’re easy to source at your local supermarket and health food store.
What is a Bath Bomb and What do Bath Bombs do?
Bath bombs are made up of two key ingredients: baking soda and citric acid. Mixing both together will set off a fizzing reaction when immersed in water. Baking soda on it’s own adds some health benefits to the bath water, but typically a bath bomb is used to deliver additional skin loving ingredients (like essential oils, oils, salts etc.) to a bath in a fun way.
How to Use a Bath Bomb
Fill your tub, drop in your bath bomb and watch it fizz. When it’s done fizzing you might want to move the water around a little bit with your hand. Get in the tub and enjoy.
The bath bombs we’re making today are pretty big, so one bath bomb per bath would be enough. If you are using smaller bath bombs or have a larger tub you might want to use two.
Caution: Bath bomb recipes that contain oil or butters can leave a slick film on the bottom of your tub. Exit the tub carefully and help your kids to get out safely so nobody slips. If you wish to counteract the slickness hazard you can try using sunflower lecithin or polysorbate 80, these will help disperse the oil evenly in the water without sticking to the side and bottom of the tub.
Can You Make Bath Bombs without Citric Acid?
Can you make bath bombs without citric acid? The short answer: Yes, but it won’t fizz as much!
You can jump over to this SoapQueen video to see these non citric acid bath “fizzies” in action. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see why you would go through the trouble of making a bath bomb, if in the end it won’t give you the desired effect. There are plenty of bath treats (like bath melts, bath salts, bath oils, milk baths) you could make that don’t involve even a smidgen of citric acid. It’s a personal preference, but for me it’s not worth the headache.
If you’re concerned about citric acid being made from genetically modified fruit, I suggest you use non-GMO citric acid that you can find here. It’s great – I use it all the time!
What does Cornstarch do in Bath Bombs?
Cornstarch is used in many homemade bath bomb recipes as “buffer” if you will. Citric acid and baking soda together are a very reactive bunch and will fizz very quickly and vigorously.
By adding cornstarch to the mix the citric acid and baking soda don’t sit quite as closely together. Therefore, your bath bomb will fizz longer and more moderate. Also, you can reduce the risk of your bath bomb fizzing up before it hits your bath (when exposed to moisture, etc.).
Some folks worry that cornstarch can cause yeast infections. Which it can in high concentrations. The amount of cornstarch used in a bath bomb which is then added to a full bath tub, however is so small that the likelihood of it causing an infection is minimal.
Can I use Food Coloring to Color my Bath Bombs?
Yes, you can. Ideally you want to use gel food coloring since it doesn’t contain any water. If the only thing you have on hand is regular water based food coloring it will work as well if you either:
a) whisk your mix while adding the color (shown in video) or
b) mix the color only into your baking soda mix and wait to add the citric acid once the color is fully incorporated.
Do I have to Use a Special Bath Bomb Mold?
No, one of my favorite “molds” is a stainless steal 1/4 cup measuring up. I used it to make these Lime Coconut Milk Bath Bombs. You can also use an ice cube tray or a silicone baking mold where you would leave the mixture in the mold to dry overnight.
Tips for Making Bath Bombs
- Avoid making bath bombs when the air is very humid (e.g. it’s raining or has rained for the last few days). Boy, have I learned this the hard way. If you ever want to see a bath bomb expand and expand right after it was made and transform into a droopy mess – then try making bath bombs in 80% humidity weather.
- Pay close attention to the consistency of your batter before putting it in the mold. It takes some practice to be able to notice the right consistency. I typically squeeze the mixture and see if it holds it’s shape. If it does I give it a little tap with my finger so I can gauge the firmness. If not firm enough I will add a couple more spritzes of witch hazel. A mixture that’s too wet will not harden enough and not hold it’s shape once unmolded. A mixture that’s too dry will crack or crumble upon unmolding. There’s a sweet spot you need to find between the two.
