Wednesday, February 13, 2013

diy: bath bombs

Complete disclosure: I've never used a premade bath bomb. I see them everywhere and they look really nice but they always seemed too expensive for a one-time use item and too big. I mean, that whole thing is supposed to dissolve in one bath? That didn't seem right.

So I thought it might be worth my while to try making some myself as a nice Valentine's gift to... myself. Obviously, I have no idea how proper bath bombs are supposed to work, but these fizz delightfully, add a very subtle tint and scent to the water, and soften my poor winter-dry legs amazingly well. So, for me, I think that's a successful bath bomb!

Probably the hardest part was finding citric acid. I eventually found mine at the pharmacy counter at Superstore. It was a special order but (thankfully) I only had to wait one day for it to arrive. You can buy citric acid in varying amounts but since I didn't know how much I'd use, I started with the smallest which was a 100 g bottle. This only cost me $3 and I made about 14 bath bombs with it (this includes my testers which bombed prior to making it to a bath). Not too shabby. If you can't find citric acid, you can use cream of tartar but it doesn't have the same reaction citric acid does (it still makes the bath water nice, though). Just use half of whatever amount the citric acid was (so if you need 1 tablespoon of citric acid, you'd use 1/2 tablespoon of cream of tartar).

Initially, I used an old cupcake container I had as a mould just to do some testing, but I realized I really liked the rustic/cute look it gave the bombs so I continued using it. If you were gifting these to someone special for Valentine's day, I did spot a ton of different heart-shaped containers at the dollar store that you could easily use as a mould for bath bombs.

What you'll need to make one bath bomb (or two like mine):

2 tablespoons baking soda
1 tablespoon of citric acid (or 1/2 tablespoon cream of tartar)
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1 tablespoon epsom salts (you can find this in any store these days)
1/4 teaspoon oil (you can use any light oil you like. I actually used plain ol' canola since it's fragrance free and wouldn't compete with the liquid)
3/4 teaspoon liquid*
a drop or two of food colouring

Dump the dry ingredients (baking soda, acid, cornstarch, and salts) into a bowl and whisk together to remove lumps.


In a small jar, shake together the wet ingredients (oil, liquid, and colouring).

*About the liquid -- most recipes I tried had a bit of water and a bit of essential oil but I stopped bothering with water altogether. For the green tea and cinnamon bombs, I brewed a very strong, very concentrated cup of both green tea and cinnamon tea and I used that instead of water or essential oil. For the coconut and vanilla bombs, I used straight up vanilla and coconut extract as the only liquid (my coconut extract was older and had mysteriously changed colour so it was a good way to get rid of it). The tea and the extracts aren't as strong as essential oils would be, but the smell is kind of a small factor for me. I can smell them in their dry state, but I'm really just liking the way the bath bombs soften bath water. I don't necessarily need my bath water to smell all fancy, too.*

While whisking, dump the wet ingredients into the dry mixture. You'll see a slight reaction (if you're using citric acid), but keep on whisking until the mixture has started to clump together and is completely dyed the colour you added. It should still be a little crumbly which is what you want. If you add any more liquid, the citric acid will start to foam and you'll end up with a pre-bombed bomb (I got a few of those and your little bath bomb will keep foaming and growing right out of your mould until it completely dries).

Spoon the mixture into your mould and pack it in as tight as you can. Allow to dry for at least 5 hours before trying to get them out of the mould. Let dry for another 4 hours before plopping one in the bath or let them dry another 1-2 days before wrapping them as gifts or putting them into a storage jar, like so:


This is a jam jar that I fancied up by painting the lid with some gold paint. I liked this storage idea the most because it has the rustic charm that matches that of the bath bombs plus it'll keep them nice and dry in the bathroom (and it was just as easy as making the bath bombs themselves!).

59 comments:

danielle and dinosaur toes said...

These are perfect, and your pictures are so pretty! I like bath bombs because they smell and feel nice, but I'm the same as you, I don't want a ball the size of my head just for one bath. I think I'm definitely going to try these out!

