I am a big fan of giving and getting handmade gifts and crafts. I love receiving even the simplest gift that was made especially with me in mind, and the same goes when I am doing the giving. That being said, over the years I’ve jumped head-first into every type of DIY craft out there, so it was only inevitable that I would eventually find my way to making my own bath products. (Head’s up to my inner circle-you will be getting soap for every upcoming holiday.)
After a solid year of reading every book I could get my hands about making natural soap and other bath products, and by putting my new skills to the test by churning out some really great soap (and some really just plain awful soap), I can confidently say I am a competent soap maker. I think.
Creativity aside, I really just wanted to be able to decide what goes onto my family’s skin especially with a young one in the house who is obsessed with baths (hey, I am not complaining). I get a certain peace of mind knowing I can actually pronounce the ingredients on the label of my own products versus store-bought.
For anyone wanting to dip just a toe into the handmade bath-goods pool, bath bombs (or bath “fizzies”) are a great starting place, whereas soap making requires the handling of the necessary yet intimidating ingredient, lye. They are really fun and easy to make, there are endless combination possibilities and best of all most of the ingredients can be purchased at the grocery store and local craft store.
BATH BOMBS FUN FACT
Bath bombs get their name due to the reaction of the two key ingredients – citric acid and baking soda, when they come into contact with water or liquid. They are great gifts and are usually a big hit with kids who like to watch them fizz in the tub. Last summer, I made a batch of strawberry / peach scented sea creatures and handed them out as party favors.
I like to make small batches of the mixture to have better control, but feel free to double the recipe below once you get the hang of it. The basic rule of thumb is two parts baking soda to one part citric acid, plus cornstarch for extra silkiness and any fragrance and nourishing oils you want to add. There are endless possibilities. Just be sure to only use food-grade or skin safe colorants and fragrance oils.
A Basic Bath Bomb
(makes about 3 medium bath bombs)
- 1 cup of baking soda
- ½ cup of citric acid (food grade). Citric acid can be purchased at many grocery stores but if you want to buy a larger bag, I have noted some great soap and batch supply websites below.
- ¼ cup of corn starch
- 1 ½-2 teaspoons of any nourishing oil (coconut, olive oil, sweet almond, avocado, jojoba, etc.). Adding oils is totally optional and will only benefit your bath bomb but is not required. Always be sure to call out any nut oils used on your label if giving as a gift.
- 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons of fragrance oil labeled for soap/body/skin use. I like to start off with a 1 tsp of fragrance oil and then add a little at a time until the scent is to my liking. For the oatmeal bath bombs shown, I used an “oatmeal and honey” scented fragrance oil and landed at about 1 ½ teaspoon of fragrance. If you like a strong smelling product, feel free to add more.
- Food coloring of your choice (start with 2-3 drops and add more until you reach the desired color), or any natural or synthetic colorant labeled for soap making/skin safe.
- 1 medium sized bowl for mixing (2 if making multi-colored bath bombs)
- Spray bottle filled with Witch Hazel
- Plastic or stainless steel bath bomb mold; (or ¼ or ½ cup measuring cup). If you do not have a standard bath bomb mold, and don’t have the time or desire to buy one, use either a ¼ or ½ size measuring cup, depending on the size bath bomb you want. You won’t get a perfectly round bath bomb as you would if you used a mold, but more of a “rustic” shape. You can also use cute cookie cutters, muffin pans, roll them with your hands, re-purpose small plastic container bottoms, etc. If you need inspiration, do an image search for “bath bombs” and you will be amazed and inspired by what people have come up with to use as molds.
- Plastic cling wrap
- Labels & Ribbon
As mentioned above, there are hundreds of great recipes online, many of which combine bold color combinations, essential oils, oatmeal, dried lavender, rose petals and other great bath-friendly additives. I tend to lean towards more natural additives but inspiration is online in abundance. For my oatmeal honey bath bombs, I added about 2 teaspoons of very finely ground oatmeal to the dry mixture and also set aside a few whole oats to place in the mold before I filled it for a little extra visual appeal.
Making the Bath Bombs
- In mixing bowl, combine the baking soda, citric acid and corn starch, turning over the mixture several times with clean hands until well blended and breaking up any clumps along the way.
- To this dry mixture, add any desired oils (fragrance and/or nourishing), constantly stirring as you add to avoid premature bubbling. If you want to make a bath bomb that is one half one color and scent and the other half another (i.e.: one half is vanilla and the other strawberry), divide your mixture into two separate bowls at this point and to each bowl, add the colorant and fragrance oils to your liking.
