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Black Bath Bomb Recipe – DIY Activated Charcoal Bath Bombs

These activated charcoal black bath bombs are so easy and affordable to make you’ll never buy pre-made bath bombs again! Discover how to make DIY bath bombs with this step by step tutorial.

I’ve been giving bath bombs away lately. Friends and family member are always shocked when I hand them several bath bombs for free. They’re used to paying multiple dollars each for bath bombs and shower steamers!

The actual ingredients in bath bombs are very inexpensive. Even though these black bath bombs have a couple of extra ingredients, they cost so little per bath bomb that you’ll be using them all the time!

black bath bomb made with activated charcoal leaning against a glass jar with lavender

Activated charcoal bath bomb benefits & ingredients

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I always get questions about substations in my diy skincare recipes and about the ingredients. Let’s take a look at some of the ingredients in these activated charcoal bath bombs, they’re benefits, and why they’re included.

Activated charcoal benefits for skin

Activated charcoal is popular in bath and body products. It’s in a variety of products from toothpaste to bath bombs and soap! (I use activated charcoal toothpaste and charcoal deodorant.)

Activated charcoal is not the same thing as the charcoal you put on your grill or in a pizza oven. It’s charcoal that’s been superheated. This superheated, or activated, charcoal becomes incredibly absorbent and can bind to toxins, which is why it’s used in emergency rooms to treat overdoses and poisonings (source).

Related: Activated charcoal face mask

Like many natural or “alternative” ingredients, activated charcoal’s benefits for skin have not been studied extensively, but anecdotal evidence says activated charcoal helps clean your skin and clear your complexion.

Researchers in the European Journal of Pharmaceutical and Medical Research suggest it may draw micro-partials out of the skin. This is the “detoxing” effect of activated charcoal you hear about.

activated charcoal

Baking soda benefits for skin

I was hesitant to make skincare products with baking soda for a long time, but it’s an essential ingredient in bath bombs.

Baking soda can cause skin sensitivity and dryness, especially when used frequently (like in deodorant or as a face wash).

On the other hand, baking soda has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It may help balance your skin, soothe and soothe your skin. (source)

Unless you are very sensitive to baking soda, using it in a bath bomb is unlikely to irritate your skin. Baking soda can cause irritation by disrupting your skin’s pH. Baking soda is alkaline with a pH 0f 9. Skin is naturally acidic with a pH of 4.5-5.5. (source) Consistently using baking soda on your skin can strip too many of its natural oils, leaving it vulnerable and irritated.

Diluting a bath bomb in an entire tub of water is very different from applying a baking soda paste to your face, though. At these diluted concentrations, you can experience baking soda’s cleansing and soothing benefits without aggravating your skin.

a spoon full of baking soda on a wood background

Citric acid in bath bombs

The citric acid and baking soda combination is responsible for the fizzing action that makes bath bombs so popular. It’s a very common food additive and general regarded as safe. (source)

However, some people don’t like that virtually all commercial citric acid actually comes from GMO mold, not fruit. You’re obviously not going to eat your bath bombs, so you won’t be ingesting anything genetically modified if you use citric acid in your bath bombs.

If you don’t want to support GMOs at all, look for a non-GMO certified citric acid for your bath bombs and homemade cleaning products.

Milliard Citric Acid 5 Pound - 100% Pure Food Grade NON-GMO Project...
  • The fine granular NON-GMO citric acid is a kitchen essential used in preserving, flavoring, and cleaning completely; preserves the Vitamin C content...
  • Adds an acidic or sour taste to meat, candy, soft drinks, and ice cream. It keeps fruits and vegetables fresh and food flavorful. Perfect for craft...
  • Perfect for bath bombs, used as the main ingredient along with backing soda (sodium bicarbonate) to make the bath bombs fizz away!!

You can also use cream of tartar or baking powder instead of citric acid in your bath bombs, but they will not fizz or have the same texture.

What is polysorbate 80?

If you’re like me, you may be instantly suspicious of something with a name like “polysorbate.” So what is polysorbate 80? And why is it in these activated charcoal bath bombs?

Polysorbate 80 is an important ingredient in these black bath bombs. Activated charcoal is a very, very fine powder. It’s so fine that just 1 teaspoon of activated charcoal has about the same surface area as a football field! (source)

This fine powder loves to cling to things like your skin and your bathtub. Including polysorbate 80 in these bath bombs helps the activated charcoal wash down the drain instead of leaving you with a huge mess to clean up.

