When I was nineteen years old, I suddenly became dramatically interested in Making Things. Crafting isn’t as big a business over here as it is in the US, so this probably made me look very slightly bonkers, but for well over a year I was always working on a million different projects: I spun yarn that I then crocheted or knitted together, I sewed and embroidered every bit of material I could find, I became weirdly addicted to buying paper craft supplies (so much gorgeousness!) even though I almost never actually did any scrapbooking or cardmaking, I put together jewellery, I got myself into all sorts of terrible trouble trying to learn how to make soap, and I generally drove my father to the end of his tether with the sudden influx of peculiar bits and pieces I flooded our flat with. Most of them, I must confess, are still there.
Some years later, I’ve mostly given these pastimes up and returned to writing, which always was my first love. But two things remain: I still spin multicoloured sparkly yarn on my little drop spindle (she’s called Ariadne), and I still make bath bombs.
There’s something unashamedly satisfying about bath bombs. You drop one into the steaming hot water and it immediately fizzes up, like you’ve given yourself a tubful of champagne to soak in. (I wouldn’t advise actually bathing in champagne. I imagine it would probably be a bit sticky.) I’ve always found that this feeling is only intensified by having made them yourself – you get a sense of accomplishment to go along with the feeling of decadence. It’s also shockingly easy to do.
Here’s a simple bath bomb recipe, that should help anyone to make their own bath bombs at home with no trouble at all.
How to Make Bath Bombs
- Step One: gather your ingredients
All you need for this recipe is one part citric acid, two parts baking soda, a clean, dry, empty spray bottle, some water (or witch hazel if you really feel like splashing out), a mould, and whatever you want to add to the bomb – powdered colour, fragrance oils, dried herbs and flowers, glitter. There’s links to suppliers of all these things at the bottom of this post.
- Step Two: mix it all together
Once you’ve got everything, put it all in a bowl and mix it up really well. Yes, it really is that straightforward. Just be sure to mix really well, as otherwise the bomb might set a little grainy, and remember that with dyes and scents you almost certainly need less than you think you do.
- Step Three: the tricky bit
Although honestly, it really isn’t hard. What you need to do next is fill your spray bottle with either water or witch hazel (witch hazel will give the bombs a slightly better consistency, but water works almost as well and is, you know, water) and lightly spritz the mixture while using your other hand to keep stirring it. When the powder starts to clump and stick, you’re ready to start packing it into the mould – fast! Speed really is of the essence here, and you need to be sparing with the liquid too. Use the back of a spoon or something to press it down into the moulds as densely as possible.
- Step Four: the waiting game
Once that’s done – and you’ve squished the halves of your mould together, if that’s the sort of mould you’re using – you need to leave them to set. After a couple of hours, gently ease them out of the moulds – gently! – and leave them to air-dry for another few hours. Once they’re completely hard and dry to the touch, they’re ready – to be given to friends, or just saved for your own luxurious baths.
What’s not working?
I can’t find the ingredients!
Thankfully, the ingredient you’ll need in the greatest volume – bicarbonate of soda – is really easy to find. It’ll be in the baking aisle of any shop or supermarket. Citric acid can be found in some shops, or it’s trivial to find online with a quick google – see links to suppliers below. Witch hazel can be found in many supermarkets, chemists and drugstores. For a cheap, easily available dye try using ordinary cocoa powder – the finished product will look and smell deliciously chocolaty, and it seems to have a lovely softening effect on my skin! A little cinnamon or nutmeg is always interesting, too. As for moulds – improvise! I’ve heard that people have had great success with a tennis ball cut in half, or it’s not hard to find sweets and toys that come in plastic shapes that open split down the middle.
Okay, I’ve got the ingredients. But the mixture’s too hard! I can’t get it into the moulds at all.
This is why you need to work as fast as possible at this stage. If you’re not quick enough, it’ll start to set too early.
Now that they’re in there my bombs are fizzing madly out of their moulds, and have turned into weird blobular entities that may be trying to take over the world…
You’re using too much liquid. Try spraying a bit less with the next batch, and test frequently to see if the powder has started clumping.
They’re lovely and all, but they fizz away and disappear only three seconds after I get in the bath.
Try packing them into the moulds more densely. The tighter you press the mixture down, the heavier, longer-lasting and more durable your bath bomb will be.
If you’re ready for something a little more challenging, this lovely video tutorial will show you how to make gorgeous bath bomb cupcakes.
This one shows a home-made bath bomb in action, as narrated by the woman who made it. She explains a little about her recipe – which is slightly different from mine! – as she does so.
And here’s yet another lovely recipe, in a video tutorial by online suppliers Coastal Scents.
Bath-Bomb.com have kits, hints, tips, supplies and other lovely things. They’re an excellent supplier, and I’ve used them myself.
Bathbomb.biz are a larger supplier than their namesake; they stock more, but can be a little less simple to understand for absolute beginners.
Don’t fancy making your own? Lush are undoubtedly the reigning stars of the bath bomb world, and are bound to have one you’ll love.
So in summary: this stuff seriously is much easier than you think. With a bit of luck the recipes, links and information I’ve given you here is enough to get you started – but if not, there’s a wealth of information on the internet, accessible from just a quick google. A word of warning, though – you may never be able to bring yourself to have a quick bath again…
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