Ok, anyone who's ever been in a Lush store knows the distinctive fragrance. I can walk into a mall and immediately tell if there's a Lush store in there somewhere. I love the smells! But I hate the $6 per bath bomb price tag. I don't think my husband and I have ever gotten out of there for less than $50, and that was a cheap trip. Sigh...
So let's do it ourselves! I've made several batches of bath bombs lately and they're so easy! And fun too. It's like making cupcakes and sand castles rolled into one. My 9 year old daughter helped me yesterday and we had a ball.
There are a hundred recipes floating around on Pinterest but here's the one I like best so far. I've tried with and without arrowroot powder (which I used as a substitute for cornstarch because I had it on hand and didn't have cornstarch) and it works just fine without it. Since it seems unnecessary I just leave it out now.
1 Cup citric acid (I can't find it locally so I buy online - $10 for 2 lbs)
2 Cups baking soda (buy it in bulk at Sam's Club or Costco and it's a huge bag for $6 or so)
4 Tbsp epsom salts (bought at the dollar store)
1 ounce coconut oil or other light body oil like sweet almond or apricot
Essential oil for fragrance
10-30 drops food coloring
Spray bottle of witch hazel (another Dollar Store find)
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. Get it all really well incorporated.
Then add the body oil and stir. The small amount of oil makes your skin really soft but it doesn't leave a ton of oil in the bathtub after the bath. Then add the food coloring (I used about 30 drops of a peach color hoping it would turn more orangey but it never did, so I could have stopped at 10) and your fragrance oils, and stir well. I find that the oil doesn't make the mixture fizz but sometimes the food coloring does, so add it a drop at a time. The more your mixture fizzes now, the LESS it will fizz in the tub later. (The Lush Lust recipe is at the bottom of the page, so keep reading!)
Now we grab the witch hazel. It works much better than water for helping the mixture bind together, trust me. Spritz the mix 3-4 times and stir. Grab a handful and make a snowball. If it sticks together you're done. If it's too dry and crumbly spray a few more times and try again. Don't overdo it or your citric acid will start fizzing and then your bath bomb won't fizz much later. You'll probably need about 8-12 squirts of witch hazel.
When it's done you're ready to fill your molds. I have these cute silicone molds I bought on Amazon.
They're really just muffin pans with fancy shapes. I use them for everything - baking, homemade fruit snacks, homemade chocolate, and bath bombs. I also have silicone muffin pan liners and they worked great for this too. They're plain but they work fine. I don't make spheres because you'd need at least a dozen molds since you want to dry the bath bombs in the molds. This keeps them from cracking apart as they dry. If you pack the mold, dump out the bath bomb, and then use the same mold to make the next one the bath bombs don't seem to hold their shape nearly as well while they're drying. So grab your muffin pan, put some of the mixture in and pack it down like brown sugar. Then fill it the rest of the way and pack it down again. Try to make it flat across the surface. Fill as many molds as you have mixture. For me this makes 12 smallish and 6 large bath bombs.
Here's my favorite trick: preheat the oven to 200 degrees. When it comes to temperature, turn it off. Put the silicone molds on a cookie sheet for stability and stick them in the oven. Leave them in the warm oven that is TURNED OFF for several hours. This really helps them dry out faster, especially if you live in the hot and humid south like I do.
After several hours take them out of the oven and turn them upside down onto the cookie sheet. Leave them there to dry overnight on the counter if possible. You might even be able to use one that evening if you let them sit in the oven for at least 4 hours.
Ok, let's talk fragrances. You can do whatever fragrance combination floats your boat, which is the cool part. The first time I made bath bombs I did lemon and tangerine. I used orange food coloring. Just enough to color the bath bombs and slightly tint the water, but not enough to stain your tub. Probably 6-8 drops total. Next I tried spearmint and rosemary with green food coloring, and I used dried rosemary sprigs to make it look cool too. Put the rosemary leaves in the bottom of the mold before you fill it with your mixture. Dried rose petals would also be gorgeous.
But the holy grail of fragrance for me is Lust at Lush stores. According to their web site, it's made from jasmine, ylang ylang, rose, sandalwood, and vanilla. The jasmine scent is intoxicating. (Don't even get me started on the Godiva solid shampoo bar. It's so fabulous I just want to eat it.) You can buy the perfume from their web site and use that if you like, or just make your own. I found all these oils for less than $16.00 on Bulkapothecary.com by buying the smallest sizes. I threw in two pounds of citric acid for another $10 and my whole order before shipping was just over $25.00. Not bad! I'll get easily over 100 bath bombs out of two pounds of citric acid. ***Updated to add: these are fragrance oils, not pure essential oils. If you buy essential oils the cost will be higher but they will not be artificial. So it's totally your call. These tiny bottles have lasted me forever too.***
When trying new fragrances, I mix one drop of each in a bowl and give it a sniff. Make a list of the fragrances on a piece of paper and put one tick mark next to each. Then add more of whichever scent you feel is lacking. Update your paper with tick marks next to the ones you added. (I happen to have a Lust solid fragrance stick in my cupboard to compare it to, so that was very helpful.) When you're happy with the result your paper should have tick marks next to each scent so that you'll know the ratio to use next time.
Here's what I used and although it's not an exact duplicate, it's pretty darned close!
Lush Lust Fragrance Hack
30 drops jasmine oil
15 drops ylang ylang
25 drops sandalwood/rose blend
20 vanilla sugar
I estimate it cost something like $5 to make 18 bath bombs, which makes them 46 cents apiece. The citric acid and essential oils were the biggest chunk, but everything else (like the baking soda and apricot oil) cost very little. Score! Now I just need to find a cute container to store them in. A plastic baggie really doesn't do them justice.