Bath Salts on a Budget Boutique
When you think of luxury in the bath, you might think of deep, soaking tubs; thick, plush towels; lit candles, bubble bath and bath salts. Unlike previous sections in the website, this section doesn't actually deal with soap making but is, instead, an extension and natural progression of my soap making experiences.
To make bath salts, you need basically two things: salt and fragrance oil. Of course there are a number of "salts" from which to choose: Epsom salts, sea salt, mineral salt, rock salt, table salt and the base bath salt you can buy from the craft store. Any of these, individually or a combination thereof, will work.
To help hold the fragrance oil, you will likely want a fixative like baking soda. There are a number of different "recipes" out there for how much salt to how much baking soda, but it's really up to you. There is no "right" or "wrong" with the ratio.
You can, sparingly, add liquid colorant to bath salts to coordinate the bath salt (for example) with a homemade soap. The process is simple:
Mix the dry stuff together first (baking soda and your choice of salts)
Mix the liquids together separately (fragrance oil and colorant)
Toss the dry with the liquid until evenly coated
Allow to air dry
Package, label and record your recipe
You can use more than one fragrance oil and more than one colorant, but err on the side of caution. Start out with only a few drops of your fragrance oil/colorant mixture. To blend it, I like to use a lidded plastic container, preferably one with a screw-on lid. I mix every thing in the lidded container, screw on the lid and shake . . . and shake . . . and shake. I let it sit for a day or two and pick it back up and shake it some more. Around day four, I pour the contents out onto a paper towel and allow to air dry for two days. Then, I put the mixture in a decorative container.
This is a lovely little plastic bottle filled with bath salts. I spray painted the white plastic lid ivory and then sprinkled Sand UltraFine Soap Glitter on it while the paint was still quite tacky. The spray paint I used was, of course, formulated for use on plastics.
I decorated the bottle with glittered, stick-on foam forms in the shapes and colors of Autumn leaves. Then, just beneath the ridge where the cap screws on, I tied several ribbons in coordinating autumnal colors. This, naturally, would make a lovely accompaniment to the Autumn Leaves soaps featured in the Autumn Soaps Collection in the online store.
A green plastic version of the previous little bottle, I was inclined to lean toward a Christmas and/or Winter theme. The bottle is covered with peel-and-stick foam forms of glittered snowflakes. Even the lid has two, stacked foam forms covering the original labeling. This, naturally, should also drive home the point that the foam forms now available are detailed and diverse.
Keeping with that snowy concept, I used Epsom salts and baking soda with Winter Ice fragrance oil. This is no drowsy, winter's nap fragrance. A hint of peppermint makes the scent crisp and invigorating.
Did you notice the white plastic ring just beneath the twist-on white plastic lid? Did that give it away or have you already had a peek at the picture below? As hard to believe as it MAY be, this lovely bath salts receptacle began as a seasonally decorated and designed soda bottle. I am guessing that the overall effect was that of a Christmas ornament and the designers were successful in that endeavor. As soon as I saw them in the discount department store, I knew I had to have at least a few. My budget allowed for exactly four. Are you wondering about the clear bottle shown above? Take a look below.
If you were thinking that the bath salts (seen a little closer above) seem a little sparkly, they are. I also "dosed" the salts with a little Sand UltraFine Soap Glitter and a little Rich Gold UltraFine Soap Glitter. Of course you can put glitter in bath salts. It's an unexpected touch that is sure to set your bath salts apart from any others.
As delighted as I was with both the look and smell of these bath salts, it was actually the bottle that is a secret little surprise. They are a wonderful size and I am a big proponent of plastic (over glass) in the bathroom as the floors are almost always a hard tile of some kind. I also appreciate the values and virtues of recycling. Let's take a look below . . . all will be explained.
Many thanks to this famous beverage brand for their contribution to crafting . . . regardless of whether or not it was intentional.
Admittedly, the decorations on this one go a bit over the top . . . as was intended. The jewel hearts and flowers and circles are all stick-ons, as are the flower foam forms. The lettering on the lid was done with a gold paint pen on yellow foam. Do you recognize the jar? Of course it's another that's been re-purposed. Using the lid as a template, two circles are cut from a craft foam sheet.
Yellow was a simple, obvious choice. Clearly the foam circle on top of the lid is to hide the origins of the jar. However, by also putting a foam circle inside the lid, you make the jar even more air tight, protecting the salts from moisture.
Previously a mayonnaise jar; now beautifully layered with four different colors and fragrances of bath salts (from bottom to top): Vanilla, Tulip, Fern and Lavender. You can layer bath salts with only a color differentiation by making three different colors of (for example) Vanilla bath salts. I find layering both color and fragrance to be a bit more fun. Of course, as the bath salts are not sequestered from one another, over an extended period of time, the fragrances will become one blended scent.
