Bath Bomb Benefits
By Jini Li
February 17, 2017
Besides the pure enjoyment of soaking in a warm bath accompanied by candle light and the aromatic healing properties of essential oil scents, feeling and watching the animated fizzing of the bath bomb, staring at the explosion of colors and botanicals it releases, and waiting for any potential goodies to drop, there are many benefits to using bath bombs based on their ingredients.
This article covers the properties of two necessary and two common ingredients in bath bombs: citric acid, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), cornstarch and magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt).
The two essential ingredients for making bath bombs are citric acid (C6H8O7) and sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO2), or baking soda. The citric acid causes the sodium bicarbonate to release carbon dioxide (CO2), which forms bubbles and produces the fizzing action for which a good bath bomb is so well-known. The citric acid – sodium bicarbonate ratio in a bath bomb is 1:2, 1 part citric acid to 2 parts sodium bicarbonate. Two additional ingredients, corn starch and Epsom salts, are also commonly used in bath bomb recipes, though the ratios may differ and neither is required.
About Citric Acid
Both citric acid and ascorbic acid occur naturally in citrus fruits like lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges. Although citric acid is often added to vitamin C supplements, citric acid is not vitamin C. The ascorbic acid content in supplements is the vitamin C. See Notes section for more information about the differences between citric and ascorbic acids.
The great thing about citric acid in a bath is that given time and H2O assistance it can penetrate to the dermis layer of skin where it can perform its wondrous antioxidant and alpha hydroxyl actions on living skin cells. Citric acid gets to work improving the feel and appearance of skin by softening keratin, a protein deposited in skin, hair and nails that is found in the outer layer of skin (the epidermis) and that hardens causing rigidity and roughness that appear as wrinkles. Citric acid softens and lifts dead skin and removes it from pores, leaving them open and ready to receive moisture and nutrients. Citric acid is an alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA). AHAs must penetrate the epidermis to be effective at the level of the underlying layer of skin (the dermis), thereby reducing wrinkles by softening hardened keratin in the epidermal layer and assisting in the production of collagen in the dermal layer of skin.
Citric acid helps your body absorb certain minerals better, such as magnesium. Citric acid is alkaline by nature, and it helps to reduce blood acidity and restore natural pH balance in the body. Citric acid is an antioxidant and a natural cleanser that also helps repair skin and strengthen blood vessels. It bonds to calcium and helps to remove excess calcium from the body. It is recognized for helping to break down kidney stones, which are formed from calcium deposits.
Note: The statement, “citric acid is the same as vitamin C” is false. Ascorbic acid is vitamin C. Citric acid is not nor does it contain ascorbic acid, although both are naturally occurring in citrus fruits. Though similar molecularly, citric and ascorbic acids differ by one oxygen atom. Citric acid (C6H8O7) contains one more oxygen atom than ascorbic acid (C6H8O6). Citric acid is sour, while ascorbic acid is bitter. It is ascorbic acid that keeps fruits and vegetables from browning. Because ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is bitter, citric acid is often used to mask its bitterness in vitamin C. Both Ascorbic acid and citric acid are antioxidants and can be used as preservatives. Ascorbic acid can help prevent deterioration of cells and boosts immunity. Citric acid may cause skin irritation for some people.
About Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda)
The second mandatory ingredient of bath bombs is sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO2). Sodium bicarbonate is a salt. It is crystalline in form, but the crystals are small so it looks like a powder. Sodium bicarbonate helps to eliminate chlorine in the water, preventing chlorine in bath water from damaging our skin and hair by stripping them of their natural oils and causing dry skin and brittle hair. Sodium bicarbonate is a naturally occurring mineral and is commonly found dissolved in mineral springs. Its common name is baking soda.
Our skin is our largest organ, and what we put on it will be absorbed. In a bath our skin pores open and sodium bicarbonate gains transdermal admission into the body, where its multiple characteristics begin their healing action. Sodium bicarbonate has been shown to soften and exfoliate skin, clean both skin and hair, and it even encourages hair growth. Sodium bicarbonate is a natural deodorant, so various body odors are neutralized by using it in a bath.
Sodium bicarbonate is fungicide, antiseptic, mild disinfectant, anti-inflammatory, detoxifier and antacid. Using sodium bicarbonate in a bath can help to control fungus growth on feet and nails as well as stunting the growth of candida fungal infections in and on the body. Sodium bicarbonate is an antiseptic and mild disinfectant that helps prevent the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. It is commonly used to treat and relieve skin rashes and burns, including sunburn, and to reduce inflammation. It relieves pain and itching, including the pain and itching associated with insect bites and stings. Sodium bicarbonate absorbs heavy metals and radiation that can otherwise suppress the immune system. Hospitals even use it to cleanse the body of toxins after chemotherapy to reduce the harmful effects caused by radiation in chemo. Using sodium bicarbonate in bath water helps neutralize acids and alkalize the body, thereby improving our immune response. It is the antacid effect of sodium bicarbonate that acts to treat acid indigestion. Sodium bicarbonate detoxifies our blood and lowers blood acidity. By raising alkalinity in the blood, muscle tissues and lungs, sodium bicarbonate helps to relieve many symptoms caused by various forms of acidosis.
