Learn how to make bath bombs with our easy-to-follow step-by-step tutorial and bath bomb recipe! DIY bath bombs make an awesome and inexpensive homemade gift idea!
DIY Homemade Bath Bombs
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This post originally appeared on Happiness is Homemade.
Do you want to learn how to make bath bombs, but feel a little overwhelmed by all of the different information and recipes out there? No worries! We’ve got you covered! We’re sharing our most favorite fail-proof bath bomb recipe along with TONS of information, helpful tips, and handy tricks to ensure your bath bombs will be a fizzy success right from the start!
What is a Bath Bomb?
A bath bomb is an fizzy explosion of effervescent fun and color in your tub! Used to add bubbles, color, foam, and fizz to your bath time, many bath bombs also contain a variety of oils and butters that nourish and moisturize the skin. Essential oils, clays, and salts may also be added to the bath bombs to increase the health benefits and add detoxifying properties. It’s like creating a luxurious spa experience in your own home!
How to Make Bath Bombs
Bath Bomb Ingredients:
Knowing how each bath bomb ingredient contributes to your recipe is critically important if you want your bath bombs to be a success. Bath bombs can be a little temperamental to make sometimes, but with a little know how, you’ll be able to tweak your recipe to suit your climate and environment for fail-proof bath bombs every time!
Simple bath bombs can be made by combining baking soda, citric acid, and a liquid binder; however, we’ve found that the very BEST bath bombs include a few more ingredients. This comprehensive list will help you determine which ingredients are irreplaceable and which ones can be omitted if desired.
Note: Not all of the ingredients listed below are used in our Best Bath Bomb Recipe below, but for your own future recipe creation and development, these are invaluable to know!
Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda, is the main ingredient in bath bombs. Scientifically, baking soda is considered a “weak base” which will result in an effervescent fizzing acid-base chemical reaction when combined with water and citric acid. Baking soda softens your bath water and will leave skin feeling soft and silky smooth.
Citric acid is the second key ingredient in bath bombs. It is a naturally occurring “weak acid” derived from citrus fruits which promotes the fizzing reaction when combined with baking soda and water.
Cornstarch is a common”filler ingredient” that is often used in bath bombs as hardening agent and to add volume to a recipe. Fair warning, though, too much cornstarch can reduce fizzing and lessen the overall effect of your bath bombs, so don’t add TOO much!
CREAM of TARTAR and/or CLAYS
SLSA is a naturally-derived surfactant (from coconut and palm oil) that creates luxurious and rich foamy bubbles during the chemical reaction process.
Salts are frequently included in bath bomb recipes for their purported health benefits. Epsom salt is the most commonly used salt and is reported to soothe sore muscles and increase well-being. Pink Himalayan salt and Sea salt are often used in bath bomb recipes due to their detoxifying properties.
Note: Salts are known to attract water and can occasionally prematurely start the fizzing reaction, so they should be included in small measured amounts only. Grinding coarse salts to a fine powder will produce the best results and create the smoothest surface on your finished bath bombs.
Oils add moisture to the bath bomb recipe and are used to help bind the mixture together. Oils contain moisturizing properties that will soften and hydrate skin, and different varieties of oil also give the bath bombs an assortment of additional benefits including antioxidant and anti-aging properties. The most commonly used oils are coconut, sweet almond, avocado, grapeseed, and jojoba.
Caution: Bath bombs that contain oils may make your bathtub slippery!
Butters also add moisturizing properties to your bath bombs to make your skin feel silky and smooth. Additionally, some butters may even help to harden bath bombs as well. Popular butters include cocoa, shea, avocado, coffee, and mango. Caution: Bath bombs that contain butters may make your bathtub slippery!
Naturally derived from plants, essential oils can add both fragrance and health benefits to your bath bombs. Fragrance oils are typically synthetically created, and while they do not possess the same purported level of health benefits, they are generally far less expensive than essential oils and are available in an HUGE variety of scents.
Cosmetic micas are my #1 choice for coloring bath bombs. Micas sometimes get a bad rap for not being as brightly colored or highly pigmented as other types of colorants, but you just need to find the right sources! (Note: Mad Micas carries some amazing and super bright neon colors!)! Other colorant options include FDA-approved lakes and bath bomb-approved dyes which must first be “bloomed” into the baking soda prior to beginning your recipe. We do NOT recommend using food coloring in your bath bombs as it can stain your bathtub and your skin.
If you include colorants in your bath bomb recipes, especially micas, adding a small amount of Polysorbate 80 to the recipe will help the color disburse evenly throughout the water and prevent it from leaving any discoloration or rings around the bathtub.
