For my son’s seventh birthday party I wanted to make party favors that didn’t cost very much, were mostly hand made, and that weren’t stupid cheap plastic games that would break immediately. I made pirate booty bags out of some pirate fabric I already had, put some chocolate coins in each one, some fake dollar bills, a few plastic play rings, and one surprise bath bomb which the kids could use in their next bath and after watching the ball fizz for a couple of minutes in the bath a prize would drop out of the center of it.
Because the trinkets you use will be immediately immersed in water you need to choose water proof ones. Plastic bugs or rings (shown in this tutorial) are all good choices. They also need to be small. For all the kids I put a pirate button in the bath bomb, but for the birthday boy I hid a tiny corked bottle with a message inside it for him. He loved it!
This project is not difficult, but it has one tricky aspect to it which is that baking soda and citric acid combined will foam and fizz when in contact with too much moisture, which is what you want it to do in your bath. To get it to form balls you have to get it just wet enough, without setting off the chemical reaction that makes it expand. There is no exact science to knowing when the mixture is ready to form balls. Humidity levels in homes differ. It might take me fifteen sprays of witch hazel to get mine right, but that might not be true in your house. I highly recommend having a second person do the witch hazel spraying while you whisk it in simultaneously so that the moisture has no chance to set off a reaction. [might be a good way for the kids to help out -ed]
That is the only tricky part of this project. It would be a good idea to have twice the amount of baking soda, citric acid, and essential oils on hand than you need for this project in case the first batch gets too wet. The nice thing about making bath bombs is that the materials are pretty inexpensive so mistakes aren’t going to ruin you.
For decorating the bombs you can use a circle of tissue that is 7.5” in diameter and seal it in place at the top with a circle sticker that is 1.5” in diameter, decorated with stamps or printed on with your own design.
Materials: 1 lb baking soda, ½ lb citric acid, 1 tsp essential oil in a bottle with spray top, Spray bottle filled with witch hazel, Seven very small trinkets
Tools: Large bowl, Whisk, Ice cream scoop with release, Tray covered in a sheet of wax paper
1. Put your baking soda and citric acid in a large bowl and whisk it really well. If there are any lumps in it, crush them so that the blend will be as smooth as possible.
2. Spray the scent into the bowl. Do one or two sprays, then immediately whisk it in. Repeat this until you’ve used your whole teaspoon of essential oils.
3. Spray the witch hazel into the bowl using a very fine mist. Do two sprays then whisk in immediately. After you’ve done about eight sprays total you need to check to see if the mixture is moist enough to form into balls. Once the mixture is too wet it will not work.
4. To see if it’s ready, pack the powder into your ice cream scoop then pop out the half bomb, and do another half. It’s usually ideal if it’s still a little powdery but responds to being pushed into place with your hands. If the mixture is ready you will be able to press the two halves together without it falling apart first. If it is still too powdery and will not form a ball, then do a few more sprays (whisking immediately after each one or two sprays) and check again.
5. When the mixture is ready, form two half balls with your ice cream scoop. The harder you pack it in the better. Cup one half of a bomb in the palm of one hand and press a trinket part way into the center, then place the other half of the bomb on top and press the two together as if you are making a snow ball. The harder you pack the ball into itself in your hands the more sturdy it will be when it dries.
6. Put the finished ones on your tray and work quickly to get the rest of the bombs formed. The mixture will dry out and get hard if you leave it for too long.
7. Let the bombs dry for at least twenty four hours before wrapping them in tissue. When they are dry they should be really hard and sturdy.
About the author: Angelina Williamson is a writer, urban homesteader, wife, and mother. She now has her own apothecary shelf filled with jars of herbs, scents, and scales that makes her very happy. If she and her family come to a bad end, hopefully Bob Dylan will write a song about them. She blogs at dustpan alley.