If you’re just starting your soapmaking journey, learning how to make bath bombs is a good first step.
Often ball-shaped, bath bombs are dry, chalky, conglomerations that fizz and release fragrance when dropped in water. They’re sold as novelties, though additions like witch hazel and skin-friendly oils can add benefits. Many “how to make bath bombs” recipes exist online, some with cornstarch and some with Epsom salts. These are easy soap making recipes for beginners, safe for kids to make if nobody is allergic to the ingredients and oils causing sensitivity aren’t used.
How to Make Bath Bombs
|Five Essential Bath Bomb Ingredients|
|Baking Soda (8 ounces)|
|Citric Acid (4 ounces)|
|Water or Witch Hazel (1/2 to 1 Tablespoon)|
|Food Coloring or Skin-Safe Soaping Pigment|
|Skin-Safe Fragrance or Essential Oil (2 teaspoons)|
You’ve probably seen other tutorials, teaching how to make bath bombs, which include more ingredients. We’ll get to those.
Fizziness is the essential bath bomb quality. This fizziness is achieved by combining baking soda, which is very alkaline, with citric acid. Water activates the chemical reaction. When an acid meets a base, carbon dioxide releases from the sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and the mini-volcano causes aesthetically pleasing bubbles.
Water or witch hazel binds the active ingredients together so it can be molded and handled. Witch hazel offers skin benefits that water doesn’t. Fragrance and color make your bath bombs delightful. Be sure to add enough essential oil to scent an entire tub.
|Optional Bath Bomb Ingredients|
|Olive Oil or Coconut Oil for Skin Benefits (3 teaspoons)|
|Epsom Salts for Detoxifying Benefits (4 ounces)|
|Cornstarch to Harden Bath Bomb (4 ounces)|
|Food Coloring or Skin-Safe Soaping Pigment|
|Biodegradable Glitter for Aesthetic Appeal|
To make bath bombs, start with two separate containers. In the first: mix all dry ingredients. Combine citric acid and baking soda and any salts or cornstarch. If you’re using micas or powdered pigments for color, add these now. Stir to combine, breaking up any lumps.
In a second container, mix all wet ingredients. Melt coconut oil before mixing it with essential oils. Avoid oils which can cause skin or respiratory sensitivity, such as citrus, cinnamon, or Peru balsam. If you’re using food coloring, add it with wet ingredients.
Now, very gently and gradually, add wet ingredients to dry. Remember that water activates the chemical reaction, so add it a couple drops at a time. Some soapmakers use spritzer bottles. Stir ingredients with a silicon spatula or a gloved hand. Mix in just enough liquid to make a ball that holds together after you release it.
Though two-sided bath bomb molds are available, you can use almost anything as a mold. Try festive silicon muffin pans or mini tart molds. Press the mixture into molds, remembering that the tighter you pack it, the longer bombs will last in the bath. If you’re forming two-sided bombs, overpack the molds a bit before pressing them together. Hold both sides together for a minute, ensuring they stick, then lightly tap the molds to release.
Allow your bath bombs to sit for 24 hours in a cool, dry place before using them in the tub or wrapping in plastic.
How to Make Bath Bombs Without Citric Acid
Can you make bath bombs without one of the two most important ingredients? Well…yes, and no.
There are a couple reasons why you might not want citric acid. The first is a corn allergy. Though this acid is “citric,” it’s made with the cheapest and most plentiful crop in the United States. Good, old corn. Second, citric acid may be difficult to find.
If you live in a metropolitan area, or near a hobby store, you can find most bath bomb ingredients. Baking soda is readily available in the baking section; Epsom salts are at the pharmacy. Citric acid, though it’s cheaper ordered in bulk, can be found online, in brewery or cheesemaking shops, or in the canning section of many supermarkets and department stores.
But if you don’t want to use citric acid, how can you attain the fizziness? Soap Queen, a prolific blogger and YouTube personality working with the soaping supply store Brambleberry, tested several recipes that attempt to replace citric acid. And she wasn’t pleased with the results.
Since lemon juice contains some citric acid, it can add to the chemical reaction when it meets baking soda. But the bubbles are minimal. Another recipe suggests cream of tartar, which is the potassium acid salt of a tartaric acid. Again, activation with water produces a little fizz but not much. The third, which Soap Queen demonstrates in her video, attempts to use cornstarch instead of citric acid. The results are gloppy, slimy, and not at all fizzy.
Most experienced soapmakers agree that, when learning how to make bath bombs, you find citric acid for the best results.
Have you learned how to make bath bombs? Do you have any advice to share?
|Ingredient||Purpose||Tips and Notes|
|Baking Soda||This “base” creates carbon dioxide bubbles when activated with water and acid.||Must be in a 2:1 ratio: 8oz baking soda
to 4oz citric acid
|Citric Acid||Strong yet safe acid which reacts with baking
soda to create bubbles
|Can be found online, in brewery or cheese-
making stores, or in the canning section.
|Witch Hazel||A tiny bit of liquid to bind dry ingredients together. Adds skin benefits.||Water can also be used.|
|Fragrance Oil||Essential oils or fragrance oils scent the bath.||Only use skin-safe oils. Never use candle
fragrances or oils that cause sensitivity.
|Colorants||Can be powdered pigments and micas or liquid
food or soap colorants.
|Only use skin-safe colorants, never candle
|Oil||Adds skin benefits and helps combine dry
|Non-fractionated coconut oil may need to
be melted first.
|Epsom salts||Adds detoxifying benefits to the bath.||Can be found in pharmacies or hobby stores.|
|Cornstarch||Hardening agent to hold finished bath bombs
together. Helps when using cute molds.
|Cornstarch is not an effective replacement
for citric acid.
|Glitter||Adds aesthetic appeal.||Only use biodegradable glitter that is safe to enter natural waterways.|