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New Zealand lavender bath bombs

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 3-4 full bath bombs or 7-8 half bath bombs

Lavender is not something you usually associate with New Zealand, so it comes to a surprise to many to hear that there are several dozen commercial lavender growing farms here in New Zealand, some with tens of thousands of plants. Continue reading New Zealand lavender bath bombs

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Rose and shea butter bath bombs

Difficulty: Beginner
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 3-4 bath bombs

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A dear friend of mine had her 40th and I wanted to make her something special. Looking after kids all day, both as a mum and as her job, I felt she deserved a bit of a treat. What could be better than a long soak in nice, warm bath with a glass of bubbly, and listening to Coldplay? These luscious rose and shea butter bath bomb are just perfect for that.

According to Valerie Ann Worwood, in Aromatherapy for the Soul, the fragrance of rose vibrates with the energy of universal love, and encourages contentment, happiness, inner freedom and completeness.

To make these lush bath bombs, you will need baking soda, citric acid, shea butter, polysorbate 80, rose fragrance and rose petals, as well as your bath bomb molds (or alternatively you can use a muffin tray).

ONE: Combine your baking soda and citric acid in a bowl and mix with your hands. Make sure you break up any clumps.

TWO: In a small heat proof bowl or cup, heat some shea butter in your microwave until completely melted. Add two tablespoons of liquid shea butter to your baking soda/citric acid mixture.

THREE: Measure out your polysorbate 80 and fragrance and also add it to your mixture. Polysorbate 80 will make sure that the shea butter will be dispersed into your bath water, rather than float on top of the water.

FOUR: Spritz one or two squirts of water and start mixing everything with your hands to combine all the ingredients. I always wear gloves, even if I’m not mixing in any colour, because I find that my hands get really dry working with the raw mixture. Plus, if you’re wearing nail polish, the gloves will help protect your manicure! If you find the mixture isn’t holding well enough, spritz some more water, but be careful you don’t over-wet your bath bomb mixture. If it starts to fizz, you’ve definitely overdone it, and start adding baking soda and citric acid in a 2:1 ratio, until it stops fizzing.

FIVE: If you haven’t done so already, prepare your bath bomb molds. In one half mold, add a few rose petals to the centre of the mold and scoop the bath bomb mixture on top of them. Press the mixture into the mold to compact it. Next, fill the other half mold, but without adding any rose petals, and slightly overfill to help the two halves stick together.

Press the two halves together firmly without twisting them. Very gently remove one half (a light tap helps loosen the mold) and leave to dry for a few hours.

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After a few hours, carefully remove the bottom half mold, and place the bath bomb on a baking sheet. Leave to harden overnight in a warm, dry place. This is particularly important, if it’s a humid day, like we often have in New Zealand. I like putting mine in the hot water cupboard, which is the driest place in the house, and which ensures that my bath bombs always turn out. Enjoy!

Rose and Shea Butter Bath Bombs

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup citric acid
  • 2 tablespoons shea butter
  • 1 tablespoon polysorbate 80
  • 6 ml rose fragrance

Directions

  1. Combine the baking soda and citric acid in a bowl and using your hands mix and break up any clumps in the mixture.
  2. In a separate small heat proof bowl or cup, heat the shea butter in the microwave on high until fully melted and add to the mixture.
  3. Add the polysorbate 80 and fragrance.
  4. Mix everything with your hands and if necessary, spritz some water to reach the right consistency.
  5. Scoop into your bath bomb molds and let harden overnight before removing.

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Lakes and FD&C colours

FD&C is an American labelling standard, which stands for Food, Drugs and Cosmetic.  FD&C dyes have gone through rigorous testing, which makes them safe for use in foods and cosmetics, however, they are artificially made (not natural) and I will leave it up to you to decide if they are healthy or not. The main difference between the FD&C dyes and lakes, is that the FD&C dyes are soluble in water and that the lakes are produced from the FD&C dyes and an aluminium salt, which makes the lake oil-dispersible (but not oil-soluble), meaning it can be mixed with oil.

For the following tests, I used lakes from Pure Nature, which are available for $5 for 10 g. These are strong colourants and they will last you for quite a while. Although, I don’t recommend them for cold process soap, you can still use them in other products, such as lotions, bath bombs and melt and pour soaps.

Pure Nature has the following lakes available:

They are all non-toxic, and approved for food and cosmetic use.