While making bath salts, one of the things I looked at was achieving color without adding colorants. As soon as I saw this seasonal candy jar at the dollar- only store, I knew the direction I wanted to take: jojoba beads. There is a marked drawback to using jojoba beads in bath salts -- they don't easily dissolve, so cooler bath water will result in a lot of incredibly small beads floating around and, likely, sticking to the tub when the water is drained.
That knowledge ALMOST deterred me from putting these bath salts together. But if you look at the picture below and left (and the close-up inset), you see the difference the jojoba beads make to the look of uncolored salts.
The other reason I proceeded with the mixture is that I know many, many women buy bath salts as a decor item for their vanities and never use them . . . I am also guilty of this.
And, of course this makes an ideal addition to the Winter Snow collection (as can be seen when compared to the soaps shown on the left). These lovely soaps are featured in the WINTER SOAP COLLECTION downloadable tutorial available in the online store.
Purchased at the same dollar-only store, this "candy" candy jar was only slightly modified, with only a couple of candy stickers being added to the original design (which, by the way, you can see it really didn't need).
The bath salts mixture began with red-colored, peppermint-scented salt to which I added a shake of Red jojoba beads and a double dose of plain, white or clear salt that was scented with peppermint and vanilla. Finally, I added a little Apple Red UltraFine Soap Glitter.
As with the previous bath salts, there is an obvious correlation to the Christmas soaps that could come in handy with soap scaping and displays and, of course, gift giving.
There are, naturally, a number of other options for packaging your bath salts. The picture above and on the right illustrates two options: on the left, a bath salts tin I found in a craft supplies store, in the soapmaking aisle; and on the right, a "favor tin" by (who else) WILTON. The "favor" tin came in a pack of 30 and was found in the same craft store in the wedding supplies aisle. Both are metal; both have a peek-a-boo plastic insert on the top; neither allows for the bath salts to be viewed from all around; and neither has a screw on lid. It is probably the mother in me, but I so see this being accidentally knocked off the vanity and spilled. Although neither of the candy jars (shown above) had screw-on lids, they did have that rubber or plastic gasket around the rim of the jar lid that makes spillage much less likely.
There are an infinite number of possibilities for bath salts containers: pickle jars, jelly jars, Mason jars, baby food jars, and even some really decorative whiskey or liqueur bottles. Of course, you want a container with a mouth large enough for the salts to be easily dispensed or accessed.
For every container option, there is at least one decorating option. There are so many beautiful rub-ons and stickers and stick-on foam forms; ribbons and jewels and appliques. Decorating the container is limited only by your imagination. There are even instructional books out there for how to decorate jars and containers.
A fair amount of information has been given regarding the bath salts and some of the creative things you can put in the bath salts. I have seen bath salts sprinkled with botanicals, like lavender buds. It is a personal choice of mine to not have plants floating around in the tub, regardless of how romantic the notion. But what if you want bath salts without a container? How can you enjoy the benefits of a relaxing, fragrant soak without reaching for the container on the vanity?
I was, I think, in my 20's (maybe 30's) the first time I actually used bath salts. Coming to them later than some, my technique left a bit to be desired. I sprinkled them all over the filled bath tub and then climbed in. Even now, I remember thinking it had to be similar to sitting naked in a graveled driveway.
So, for those few that may possess my complete lack of sophistication or finesse in this area, I offer another of my little innovations: the (slightly foaming) bath salt cube.
Each of these cubes contains about 2 Tablespoons of bath salts, which is frequently the amount of bath salts recommended for one bath. To the bath salts, 1 drop of clear, liquid colorant and 5 drops of fragrance oil was added. The bath salts were shaken in a closed container until the color was evenly distributed. This is essentially the process for all three. Then things change up a bit:
The process for making this cube is essentially the same as with the solid-colored cube, it's just done twice. Begin with 2 Tablespoons of bath salts; one drop of peach, clear liquid colorant; and 4 drops of fragrance oil (I used Baby's Breath). Combine in a lidded container and shake until the colorant is even distributed.
Cover with clear, peach-colored, glycerin on the ceramic tile work surface and pack into a smaller square fondant cutter.
Allow to set about 5 minutes, unmold carefully and sit on the work surface. Place a larger, square fondant cutter (the original cutter used) over the smaller cube, centering as much as possible.
Make the green salts mixture (2 Tablespoons of bath salts; one drop clear, green liquid colorant, 4 drops of fragrance oil (I went for Fern this time) and shake in a lidded container until the color is evenly distributed. Top with 1/2 to 3/4 ounce clear, green-colored, scented glycerin. Mix the salts and glycerin and form (as much as possible) into elongated shapes to fit AROUND the peach-colored cube. The object is to establish a base of the green salts and soap mixture without disturbing the peach-colored salt and soap mixture cube. This will require a bit more time and patience. I ended up using my pinky finger to press down the green border salts. Allow to set and carefully unmold.
