There aren’t a lot of things you have to give up when you go crunchy and start making your own beauty and household products.
Very, very few, actually.
To almost everything you can buy on the store shelves, a comparable homemade alternative exists. Comparable, and sometimes … better (hello homemade glass cleaner).
Bubble bath is not one of those things.
I am sorry.
(Please take a moment of silence, if you need it.)
Over the weekend, I tried several different recipes for homemade bubble bath. These were the biggest bubbles yielded:
Them’re some big bubbles.
Why You’ll Never Make Bubble Bath at Home as Good as the Stuff in Stores
That is why.
Now, you COULD make bubble bath at home that’s as good as the stuff in stores if you order some kind of surfactant (of the sulfate variety, most likely). But your skin is better off without sulfates touching it.
(Does sodium lauryl sulfate ring a bell?)
Anyway, surfactants – in general terms – are what create big lathery, foamy bubbles that don’t disappear for the half hour it takes you to read a chapter of that trashy romance novel while you’re in the tub. They’re also notoriously bad for the environment, in many cases.
And when you think about it, there just aren’t a lot of times in nature when big foamy bubbles surface and stick around. So it would stand to reason that finding ways to create those bubbles in a wholly natural manner might be difficult.
(There are several newly developed surfactants that seem to be a little more natural than their predecessors, but my jury’s still out on them for now.)
Can You Live Without Huge Foamy Bubble Baths?
So the question becomes … is your life worth living without bubble baths?
I daresay it is.
Because, while you may never have those huge, all-enveloping, all-important bubbles to hide under in the tub, you can always add other, more skin-healthy ingredients to your bath than bubbles.
We’ll talk about bubble bath alternatives tomorrow.
But for now, I will share this with you.
Even though all of the homemade bubble bath recipes I tried didn’t yield the kind of bubbles one would expect from a bubble bath, they all did fantastic things to my skin (and Skip’s skin, and the kid’s skin, and my friend’s skin … yes, I made a lot of bubble bath).
Not-Very-Bubbly Bubble Bath Recipes
So if you’re willing to forgo the mountainous bubbles you’re used to for something a little less dramatic, here are my two favorite recipes from the pack.
(And here’s another shot of what you can expect from ’em.)
Again, both of these recipes contain really great things for your skin. The first, though, requires a thorough tub rinse once it’s drained (due to the oil).
The first one is adapted from a site eakelp shared in the Crunchy Community from Natural Family Online. (FYI – I also used my homemade vanilla extract in this one, and it was heavenly. Go Crunchy Betty!)
Creamy Honey Bath
- 1/4 c. sweet almond oil (or EVOO)
- 1/8 c. honey
- 1/2 c. liquid castille soap
- 3 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- 5 drops essential oil (vanilla or whatever scent you’d like)
Combine everything in a small bowl and whisk until the honey is completely incorporated. Add to your bath water as it’s running. Makes enough for 1 to 2 baths. Stores up to 3 months in a cool, dark cabinet.
The second recipe (which was the most bubble producing recipe – and was actually the recipe the photos in this post came from) is adapted from Easy Aromatherapy Recipes. I didn’t let it sit for an entire 24 hours (it was more like 18), so maybe that’s why the bubbles weren’t all that big, but I doubt it.
I really loved the way my skin felt after using this, though.
Light on the Froth Homemade Bubble Bath
- 1/2 c. liquid castille soap
- 1 Tbsp vegetable glycerin
- 2 tsp white sugar
- 15 drops essential oil (I used 7 drops ylang-ylang and 7 drops sweet orange)
Combine everything in a small bowl and stir well. Transfer to a container with lid. Let sit for 24-ish hours before using. Pour under running bathwater. This should keep for 2-3 months in a dark, cool place.
How Often Do You Bubble Bath?
Frankly, I’m not much of a bath-taker.
It has something to do with my only bathtub choices being about 5 feet in length, while my body has decided to be 5’10” in height. I hate having to choose whether my feet, knees or upper torso is freezing.
One shouldn’t have to make such dire choices like that in life.
So I’m curious.
Do you partake in bubble baths very often? Or in baths at all (of the non-bubble variety)?
If so, what are your favorite scents/ingredients? (If you share a favorite bubble bath alternative, it just might end up in tomorrow’s post, too!)
For non-vegans, it’s as simple as egg whites. Ever whipped egg whites? Made meringue? Put them in your tub? It makes a whole mountain of foamy bubble that engulfs your faucet. Move them as they develop and the bath continues to fill, and they’ll develop into a mountain range. They’re pretty robust and long-lasting too.
