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Basic bath bomb tutorial

Difficulty: Beginner
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 6 large or 12 small bath bombs

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Bath bombs are pure balls of fizzy fun at bath time. Not only that, bath bombs can have  positive effects on your skin, body and mood. Depending on what ingredients you add, they can either be skin soothing, relaxing, invigorating or detoxifying. Here is a simple basic bath bomb tutorial for you to try.

There are two main ingredients in bath bombs that are responsible for the fizzy reaction that you see when the bath bomb comes in contact with water. The first is baking soda, also called sodium bicarbonate, which is commonly used in baking. In bath bombs, this naturally occurring salt has a soothing effect on the skin due to its anti-inflammatory and acid-neutralising properties, and it is often used to relieve itchy skin. Citric acid is the other ingredient necessary in bath bombs. It is a naturally occurring acid found in fruits and vegetables, and it is often used as a natural preservative in the food and cosmetic industry. When we combine baking soda with citric acid and add this to water, it produces a chemical reaction which creates the fun fizzy effect of bath bombs. Both ingredients can be found in the baking aisle of your supermarket.

ONE: The basic bath bomb has a ratio of 2 parts of baking soda to 1 part of citric acid. Combine 2 cups baking soda to 1 cup citric acid in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. I like to use my hands to mix and break up any clumps, which is why I recommend wearing disposable gloves.

TWO: Next, add the oils or butters to the bath bomb mixture. This will help improve the skin conditioning and moisturising qualities of the bath bomb. You can use any vegetable oil or butter. For example shea butter is especially conditioning to your skin, coconut oil moisturises and sunflower oil is full of vitamin E, essential for healthy skin. I’m using coconut oil here (1 tablespoon).

THREE: Once the oil is completely incorporated into the mixture, you can add your essential oil or fragrance. Make sure that you use skin-safe essential oils and fragrances, because some  can be irritating to your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin. As a rule of thumb, I use 3 ml of essential oil to every 1 cup baking soda/1/2 cup citric acid mixture. For this particular recipe, I’m using 3 ml of lemon essential oil. Again, mix well with your hands to distribute the oils throughout the mixture.

You have the option to leave your bath bombs white, or you can use micas and dyes to colour them. There are special bath bomb colourants that you can buy, but you can also use simple food colouring like I am doing here.

FOUR: This is the part where you will be very glad that you are wearing gloves! Add the food colouring. Start with a couple of drops and mix. If you feel it needs more colour, you can add a few more drops. Keep mixing and adding until you reach the shade of colour you like and the colour is evenly dispersed. As you can see in the photograph the food colouring will make the bath bomb mixture fizz. This is because food colouring is water-based, so you will need to work quickly. To get this shade of pastel yellow, I’ve added 4 drops of yellow food colouring.

FIVE: The consistency of the bath bomb mixture should be so that when you squeeze the mixture in your fist it holds its shape when you open your hand. If necessary spritz some water on it and work the moisture into the mixture with your hands. You want the mixture to be wet enough so that the mixture sticks together and doesn’t crumble apart, but be careful  if you spritz too much, the mixture will begin to fizz prematurely and ruin your bath bombs!

SIX: Once you have the right consistency,  scoop the bath bomb mixture into the muffin tray and press firmly to produce a smooth flat top.

SEVEN: Then carefully remove the bath bombs from the muffin tray and place them on a sheet of baking paper. Allow them to fully dry out overnight.

EIGHT: The following day, wrap them in glad wrap or package them in cellophane bags. Keep them wrapped as the humid climate of New Zealand will make your bath bombs quickly lose their fizziness.

Here are some alligator bath bombs I made with the left over mixture:

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Basic Bath Bomb

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup citric acid
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil (coconut oil, rice bran oil, etc)
  • food colouring of your choice
  • 3 ml essential oil
  • spray bottle with water
  • disposable gloves
  • muffin tray (or other mold)