Witch hazel is the most frequently used liquid binder for bath bombs, but you can also use a mixture of water and isopropyl alcohol if you prefer (note: using alcohol as a binder may result in “dustier” and more crumbly bath bombs depending on your climate). A scant amount, delivered via a fine-misting spray bottle, is used to bring the mixture to the proper consistency and help bind the ingredients together.
Step-by-Step DIY Bath Bomb Tutorial
Now, it’s time to learn how to make bath bombs! This easy-to-follow tutorial and recipe will have you creating professional-looking bath bombs in no time!
Begin by sifting the baking soda into a large bowl using a large mesh strainer. Use the back of a spoon to break up any clumps, if necessary. In a second smaller bowl, sift the citric acid, and set aside for later.
Add the remaining dry ingredients (minus the citric acid) to the baking soda bowl and mix well.
I like to use my stand mixer to help make sure that all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, but a good old fashioned spoon works just as well – it just takes a little longer and requires a little more effort!
In a small container, stir together all of the liquid ingredients. Stirring constantly, slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until thouroughly combined. Stir quickly to ensure that the mixture doesn’t start to prematurely activate when you introduce the liquids!
Lightly spray the mixture with 2-3 spritzes of witch hazel (or a mixture of water + isopropyl alcohol) and mix well.
Test to see if the mixture is the proper consistency – it should feel just slightly damp and sort of like kinetic sand. You don’t want it to be TOO wet!
If the mixture is the proper moldable consistency, it will hold together after being squeezed and then lightly dropped back into the bowl. If the mixture is too dry, spray with 1-2 more sprays of witch hazel, stir, and test again. Repeat as necessary until the mixture reaches the proper consistency.
Gently pack the bath bomb mixture into both halves of the mold, generously overfilling each side of the mold.
Press both halves of the mold firmly together and gently brush away any excess mixture.
When unmolding round bath bombs, I like to remove half of the mold at a time and rest the bath bomb in the remaining half of the mold while the other side dries. This step ensures that the bottoms of your bath bombs stay rounded and don’t flatten out.
Flip the mold to the opposite side of the bath bomb after an hour and then unmold completely after 2 hours. Allow to dry completely for 24–48 hours.
Note: I prefer to dry my DIY bath bombs on egg crate foam to help keep their rounded shape and to allow air to circulate freely around the bath bomb to help it thoroughly dry. This photo shows halfway unmolded bath bombs, but I also use the egg crate for drying once they have been completely unmolded as well!
Once you’ve mastered making a single-colored batch of bath bombs, make several batches and experiment with different color and fragrance combinations! The possibilities are truly endless!
The BEST Bath Bomb Recipe
The BEST Bath Bomb Recipe
- 3 cups Baking Soda
- 1 1/2 cups Citric Acid
- 2 Tbsp Cream of Tartar or White Kaolin Clay
- 2 Tbsp Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSA)
- 1/2 tsp Cosmetic Mica Colorant, optional
- 2 Tbsp Oil of Choice (we recommend Sweet Almond Oil)
- 1 Tbsp Polysorbate 80, if using colorant
- Fragrance Oil or Essential Oil, optional (see notes)
- Witch Hazel, in a fine-mist spray bottle
- 2 1/2" Round Metal Bath Bomb Molds
- In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the baking soda, cream of tartar (or kaolin clay), SLSA. Stir in mica colorant if desired until completely combined.
- In a small container, combine the oil, fragrance/essential oil, and Polysorbate 80 (if using).
- Stirring constantly, slowly mix the liquids into the dry ingredients until they are completely combined.
- Add citric acid to the mixture and stir until it is fully incorporated.
- Test to see if the mixture is a moldable consistency - it should feel like slightly damp sand and hold together when squeezed in your hand.If the mixture is not quite wet enough to mold, spritz two to three times with a spray bottle of witch hazel and mix well. Repeat as necessary until the proper consistency is reached.
- Fill both halves of the bath bomb mold with the bath bomb mixture, making sure to overfill both sides of the mold just a bit. Press both halves of the mold firmly together.
- Carefully release the bath bomb from the mold (tap the mold lightly with a wooden spoon if needed) and allow it to dry completely for 24-48 hours depending on the temperature and humidity of your location.
I hope that after reading all of this “How to Make Bath Bombs” information that you’re feeling super confident and ready to start making some awesome bath bombs of your own! Happy crafting!
For even MORE tips on how to make bath bombs, recipes, & handy tricks, be sure to check out our new book, Homemade Bath Bombs and More, available for pre-order now!
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