Help with Failed Bath Bombs

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Yesterday I decided to finally try making bath bombs. I am using recipes from Swift Crafty Monkey's e-book BATH TIME FUN: BUBBLES & FIZZ. First I tried the recipe titled Bubbling Bath Bomb. The ingredients are baking soda, citric acid, SLSa, oil of choice (I used Fractionated Coconut Oil) and EO or FO. I have fragrance issues so decided to leave the fragrance out and thought maybe that could be offset by adding more FCO. The texture seemed a bit dry but as this was my first attempt I couldn't be sure. I used my new press https://www.etsy.com/listing/1039144903/ath01-athpro-bath-bomb-mold-press?ref=yr_purchases from ETSY which I believe @Misschief and @AliOop both have. Not sure if my technique is the issue or something else.

Since this is my first batch I was working with 100 grams of finished product. I put the baking soda and SLSa in a container and mixed well, then added the FCO and mixed. When that was all incorporated I added the citric acid. The mixture wasn't sticking together very well so I added a few more grams FCO. I put it all in the round mold and pressed it. The top part of the mold came off ok but when I tried to release the bottom half the ball broke in half. I added a bit more FCO and got the same result. Next I put some saran wrap in the bottom of the mold to assist with release. I also added some EO hoping maybe that was the issue. Nope, the ball still broke apart. I tried dusting the mold with baking soda, and had another fail.... since none of that worked and I gave myself a headache by using EO that all went in the toilet as a toilet bowl cleaner.

As I don't like defeat, I tried a second recipe, titled Basic Bath Bomb. It just has baking soda, citric acid, oil and FO or EO. As before, I left out the fragrance and used FCO. My results were the same. I did save one intact half which fell apart this morning when I touched it. I would like to post my percentages as I know that may be the issue but am sure Susan of SCM would be displeased with me sharing a recipe I purchased.

I am packing the mold tightly and using a press so I don't *think* that's the issue. The e-book said FCO was acceptable but maybe it is not the best choice? When I grabbed a handful of the mixture and squeezed it in my hands it did stick together like damp sand but as I mentioned earlier, maybe not damp enough?

If anyone has a tried and true recipe recommendation I would be very appreciative. I am open to purchasing another recipe to get one that works.
 
Yesterday I decided to finally try making bath bombs. I am using recipes from Swift Crafty Monkey's e-book BATH TIME FUN: BUBBLES & FIZZ. First I tried the recipe titled Bubbling Bath Bomb. The ingredients are baking soda, citric acid, SLSa, oil of choice (I used Fractionated Coconut Oil) and EO or FO. I have fragrance issues so decided to leave the fragrance out and thought maybe that could be offset by adding more FCO. The texture seemed a bit dry but as this was my first attempt I couldn't be sure. I used my new press https://www.etsy.com/listing/1039144903/ath01-athpro-bath-bomb-mold-press?ref=yr_purchases from ETSY which I believe @Misschief and @AliOop both have. Not sure if my technique is the issue or something else.

Since this is my first batch I was working with 100 grams of finished product. I put the baking soda and SLSa in a container and mixed well, then added the FCO and mixed. When that was all incorporated I added the citric acid. The mixture wasn't sticking together very well so I added a few more grams FCO. I put it all in the round mold and pressed it. The top part of the mold came off ok but when I tried to release the bottom half the ball broke in half. I added a bit more FCO and got the same result. Next I put some saran wrap in the bottom of the mold to assist with release. I also added some EO hoping maybe that was the issue. Nope, the ball still broke apart. I tried dusting the mold with baking soda, and had another fail.... since none of that worked and I gave myself a headache by using EO that all went in the toilet as a toilet bowl cleaner.

As I don't like defeat, I tried a second recipe, titled Basic Bath Bomb. It just has baking soda, citric acid, oil and FO or EO. As before, I left out the fragrance and used FCO. My results were the same. I did save one intact half which fell apart this morning when I touched it. I would like to post my percentages as I know that may be the issue but am sure Susan of SCM would be displeased with me sharing a recipe I purchased.