Directions

  1. Add baking soda and citric acid in a large bowl and mix to combine. Wearing gloves, use your fingers to break up any clumps.
  2. Now add the oil and stir it into the dry ingredients.
  3. Once the oil is completely incorporated, you can mix in the essential oil of your choice.
  4. Next, add 3-4 drops of food colouring. Again, use your hands to break up the drops of color. (This is the point when you are glad you are wearing gloves!) Mix well so that all the colour and fragrance is dispersed throughout the mixture.
  5. If necessary, spritz the bath bombs with a little water. The bath bomb mixture should be wet enough so that when you squeeze the mixture in your fist it holds its shape when you open your hand. You want to spray enough so that the mixture sticks together and doesn’t crumble apart, but  if you spray too much, the mixture will begin to fizz prematurely and ruin your bath bombs!
  6. Once you have the right consistency,  scoop the bath bomb mixture into the muffin tray and press carefully to produce a smooth flat top.
  7. Carefully remove the bath bombs from the muffin tray and place them on a sheet of baking paper. Allow them to fully dry out overnight.
  8. The following day, wrap them in glad wrap or package them in cellophane bags. Keep them wrapped as the humid climate of New Zealand will make your bath bombs quickly lose their fizziness.

Where you can get your supplies from

  • baking soda: supermarket, bulk foods store
  • citric acid: supermarket, bulk foods store
  • food colouring: supermarket
  • vegetable oil: supermarket
  • essential oil: Pure Nature, Go Native
  • muffin tray: the Warehouse, supermarket
  • spray bottle: the Warehouse, supermarket, plastic stores
  • disposable gloves: supermarket
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How to infuse oils with herbs and flowers

Difficulty: Beginner
Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 1 jar

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Chamomile infused oil

Infused oils are very versatile and useful. Depending on the herbs and flowers you have used, you can use them in your cooking, as a skin oil, for massage or you can add them to
your balms and lotions. Some of my favourite infused oils are rosemary and garlic infused olive oil, which I use for everything from cooking steak to adding to roast vegetables; calendula and chamomile infused oils to use in balms and lotions (excellent for sensitive skin or baby skin); rose oil made from the petals collected from my own rose bushes (I usually leave some petals in the oil for decoration); and lavender oil as a massage oil or for use in solid lotion bars.

What I do recommend is to use only dried herbs and flowers. Fresh flowers and herbs can cause mould to grow in your oil and it’s easy to prevent that from happening by using dried herbs and flowers. So why risk it?

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Fill a clean, dry jar with dried herbs and/or flowers. Make sure the jar is completely dry, you don’t want mould growing! Fill the jar with oil to completely cover the herbs. My favourite oils to use are sunflower for my balms and lotions, and olive oil for my kitchen oil, but any kind of vegetable oil will work.


Tap the jar gently on the kitchen bench a couple of times to get rid of any air pockets. Then put the lid back on the jar and keep it in a sunny place for a couple of weeks or more. I have my jars on my windowsill where the morning sun can gently warm them up each day. Give the jar a little shake every other day or so.


After 2-4 weeks it’s time to strain the oil. Place a coffee filter in a funnel on top of a bowl or jug. Carefully pour the oil and herbs concoction into the filter. Make sure it’s in a stable set up, you don’t want it to tilt or fall over when it’s filled with oil. If you don’t have a coffee filter, you can also use a cheese cloth or muslin cloth.

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Once you’ve strained the oil, it is ready for use. It will keep for up to 6 months, if stored in a dark coloured bottle out of direct sunlight.

Herb or Flower Infused Oil

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • dried flowers or herbs of your choice
  • 1 jar with lid
  • vegetable oil (enough to fill the jar)

Directions

  1. Fill a clean, dry jar with dried herbs and/or flowers.
  2. Pour the oil in the jar until it completely covers the herbs or flowers.
  3. Tap the jar gently on the bench a few times to get rid of any air pockets.
  4. Place the lid on the jar and keep it in a sunny place for 2-4 weeks.
  5. Strain the oil through a coffee filter, cheese cloth or muslin cloth.
  6. Pour the oil in a dark, coloured bottle. It will keep for up to 6 months.

Where you can get your supplies from

  • dried herbs and flowers: garden, Pure Nature
  • vegetable oils: supermarket
  • jars: supermarket, Warehouse
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Basic 1,2,3 lip balm tutorial

Difficulty: Beginner
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 6 pots (15 ml each)

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Beach lip balm

Lip balms are fun and easy to make. You only need a few ingredients: a liquid vegetable oil, such as sunflower oil or sweet almond oil; a vegetable butter, like shea butter or cocoa butter; and a wax, which is usually beeswax or candelilla wax for a vegan option. Those are the key ingredients to make a soothing, conditioning balm for your lips. You can leave it unflavoured, or you can add flavour using lip-safe flavour oils or essential oils. If you wish, you can even sweeten your balm with a few drops of stevia. And if you want to add a bit of colour to your lips, you can use lip-safe micas or colourants. Don’t use food colouring!