There are plenty of recipes, but I don’t use them. I just shake up two egg whites (most recipes only call for one, but I don’t really use eggs for much else) and slowly add them with castille soap, adding more soap as I feel is needed, and I usually throw in some oil and vanilla too.
Amazing !! love this.
I just wanted to share my results. I have been trying to make bubble bars or bubble bath with non-toxic ingredients for a few months now with little success. I tried the recipes using SLSA, cream of tartar, and baking soda and vegetable glycerine (with a bit of oil and essential oils for fragrance) with a tiny bit of success; but I was just disappointed with the amount of bubbles for the high price of ingredients. So I started looking at natural and organic bubble bath ingredients and kept seeing “coco glucoside”. I did a google search for this ingredient plus bubble bar and this brought me to your site where someone in the comments was asking if coco glucoside might be a good idea. I decided to just give it a go last night and let me tell you, COCO GLUCOSIDE TOTALLY WORKED! I am talking serious bubbles that lasted a LONG TIME! And that was with the bubble bar recipe that I mentioned above and NOT even waiting for them to dry. And I was able to use less glycerine so I believe they will be able to dry (in some previous recipes I had to use a good deal of glycerine and even after like a month, those still haven’t dried haha!) I am seriously excited and wanted to share my success with coco glucoside. I’m not good on exact recipes; but here is basically what I used:
2 tablespoons baking soda
1.75 tablespoons SLSA
1.75 tablespoons Arrowroot Powder
1.5 tablespoons Cream of Tartar
2 teaspoons melted coconut oil
35 drops essential oils
.75 tablespoon COCO GLUCOSIDE
.50 tablespoon Vegetable Glycerine
The difference in bubbles using this same recipe without and then with the Coco Glucoside was ABSOLUTELY IMMENSE! So I am sure that you could use this to make liquid bubble bath very well too with some glycerine and essential oils.
P.S. CrunchyBetty, I have been reading your blog and recipes for years and love the information that you share! This is the first time I have felt like I could contribute anything. Thanks so much for what you do!!
Sami // Poor & Pretty
I love these simple recipes, but I’m surprised you’ve got sugar in one of your bubble baths, Betty! Sugar can cause yeast infections big-time! And with Candida on the rise, that’s definitely something you’ll want to avoid. 🙂
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Just a thought, if your reason for not wanting to use bubble bath is because the sulfates ruin the environment, you might want to consider how much water is being wasted on the bath itself…probably way more harmful to deplete clean water resources than a teaspoon of sulfates.
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I am going to make some bubble bath at home tonight… To make bigger stronger bubbles, I have read you should add an egg white. Also nice for the skin.
Maybe the “not very bubbly bath” will become “slightly more bubbly bath”
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I was curious if you had tried any soap nut recipes for bubble bath. I know the bubbles would last very long, but I was just curious if they would work at all.
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I feel your pain!! I am 5’9 1/2″ and I love bubble baths but I find that I can’t fit my chest under the water or my knees…it’s a very sad predicament. I find myself choosing apartment complexes based on how deep their bathtubs are! As for finding a nice bubble bath product, LUSH or Dr.Teal’s are both really great products (not tested on animals either which rocks)
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I’m trying to figure out how you get cold lol… I have the water so hot when I take a bubble bath that I literally have sweat on my forehead. I take a bubble bath at least 4 times a week… there’s nothing more relaxing!!! I mix coconut milk, olive oil, vanilla, eggs, honey, brown sugar and dawn dishwashing liquid to my water
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I’m more one for baths, and I usually use a bit of homemade bubble bath or some fragranced Epsom salts (I scent them myself with essential oils, of course). My only issue is that our tub is so dang shallow! Being, shall we say, well-endowed but short, only the bits of me left out of the water end up frigid. Very unpleasant, to say the least. I make my bubble bath with natural hand soap and baby oil, and it leaves me with enormous bubbles!
Thanks for the bubble bath recipe. One question – why the sugar in the second recipe? I was curious what purpose it serves? Thanks again!
The key is to get some Coco Glucoside, no sulfates, parabens or diethanolamides or any other bad stuff. You’ll notice it’s actually found in all the Deep Steep natural bubble bath products.
Do you have a recipe for bubble bath that is made with the Coco Glucoside? I love the idea.