I am packing the mold tightly and using a press so I don't *think* that's the issue. The e-book said FCO was acceptable but maybe it is not the best choice? When I grabbed a handful of the mixture and squeezed it in my hands it did stick together like damp sand but as I mentioned earlier, maybe not damp enough?

If anyone has a tried and true recipe recommendation I would be very appreciative. I am open to purchasing another recipe to get one that works.
Check out Creative Bath Labs on You Tube. I made these and they turned out really well.



Alternatively, are you a member of the DIY Bath & Body FB page? If so, check out the group files; Sandra has a recipe that has worked well for me as well.
 
Check out Creative Bath Labs on You Tube. I made these and they turned out really well.



Alternatively, are you a member of the DIY Bath & Body FB page? If so, check out the group files; Sandra has a recipe that has worked well for me as well.

Thank you! Will give these a try. I am a member of the DIY B&B FB page.
 
I just re-read your post more carefully. Here are the two things I'm seeing:

1. You didn't mention tapping the outside of the mold before unmolding. That's crucial (for me, anyway) to get a clean release.

2. Due to the difference in viscosity, FCO is not really a good substitute for FO. I'd be inclined to use water, witch hazel, or rubbing alcohol instead of FO.

Keep us posted on how this goes.

PS - I also like and use Creative Bath Lab's basic recipe, with a few modifications. I do add the CA last, and I add 1g of SLSa for more foam.
 
Thank you @AliOop. I was not tapping my mold. Will give that a try. I have witch hazel and will also try that.

I just wrote out the creative lab recipe. There are several things I don’t have on hand and I’m not crazy about using a bunch of coco butter. 🤔

For tonight I will probably go back to the simpler recipe with your recommendations.
 
Here is her basic recipe:

250g baking soda
125g citric acid
30g corn starch
7.5 ml fragrance oil (you could use witch hazel instead).
5 ml polysorbate 80 (you may omit this not using FO, oil, or colorant; be sure to replace with another liquid)
2.5 ml any liquid surfactant, including regular dish soap or liquid soap. (I actually use 1 g of SLSa instead, so I have to use more liquid).

Which of those ingredients are you missing? There are substitutions for each.
 
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Here is her basic recipe:

250g baking soda
125g citric acid
30g corn starch
7.5 ml fragrance oil (you could use witch hazel instead).
5 ml polysorbate 80 (you may
2.5 ml any liquid surfactant, including regular dish soap or liquid soap. (I actually use 1 g of SLSa instead, so I have to use more liquid).

Which of those ingredients are you missing? There are substitutions for each.
Thank you, I really do appreciate your assistance.

I don’t think I have polysorbate 80 but I do have polysorbate 20. I wonder if that would work? I have everything else. The recipe on the you tube link also has coconut milk powder which sounds great and I will probably try at some point. She did say that adding colloidal oats is possible and that sounds lovely.
 
She has a variety of different recipes, all of them pretty solid IMO.

The one I noted above is her most basic recipe, and the one that finally helped me succeed with bath bombs. I'd try making just that plain recipe first. Once you are successful, you can certainly sub in some colloidal oats, or milk powder of any kind. I'd subtract the total weight of those additional dry additives as follows: 2/3 from the baking soda, and ⅓ from the CA. That will keep the 2:1 ratio of BS:CA - which is a good beginner starting place for a bath bomb recipe. Hopefully that makes sense?

Since you aren't using any mica, oil, or FO (things that need to be dispersed in the water), you really don't need a solubilizer like PS80 at all. That being said, PS20 should be a good sub for PS80 if your recipe has mica, EO or FO, but less so if your recipe includes butter or oil. PS80 is supposedly better than PS20 at dispersing butters and oils. Still, if it's what you have, I'd give it a try.

Also, some folks use dish soap instead of PS80. That has the additional advantage of adding some surfactants that will support the bubbling.
 
Yesterday I decided to finally try making bath bombs. I am using recipes from Swift Crafty Monkey's e-book BATH TIME FUN: BUBBLES & FIZZ. First I tried the recipe titled Bubbling Bath Bomb. The ingredients are baking soda, citric acid, SLSa, oil of choice (I used Fractionated Coconut Oil) and EO or FO. I have fragrance issues so decided to leave the fragrance out and thought maybe that could be offset by adding more FCO. The texture seemed a bit dry but as this was my first attempt I couldn't be sure. I used my new press https://www.etsy.com/listing/1039144903/ath01-athpro-bath-bomb-mold-press?ref=yr_purchases from ETSY which I believe @Misschief and @AliOop both have. Not sure if my technique is the issue or something else.