Cold process soap

As mentioned earlier, lakes are best dispersed in oil, and will not dissolve in water. However, I tested the lakes mixed with both water and oil, and the results were the same. Just make sure you give the bottle with water a good shake before each use. The usage rate for lakes in cold process soap is 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon of colour, mixed with 1 tablespoon oil, per 500 g of soap. I used 1/4 teaspoon per 500 g soap in the tests.

You can see in the picture above, that the lakes don’t always perform in cold process soap. The blue lake turned into purple shade after gelling, before gelling it was a greyish shade and the red was orange. The reason for this is that the FD&C dyes don’t like the high pH environment during the soap making process. This is the same reason why food colouring doesn’t work in cold process soap making and some micas can give you funny results. The only lakes that seem to stay true to their colours are yellow and orange, and red only after gelling,  which doesn’t leave you with a lot of options for colour mixing.

Melt and pour soap

Melt and pour bases are finished soap bases to which you only add colour and fragrance. That means that you can’t add extra water or oil to the bases. You also can’t add the powder directly to the soap, because it will leave speckles in your soap.

Pre-mixing the lakes in glycerin, on the other hand, will give you bright, even colours throughout your soap. The colours will stay true, because there is no saponification like in cold process soap, and they are very easy to blend.

The only problem you might come across is when you didn’t mix the colour properly into the glycerin. In this case, you will get speckles at the bottom of the soap. Always mix well and shake bottle before use!

Bath bombs

Lakes are often used to colour bath bombs, because, as powders, they are easy to mix into the dry ingredients and result in brightly coloured bath bombs. To use the lakes, add a pinch of colour to your finished bath bomb mixture. Only add only a tiny amount at a time because they are quite strong in colour. Keep adding until you reach the colour you desire. To achieve the colours in the pictures below, I added 0.3g (two 0.15CC scoops) to 1 cup of bath bomb mixture. As I said, you only need a very tiny amount!



However, using the lakes in powder form will leave the bath bombs speckled, because the colours don’t blend with the other ingredients (remember: not water-soluble). An alternative option is to pre-mix the lakes with glycerin. Glycerin won’t make your bath bombs fizz and it will blend the bath bombs more evenly. Another advantage of pre-mixing the lake with the glycerin is that you can store it for up to a year without having to add a preservative to it.

The colours are a lot more evenly dispersed through the bath bomb, and they mix better than in powder form, as shown in the picture below.

So to summarise, lakes are great for melt and pour bases and bath bombs, as long as you pre-mix them with glycerin. For cold process soap, you have to be aware that they can morph colours and that there are better alternatives out there for cold process soap.

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Easter bath bomb chicks

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 6 bath bombs

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Easter doesn’t have to be all about chocolate, although I wouldn’t say no to chocolate, but it’s nice to get something different for a change. Especially if you have little ones, and they get more chocolate than they could (or should) ever eat! These Easter bath bomb chicks are easy and fun to make. They’re actually white bath bombs, which are then painted over with mica!

ONE: Using the standard 2:1 formula, add 2 cups of baking soda and 1 cup of citric acid to a bowl.

TWO: Melt 20 g of coconut oil in the microwave and add 20 ml of polysorbate 80. Add to the dry ingredients.

THREE: Next, add your chosen fragrance. I’m using pink grapefruit essential oil, which is a big favourite with kids. You can buy pink grapefruit essential oil from Pure Nature.

FOUR: Now mix all the ingredients together. Note that we’re not adding any colourant, instead we’ll be painting the chick later, so that we can leave the egg white. Another option would be to do it the other way round: make the bath bomb yellow and paint the egg white.


FIVE: If necessary, spritz the bath bomb mixture with witch hazel or water to get the right consistency. It should still be powdery, but if you squeeze it in you hand it should hold together. Once you have the right consistency, scoop the bath bomb mixture into your mold and press firmly to compact.

SIX: Let them dry in their molds for a few hours, then gently tap to remove them from their molds. Place them on a baking sheet and leave to harden completely overnight in a dry, warm place.

SEVEN: The following day, prepare the mica for painting. I’m using magic yellow mica, orange saffron mica, and dark purple mica. These are all available from Pure Nature.

Add 1/4 teaspoon of mica to 1 teaspoon of isopropyl alcohol and mix it to create a slurry.