The New Crochet said...

Love it, and they look so cute. They would make a great present.
You have a new follower, because I trully love your blog!! Great job

Anya @ SAS-does said...

I've been wanting to make bath bombs for quite some time now but never got a chance. You beautiful post will be an inspiration for my weekend project! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

What mold did you use? I like that the mold is small and fits into jam jars.

Idle Wife said...

Hi Anon! I used a cupcake clamshell. The type you'd buy store-bought cupcakes in. The bombs fit just perfectly in my particular jar, yes, though there was a little rotating to get them through the hole!

Chloe-Amber said...

Hi,

What is the cornstarch used for in this recipe? Would corn flour work the same? Im struggling to find cornstarch in the UK.

Thanks

Idle Wife said...

Hi Chloe-Amber!

According to Wikipedia, corn starch is called corn flour in the U.K. As long as it's not actually just ground up corn, I believe it should work the same.

Apparently, cornstarch is used to help the bombs float, but I probably don't use enough of it for that purpose. The reason I added it to my recipe was to add more substance to the citric acid in order to keep it from reacting before it got into the tub.

You probably don't need to use it at all and could probably get away with just increasing the amount of baking soda or epsom salts instead. I haven't tried that myself, but I don't see why it wouldn't work out the same. The key ingredient in most bath bomb recipes is the citric acid so as long as you can find that, you're golden!

Anonymous said...

Citric acid is used in dyeing fabric, so try looking for it at an upscale/specialty art store (I don't think Michaels or Joanns carries it), or you can find it cheap online at Dharma Trading Co.

Anonymous said...

These are so beautiful! They sound fairly easy, I might try for bday or Christmas gifts this year! Your pictures were really nice!

Anonymous said...

These look gorgeous!! I guess I am never going to oogle at the ones at Lush ever again! Thanks sooooooo much for this post!

Anonymous said...

Have you made this recipe with cream of tartar instead of citric acid?

I'm very curious about the results because it is a lot more available and easier on the wallet for sure to use! I've been looking for a simple recipe such as this one. Here's hoping I can come across some cheap silicone molds at the dollar store! If I get to it I'll let you know how it goes (:

Sarah

Idle Wife said...

Hi, Sarah! I did make this with cream of tarter (it was part of the trial recipes I did before I could track down citric acid). The only difference that I could tell is that the bath bombs don't actually "bomb" -- the fizzing effect is missing. BUT it was still a nice soak; it still seemed to me to soften the water; it was just more of a bath soak tablet than a bomb. I really (really!) didn't mind it. Because my bombs are smaller, the fizzing didn't really add that much to my enjoyment anyway. So overall, I could take or leave the citric acid. It's really up to the individual's preferences.

I hope it works out for you! (Also mixing a batch without citric acid is a lot easier as it's less prone to reactions and expanding all out of your moulds -- as my first citric acid experiments did!)

Anonymous said...

HI! What is liquid? i see it says that but im not sure what exactly it is.. Thanks

Idle Wife said...

Anon: The liquid, in this case, is anything you want it to be. It could be plain water, or, like I used, brewed tea. I was also thinking about trying this same recipe using rose water which I think could be really nice!

dailyvisualinspiration said...

these are amazing! The only thing is finding all the ingredients but I will definitely wanna try this out! Thanks for sharing :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Idle Wife for putting this up! I have loved making these! They are cheap, easy, and ended up working wonderfully! One of my BFFs birthday's was coming up, and I was starting feel awful that I didn't have a whole lot of extra cash to buy some expensive spa basket. So for AT LEAST 4 hours on pinterest trying to find some things that even I could be capable of. FINALLY I found some things to do, including the bath bombs, and I just wanted to say thanks for saving my money and my hide! :) I think you have just gotten a new person to follow your blog!

Anonymous said...

Hi, thank you for the post! they look fantastic, just wondering if someone can help me, should i be whisking by hand when i'm combining all the ingredients, with a hand whisk?
thanks!

Idle Wife said...

