DIY activated charcoal bath bomb sitting on a dark bathroom counter next to a white tub and a white towel.

Activated Charcoal Bath Bomb: Benefits + Easy DIY Recipe

Activated charcoal is a fine, odorless, black powder often used in emergency rooms to treat overdoses due to its toxin-absorbing properties. This same quality has made activated charcoal a popular ingredient in skincare, particularly for detoxifying and deep-cleaning purposes.

When incorporated into a bath bomb, activated charcoal can transform your regular bathing routine into a purifying experience that not only cleanses your skin but can also help to clear pores and remove impurities.

Making your own activated charcoal bath bombs is a straightforward process that can match the spa-level experience at home.

  • As you soak, the activated charcoal works to draw out toxins and impurities.
  • Additional ingredients like coconut oil and essential oils leave your skin feeling nourished and refreshed.
  • Besides their practical benefits, these bath bombs offer an aesthetically appealing touch to your bath with their unique dark hue, making them as visually striking as they are functional.

When considering skincare routines, activated charcoal stands out as a notable ingredient. Its porous nature gives it the ability to absorb toxins and chemicals, which is why it’s leveraged in various detox products.

Bath Bombs: Simplicity and Function

When you immerse a bath bomb in the water, it creates an effervescent experience that can transform your ordinary bath into an amazing sensory journey, especially if you leverage the aromatherapy benefits of essential oils (we highly recommend that).

Brief History of Bath Bombs

Bath bombs were invented in 1989 by Lush Cosmetics co-founder Mo Constantine, in her garden shed. The motivation was to create a product that merged the luxury of a bubble bath with the benefits of bath oils.

Over time, bath bombs have evolved from their rudimentary beginnings into complex, multi-ingredient items adored globally for their aromatherapeutic properties. The varieties are endless; even better, they’re incredibly easy to make at home.

The Science Behind Bath Fizzies

The quintessential fizz of bath bombs, also known as bath fizzies, is the result of a chemical reaction between bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and citric acid.

When dry, these ingredients lie dormant, but once in contact with water, they react to create carbon dioxide bubbles. The fizz and foam that you witness is this gas escaping into the air, often releasing scents, colors, and skin conditioning agents into your bath.

Ingredients for Activated Charcoal Bath Bombs

Creating an activated charcoal bath bomb requires some precision, but the process is fairly simple. You need the right combination of ingredients to ensure the bomb fizzes, disperses soothing elements, and doesn’t leave a residue.

Below, we’ll dive into some of the ingredients you’ll need to make activated charcoal bath bombs.

Essential Oils and Their Benefits

Essential oils are pivotal in bath bombs not only for their aroma but also for their therapeutic properties.

  • Lavender oil calms and relaxes, while eucalyptus oil can help clear breathing and boost energy.
  • When adding essential oils to your bath bomb, ensure they’re skin-safe and start with a few drops to assess strength.
  • Floral oils are fantastic, especially when mixed with spicier scents like frankincense, myrrh, or spikenard. We like mixing myrrh and frankincense, especially around the holidays.

Beyond the aromatherapy benefits, there are a number of skin benefits unique to specific essential oils. For example, tea tree and palmarosa essential oils are both effective for acne sufferers.

We also must mention how patchouli EO was shown to reduce the signs of aging and was the least irritating oil out of the others tested in one study.

The options, blends, and skin benefits of essential oils are many. Definitely don’t leave these out as an ingredient when you’re making your own DIY skincare products.

Role of Epsom Salt and Sea Salt

Epsom salt is known for relief from muscle soreness, while sea salt can help cleanse and detoxify your skin.

Both salts, when included in your bath bomb, infuse the water with minerals beneficial for skin health. A typical ratio is 1:1 with the baking soda and citric acid base.

Polysorbate 80: Choosing the Right Emulsifiers

Emulsifiers like polysorbate 80 ensure oils (including essential oils) distribute evenly in your bathwater, preventing an oily film.

While polysorbate 80 isn’t specifically required to make activated charcoal bath bombs, it can help evenly distribute the activated charcoal and other ingredients.