When tackling any of these salted cubes, remember your dry mixing techniques, because that's kind of what you're doing . . . you're just using a much larger mixing agent . . . salt.
Also keep in mind that you are dealing with numerous colorific opportunities: the glycerin can be clear or opaque and colored or not. The salt, similarly, can be colored or not. This offers an infinite number of possibilities.
The photograph to the left has been altered in the computer in one way: saturation of color has been intensified one hundred percent. This was done to better illustrate that the two bath salts have been blended to make this bath salt cube. The colors of bath salts was so subtle that the contrast was basically negligible. For more of a contrast, the colors will have to be darkened quite a bit, likely by two or three drops of colorant.
Once the salts were blended, the melted, scented, clear glycerin was poured over the salt. As there were two different colors of salts used, the glycerin was left uncolored (as shown in the picture on the left, in which the saturation has been computer increased by fifty percent).
The cube is then packed, as previously instructed; the salt and soap are allowed to set for about 15 minutes and is then carefully unmolded.
There are a number of ways the salt "cubes" can be modified: they can be packed in more decoratively shaped cookie cutters; an infinite number of different colored salts can be used; and the salts can be packed in stripes or layers.
You DO NOT want to use Epsom salts in this application as they tend to react poorly with melt and pour glycerin (there is a detailed "salt experiment" given in the WINTER SOAPS COLLECTION).
Using clear, liquid colorants allows for the crystalline refraction of the salt to shine through but you CAN use non-bleeding colorants with the salt application. The picture on the left is from the "DESSERTS" SOAPS COLLECTION, the PEPPERMINT BARK soap. The saturation on this picture has NOT been enhanced. You can see how intense the color when using the non-bleeding colorants. This will make the bath salt cubes equally intense in color. However, to avoid the color seeping into the clear glycerin pour, you will need to stir-cool the soap before pouring it over the colored bath salts. Of course, such intense color could also result in slightly tinted bath water.
There are nearly as many variations to the bath salts and bath salt cubes as there are to soapmaking. You can add jojoba beads or herbs and botanicals; you can manipulate effects with the use of color and can, with the bath salt cubes, even achieve some level of shape. These individual variations can also be put together in countless combinations.
The addition of glycerin to the bath salts will, as you may surmise, give the bath salts a nice, lightly foaming effect when placed under running water. The bubbles are not as dramatic or as long-lasting as bubble bath, but do enhance the bath salt experience to a modest degree.
The examples of bath cubes I have shared all utilize clear glycerin. You are most certainly not limited to clear, any of the melt and pour glycerins can be used.
If you choose to include additives in your bath salt cube recipes, I would recommend that the additives be put into the melted glycerin and then poured over the bath salts. Stirring them into the glycerin assures that the additives will be coated in the glycerin and will adhere better to the bath salt.
The bath cubes I included all contained colored bath salts. You can leave the bath salts uncolored and use the glycerin to deliver color to the cube. For that matter, you can toss the bath salts with glycerin and allow to air dry without molding them into a cube. This would simply yield a modestly foaming bath salt. Again, the combinations and variations are almost endless.
Should you choose to put together gift baskets or need additional items for a holiday display, bath salts and bath salt cubes are an excellent option. The use of color, additives and fragrance can adapt them to virtually any occasion or holiday.
© 2013 NORMA W. THOMAS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
After the bath salts were tinted with one drop of blue, clear, liquid colorant, about 1/2 to 3/4 ounce of clear glycerin was melted and tinted with one drop of blue, clear liquid colorant. With the blue bath salts on the ceramic tile work surface, the still-hot, clear, blue glycerin was poured over the bath salts. Almost immediately, the bath salts with glycerin was picked up with my fingers (it had cooled really quickly) and smushed into a square fondant cutter. The fondant cutter was packed tightly by pressing down with my fingers and as much of the bath salts and glycerin as possible was packed into the cutter.
The bath salt cube was allowed to set for about 15 minutes and was then gently unmolded from the cookie cutter. Any salt crystals not adhered by the glycerin will likely come loose when the cube is unmolded. Of course, you don't have to limit yourself to solid colored cubes. Some version of many soapmaking techniques can be carried over to making bath salt cubes. Naturally, there will have to be modifications to the process, but the results are still really satisfying.
Never content to leave well enough alone, I further embellished the candy jar with stick-on, foam snowflakes in coordinated colors. As you can see from the picture below I also added matching ribbon and a label made on my computer that echoes the snowflake pattern and provides necessary information regarding the ingredients. As this will be a bathroom item, the label was laminated for moisture resistance.