- Sift your dry ingredients or really try to work out any clumps with your fingers. If there are clumps in your mixture you run the chance that your bath bombs develop “warts”. Yes, it doesn’t sound pretty and it isn’t. It looks like the bath bomb has little protruding growths on it.
- If you’re using water based food coloring use a whisk to quickly work in the color. If you have a big blob of color just sitting in your mixture it will start to fizz and that’s what we’re trying to prevent.
Why did my bath bomb crack? Why did my bath bomb crumble?
Oftentimes you’ll see cracks or crumbly sides after the bath bomb has been set out to dry. Most likely your mixture was too dry when you molded the bath bomb. Try using a little bit more liquid (witch hazel or isopropyl alcohol) or oil next time. Remember to only add a little at a time and check the consistency often. Too much moisture will make your bath bomb too soft.
Why did my bath bomb halves not stick together?
This is so frustrating isn’t it? Creating the perfect round bath bomb is like the holy grail of bath bomb making, so don’t beat yourself up 😉
There can be several reasons for separated bath bomb halves:
- Your mixture is too dry and the halves can’t stick together properly
- You didn’t fill your mold full enough before pressing the halves together. Remember to really mount the mixture as high as you can.
- You twisted the two spheres and thereby separated the halves from each other
Tips for Making Bath Bombs in Humid Weather/ Climates:
- Omit any type of salts (epsom salt, sea salt, etc.) from your bath bomb recipe. Salts will attract moisture and mess with your final product.
- Keep in mind that your mixture might already have enough moisture from the humidity in the air before adding any witch hazel or isopropyl alcohol. Do your squeeze test and decide if you need to add any more moisture.
- Use a plastic mold or Christmas ornament that interlocks. I’ve had good results with this type of mold as I find it creates a tight enough seal to keep any moisture out. Additionally you can place the bath bombs in a ziplock bag while still in the mold. Let dry overnight and unmold.
- You could look into “baking” your bath bombs in the oven. I’ve personally never done it, but some folks have had success with warming their bath bombs at 170º F for a couple of hours. You would then turn the oven off and let the bath bombs dry in there overnight.
So, are you ready to make some bath bombs? Great, me too!
Wanna watch me make these bath bombs? Check out the video below.
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- one medium sized and one smaller bowl for mixing
- a wire whisk
- a spray bottle for the witch hazel
- bath bomb molds (I used the 2.6 inch size)
- a shot glass
- gloves (optional)
Ingredients (makes 2 big 4 oz bath bombs):
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1/2 cup citric acid
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp of grapeseed oil (you an use coconut oil or canola oil instead)
- 1/2 Tbsp of polysorbate 80 (optional, will help keep your tub slick free)
- 15 – 20 drops of lavender essential oil
- blue and red food coloring
- witch hazel
- Combine baking soda, citric acid and cornstarch. Make sure there are no clumps by either putting your mixture through a sifter or by working them out with your hands
- Melt and add the coconut oil; Combine well
- Add polysorbate 80 and essential oil; Combine
- In a shot glass combine 12 drops of blue food coloring with 12 drops of red food coloring; Stir
- While constantly whisking add food coloring to the mixture little by little
- Incorporate the food coloring thoroughly by rubbing the mixture in between the palm of your hands until the color is evenly dispersed
- Spritz with witch hazel until the mixture reaches the desired consistency, test by squeezing mixture in your fist and see if it’s firm enough to hold it’s shape and won’t crumble if you tap it gently with your finger
- Fill both halves with the mixture and pile as much as you can on top
- Firmly squeeze both halves together; Don’t twist!
- Gently release one half, then flip the bath bombs back into that half and release the other half (if you’re having trouble getting the bath bomb out, use a spoon and gently tap on the mold). Release by first twisting, carefully lifting the mold
- Set the bath bomb aside while still sitting in one half of the bath bomb mold
- Let set overnight and unmold
Until next time. Happy Tinkering!