Anon: Yes, just whisk by hand. You don't need any fancy equipment.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. you need a pinterest button

Barbara Kovach said...

I made these today, they were perfect in the mold but over time they PUFFED up and expanded :( any thoughts or suggestions?

Idle Wife said...

Barbara: This happened to me when I was first experimenting with them. It basically means that the citric acid reacted while you were mixing it up. So you might have added a little bit too much liquid. The expansion is what's supposed to happen when you add the bomb to bath water. Try adding a little less liquid, mix until just crumbly and just coming together and then pack into the moulds. Nothing's really wrong with your already reacted bath bombs. They just won't fizzle very much once in the water.

Barbara Kovach said...

Thank you! I will try again tomorrow. I used eucalyptus scented epsom salts...do you think that was the problem?

Idle Wife said...

Barbara: That could be the problem. If those salts are a little, um, moister? (that's an awful way to say it, but it's all I've got) than regular epsom salts, that's probably where the extra liquid came from. Citric acid is very sensitive!

Barbara Kovach said...

Yup, pretty sure it was the scented epsom salts as they were more moist. Can these be dried in a 140 degree oven for an hour or so?

Idle Wife said...

Barbara: You could test a few if it's really a big problem for you, but I wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

i made these today and so far they are setting up right, i had to slightly differ the recipe though. i didn't have plain Epsom salt so i used spearmint Epsom salt and for the liquid i used some really concentrated peppermint tea

Margery said...

Hello, I found you on pinterest. You can buy citric acid in the canning supply section in most grocery stores or big-box stores. It is used in jelly making.

Kaylyn said...

This is awesome,.. I think I'm going to do this for the girls Christmas gifts. Would raspberry tea work if its strong enough?? and you just add 3/4 teaspoon of that to the oil?

Idle Wife said...

Kaylyn: I think raspberry tea would be a really nice addition! Yes, your 3/4 of liquid would be the tea. You can mix the oil and tea together first and then add that to the dry ingredients or just dump them all together.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this idea ! I am wondering how long it will take to make this.
Paige

Idle Wife said...

Anon: It shouldn't take you any time at all to mix up the bath bomb ingredients. Just make sure you give them ample time to dry! A day or two would be safest!

Anonymous said...

i need christmas gifts and these are perfect!!!!!!!:)

Cindy Tong said...

i try making it.. it look good but when put in water it does fizz... both recipe, one wit citric acid n tartar aso doesnt fizz!

Anonymous said...

you can find citric acid at wine making stores
Kat

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if coconut or vanilla essence would work?

Anonymous said...

I;m wondering if I could substitute corn starch for potato starch?
Nat

Idle Wife said...

Anonymouses: I would assume that either coconut or vanilla essence would work just fine. As long as they're liquids, they should serve the same purpose as any liquid used in this recipe.

I've never used potato starch, but I would assume it works the same as corn starch. The best answer I can give you is to try making a batch (the recipe is very small to begin with) and see how it works for you.

Marta said...

hi!!
Just wondering something-- your instructions say "What you'll need to make one bath bomb (or two like mine)" but your photo below shows 6 in the molds.
Is the recipe for one, two or six? I'm hoping to make these for Christmas gifts!
Thanks
Marta

Idle Wife said...

Hi Marta: The recipe can be for 1 large bath bomb (Typically, store-bought bath bombs are really big. So if you wanted to make one that was at least comparable in size to a store-bought one, you can use this recipe) OR you can also make 2 that are like mine (thinner and simpler since I don't understand why they need to be so big, as I mentioned in the post).

The picture with 6 in the mould is the result of a few different batches being made, hence the difference in colours. I have to mix up a separate batch for each colour seen as you can't make more than one colour at a time with this one mix. So, for example, the yellow bath bombs in the mould represent ONE entire recipe.

The colour variation also explains how many bath bombs this recipe makes, since in other pictures you can see that there are two of each colour (2 pink, 2 dark green, 2 light green, and 2 yellow); therefore, this recipe makes 2 thinner bombs (like the ones I made) at a time.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
These look amazing! I'm wondering if you could use coconut oil if you warmed it up a bit to make it liquid? Thanks!