If you like coco glucoside, you’ll probably like sucrose laurate even better — different sugar, slightly sudsier “cut” of fatty acid, but same basic idea. If you can get sucrose palmitate too, you might want to mix a little of that in to soften skin more.
Im not sure if this was mentioned in other comments but I just read on another blog that adding an egg white to your mix with make big frothy longer lasting bubbles. I might give it a try next time I pick up some cheaper honey.
Love your site btw. Always find it a great read & awesome ideas! 🙂
I know this is an old post, but thought I’d share the info. I make my son’s bubble bath with half dr. Bronners, half natural dish soap (read labels to really find a natural one), a bit of glycerine & a bit of sugar. The dish soap adds coconut based surfactants which help it bubble. I usually add a bit of almond oil, too, since dish soap & Castile soap are both a bit drying. I add clary sage because its good for his skin, but you could use any EO for scent. Hth someone 🙂
Thanks so much for this! I was at Walmart the other day with my 5 year old daughter and she was begging me for bubble bath. I told her she could have some as long as it did not contain chemicals and she was really dissappointed when we couldn’t find any. The bubbles in the picture aren’t super huge or anything but it will definitely make my little ones happy:) oh and just a little curious, maybe someone could explain the “crunchy” thing. I’m not really sure what that is lol.
Hi Crunchy Betty,
I’m so sorry to say this but I tried making the Light on the Froth recipe and found that it doesn’t bubble at all and makes my skin (and everyone that’s tried it’s skin) really dry. I followed the recipe exactly so what can I have done wrong? – unfortunately I’ve made loads of it for xmas presents so could really do with a way to salvage it all…
Thank you so much for your help!
add some coconut oil! that should moisten everything up!!!
THis something I thought I would share. More of a ‘dont do this! ;o) I decided to add peppermint extract to my hot bath…smelled GREAT…got in and thought OH SWEET JESUS ICE WATER!! Mint is very cooling…go figure.
One decently bubbly natural bubble bath is straight up dried milk. I just pour it under the running water and use my hand to aggitate the water. I make soap for our house to use and even a good sudsy lye soap won’t give a bubble bath, but dry milk does:)
If you’re going to do that, use nonfat.
I went the choose-my-own-surfactants route, as you can see via my link. Found combinations based on sulfosuccinates & betaines that make a very dense, lathery foam but don’t irritate even those most sensitive.
In principle you could use those soap-based recipes (or any soap, really), and using enough of it make as much foam as you want, just like the head of suds people used to get from soap flakes in a washing machine — some people did use to make sudsy baths using Lux flakes or the like — but, especially if water is “hard”, that could be like a ton of soap, and the resulting bath water would be more irritating than you’d get from bubble baths based on other surfactants.
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Would adding coconut milk help? 🙂
I hope I’m posting this in the right place – I’d love to win the $35 gift certificate. I’ve been wanting to try a more natural deodorant, but I’d really rather buy one than make it 😉
Used to take baths when I was single and traveled a lot for my job. I’d use BodyShop’s Lavender Milk Bath and Kneipp herbal soaks among others. I was more interested in how wonderful the stuff smelled, than how big of bubbles it made. If I get into taking soaking again, I will start with your recipes above rather than buy something (now that I’ve got a little EO collection going!).
When the grend ‘rents aren’t home, I soak in their spa tub (which they use as a plant holder most of the time). I must admit, I do so love my bubbles, but I wouldn’t mind changing it up to soak in something that will make my skin better.
I am a bath girl. All almost 5’3 inches of me. But, I hardly ever use a bubble bath. The thing I’ll take from this post is jealousy. 5’10”! There must be nothing you can’t reach!
I would like to smell like your homemade vanilla extract though!
Deep Steep’s bubble baths are all-natural, really do work well, and smell yummy. (Don’t worry, I wasn’t paid to advertise for them or anything :))
Organic Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Infusion of Organic Herbs; Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Extract, Coco Glucoside, Glycerin (Vegan), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Aroma (Organic and Wildcrafted Aroma Blend), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Caprylic Acid (Coconut Fatty Acid), Tocopherol (Vitamin E) Natural, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid.
(Coco glucoside, if you’re wondering, is a surfactant/emulsifier derived from coconut oil and fruit sugars and is completely biodegradable.)
Thanks for sharing this! I’ve been wanting to have some bubble bath for my daughter but we are extremely particular about the products we use. I’m excited to try some of this.
I love the photos with the rose candles.