  • We recommend using 1-3% of polysorbate 80 compared to the weight of the dry ingredients used in the recipe.
  • An easier way to calculate how much you should use is to consider the amount in relation to the amount of carrier oil you use. If you calculate it that way, we recommend a 1:2 ratio of polysorbate 80 to carrier oils. Thus, if using 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, use 1 tablespoon of polysorbate 80.
  • When calculating this ingredient, keep in mind that it’s a wetting ingredient, meaning you can use less water, alcohol, or witch hazel than the recipe calls for in order to wet the mixture.

In the recipe below, we chose to leave out polysorbate 80 as a required ingredient for simplicity’s sake since most people won’t have that ingredient immediately available. Since the essential oils will not be incorporated into the water as well without polysorbate 80, we recommend not exceeding the EO amount we list in the recipe.

Using polysorbate 80 will lead to longer fizzing, more consistent dispersal of the bath bomb ingredients in your bath water, and less likelihood of staining in your tub.

Note: While Cornstarch or witch hazel can act as binders and enhance the fizzing duration, they aren’t useful for emulsifying. Polysorbate 80 or a wax emulsifier is best for that.

Guide to Creating Your Bath Bomb

Crafting your own bath bomb is a straightforward process but requires attention to detail. With the right recipe, molds, colorants, and drying techniques, you can create luxurious bath bombs at home.

Recipe: DIY Eclipse Essence Charcoal Bath Bombs

Dry Ingredients (excluding citric acid):

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Epsom salts
  • 2 tbsp activated charcoal powder
  • 1/2 cup citric acid (mixed last, see instructions)

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp witch hazel
  • 2 tbsp almond oil (or any carrier oil of your choice)
  • 10-15 drops of lavender essential oil (or a preferred essential oil or blend)
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon of polysorbate 80 (for emulsification)


We recommend using gloves to make bath bombs since some ingredients, like citric acid, are very concentrated and will cause irritation.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the baking soda, cornstarch, Epsom salts, and activated charcoal powder until well blended and free of clumps.
  2. In a separate small bowl or container, combine the witch hazel, almond oil, and essential oil(s). Stir these wet ingredients until they are well mixed. You can also mix the polysorbate 80 in this step if you’re using it.
  3. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture, a little bit at a time, while continuously stirring the mixture. The goal is to wet the dry ingredients gently.
  4. Once all the wet ingredients are incorporated and the mixture resembles wet sand and clumps together when squeezed, it’s time to add the citric acid. Sprinkle the citric acid into the bowl and mix it in as quickly and gently as possible. If more liquid is needed, you can add additional witch hazel or a spritz of rubbing alcohol. The ingredients should clump together quite nicely.
  5. Immediately after mixing, quickly press the mixture into your chosen bath bomb molds. Pack it in firmly to ensure the bath bomb will hold its shape.
  6. Leave the bath bombs in the molds to dry for at least 4-6 hours, or ideally overnight, in a cool, dry area to set completely.
  7. Once dry, carefully remove the bath bombs from the molds. Store them in an airtight container until you’re ready to use them for a luxurious, detoxifying bath experience.

Note: The reason for adding citric acid last and mixing it in gently is to minimize any reaction between the citric acid and baking soda. This helps ensure that the bath bomb will fizz more vigorously when it’s eventually used in the bath rather than fizzing prematurely during the mixing process.

If you need more liquid, spray a bit of rubbing alcohol into the mixture, but only enough to wet the bath bombs so that they’ll hold together in their molds.

Enjoy these Eclipse Essence Charcoal Bath Bombs for a soothing and purifying soak that will leave your skin feeling soft and rejuvenated.

Selecting Molds and Colorants

Choosing bath bomb molds can be really fun. Just be sure to choose molds that will hold up well and won’t be too complicated to use, especially if you’re a beginner.

  • Plastic molds can be easier for beginners, while metal molds might create a smoother finish.
  • If you desire colorful bombs, opt for skin-safe colorants like gel food coloring; a little goes a long way without staining your tub.
  • To make things extra fun, purchase a set of assorted bath bomb molds with varying shapes and sizes.
  • We like the durability and sturdiness of metal molds.