Idle Wife said...

Anon: Why don't you give it a try? I would even use it as the oil component, too.

Johanna Pearse said...

Amerzon does citric acid on line. Stores in the UK don't stock very much for drug using reasons. I use it in elderflower cordial.

Siobhan Warmer said...

has anyone ever found any issues with the food coloring? Will it stain the bathtub?

Idle Wife said...

Siobhan: Think about the amount of food colouring going into the bath bomb in relation to the water in your bath. The dilution is so high that staining shouldn't be a problem (in fact, the amount of colouring is so little, the bath water won't even change colour. The colour here is more for presentation). However, if you're really worried about it, just omit the food colouring (and maybe add a drop or two more of your liquid). White bath bombs stacked and wrapped with a pretty coloured ribbon would be just as pretty!

Helen said...

I had to add a few more 1/4 to get the texture right.. Do you think it will mess it up?

Michelle H said...

Such a cute project! I'd like to try a batch or two for Mother's Day gifts. I'm wondering if I could try using different coffees as the liquid. Do you think that the caffeine (I don't have decaf on hand) would be bad in the tub? For the person that is. If I needed to, I could go out and buy decaf too, I guess.

I'd really like to do a coffee shop theme since we're all coffee drinkers, but am having a hard time coming up with some ideas that would work. I thought maybe coffee syrups would work, but I nixed that idea quickly when I thought about how sticky that might be. haha

Idle Wife said...

Michelle: I actually think there are recipes out there that use coffee grounds as a scrub for feet etc., so I think using coffee as your liquid would work just fine. I feel like the bombs would have that yummy coffee scent everyone enjoys!

Megze said...

I've been looking for a bath-bomb recipe that doesn't use borax! Thank you!

Jenna D. said...

Hi will fruit fresh work? Im making this for mothersday andneedtoknow soon plz,

Idle Wife said...

Jenna: Fresh fruit as in a puree or whole? No. That will not work. Fruit juice would work, but I'd have concerns with it. Stickiness? Rotting? I don't know. I definitely don't think it would add very much in the way of smell. Anyway, this recipe is a small enough batch that if you tested your version and it didn't work out, it wouldn't really cut into your time or supplies so just use your best judgement and have fun!

Jenna D. said...

Oh no no sorry didnt word that very well... the actual fruit-fresh which contains citric AND ascorbic acid?

Idle Wife said...

Jenna: I've never heard of or used Fruit-Fresh, but if you're thinking about using it in place of the citric acid, I don't think it'll work the same way. You can always make one batch with it and see if it foams up, but, from what I'm reading about the product, it seems to be a substitute for lemon juice to keep fruits and vegetables from browning. I don't know how it reacts on its own with water. A better test would be to put some in water and see what happens. Again, just experiment with it! That's the fun of DIY!

Idle Wife said...

Helen: If the bath bombs didn't foam and grow out of your moulds you should be super! Sometimes, you just gotta add a little more to get the texture right. No big deal!

Jenna D. said...

Hi me again haha sorry mine are a little crumbly even though theyve been drying for a day! I dont know what im doing wrong! Has this ever happened to you? I did some researching on citric acid and the fruit fresh and many sites said it shouldnt be a problem to replace it... so i dont think thats the problem!

Fil said...

I love these :) Have to try them out ... Thank you so much
Fil
Fil’s Place - Old songs and Memories

Idle Wife said...

Jenna: If they're still crumbly, you probably just need to add a little more liquid to make them stay together.

Jenna D. said...

Okay! Do you think more oil would be better or more "liquid" sorry im being so precise .but im running out of time!thanks for your help

Idle Wife said...

Yes, Jenna, liquid. Water or whatever it is you're using. Good luck!

Kyra Howearth said...

Just made these with the kids and now for the hard part...waiting for them to dry! Thanks for the recipe, I haven't used bath bombs in years - looking forward to a relaxing bath!