Do-It-Yourself Bath Bombs

It started with a pin.  Well a couple pins actually…  and now I’m kind of starting at the end and working my way back to the beginning.  The short of it is that I decided, through the meandering, tangental track that is my brain, that I was going to make a couple home made holiday gifts.  I’ve been making cold-process soap at home for a little while now and then I fell in to the rabbit hole.  So I’ll be posting a series of DIY bath product recipes…

This one is for bath bombs!  When I told Geoff what I was doing he looked at me with distaste and asked what on earth a “bath bomb” was.  It hadn’t dawned on me that those poor men are deprived of such pleasures 🙂  This recipe is completely tailored to my personal preferences.  If you don’t share them, I’m sure there is a recipe out there for you.

I really like Lush’s Butterball so I was going for something with a higher oil/moisturizing content.  I will also admit I tend to have a relatively broad selection of ingredients around.  If you are missing anything I highly recommend checking out Bramble Berry for supplies.  They aren’t the cheapest source out there, but I trust their quality and their selection of scents is just amazing!

Okay, on to the dirty work!

For 6 cupcake sized bath bombs you will need:

Dry ingredients (BY WEIGHT)

  • 6 ounces citric acid (you can find this at health food stores or online)
  • 6 ounces baking soda
  • 4 ounces epsom salts
  • 2 ounces cornstarch
  • A good squirt of food coloring (yes, it goes with the dry.  I use vegetable based ones.)

Wet ingredients

  • 2 TBSP coconut oil (not cream, not milk, that stuff you saute with)
  • 2 TBSP shea butter (order online)
  • 2 TBSP avocado butter (order online)
  • 5-6 drop vitamin E oil (you can puncture gel caps or buy it in a dropper bottle)
  • 1 TBSP scent or essential oils (This is a bit scent heavy, but I like that. Feel free to cut back.)


  • Thoroughly mix all your dry ingredients, EXCEPT the food coloring, in a DRY bowl.  If the mixture comes in contact with water prematurely it will start fizzing and there goes your chemical reaction.
  • Add the food coloring and mix in.  The reason I mix the coloring in to the dry ingredients is because it is water based.  It won’t mix in the oils.  There’s not enough of it to cause a reaction to start.
  • In a double boiler, or a small mason jar placed on the corner of the wood stove in my case, melt and mix together all of your oils, EXCEPT your scent or essential oils.  It shouldn’t take much heat.  Coconut oil has a melting point of about 100 degrees (if that) and Shea butter is around 90-100 degrees.
  • After all the oils are melted, remove from heat and add your scent and/or essential oils to the jar/double boiler.  We are just trying to make sure they don’t break down too much from excessive heat.
  • Now add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and mix together.  I just use my hands for this but they did smell strongly of the scent for a couple hours afterwards.
  • Once thoroughly mixed, mash the mixture in to your shaping vessel of choice.  I clearly used a heart shaped silicone cupcake mold that I bought for soap making.
  • When I say mash I mean really press that stuff in there.  The more compressed it is the more solid your bath bomb will be.
  • Let them sit in the mold in a dry place for an hour or two (the freezer works to speed things up) before unmolding.
  • Tada!

Some comments… a lot of recipes called for some amount of water.  Because of that, they appeared to be a bit more fiddly.  Since I’m using oil, and only oil, and two of the oils are solid at normal room temperatures I avoided a whole lot of drama of bombs not holding together and/or starting the fizzing reaction prematurely.  My bombs came out dense and solid.  This does mean you will end up with the equivalent of a tablespoon of moisturizing oil in your bath when you use one.  That’s fine with me.  If you want to make something cheaper and less moisturizing then you’ll want to look for one of the recipes that uses water and spritzing with witch hazel.  I also suspect you can use less “exotic” oils such as olive.

Because these are oil based I recommend letting them dry on something that can absorb some excess oil.  I used cardboard (obviously).

The two key ingredients for the bomb are the citric acid and baking soda.  Everything else is optional on some level.  I found that most recipes either recommend a 2:1 ratio of baking soda to citric acid or a 1:1 ratio.  The cornstarch makes the bombs float which is largely just for effect.  The Vit E has medicinal purposes, but it’s also supposed to help preserve the other oils.  Considering the amount of citric acid I’m not sure it’s really necessary, but I had it so figured why not.

I’ve read that packaging these up in plastic can shorten the life span.  I suspect that’s more of an issue if you have a good deal of humidity or if you are using a recipe that includes water, but to be on the safe side I’m leaving them in a dry place until I’m ready to assemble my gifts, then they will go in to cello bags.

Time will tell how they hold up over the long run, but I mushed up a little bit of the formula and dropped it in some warm water in the sink and it was energetically effervescent and turned the water a lovely shade of light pink.

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