EIGHT: Using a small paintbrush, paint the chick yellow, the beak orange and the eye purple.

NINE: Leave to dry for a few hours before packaging.

Easter Bath Bombs Chicks

  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup citric acid
  • 20 g coconut oil
  • 20 ml polysorbate 80
  • 10 ml pink grapefruit essential oil
  • Magic yellow mica
  • Orange saffron mica
  • Dark purple mica
  • Isopropyl alcohol

Directions

  1. Combine the baking soda and citric acid in a bowl.
  2. Melt 20 g of coconut oil in the microwave and mix with 20 ml polysorbate 80. Add to the dry ingredients.
  3. Add 10 ml pink grapefruit essential oil.
  4. Using your hands, mix everything together.
  5. If necessary, spritz with witch hazel or water to get the right consistency. Scoop the bath bomb mixture into the molds and firmly press to compact.
  6. Let them dry for a few hours, then tap to remove them from the mold. Leave to harden completely overnight.
  7. Prepare the mica, by adding 1/4 teaspoon of mica to 1 teaspoon of isopropyl alcohol and mix to create a slurry.
  8. Using a small paintbrush, paint the body of the chick yellow, the beak orange and its eye purple.
  9. Leave to dry for a few hours.

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Feijoa-scented bath bombs

Difficulty: Beginner
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 6 bath bombs

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The fragrance of the feijoa is a very distinct fresh, tropical, fruity scent. Perfect for bath bombs! Besides the delicious fragrance, these bath bombs also contain nourishing mango butter to keep your skin hydrated and moisturised.

ONE: Using the standard 2:1 formula, add two cups of baking soda and one cup of citric acid to a bowl.

TWO: Measure out one tablespoon mango butter in a heat proof glass bowl or cup and melt it on high in the microwave for 2-3 minutes or until melted. Mango butter has a high melting point, so it might take a while. Usually, I will heat it in the microwave for 2 minutes on high and then let it sit for 2 minutes. If it still hasn’t melted, I’ll heat for another minute and then let it sit again.

THREE: Next, add one tablespoon of polysorbate 80 to the now-melted mango butter and stir well to combine the two. Polysorbate 80 will ensure that the mango butter will be fully dispersed into the bath water, instead of floating as little blobs on the surface of the water.

Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients, and, wearing disposable gloves to protect your hands and nails, mix everything and break up any clumps.

FOUR: Add the feijoa fragrance. Make sure the fragrance you are using is cosmetic grade, i.e. skin-safe! Candle fragrances are not always safe for use on skin, so check back with your supplier if you are not sure.

FIVE: Add a couple of drops of green colourant. You can use either a special bath bomb colourant or food colouring. Both will work. Rub the little blobs of colourant into the dry ingredients to disperse the colour throughout the bath bomb mixture.

Keep mixing with your hands. If necessary, spritz some water or witch hazel until you reach the right consistency. It should still be powdery, but if you squeeze some mixture in your hand, it should hold its shape.

SIX: Scoop the bath bomb mixture into your mold and press firmly to compact.

SEVEN: Let them dry in their molds for a few hours, then gently tap to remove them from their molds. Place them on a baking sheet and leave to harden completely overnight in a dry, warm place. I like using my hot water cupboard for this, because it’s the driest place in the house.

Feijoa-scented Bath Bombs

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup citric acid
  • 1 tablespoon mango butter
  • 1 tablespoon polysorbate 80
  • 6 ml skin-safe feijoa fragrance
  • green bath bomb colourant (or food colouring)

Directions

  1. Combine the baking soda and citric acid in a bowl.
  2. Measure out one tablespoon of mango butter in a heat proof glass bowl or cup and melt it on high in the microwave for 2 minutes or until melted.
  3. Add one tablespoon of polysorbate 80 to the now-liquid mango butter and stir to combine. Pour the liquid to the dry bath bomb mixture and, wearing disposable gloves,  mix everything together and break up any clumps.
  4. Add the skin-safe feijoa fragrance and mix.
  5. Using either bath bomb colourant or food colouring, add a few drops and keep mixing. If necessary, spritz some witch hazel or water to reach the right consistency.
  6. Scoop the bath bomb mixture into the mold and firmly press to compact.
  7. Let them dry for a few hours, then tap gently to remove them from the mold. Leave to harden completely overnight.