Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bubble Bars (Solid Bubble Bath)

Ok, so most people have at least heard of solid bubble bath bars or used them at some point.  For bath and body product makers like myself however, figuring out the recipe is a little tougher.  Sure, there are plenty of recipes out there for the taking.  Having tried many if not all of these recipes myself, however, I can say with certainty that they do not compare to the "original" bubble bars made by the mega-successful Lush Cosmetics.

If you've ever used a Lush bubble bar, you'll know they have a certain desirable consistency to them: they're firm, but crumble easily under the water for easy bubble-making action.  They also aren't moist or greasy.  Unfortunately, many of the duplicate recipes are.

Strangely, many of the duplicates seem to not even bother with a similar ingredient list to the Lush products.  To me, the best way to duplicate a product is find out what's in the product you actually like.  Granted you have do to a whole lot of "guesstimating" to figure out ratios, but after some trial  and error you should be able to get it right if you're decent at formulation.

After much trial and error with publicly available bubble bar recipes, comparison to the "ideal" bubble bars from Lush, and addition of a few other ingredients to boost the bubble power, I've finally come up with what I believe is the perfect bubble bar recipe.

I've kept this recipe close hold for quite a while now, knowing that I had something pretty special.  I'm still a little wary about sharing, but hoping that by posting my basic recipe here I will inspire the sharing of other great recipes from other formulators.  

The below recipe is owned by Elemental Bath Company.  Any links or sharing of this recipe must give credit back to my company.  On that note, I hope you enjoy it!  Please drop me a line and let me know how it turned out for you!

Bubble Bar (Solid Bubble Bath) Recipe
Copyright Alison Jordan, Elemental Bath Co. 2006

Be sure to read the entire recipe and instructions before starting this so you know exactly what you'll need and the expectations.  The beauty of this recipe is the simplicity and versatility.  For example, some people may not want to use SLS.  So don't... go ahead and sub out for one of the other listed coconut-derived surfactants.  Chances are that you won't even know the difference!

1 cup Sodium Bicarbonate
1 cup Tartatic Acid
2/3 cup Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSA)

3 tbs Cocamidopropyl Betaine
3 tbs Cocamide DEA
2 tbs Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS)
Fragrance Oil (to preference)
4-5 drops Liquid bath-safe coloring (Labomb works well)

Be sure to wear a breathing/respirator mask at least until all ingredients are fully mixed.  Some of the powders are very fine (poofy) and can irritate your eyes, lungs, and sinuses.  Always use rubber gloves and sanitized equipment.

Combine all dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Mix well with a whisk and be sure to crush any lumps in the powders.  When all dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed, slowly drizzle all of the wet ingredients into the powder mixture.

At this point, you need to work relatively quickly.  Mix and kneed the mixture very well to ensure proper blending.  The mixture will start out very sticky, but as it blends it will start sticking more to itself instead of your gloves :-)

Once the coloring is distributed throughout and your mix is a solid color (and no longer sticky, as noted above), it is ready to be molded.  You can either push the mixture into the mold of your choice, or roll it into a log (to be sliced).  If you wait too long to mold or shape it, the mixture may be too crumbly.  In a pinch, you can add a bit more liquid (and of the wet surfactants will do).  Try not to do this unless you have to in order to save the batch.

If you decide to roll it into a log for cutting, be sure to cut it into slices soon after to avoid crumbling.  Decoration is optional, but these look great cut into single-use chunks with small candies embedded in the top.  Use sugar-based sprinkles that will disintegrate in the tub, or something that can easily be removed before the bath- like small charms or buttons.

Set your finished bubble bars on wax aper to dry.  It typically takes a few hours to dry completely and then they're ready to be wrapped or used.  

To use:
Take your bubble bar (1-2 oz chunk or so, depending on the size of your tub and desired bubble volume) and crumble under warm running water.  The better water pressure you have, the more bubble generated.  If you have poor water pressure, do some serious swishing around the bottom of the tub with your hands while the water is still running to help the bubbles along.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy your bubble bath.  You deserve it!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We're Moving!

I'm so excited!  I've been patiently waiting for the cards to fall into place for years now, and they finally have.  You see, I originally hail from California (Orange County to be specific).  Thirteen years ago I left home to join the Army, went all over the planet, and then ended up in Virginia.  I've been trapped here ever since.  Several jobs, a husband, and two children later, it's hard to make a 3000 mile move.  Well, it's finally happening!

In about a month, I'll be flying back home to start scouting for our new home.  Meanwhile, the husband and children will stay behind to finish prepping the current house for sale.  After that's completed (the prep, not the sale), the three of them will drive out and meet me in the new house.  It's going to undoubtedly be a very long and very painful process, but I believe it will be very much worth it in the end.

You see, family is important to me.  The one thing I've wanted for my kids and have been unable to provide up until this point is a closer relationship with their grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and other family.  Because of the distance, the most we've managed has been two visits in the last five years.  Normally it wouldn't be so bad, but a combination of medical troubles with both me and my sister have made things difficult.  Once we move, we'll be able to spend long weekends visiting each other.  In actuality, we'll be about 4-5 hours from most of my family (driving).  Close enough to visit whenever we have more than two days off, but far enough away that we still appreciate each other and don't grate on one another's nerves. :-)

Anyway, totally off-topic, but I really wanted to share.  Another great benefit is that I can start pursuing my dream to opening my bath and body shop (brick & mortar) in Southern California, just like I always wanted.  The great thing about SoCal is that even in the worst of times (depression like market), there are so many people within the area (many with no concerns about budgeting- must be nice).  Perfect place for a start-up.

Have a great week everyone!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pictures of the Cream Soap

Finally, here's the cream soap in the package.  As you can see, I turned it into a duo and made a sugar scrub to go with it.  Lots of cosmetic glitter make it lovely and girly!  To the right is a bar of my Candy Fluff (Lush type) soap. 

Reason #32 Why You Should Buy Bath Bombs From a Professional!

Some things are best left to professionals.  In this age of everything DIY, there are kits out there for amateurs to put just about anything together.  Most kits are for products that are rather benign and would pose no possible damage, right?  Wrong.  Apparently, even bath bombs (or kits to make them rather) can be dangerous!

Products for DIY "Spa" kits made by U.S. company JAKKS have been recalled due to exploding containers with ingredients for making bath bombs or bath fizzies.  I'm guessing that the geniuses at JAKKS didn't find a problem with pre-packaging the citric acid and baking soda together in the same container, therefore causing the problem.  If moisture gets into the container, it can easily cause expansion (I think everyone knows how baking soda likes to "absorb" things)- therefore exploding.  

Apparently several people, including children, have been injured.  The company's solution is to offer a replacement cap for the container that has two holes drilled in the top.  I have to ask; wouldn't it be easier to just separate the ingredients???  I promise you that citric acid and baking soda by themselves don't have a chance of exploding.  

What bothers me the most about this is that the company selling the
se kits obviously doesn't have a basic understanding of the science behind bath bombs (or probably anything else they sell), yet they are marketing to the public that they should be trusted as experts- "here, buy our kits- no experience required because we show you how!"  Apparently not.  Let the lawsuits begin...