The Drying Process and Storing Tips

After you’ve packed your mixture into molds, allow it to dry. Drying can take up to 24 hours, depending on humidity. Once dry, gently remove your bath bombs and store them in a cool, dry place. For best results, use airtight containers or wrap them in cling film to preserve the fizz and aroma.

  • Drying Time: 24 hours
  • Storage: Airtight container or cling film

By following these steps and being mindful of the small details, you can craft the perfect activated charcoal bath bomb right at home.

Skin Care and Bath Bombs

Activated charcoal bath bombs are not just a trend; they offer real benefits for your skin. They can help manage your skin’s pH levels, cater to sensitive skin with natural ingredients, and balance both oily and dry skin types depending on your chosen formulation or recipe.

Managing PH Levels for Skin Safety

Your skin’s pH is vital for its barrier function and overall health.

Bath bombs with activated charcoal often contain citric acid to balance the pH of your bath water, helping your skin stay at its natural slightly acidic pH, which is typically around 5.5.

This is crucial to prevent skin dryness or irritation that can occur when some soaps and bath products disrupt the pH.

Natural Ingredients for Sensitive Skin

If you have sensitive skin, selecting bath bombs with natural ingredients is key.

  • Look for products that contain essential oils and avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Carrier oil ingredients like coconut oil provide moisture. Other nourishing oils include jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, or avocado oil.
  • Essential oils such as lavender or chamomile offer a soothing, anti-inflammatory effect that can help calm irritated skin.

Benefits for Oily and Dry Skin Types

For those with oily skin, activated charcoal in bath bombs can absorb excess oil and remove impurities.

Contrarily, if you have dry skin, ingredients like melted coconut oil in these black bath bombs can enhance skin hydration.

The right balance of ingredients means that whether your skin is oily or dry, a well-formulated bath bomb can promote healthier skin.

The Art of the Perfect Bath Experience

Creating the perfect bath experience is about finding the right balance of texture and moisture for your bath bomb, as well as infusing the environment with fragrances that evoke a sense of calm and relaxation.

Achieving the Ideal Texture and Moisture

The texture of your bath bomb is crucial to the experience—it should fizz and dissolve at the right speed, neither too fast nor too slow.

A silky-smooth texture that envelopes your skin is what you’re aiming for. To achieve this, the ratio of baking soda to citric acid is typically 2:1.

For a moisture-rich bath bomb that leaves your skin feeling hydrated, consider adding oils like coconut oil or shea butter. These ingredients not only add moisture but also contribute to the bath bomb’s compactness.

  • Ideal Texture:
    • Mix 2 parts baking soda with 1 part citric acid.
    • Ensure no lumps for a fine powder consistency.
  • Recommended Emollient Ingredients:
    • Add melted coconut oil, shea butter, or one of the other many carrier oils from the section below.
    • Mix until the consistency is similar to damp sand.

15 Carrier Oils to Use in Bath Bombs

The handy chart below breaks down the kinds of oils and emollients you can use in bath bombs. We recommend trying out various carrier oils and settling on a few you’ve determined your skin likes best.

Normal Skin

Carrier OilProperties
Sweet Almond OilLightweight, moisturizing, easily absorbed
Jojoba OilBalancing, mimics skin’s natural oils
Sunflower OilLightweight, rich in vitamin E, non-comedogenic
Hemp Seed OilAnti-inflammatory, rich in omega acids
Argan OilNourishing, rich in antioxidants, easily absorbed

Sensitive Skin

Carrier OilProperties
Avocado OilDeeply hydrating, rich in vitamins
Apricot Kernel OilLightweight, moisturizing, gentle
Rosehip Seed OilPromotes healing, rich in essential fatty acids
Shea ButterAnti-inflammatory, moisturizing, solid at room temp
Cocoa ButterRich, moisturizing, solid at room temp