I am also too long for my bathtub, but recently I’ve been giving baths a try with a variation on the first recipe (I added lavender and sandalwood). I’ve been starting the bath with too-hot water and letting it sit and cool off for a while before I get in. Since my bathroom is tiny and my poor ventilation fan tries and tries but never quite clears out all of the steam, my knees stick out but aren’t chilly.
I like the idea of baths for bathing regularly, since they use less water than showers no matter how long you stay in them. They do take a little more time, but with planning… yay lower water bill!
Lissa, I had no idea that baths take less water than showers! I always assumed it was the opposite. One of the reasons I stopped soaking was the guilt I felt over all the water I was using! Wow…
Well, my thing is that no matter how long you spend soaking you use the same amount of water. I like looong baths or showers, and a half an hour in my five foot tub vs. a half-hour shower? Bath wins. But a nice, deep tub that would fit all of me vs. a cool five minute shower? The shower’s much more conservative, especially if the showerhead moderates the water flow. Personally, I’ve never been able to manage a five minute shower.
There’s also a difference between a daily bath and a luxurious soak. I can get by with just six inches or so of hot water just for washing (I could probably manage less, but I wait for the steam) and a few seconds under the showerhead to rinse off. This feels less wasteful to me than the 15 minutes I can spend in the shower.
So really, it depends on your showerhead, your tub, and your personal habits.
Oh, hey! To see if your showers use more or less water than your baths, you could leave the plug in and take a shower like normal, then see how high the water is when you’re done.
Thanks Lissa! Those are all great ideas/suggestions. I, too, can’t ever seem to manage to get everything done in a 5 minute shower. We have a “stall” type shower in our bathroom (I think it’s a former phone booth). The tub/shower is in the guest bathroom and has a different shower-head, so my hubby is going to rig a bucket in our shower and measure the gallons per minute… then we can compare. I’m giddy at the prospect of even an occasional guilt-free soak!
Glad I could help. 🙂
Kristin @ Peace, Love and Muesli
I can do without bubbles, I’m happy with Epsom salts and recently some almond oil and EO’s thrown in. But my kids need bubbles, keeps them happy in the tub.
We get our bubble bath from a Canadian company called Olivier, ingredients are water, surfonic, sea salt and essential oils. I’m not sure what surfonic is however. I shall google.
what’s the website name?
Kristin @ Peace, Love and Muesli
Here’s the direct link to the bubble bath.
I ADORE my baths, but really don’t care about bubbles in them. I can take ’em or leave ’em – and usually leave ’em. 😉
My recent favorite for my bath has been coconut oil with a few drops of lavender essential oil. Leaves my skin feeling silky smooth, and has such a lovely, relaxing scent! 🙂
Bubble baths are one of my all-time favorite ways to relax! I’ve always said I could live without a lot of things, but a bathtub isn’t one of them. I’ve actually used the first recipe several times – I put it in gift baskets for friends and my mom at Christmas, along with body oil, scrub, and salts – and I love how moisturized my skin is afterward. It certainly doesn’t create hours and hours of bubbles, but I agree that bubbles are overrated anyway. Other bubble baths I’ve used (commercial ones) always left my skin feeling dry, but the first recipe leaves skin feeling soft and super-moisturized.
Now I think I need to make some more!!
I love taking baths,and never have to decide which bit of me is cold because I have a huge whirlpool tub. The only disadvantage is that it uses SO much hot water to fill it properly.
I don’t tend to use anything much in my baths actually (maybe just a bit of essential oil), just sit and soak with a good book and a glass of wine.
I don’t take baths either, but it’s partially because I only have a shower! Granted, it is a huge shower that five people could fit in, but still! My parents have a HUGE tub. I’m talkin huge. I’m 5’5, and you can run enough water in that puppy to cover my shoulders. It’s deep! Other than the occasional bath if I’m visiting them, I just shower, and that’s fine with me. I have a history of dropping books into the bath tub anyway!
I have to agree, despite my advantage (being that we have a whirlpool bath in our house, so bubbles are not necessarily in short supply). That being said, bubbles are overrated. I refuse to use bubble bath in our tub because of the damage it can do to the whirlpool system. I’ll stick with Lush products for now – fizz, maybe some bubble, but really good scents and a nice feeling when you get out. Also all-natural, so no damage to the tub!
Which Lush products are all-natural? I don’t think I’ve never seen one completely all-natural. I’m pretty sure all of the ones I’ve seen have the very broad term “Perfume” in the ingredients.