Here is a quick and easy recipe that I that I often use as my base. It uses 1 part beeswax, 2 parts butter and 3 parts oil. It’s an easy formula to remember: 1, 2, 3!

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ONE: Add the oil and beeswax into a heat proof glass jug, such as Pyrex (available at your supermarket, Briscoes or the Warehouse), and melt it on high in the microwave for 2 minutes. Depending on the microwave, you might have to leave it in for longer or shorter to melt the beeswax. You can substitute the beeswax for candelilla wax if you want a vegan option, just remember to only use half the amount of candelilla wax. For this recipe, this would be 1/2 tablespoon candelilla wax.

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TWO: Add the butter that you are using, I’m using cocoa butter here. If the butter isn’t melting completely, or if you notice the mixture starting to cool down and solidify, just pop it back into the microwave again for another 20 seconds.

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THREE: Next stir in your flavour oil or essential oil of your choice. Make sure these oils are lip-safe! Not all fragrances are approved for use on lips! Check with the supplier if you are not sure. The most common essential oils that are safe for lips are: peppermint, spearmint, anise, sweet orange, rose, lavender, vanilla absolute, rosemary and tea tree.

Most citrus oils are considered photosensitising and should not be used in lip balms, especially here in New Zealand where the sun’s rays are stronger than in the Northern Hemisphere. There are exceptions, however, grapefruit and lemon essential oils can be used in very low doses (max 6 drops in one tablespoon of oil), and sweet orange essential oil is considered a safe oil and can be used in lip balm.

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FOUR: Pour the mixture carefully into your lip balm pots and leave them to cool down and harden completely before putting the lids on. If you put on the lids while balms are still warm, you risk getting condensation on the inside of the lids.

Basic Lip Balm

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (i.e. olive oil, sunflower oil)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable butter (i.e. shea butter, cocoa butter)
  • 1 tablespoon beeswax (or use 1/2 tablespoon candelilla wax for a vegan option)
  • 2 ml lip-safe flavour oil or essential oil
  • optional: 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of lip-safe mica or colourant
  • 6 lip balm pots (15 ml)

Directions

  1. Add the oil and beeswax in a heat proof glass jug (i.e. Pyrex) and microwave for 2 minutes.
  2. Once the beeswax has melted, stir in the shea butter. If the mixture starts to solidify, pop it back into the microwave for another 20 seconds.
  3. Stir in your choice of flavour oil or essential oil. If you are planning on adding colour to your lip balm, add this as well and give it a good stir. Make sure your mixture is completely liquid before you pour it.
  4. Carefully pour the mixture in container and leave to harden and cool down completely before putting the lids on.

Where to get your ingredients from

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Basic balm tutorial

Difficulty: Beginner
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 2 pots (50 mls each)

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Orange balm

Balms are very versatile and can be made for many uses, depending on what ingredients are added. By using conditioning, moisturising oils and butters, you can make a balm for
softening rough skins on your hands and feet. Using infused oils or adding essential oils will also affect the properties of the balm. Lavender soothes the mind and the body. Calendula is a well-known skin healer. Tea tree, manuka, thyme are anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. Use arnica infused oils in muscle balms. And lemongrass and eucalyptus in an insect repellent balm.

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A good place to start formulating balms is by using equal parts of wax, oil, and butter. This will give you a good, solid balm. If you want a softer and more spreadable consistency, add more oil or reduce the amount of wax and butters you are using. A salve will have a ratio upwards of 4 parts of oil to one part of wax. The balm of this recipe uses slightly less butter and wax, but will still leave you with a fairly solid balm.

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In a heat proof glass jug (i.e. Pyrex) and add your  vegetable oil, such as olive oil or sunflower oil, and your beeswax (or candelilla wax for a vegan balm). Heat it on high in your microwave for 2 minutes or until the beeswax is fully melted.

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Add your vegetable butter, for example cocoa butter or shea butter, and stir until the butter has completely melted. If you find the mixture is starting to harden, pop it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds or so until it is liquid again.

