Officially introduced in 1989, the bath bomb, at least in comparison to soap, is a relatively new phenomena. Credit for their invention is given to Mo Constatine, co-founder of Lush Cosmetics. Intrigued by the fizzy properties of Alka Seltzer tablets, Constatine experimented with various formulas before developing a product named ‘Aqua Sizzlers.’ Craft soap shops such as Savon Bath Treats with their own special blends have fueled their popularity, and used their bubbly and aromatic qualities to market a personalized bath experience.

So, how do they work?

There are two key ingredients in most bath bombs, sodium bicarbonate that reacts with citric acid when dropped into water to release carbon dioxide gas. This results in the bath bomb dissolving and releasing the added ingredients; fragrances, oils, salts, and colors. In a nut shell, they are a pleasing way of slowly releasing bath salts or oils. So, to avoid skin irritations or allergic reactions it is important to know what ingredients are being added, which is another reason to shop at local stores where you can enjoy a more personalized experience. And that takes to a discussion abut oils and salts, both of which can be beneficial and even provide health benefits.

Time to relax

If you suffer from dry and sensitive skin, rose oil is an important ingredient. supports all skin types, so even those with dry, sensitive skin will benefit from its restorative effects. As an essential oil there are studies that indicate it can also provide a calming affect. Cedarwood, rosewood, and sandalwood have similar properties as do most oils derived from tree bark. A bit more exotic is Neroli oil that is extracted from orange blossom flowers. Essential oil studies have shown that it also provides a calming affect. And for the wintertime bath, there is also the added bonus of having a scent that inspires thoughts of summer. Another uncommon oil is vetiver that is distilled from the roots of the vetiver plant. Popular in India, this oil is used to address dry skin and is known as the “oil of tranquility.”

Lavender is, perhaps, the most popular oil used by craft soap makers. Used for centuries, lavender oil not only repairs dry and damaged skin, it has been shown to alleviate insomnia making it ideal for a nighttime bath. Chamomile is often blended with lavender since it has historically been used as a tea or oil for its calming and relaxing affect, ideal for a late evening bath. As a bit of an historic footnote, in years past chamomile oil was added to the leaves in a large tea bag that was submerged in a hot bath. And when you talk to your local soap store owner, ask about the use of ylang ylang or jasmine oils. These oils have been shown to be mood stimulants, and in some cultures they are revered for the aphrodisiac properties.

Treat yourself, unwind with a warm bath, and add a bath bomb.

Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America