Oily Skin

Carrier OilProperties
Grapeseed OilLightweight, non-comedogenic, antioxidant-rich
Jojoba OilBalancing, mimics skin’s natural oils
Hemp Seed OilAnti-inflammatory, non-comedogenic, rich in omega acids
Safflower OilLightweight, non-comedogenic, high in linoleic acid

Dry Skin

Carrier OilProperties
Coconut OilMoisturizing, solid at room temperature
Olive OilRich in vitamins, heavier oil, moisturizing
Avocado OilDeeply hydrating, rich in vitamins
Argan OilNourishing, rich in antioxidants, easily absorbed
Shea ButterAnti-inflammatory, moisturizing, solid at room temp
Cocoa ButterRich, moisturizing, solid at room temp
Castor OilThick, hydrating, can add bubbles to bath bombs

When selecting oils for bath bombs, it’s important to consider not only the skin type compatibility but also the potential for the bathtub to become slippery, the oil’s scent, and its ability to mix.

Additional Tips for DIY Bath Bomb Enthusiasts

Crafting your own bath bombs can be a rewarding experience, but even the most seasoned DIYers can encounter issues. The following tips will help refine your techniques and enhance the quality of your homemade bath bombs.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

  • When your bath bombs aren’t quite turning out as expected, start by checking the moisture level. If they’re crumbly, a spritz of rubbing alcohol can help bind the ingredients without setting off the reaction that water might cause.
  • On the flip side, if your bombs are expanding in the mold, it could be a sign of too much moisture. Press the mixture firmly into the mold to ensure it compacts well.

Packaging and Presentation Ideas

After you’ve made a few successful batches of bath bombs, we recommend adding dried flowers to your recipes for a more luxurious bathing experience. If you don’t mind cleaning up the petals after the bath, dried flowers are an incredible way to enhance your bathing experience.

First impressions count; showcase your homemade bath bombs with creative packaging. Clear cellophane bags tied with a ribbon or hemp can give a simple yet elegant look.

For a more rustic approach, use small cardboard boxes or egg cartons as eco-friendly alternatives. Remember, presentation elevates the perceived value of your craft.

Activated Charcoal Bath Bomb FAQs

How do you incorporate activated charcoal into homemade bath bombs?

To include activated charcoal in your bath bomb mixture, combine it thoroughly with dry ingredients like baking soda and citric acid before adding any wet components. This ensures even distribution of the charcoal throughout the bath bomb.

What are the benefits of using activated charcoal in bath bombs?

Activated charcoal in bath bombs may help detoxify the skin by binding to dirt and oil on the skin’s surface. The ingredient is praised for its deep-cleansing properties and its ability to give a purifying bathing experience.

Which recipe is best for creating an activated charcoal bath bomb?

A recipe that balances skin-soothing agents and carrier oils with activated charcoal, such as coconut and shea butter, to prevent dryness could be considered best for creating a nurturing yet detoxifying bath bomb.

Fizzing bath bombs that color the bath water are great, but we consider how they nourish the skin even more important. Place a high value on the underlying ingredients of any bath bomb product or recipe you consider.

How do you achieve a deep black color in bath bombs without staining the tub?

You should consider ingredients like activated charcoal or Liquid Black Iron Oxide for a deep black color. Test the bath bomb in a small amount of water first to ensure it won’t stain your tub.

That said, everyone’s tub is different, including how it may or may not get stained with bath bomb colorants. If you’re adding colorants to your bath water, there is always a risk of staining. The darker and more vibrant the colorants may especially lead to staining.

Lastly, if you definitely want to reduce staining and clean up as much as possible, we recommend using polysorbate 80. You can add that as an ingredient during the mixing step, where you mix in the wet ingredients. See other sections in the above post for more information on that.

What is the recommended amount of activated charcoal to use for a detox bath bomb?

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Generally, a recommended amount ranges from a half teaspoon to two teaspoons per batch of bath bombs, depending on the desired color and detoxification level.

Are there any skin-detoxifying properties associated with using charcoal bath bombs?

Yes, charcoal bath bombs have skin-detoxifying properties. Activated charcoal attracts toxins and chemicals, which may help cleanse and detoxify the skin.

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