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Next, add your essential oils and give it another good stir. I’m using orange essential oil here, which is why it is a bright colour 😉

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Finally, carefully pour the balm into the pots and leave them overnight to harden and cool down. Don’t put the lids on, otherwise you will find it will have formed condensation on the inside of the lids, which is a unwanted environment for mould growth.

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Basic Balm

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • 50 ml vegetable oil (such as olive oil, sunflower oil, etc.)
  • 25 g butter (such as shea butter or cocoa butter)
  • 25 g beeswax (or 15 g candelilla wax plus 10 g extra oil for a vegan option)
  • 2 pots (50ml)
  • 4 ml essential oils

Directions

  1. In a heat proof glass jug (i.e. Pyrex), combine the oil and wax. Place it in the microwave and heat on high for 2 minutes initially and then in 1 minute increments until the beeswax has completely melted. Be careful when removing the jug from the microwave, as the mixture will be very hot!
  2. Add the butter and stir until melted. If the butter doesn’t melt completely or if the mixture is starting to harden, pop it back in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  3. When the mixture is completely liquid, add your essential oils and stir to completely mix in.
  4. Pour the mixture into your pots. Allow to fully cool and harden overnight before putting the lids on.

Where you can get your ingredients from

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Basic melt and pour soap tutorial

Difficulty: Beginner
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 6 soaps

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Melt & pour soaps

Melt and pour soap is basically melting a pre-made soap base and then pouring it into a soap mold, hence the name! Although some soapers consider using this method as ‘cheating’, I find that there are some techniques where melt and pour is the more suitable soap than cold process soap. For example, where a design asks for clear cut straight lines or when you are using molds with intricate designs. More on soap molds, check out this post here.

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In addition, melt and pour soap also comes as a clear soap base (also known as glycerin soap), which is an advanced soap making technique if you want to do this yourself. In the past few years, many kinds of melt and pour soap bases have become available, such as goats milk, olive oil, shea butter, honey, and even a wobbly jelly-like soap base! Personally, I like using melt and pour soap bases because you can create some pretty cool soaps with it, plus your soap is ready to use as soon as it sets. Great for last minute gifts!

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The technique of melting and pouring the pre-made soap is very simple. Cut up the required amount of melt and pour soap base into small cubes and place them in a heat proof glass jug (i.e. Pyrex, available at supermarkets, Briscoes or the Warehouse). In short bursts of no more than 20-30 seconds each, melt the soap in your microwave. Be careful your soap does not boil! If you don’t have a microwave, you can melt the soap on the stove using the double boiler method (placing one smaller pot inside a bigger pot of water).

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Once your soap has melted, add your fragrance and colour and give it a good stir. You can use essential oils or skin-friendly fragrances. To colour your soap, you can  use special soap dyes or powders, micas, or liquid food colouring. Note that colours added to a white soap base will become pastel coloured. To achieve bright vivid colours, you will need to use a clear soap base. And if you find your soap has hardened in the meantime, just pop it back into the microwave again for another 20 seconds.

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Carefully pour the soap into your soap mold. If there are any bubbles on the surface, you can disperse them by spritzing some isopropyl alcohol (available from pharmacies) on it. Leave the soap to harden fully before removing from the mold.

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Because melt and pour soap contains glycerin, a humectant, which attracts moisture, it is important to wrap your soaps in glad wrap as soon as they have cooled down and hardened. Especially here in New Zealand when it can be very humid, you’ll find beads of water on the surface of your soap if you leave them unwrapped.

Basic Melt and Pour Soap

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • enough melt and pour soap base to fill your soap mold
  • food colouring of your choice
  • essential oil or fragrance of your choice
  • spray bottle with isopropyl alcohol
  • heat proof glass jug (i.e. Pyrex)
  • silicon or plastic soap mold

Directions

  1. Cut up the soap base in small cubes and add them to the heat proof glass jug.
  2. In short 20-30 second bursts, melt the soap base in your microwave on your highest setting.
  3. Once the soap is completely melted, add your fragrance and colour and mix well. If you find the soap has hardened again, just pop it back in the microwave for another 20 seconds.
  4. Carefully pour the soap into your soap mold and let it harden before removing the soaps from the molds.
  5. Don’t forget to wrap the soaps in glad wrap once the soaps have cooled down completely!

Where to get your supplies from