Polysorbate 80 also helps keep your tub from being slippery when you use oil. I like to use oil in my bath bombs instead of a ton of witch hazel because it decreases the risk of the mixture fizzing up while you’re making your bath bombs. Oil is also nourishing for your skin and brings extra benefits to your bath.

Polysorbate 80 is a naturally-derived solubilizer, surfactant, and emulsifier. (read more about it and how it’s made here) Polysorbate 80 is different from other polysorbate products, so make sure you get the “80” if you decide to buy some.

According to the Environmental Working Group, Polysorbate 80 has a safety rating of 1-3, depending on how it’s used. (Lower numbers are good. For example, the EWG gives lavender oil a rating of 1.) I trust the EWG and base a lot of my purchasing decisions on their research, so if they say it’s pretty safe I’m okay with using it in my bath bombs!

Like citric acid, polysorbate 80 is frequently used as a food and drug additive. Some people are concerned about these uses, but we’re not going into that here because we’re looking at using a very small amount of polysorbate 80 topically.

You can leave out the Polysorbate 80 if you’d prefer. However, be prepared for a lot of cleanup after your bath!

bottle of polysorbate 80 for making bath bombs

Essential oils for skin

I always scent my bath bombs with essential oils, not synthetic “fragrance oils.” Using pure essential oils is one of the reasons homemade bath bombs are healthier than store-bought bath bombs. Many commercial bath bombs contain “fragrance” that may contain harmful toxins, parabens, phthalates, and other toxic ingredients. (Read more about the risks of commercial bath bombs on Healthline.)

Many essential oils are beneficial for skin, but it’s important to dilute them safety and use the correct oil for your skin type. Here are a few of my favorite suggestions!

Essential oils for dry skin:

  • Chamomile is a classic calming and soothing oil
  • Germanium is a soothing and smells similar to roses
  • Ylang yang is a calming, soothing essential oil
  • Rose is a traditional oil for soothing dry or inflamed skin. 
  • Frankensense. Frankincense is wonderful for dry and mature skin. 
  • Lavender. Lavender is a cleansing and soothing essential oil that works well for dry and oily skin. Lavender and frankincense is my favorite combination!

Essential oils for oily, acne prone skin:

  • Tea tree/melaleuca is an astringent oil that helps clear skin.
  • Chamomile and lavender are also both good for oily skin.
  • Germanium’s balancing properties make it beneficial for dry skin.
  • Cedarwood essential oil is anti-inflammatory and can help soothe acne-prone skin.
  • Citrus oils like lemon, orange, bergamot, and grapefruit are bright, cleansing, and astringent. Be careful to avoid strong, direct sunlight for a day after using most citrus oils because they can make you sensitive to UV light.
essential oils

Bath bomb molds

Bath bomb molds aren’t exactly an ingredient, but I did want to mention them! You do not have to get the round, two part molds. In fact, they can be frustrating to use if you’re new to bath bombs.

Instead, use a rigid plastic soap mold or candy mold. You could also use a metal muffin tin – it would work fine! You can also use just one half of a two part mold if your round mold is frustrating to work with.

Do not use a silicone mold. I love using silicone instead of plastic whenever possible, but it isn’t rigid enough to use for bath bombs. Trust me, I’ve tried!

Black bath bombs with activated charcoal tutorial

Okay, now that we’ve taken a look at the ingredients, let’s get to the black bath bomb recipe!

I made 3 4.5 ounce bath bombs with this recipe and had a little bit left over. I put my extra into a candy mold, but you can put it in an ice cube tray or even just press it into a ball with your hand. These small bombs make a great detox foot soak!

Black bath bomb ingredients

  • 250 grams baking soda
  • 120 grams citric acid
  • 40 grams activated charcoal
  • 6 grams polysorbate 80
  • 15 grams oil, optional but makes things easier. I use olive oil.
  • Spritz bottle with witch hazel or vodka
  • 1 gram essential oil (you can add up to 4 grams, but I personally like to use less to be safe since I have a child)
  • Bowls and/or measuring cups for preparing and mixing ingredients. I use small bowls and large Pyrex measuring cups.
  • Spoon or small spatula
  • Nitrile gloves, optional but highly recommended
  • A mesh sieve, optional but helpful
  • A piece of parchment or wax paper, optional. I use the “If You Care” brand.

Weighing ingredients in grams is far more accurate when you’re making your own skincare products. I bought a cheap battery operated scale and it works fantastically for measuring small quantities. (Most normal kitchen scales aren’t very accurate for small amounts like a single gram of essential oil.)