Since this is my first batch I was working with 100 grams of finished product. I put the baking soda and SLSa in a container and mixed well, then added the FCO and mixed. When that was all incorporated I added the citric acid. The mixture wasn't sticking together very well so I added a few more grams FCO. I put it all in the round mold and pressed it. The top part of the mold came off ok but when I tried to release the bottom half the ball broke in half. I added a bit more FCO and got the same result. Next I put some saran wrap in the bottom of the mold to assist with release. I also added some EO hoping maybe that was the issue. Nope, the ball still broke apart. I tried dusting the mold with baking soda, and had another fail.... since none of that worked and I gave myself a headache by using EO that all went in the toilet as a toilet bowl cleaner.

As I don't like defeat, I tried a second recipe, titled Basic Bath Bomb. It just has baking soda, citric acid, oil and FO or EO. As before, I left out the fragrance and used FCO. My results were the same. I did save one intact half which fell apart this morning when I touched it. I would like to post my percentages as I know that may be the issue but am sure Susan of SCM would be displeased with me sharing a recipe I purchased.

I am packing the mold tightly and using a press so I don't *think* that's the issue. The e-book said FCO was acceptable but maybe it is not the best choice? When I grabbed a handful of the mixture and squeezed it in my hands it did stick together like damp sand but as I mentioned earlier, maybe not damp enough?

If anyone has a tried and true recipe recommendation I would be very appreciative. I am open to purchasing another recipe to get one that works.
I don’t think the problem is the recipe. Try adding all of your ingredients except citric. It is easier and more foolproof if your binder is alcohol and not water but you want to make sure the mix holds a sharp when you squeeze it and drop it into the bowl. It should not be wet just holding together. THEN add your citric and mix well and mold. The order of the ingredients is key. I don’t think the recipe has much to do with it. It basically is a 2:1 ratio

I don’t think the problem is the recipe. Try adding all of your ingredients except citric. It is easier and more foolproof if your binder is alcohol and not water but you want to make sure the mix holds a sharp when you squeeze it and drop it into the bowl. It should not be wet just holding together. THEN add your citric and mix well and mold. The order of the ingredients is key. I don’t think the recipe has much to do with it. It basically is a 2:1 ratio
Shape
 
@dwsterling your response is a great example of how people need to find what recipe works for them, and in their current climate, seasonal weather, etc.

For instance, my experience is the same as yours regarding adding the CA last. That’s the only way I can successfully make bath bombs. But in other ways, my experience is the opposite of yours - any substantial amount alcohol doesn’t work in bath bombs for me at all. Water works best as my main binder, with alcohol used only sparingly to rewet if needed towards the end of a batch. Even then, I prefer a rewetting spray that is a mix of water, alcohol, and PS80, as this never activates my mix like straight alcohol tends to do.

Also, for me, the wet:dry ratio is equally important as the BS:CA ratio, if not more. The OP subbed in a thick, oily liquid like FCO instead of the thin, not-very-oily liquid of an FO or EO that was in the original recipe. This changed the wet:dry ratio in significant ways that I do believe contributed to the lack of success.

But everyone has to figure out what recipe and what ratios work where they are located. It’s great that we can all share the different things that do and do not work for us, so @Tammyfarms can figure out which tips work for her. 😊
 
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Success!!! I went back to my first recipe and using witch hazel instead of EO worked! I have a beautiful, and very hard bath bomb. I made two last night and used one in the bath. I’m going to experiment using more surfactant as I would like more bubbles and not necessarily as much oil.
Thanks again @AliOop ans @Misschief for your help! 💕

I don’t think the problem is the recipe. Try adding all of your ingredients except citric. It is easier and more foolproof if your binder is alcohol and not water but you want to make sure the mix holds a sharp when you squeeze it and drop it into the bowl. It should not be wet just holding together. THEN add your citric and mix well and mold. The order of the ingredients is key. I don’t think the recipe has much to do with it. It basically is a 2:1 ratio
Thanks, that’s what I was doing. The problem was that I’m not using a EO or FO. Instead of adding additional oil I needed to sub witch hazel. For friends I will use fragrance but I don’t use it for myself as most everything will give me a headache.
 