Perhaps I’m not reading my labels clearly enough, or just misrepresented some of them. Claiming a vegan label and reading through the ingredients is clean enough for me unless you have evidence to the contrary. ‘Fragrance’ or ‘perfume’, while broad, doesn’t strike me as necessarily non-natural.
That is just the most recent article I’ve read about it. I tend to be more cautious about things that can mess with hormones. I’ve had ovarian cysts. They’re very painful and debilitating. While no one claims to know exactly what causes them, doctors know hormones play a large role.
I can definitely understand your cause for concern – my aunt is recovering from an ovarian abscess after a week in the hospital, the cause of which is still unexplained. My mother is extremely sensitive to perfumes and fragrances because of the reasons explained in the blog post you linked. The information in that post makes sense, given functions of hormones and the creation of false hormones over generations – after all, isn’t perfume just a way to attract a mate, the original function to which was the production of pheromones within the body, which has now been diminished by synthetic means over time?
I have sent a message to the folks at Lush, who have always been upfront and helpful about questions I’ve asked them in the past, regarding the origin and extraction process of the broad terms ‘perfume,’ ‘fragrance’ and ‘flavor.’ Hopefully I will hear back from them soon.
Hey Amanda! 🙂
You might be interested in the book “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” by Christian Northrup. I’m reading it right now and she has a whole chapter about Ovaries and ovarian cysts. I found it extremely enlightening! The copy I’m reading I got at the library, so you can probably find it at your local library, as well. 😉 Just wanted to throw that in, as it’s a superb resource for info on hormones and all things female. 🙂
Ooops! That’s Christiane Northrup (with an E). 😉
Unfortunately, as a general rule, if a product says it contains either “fragrance” or “perfume,” they’re talking about synthetic. If they were talking natural, it would be FAR more likely that they’d list an essential oil or the natural product (as that would be more appealing on a list of ingredients).
Personally, I’m not a fan of Lush. The more I studied their ingredients lists, the more incensed I got. Many of their products use parabens, nearly all of them list “perfume” or “fragrance” as an ingredient, and several more of their products contain decidedly NOT natural ingredients otherwise.
My beef isn’t that they sell products with these ingredients in them (though, no matter what, I wouldn’t use their products). My beef is that they say they’re all natural and fresh, and they try to lure customers in by convincing them they’re getting healthier personal care products, and they’re lying. They are lying. Their products are no more healthy than the majority you can buy at the discount store. (Though they often do use super fun essential oils that many products don’t use.)
Anyway. Specifically on fragrance/perfume. From a personal standpoint, I can honestly say that my ability to smell things has increased after completely ditching them. I get fewer headaches. And, while this is purely subjective, my PMS seems less severe since avoiding them. (They potentially mess with hormones.)
Hey Crunchy Betty,
I too try to find the most natural products I can find. Too me, if its not ALL natural, then I don’t see the point in buying it (since there are so many homemade alternatives).
Have you heard of, or tried, 100% Pure products before? I order them online all the time and I love them. They have a few stores in the U.S, but I live in Canada.
I haven’t researched all their products, but from what I have seen they are actually 100% natural. (Except for their deodorant and nail polishes…but they state that those are not 100% pure of chemicals).
Check them out and please let me know what you think about their stuff 🙂 you seem to be a much better researcher than me when it comes to this kind of stuff haha
I also haven’t heard any bad news about the company either (about them lying etc). And they seem to care about the environment and animals <3 in fact they usually have donation events for different animal rescue organizations…yay 🙂
There are a select few lush products that are all natural, like the ultrabalm for example (rose wax, jojoba oil and candelilia wax – not sure I spelled that correctly).
With lush you need to have the website or the lush times to know what you are getting – they used to colour code the ingredients by what was natural and what wasn’t..
Would prefer if they didn’t use parabens myself, I like the stuff – just have some issues with a few ingredients!
WOW! I already loved you before and now even more. I got my name mentioned in a post. YAY for me. I NEVER take baths. Maybe it is the cold factor, I am not sure but it has never been very appealing to me except in my sore, really athletic days where i took epsom salt baths. I have, however, started to just drop a combination of tea tree, eucalyptus, and lavender and it smells great.
Summer @ Well-rounded Hippie
I don’t take baths for many reasons. But the main one is the same as yours – being cold. And I’m even short (5’3”). There are other things I’d rather do to relax.