GDEALER DS1 Digital Pocket Kitchen Multifunction Food Scale for Bake...
  • Accurate - This GDEALER scale equipped with high sensitivity gravity sensor and wide range, weigh up to 500g. Readings in units: g/ct/dwt/ozt/o
  • Perfect Design - ABS plastic frame and stainless steel plate make the scale durable and light. LCD display with blue backlight makes it available at...
  • Multi-function - The counting feature gives you an accurate count especially for food. Precision Tare Button

How to make activated charcoal bath bombs

You can watch the video tutorial or follow along with the step-by-step photos! You can also scroll down for a printable recipe card so you don’t have to get activated charcoal all over your phone.

Weigh out all of your ingredients. I measure everything into a separate container and have a large glass bowl for mixing. You can start with your activated charcoal weighed into your mixing bowl, if you’d prefer.

Carefully add the activated charcoal to your mixing bowl.

Activated charcoal in a mixing bowl to make black bath bombs

Add the baking soda to the citric acid through a mesh sieve. I do this so I can press out any lumps and have a nice, smooth powder to work with. Stir carefully to combine. It’s a very fine powder that will want to poof everywhere.

adding baking soda to bath bomb mixture through a mesh strainer

Add polysorbate 80, oil, and essential oil. I combined them in one small bowl, then poured that bowl into the bath bomb mixture. Use gloved hands to kneed the mixture together.

Adding oil to bath bomb mixture

Add a little witch hazel or alcohol a few spritzes at a time, as needed. You need the mixture to hold together in a clump if you squeeze some together in your hand.

Kneading black bath bomb mixture with gloved hands

Pack the bath bomb mixture into your molds a bit at a time. Add it in layers and press firmly into place for a sturdy bath bomb that won’t fall apart when you remove it from the mold.

Packing black bath bomb mixture into molds

The back of a table knife works well for scraping and leveling to get your bath bombs level with the top of your mold. I dump the excess mixture onto my wax paper, then transfer it back to my bowl. I made two additional small, heart-shaped bombs for foot soaks with the extra mixture.

Scraping bath bomb molds with a knife to remove excess mixture

Allow your bath bombs to sit, undisturbed, until fully dry. I like to leave them 24 hours to be safe.

Carefully demold your bath bombs and store them in an air tight container until you’re ready to use them.

For best results, use your bath bombs within a month. After that they can start to lose their fizz and the essential oils can lose their potency.

three black bath bombs with activated charcoal in a mason jar

Pin this bath bomb recipe now so you can find it again later!

The text "DIY activated charcoal bath bombs (healthier and cheaper than store-bought)" with a picture of a bath bomb
Yield: 3 4.5 ounce bath bombs

DIY black bath bombs with activated charcoal

DIY black bath bombs with activated charcoal

Making your own bath bombs is healthier and cheaper than buying commercial bath bombs! Learn how to make your own black bath bombs with activated charcoal.

Active Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Materials

  • 250 grams baking soda
  • 120 grams citric acid
  • 40 grams activated charcoal
  • 6 grams polysorbate 80
  • 15 grams oil, optional but makes things easier. I use olive oil.
  • Spritz bottle with witch hazel or vodka
  • 1-4 grams essential oil

Tools

  • Bowls and/or measuring cups for preparing and mixing ingredients. I use small bowls and large Pyrex measuring cups.
  • Spoon or small spatula
  • Nitrile gloves, optional but highly recommended
  • A mesh sieve, optional but helpful
  • A piece of parchment or wax paper

Instructions

    1. Weigh out all of your ingredients. I measure everything into a separate bowl or measuring cup.
    2. Add activated charcoal to your mixing bowl.
    3. Add baking soda and citric acid through a mesh strainer.
    4. Stir carefully to combine.
    5. Add polysorbate 80, oil, and essential oils. Combine with gloved hands.
    6. Add a little witch hazel or alcohol at a time until the mixture holds its shape if you press a handful together.
    7. Press into molds. Add a little mixture at a time and press it in firmly before adding more.
    8. Allow your bath bombs to dry for 12-24 hours before de-molding.
    9. Enjoy!

Notes

Store in an air tight container and use within a month for best results!

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Kaylee January 15, 2020, 19:50

    I never knew how to clearly and simply describe the difference between activated charcoal and regular charcoal but you described it extremely well! I’ll also have to remember the football field reference! That is so crazy!! Also, these bath bombs look amazing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Chelsea Duffy January 15, 2020, 16:35

    I am a huge activated charcoal fan! What a great idea to put it in a bath bomb. I absolutely love those molds too. So cute ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Natasha January 15, 2020, 20:46

      I got the molds from Bulk Apothecary. They have the best selection of molds I’ve found online!

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