The following 101, on how to make bath bombs, comes from Farm Aid staffer and HOMEGROWN member Toni Tiemann. Thanks so much, Toni, and please keep the good ideas bubbling!
Every year Farm Aid hosts a nondenominational holiday party, wherein staffers put their crafting expertise to work. Several weeks before the party, we each draw a name out of a hat, and then we each make that person a homemade gift—“homemade” being nonnegotiable. As a frequent writer of 101s, that seemed easy. My plan was to make candleholders out of doilies using a tutorial I found online.
I’m not linking to that tutorial because, before long, my efforts had resulted in what is commonly known as a “Pinterest fail.” When I realized how seriously things had gone wrong, time was running short. I had 24 hours to come up with something stellar that could top last year’s etched glasses and impress my gift recipient, our ace co-op student, who is no slob when it comes to handmade.
I was determined to end the year with a BANG—or a bomb. A bath bomb, that is. If you’re unfamiliar with bath bombs, these are dissolvable orbs you can drop in your tub for a nice, hot bath. The bomb creates a fizz in the water, almost as if it’s carbonating your bath, and releases the most heavenly scents you could think of, along with some ingredients, like coconut oil, that are great for your skin. Using some leftover bath bomb powder, I attempted to capture the chemistry that happens between the bombs and the water, but trust me: It's way more magical in person.
Depending on the essential oil/s you choose to use, the bath bombs can be soothing (chamomile), purifying (eucalyptus), or even healing (lavender). I decided to opt for a refreshing lemon essential oil to go along with the coconut lemon scrub I was making. Lemon also happens to be on the cheaper end, as some essential oils can get fairly expensive for even a small bottle.
Luckily, I found this easy-to-follow tutorial from Instructables that guided me through the process. These bath bombs were much easier to make than I anticipated, and the supplies ran about $20 to make enough bath bombs to fill two jars, not including the ingredients I already had in my pantry. It’s not only the perfect gift but also the perfect indulgence to get your recipient (or yourself!) through the winter.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
» 1 cup baking soda
» 4 oz citric acid
» ½ cup cornstarch
» ½ cup mineral salts (I opted for coarse pink Himalayan salt, which added a beautiful look to the finished product, especially since I decided not to use any food coloring.)
» ¾ Tbsp water
» 2 tsp essential oil
» 2½ Tbsp oil (I used coconut oil, but any soft oil will work. Almond or cherry-kernel oils are good options, too. If you opt for almond oil, be mindful of any nut allergies your giftees might have.)
» 1 or 2 drops of food coloring
» Molds for the bath bombs (This can be anything under the sun. I tried to use the lower halves of champagne glasses in hopes the result would look like bells. They didn’t, but it worked fine nonetheless. Other suggestions: ice cube trays, cupcake tins, or a 1/4 measuring cup.)
WHAT TO DO
1. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. A glass bowl is best because it’s nonreactive, but any kind will work. Mix briskly with a whisk or a fork until everything is thoroughly blended and smooth (with the exception of the salt, if you opt for a coarse variety).
2. Put all of your wet ingredients into a separate container with a well-sealing lid. I used a jar so I cook shake it vigorously.
3. Slowly pour a very small amount of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix immediately. If the combination starts to fizz, you’re adding too much. As soon as you mix the wet and dry ingredients together, the reaction should subside. Repeat this step until all of the ingredients are combined and well blended. Ball up the mixture in your hands. It should feel slightly damp and easily clump together.
4. Immediately, and as firmly as possible, pack the mixture into the molds. This must be done as soon as the ingredients are combined so the mixture doesn’t start to set in your large bowl and dry out.
5. There are conflicting views on the best way to remove the bath bombs from the molds. I read about this step in many different tutorials and, ultimately, in my usual fashion, I went rogue and developed my own method. After experimenting with a few recommended techniques, I discovered that the most effective way to release the bath bombs was to stick a knife along one side of the mold, loosening it, then to leave the mold upside down overnight. The next morning the bath bombs had fallen out of the mold on their own, fully intact!
6. Seal the bath bombs in an airtight container and enjoy! Using this technique, your bath bombs will have a shelf life of about six months. But take it from me: They’ll be gone well before that expiration date!
JOIN THE CONVERSATION!
Got a question for Toni or another homemade beauty product to share? Post it below and keep the conversation rolling! You might also be interested in 101s on making your own seed bombs (AKA seedballs), body scrub, cold-process soap, beeswax candles, tinctures, toothpaste, sunscreen, and laundry detergent, and you can always find more things to make, craft, plant, grow, cook, preserve, and whisk in the HOMEGROWN 101 library.
ALL PHOTOS: TONI