The Hands-on Home
These bath bombs require a bit more work than your basic bath salts, but they are just so fun! Basically, you’re doing a chemistry experiment in the name of spa day. How could anyone not like that combo? These make great gifts, and kids love them.
Makes about 8 ½-cup bath bombs
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In a large bowl, mix together the baking soda, cornstarch, citric acid, and Epsom salts. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the water with the food coloring and essential oils, if using.
With one hand, stir the dry mixture constantly with a whisk. With the other hand, drizzle in the wet mixture a drop at a time until it just holds together if you squeeze a bit in one hand. If the mixture doesn’t hold together at all, drizzle more drops of water, one or two at a time. If you start to see fizzing, that means there is too much water in one area and you should stir that area quickly to distribute the moisture.
Pack the mixture into molds very firmly, then smooth the surface of each bath bomb. Carefully unmold the bath bombs onto a sheet pan or other flat, dry surface. If any of the bath bombs break during unmolding, just scoop up the crumbs and repack them in the mold.
Let the bath bombs dry for about 24 hours, until fully dry. Package them as desired for gifts or use for your own personal spa day. Kept away from moisture, the bath bombs will last for at least 6 months, though the essential oil scent may fade over time.
Fill a tub with hot water and drop in 1 or 2 bath bombs. Enjoy the fizzing-geyser experience.
Notes on fizzy bath bombs
Dry, a bath bomb is yummy-smelling but rather boring. But when a bath bomb hits the water, the alkaline baking soda and the acidic citric acid react to create a frothing, bub- bling, foaming volcano of fun. Use this recipe as a template and customize away. Just keep in mind a few tricks to making great bath bombs.
Getting the dry mixture wet enough to be moldable without activating the acid- base reaction doesn’t take much water! Stir constantly as you sprinkle the water over the baking soda mixture.
Mix the food coloring into your water before sprinkling—liquid food colorings often contain enough liquid to activate the acid-base reaction if you try to color your bath bombs after already achieving the right texture.
Bath bombs work best when you can pack them tightly, so use a stiff plastic or metal mold, like a muffin tin, that won’t deform when you press the mixture in.
These gifts are the best when you match the color and fragrance. I like a purple color with lavender essential oil and a pale yellow-green color with lemongrass essential oil.