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Can You Make Bath Bombs at Home?

Gloved hands pressing a powder mixture into a homemade bath bomb.

Social distancing has many people spending more time in the bath. If you’re one of them, you might have wondered if you can make bath bombs at home. You’ll be happy to know you can!

With just a few ingredients (mostly cheap and easy to find), you can build a home bath-bomb factory. Here’s what you need to know!

What Makes Bath Bombs Work?

The essential component in the bath-bomb experience is fizz. In fact, the inventor of bath bombs was originally inspired by the fizziness of Alka Seltzer. And the ingredients to create that fizzy action are simple: citric acid and baking soda.

A chemical reaction between these ingredients happens when you put a bath bomb in water, creating the bubbly experience we all know and love.

However, bath bombs can be made even more exciting with other ingredients, like color, Epsom salts, essential oils, and flower petals.

What You’ll Need to Make Bath Bombs

Before you start on your DIY bath bombs, pick up these basics:

  • Molds: You can find them online, but muffin tins and ice cube trays also work well
  • Measuring cups
  • Bowls
  • Gloves or a spoon for mixing
  • The basic ingredients: Baking soda and citric acid are the essentials, but other ingredients depend on the recipe you choose
  • Decorations (optional): Try dried flowers or herbs, or biodegradable glitter
  • Essential oils (optional): A few drops can provide a custom scent
  • Dye (optional): Choose water-based or -soluble colorants to avoid staining
  • Plant oil (optional): Make your bombs more hydrating with oils like jojoba or coconut

Some recipes call for other specific supplies, but these basics will get you started. If you really get into it and want to replicate that store-bought-bath-bomb quality, however, two ingredients are mandatory. They’ll take your homemade creations from pretty great to four-star!

The first is Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSA). It’s used in all sorts of products, like shampoos and body washes. It comes in a powder form and will create a luxurious, foamy effect (the same reason it’s used in shampoo).

The real secret sauce in a four-star, homemade bath bomb recipe, though, is a surfactant like Polysorbate 80. It’s a solubilizer that helps the contents of your bath bomb (especially the added oils and coloring) disperse evenly throughout the bathwater. Without it, some bath bombs might leave oils and colorants clinging to the surface of the water.

Bath Bomb Recipes

Gloved hands opening up a metal bath bomb mold to reveal a colorful pink and blue bath bomb.

Now, you’re ready to test out some DIY bath bomb recipes!

Here are a few great ones:

  • Basic bath bomb: This recipe from Scientific American creates an effective, no-frills bath bomb. It also has some interesting ideas for ingredient substitutions. By starting with the basics, you’ll get a good look at the chemistry that creates bath bombs.
  • Aloe bubble bath bomb: This recipe by Soap Queen incorporates SLSA for foamy bubbles that will last through your whole bath. Because powdery SLSA tends to hang in the air, it’s advised you wear a mask while using this recipe. Although the recipe calls for specific molds, colorants, and fragrance oil, you can easily substitute whatever you have.
  • Coconut oil bath bomb: Coconut oil makes bath bombs extra-hydrating and keeps them from falling apart. This recipe from Hello Glow includes optional color and glitter for bath bombs that look as good as they feel.
  • Spinning bath bombs: These bath bombs from DIY Natural use an embedded center to create a spinning effect. The “embeds” use the same ingredients, just in higher concentrations, so you don’t have to buy anything special to make them spin.

Making your own bath bombs is the perfect way to spend a quarantined afternoon. It’s also a great way for bored kids to learn about recipes and chemical reactions. With recipes like these, you might never blow $8 on a store-bought bath bomb again!

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »
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