There are many other medical uses for sodium bicarbonate that go beyond the scope of this article.
Citric acid and sodium bicarbonate combined with water induces a chemical reaction that causes the sodium bicarbonate to release carbon dioxide (CO2). Heat can assist with the release of carbon dioxide from sodium bicarbonate as well so when you place a bath bomb in heated water, the result is somewhat eruptive and exciting to watch and touch!
Cornstarch (C27H48O20) is a complex carbohydrate derived from corn. Using cornstarch in bath has many benefits. It softens skin and soaks up excessive oils from skin and hair. It soothes burns (including sunburn), rashes, itching, poison ivy, cuts and abrasions. Cornstarch kills mildew and can be used to treat athlete’s foot. It is hypoallergenic and is an effective a deodorant. Cornstarch has mild abrasive qualities that help with skin exfoliation.
About Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt)
Even though magnesium sulfate (MgSO4), or Epsom salt, has a crystalline structure, it is not an organic salt. It is a chemical compound. As its molecular formula suggests, it contains magnesium, sulfur and oxygen. Naturally occurring magnesium sulfate can be found deposited in various locations with varying chemical structures, such as that of epsomite with a chemical structure of MgSO4·7H2O found in massive encrustation deposits on cavern walls.
Epsom salt in bath water helps to replenish the body’s magnesium and sulfur levels. Both magnesium (Mg) and sulfur (S) are critical to human health, yet most people have extreme deficiencies in both. Magnesium sulfate in a bath is a very inexpensive and very effective way to remedy deficiencies of magnesium and sulfur. Transmission of magnesium and sulfur via the skin has been shown to be more effective than taking oral supplements, because they are absorbed and used by the body more readily when introduced transdermally in a bath. Using Epsom salt in bathwater creates a reverse osmosis process where toxins are pulled out of the body and magnesium and sulfur are absorbed as valuable nutrients that are key to building healthy brain and nervous tissue, muscles, joints and skin.
Magnesium is required for detoxifying functions in the body as well, including neutralizing overly acidic conditions. A shortage of magnesium in the human body results in hampered biological functions, because magnesium is used by the body for every biological function, the most vital of these being for active detoxification. Magnesium is required for the synthesis of glutathione (C10H17N3O6S) in the human body. Glutathione is an antioxidant the body produces in the liver that picks up and removes heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and lead.
Magnesium is fundamental for improving the functionality of muscles and nerves. It participates in all human biological functions, and plays a vital role in oxygenation throughout the body. It reduces inflammation and improves blood flow.
Magnesium stimulates in the production of serotonin and adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Serotonin is a chemical in the brain known to create a sense of calm and well-being and this is one reason taking a bath with Epsom salts is so relaxing. ATP are packets of energy created by our cells that provide us with energy and stamina.
Note: Magnesium chloride (MgCl2) is another way to administer magnesium to the body, and is usually found in sea water. Magnesium flakes can be used in a bath as an effective way to deliver magnesium to the bloodstream, however it is a more expensive option, and does not offer the sulfur infusion the way magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) does.
Sulfur, like magnesium, assists the body to detoxify. It improves oxygen transfer activities at the cellular level making it easier for the body to transport waste out from the body. Sulfates are required for the build of healthy skin, brain tissue, nervous tissue, muscles and joints. Sulfur deficiency in the body can lead to metabolic impairments and brain functionality. Without enough sulfur, the body can become glucose intolerant resulting in damage to both muscle and fat cells and an inability to process glucose properly. A person who cannot process glucose properly will end up with various painful inflammatory conditions in the muscles and connective tissues, and have difficulty losing weight, resulting in serious weight gain. Sulfur assists with brain functionality. Evidence supports the fact that people suffering from dementia have chronically low levels of sulfur in their blood, and that sulfur can inhibit the progression of dementia where brain damage is minimal.
Epsom salt baths or soaks help you relax, exfoliate the skin, loosen stiff joints, stimulate nerve and muscle function, regulate fluid retention in cells, detoxify by eliminating heavy metals and other harmful substances, nourish the body by the body’s absorption of nutrients, boost the body’s levels of magnesium and sulfate, decrease inflammation and speed the healing of the body after injury by repairing damaged muscles. Epsom salt baths or soaks can be used to treat, prevent or reduce the symptoms of the following, and more:
It is optimal to wash with soap and rinse well before you fill your tub for a bath. Avoid using soap with Epsom salt, because it can interfere with the detox process and the action of the minerals. After bathing, simply rinse off your body.
NOTICE: If you are new to using Epsom salt in bathing, pay attention to possible skin sensitivity or allergic reactions such as respiratory distress, as these may occur in some individuals. Contradictions include open wounds or burns on your skin, pregnancy and some cardiovascular conditions.