- Taking a handful of mixture (from each bowl if making two-scented/colored), clump the mixture into your fist. If it stays together as a ball (see photo above), it’s ready to place in the mold. If it falls apart like very dry sand, spray several pumps of witch hazel into the bowl stirring very quickly and thoroughly to avoid the mixture bubbling. Don’t over spritz – just enough to hold the mixture together as shown.
If using a store-bought bath bomb mold:
- Fill one side of the mold, pressing the mixture firmly to avoid any bubbles or gaps (or possible cracks later) and set aside. Before filling the other half of the mold, now is the time to add a few oats, dried lavender, rose petals, etc., if using for visual appeal and then continue to fill mold as noted above;
- Now bring the two halves together, pressing firmly until your mold clicks or stays in place (if using a stainless steel mold, just close two halves together firmly). Wipe away any excess mixture from the sides. If you let the mold sit for a few minutes, the bath bomb should pop out easily and intact. If it falls apart (it should not), start the process over again and be sure to press firmly before releasing from the mold. Allow finished bath bomb to sit for at least 24 hours to thoroughly dry out and harden before wrapping. Helpful hint-If your bath bomb falls apart on the second attempt, you might need to add a few spritzes of witch hazel to make the mixture more compact.
If using a measuring cup mold:
- Fill your measuring cup with mixture, pressing and filling to the top. Smooth the top so that it is even and then gently flip the cup over into your other hand and your bath bomb should release into your hand. Carefully place on a flat surface with flat side up, until all of you “halves” are made, remembering to add any additives (dried flower petals, oats, etc.,) to one set of halves. (If using a non-flexible container such as the ceramic measuring cups I used, you may need to help the bath bomb release from the mold by gently tapping around the outside of the cup with a spoon before it will release on its own.)
- To assemble your two halves, spray the top of one halve with witch hazel 1-2 times only and gently (and quickly) place your second half on top to form the round bath bomb. Lightly press the two together and wipe around the sides to smooth away any extra mixture and to meld the two halves into one solid piece. Allow to dry for at least 24 hours before handling or wrapping in plastic.
If using cookie cutters, I spread the mixture out onto a flat workspace covered in plastic wrap and then just hand-press the mixture onto the surface about an inch and a half thick (or more depending on your cookie cutter) and then working like I am making cookies, press the cutter into the mixture. Rather than lifting the bath bombs from the plastic, I actually leave them in place on the plastic wrap to dry and just gently remove the excess mixture.
If your bath bomb starts to crack over the course of the next 24 hours, it could be caused by one or several things:
- too much moisture (witch hazel spritzes);
- not enough moisture (yea, I know-I’m not helping), or
- mixture wasn’t pressed firmly enough into the mold.
As you can see from the photos, a few of my oatmeal bombs cracked but I still love them and I know my friends will still enjoy getting them because they smell fantastic and are still filled with skin-loving ingredients! Remember-they aren’t cracked… they’re rustic!
See my finished products here, including the great fruit scented, sea creature bath bombs I made last summer. Feel free to individually wrap your bath bombs in plastic wrap and add a cute label with the scent and ingredients, or just stack them unwrapped in a jar and grab one when you a nice relaxing bath.
If you get bitten by the bath bomb bug and want to learn how to make more varieties (the combinations are endless), or parlay your new found skills into making other bath products, check out the websites below for recipes, ideas and supplies. I have no affiliation to any of the companies listed, I just love their stuff.
About Me(Lynn Casner)
I am, what I hope is your typical mom. Some mornings I am so on top of it – I am up before the birds, I’ve created cookie-cutter shaped lunches nestled neatly in matching containers, my daughter is dressed and ready 20 minutes ahead of schedule, nary a booger or dirty finger nail in sight. Other mornings however, I am running around the house in my bathrobe ten minutes before we have to be out the door, cramming leftovers into plastic bags and drying underpants with the blow dryer because I forgot to take the clothes out of the washer the night before.
In an effort to keep the latter the exception, I try to live by one particular motto, which is “Never reinvent the wheel.” If someone has built, baked or created something as good (or better) than I would have, I grab it, run and put my own spin on it.
My DIY projects follow the same rule of thumb. Some of my ideas are new but for the most part, they are just my “spin” on something that has inspired me somewhere. Whether in my daily travels, wandering through thrift shops, thumbing through magazines, braking for that must-have object set out for the trash on the side of the road and/or of course from other DIYers(compliment). I hope that something I have repurposed will be inspiring for others to grab, run and put their spin on it too.
Follow Lynn on Facebook @ If it fits in the car
Please look for my new DIY blog, “If It Fits In the Car…One Mom’s Guide to Repurposing Other People’s Stuff,”coming soon, for a more in-depth view of my projects featured here on NorthDelaWHEREHappening.