Success!!! I went back to my first recipe and using witch hazel instead of EO worked! I have a beautiful, and very hard bath bomb. I made two last night and used one in the bath. I’m going to experiment using more surfactant as I would like more bubbles and not necessarily as much oil.
Thanks again @AliOop ans @Misschief for your help! 💕
🎉🎉🎉That's so awesome!! Glad you found what works for you.

If you have SLSa or SCI, you only need a tiny amount - like 1g in a 500g batch - to add a LOT of bubbles. I am less experienced with wet surfactants in bath bombs; since they are more expensive than SLSa, I tend to hoard those for my shampoo bars. ;) But if wet surfactants are what you have and intend to use, remember to reduce your other wet ingredients so you still achieve that magical texture that works for you.

Fortunately, I do find that using the press allows me a wider range of wet:dry texture while still being successful. When I was using hand-pressed molds, the dampness of the mix had to be just perfect, or they would crack, fall apart, etc. That meant making multiple small batches. Using the press machine gives me so much more working time, which in turn means that I can make bigger batches, because the mix can be a little wetter when I start, and a little dryer when I finish.

It is a bit of a tradeoff between bubble action and fizzing/spinning action. To offset the dampening effect that surfactant tends to have on fizzing/spinning, I like to increase the ratio of CA to BS just a bit. Instead of 2:1 BS:CA, I use 2 parts BS to 1.25 or 1.3 parts of CA.

Have fun experimenting and be sure to keep us updated as you go. Pics are nice, too ;)
 
🎉🎉🎉That's so awesome!! Glad you found what works for you.

If you have SLSa or SCI, you only need a tiny amount - like 1g in a 500g batch - to add a LOT of bubbles. I am less experienced with wet surfactants in bath bombs; since they are more expensive than SLSa, I tend to hoard those for my shampoo bars. ;) But if wet surfactants are what you have and intend to use, remember to reduce your other wet ingredients so you still achieve that magical texture that works for you.

Fortunately, I do find that using the press allows me a wider range of wet:dry texture while still being successful. When I was using hand-pressed molds, the dampness of the mix had to be just perfect, or they would crack, fall apart, etc. That meant making multiple small batches. Using the press machine gives me so much more working time, which in turn means that I can make bigger batches, because the mix can be a little wetter when I start, and a little dryer when I finish.

It is a bit of a tradeoff between bubble action and fizzing/spinning action. To offset the dampening effect that surfactant tends to have on fizzing/spinning, I like to increase the ratio of CA to BS just a bit. Instead of 2:1 BS:CA, I use 2 parts BS to 1.25 or 1.3 parts of CA.

Have fun experimenting and be sure to keep us updated as you go. Pics are nice, too ;)
You are so awesome! This recipe is from the bubbling bath bombs and contains 13% SLSa. I also have SCI and will give that a try. Here is a picture of my first bomb and a puck made with my shampoo mold. Both are the same recipe. More to come! Already asking friends what EO they want. 😊
 
Oops, I think the pic did not attach. Would love to see if when you have time to repost. :)
I’d love to blame my phone for that. But it was me! I forgot.
 

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Fantastic! Love the color of purple that you achieved. Did you end up using the PS20? I've never tried that and am curious if it did a good job dispersing the oil and preventing the dreaded colored tub ring.
 
I didn’t. This was my first recipe which is just baking soda, citric acid, SLSa, Fractionated Coconut Oil, witch hazel and a small amount of mica. I think the mica I used was Queens Purple from Brambleberry. I used about 1/16 of a tsp in 100 grams. This is my first colored bath bomb and I’m hoping for no tub color. 🤞🏻 I think my next batch I will throw caution to the wind and try the PS20, SCI and more color. I know I should only change one thing at a time but I’m feeling reckless. 😉
 
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