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I love a good detox bath to remove toxins from the body and help kids relax (especially before bed) but a bubble bath is so much more fun!
Unfortunately, many bubble baths available at the store contain ingredients that can cause more toxicity. This bubble bath recipe is a great way to give kids a fun bubble bath experience without loading them with toxins.
Why Not Conventional Bubble Bath?
Makers of conventional bubble bath know what they’re doing… those brightly colored fun bottles look quite tempting. They even have cartoon character heads on them! While I can’t blame any kid for wanting them, the ingredient list is not as attractive by a long shot.
According to the Environmental Working Group’s website, which ranks ingredients in personal care products from 1-10 (10 being most toxic), some of the most toxic ingredients in these bubble baths are:
- Fragrance – Concerns include allergies/immune dysfunction, irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), and ecosystem toxicity. Score = 8
- Propylparaben – Concerns include allergies/immune dysfunction, endocrine (hormone) disruption, developmental/reproductive toxicity, ecosystem toxicity. Score = 7
- Oxybenzone – Concerns include biochemical or cellular level changes, allergies/immune dysfunction, endocrine disruption, persistence and bioaccumulation (accumulation in the body), developmental/reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity (non-reproductive). Score = 8
- Imidazolidinyl Urea (a formaldehyde releaser) – Concerns include allergies/immune dysfunction, cancer, and contamination. Score = 7
- Formaldehyde (from imidazolidinyl urea) – Locks in a 10 on the toxicity scale for cancer, allergies, and immunotoxicity.
There are a number of other ingredients found in children’s bubble bath including sodium laureth sulfate (which helps bubbles last longer) that are questionable at best.
Protecting the Skin (and Body)
The skin is our biggest organ and has its own microbiome that is very important to the body. I’m a firm believer that what goes on the skin is as important as what goes in the body (if not more so) since what goes on the skin can be absorbed. If the skin is so susceptible to toxins, it makes sense to keep conventional bubble bath away from kids (and adults too).
The problem that many naturally minded moms run into when their kids want a bubble bath (with the brightly colored bottles from the grocery store, no less) is that kids don’t understand why the answer is “no”. They just want to enjoy a bubbly, sweet-smelling bath (hey, I do too!).
The solution? Make a homemade bubble bath that only contains ingredients that are safe for kids and adults.
How to Make Your Own Bubble Bath
A few simple natural ingredients are all that’s needed to make your own DIY bubble bath:
- Liquid castile soap – Castile soap, a coconut-based soap, is the base of this recipe. On its own, castile soap doesn’t create very many bubbles (and they don’t last long).
- Vegetable glycerin – Glycerin is the ingredient that gives the bubbles a boost. It helps make more suds and also helps the bubbles last longer.
- Essential oils – A natural way to give the bubble bath a nice scent (without yucky chemical fragrances). They can also be used therapeutically (to enhance relaxation, for example).
Kids’ Bubble Bath Recipe
An all-natural bubble bath recipe to make bath time extra fun!
- ¾ cup liquid castile soap
- ¼ cup vegetable glycerin
- 5-8 drops kid-safe essential oils
- In a small bowl, mix castile soap, glycerin, and essential oil. Pour into a glass jar for storage.
- Add 1 tablespoon at a time to running bath water until desired bubbles are achieved.
Full disclosure: This kids’ bubble bath recipe can produce a decent suds but it won’t be as bubbly as a conventional bubble bath.
A Note on Essential Oil Safety
Essential oils are highly concentrated substances and can cause harm when used incorrectly. Always dilute them in a carrier oil (water will not dilute them) before using topically. It’s also important to choose essential oils that are safe for children if adding them to a kids’ bubble bath recipe.
Some essential oils that are calming and safe for infants and children are:
- cedarwood atlantica
- clary sage
- juniper berry
Personally, I would avoid using any essential oils in the bath for infants under 3 months and use them sparingly (and diluted) until about 2 years of age. I never add essential oils directly to the bath but dilute them first as in the recipe above.
For a more detailed list of safer essential oils to use around kids, see this helpful post from the Plant Therapy blog, which is endorsed by Robert Tisserand. They even have a line of Kid-Safe blends to take the guesswork out of it.
How Often Can DIY Bubble Bath Be Used?
Since it’s made with natural ingredients, use this DIY bubble bath recipe as often as you like. But be aware that bubble baths (and bathing/showering in general) doesn’t need to be a daily activity for kids, as bathing too often can actually disrupt the skin microbiome and cause eczema and even asthma.
The idea is that washing too often removes microbes from the skin that would otherwise help the immune system develop optimally. Children who haven’t reached puberty yet can get away with one or two baths a week.
Is This Kids’ Bubble Bath Recipe Tear-Free?
Any castile soap, even Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild, is not tear-free. So this recipe is not going to be tear-free (which is a good thing — I’ll explain).
The reason soap irritates the eyes in the first place is that soap has a different pH from the eyes. The eyes actually have a very small window of acceptable pH (7.2-7.4). The pH of real soap is outside that range and will cause some burning if it gets in the eyes.
Tear-free “soaps” don’t actually include soap at all, but this isn’t necessarily a great thing. They contain synthetic surfactants that may be carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and allergens.
My soap strategy: do my best to avoid contact with the eyes and if it happens, rinse with clear water. So far we rarely have any problems.
No Time for DIY?
I love making my own products, but I don’t always have time these days either! Thankfully, companies have come a long way in the last 10 years. This store-bought bubble bath is rated as a top safer choice by the EWG (score of 1). If you try it please let me know what you think in the comments!
Have you tried making your own bubble bath? How did it work?
Discussion (30 Comments)
This didn’t make any bubbles at our house 🙁 Do you think it could have omething to do with our water?
This is the expected result. A bathtubful of most people’s water has enough “hardness” to turn any reasonable amount of actual soap (such as castile) into sudsless curds, and then scum and a ring, instead of bubbles. Easy way to tell: If you take a bath ordinarily with actual soap, when you’re done is the water bubbly, or is it scummy? If it’s scummy, it’ll be that way regardless of whether you put in that amount of soap at the beginning or washed with it during the bath.
Wish I would have read this comment before making this and wasting good ingredients. unfortunately, it did not work for me either. Thank you for the info!
Thank you so much! I’ve been searching for a good one because my husband likes bubble baths too 😉 Can’t wait to just make my own! Thank you for giving us all of the details too! Super appreciate it!
When I clicked on the link for the safe store bought bubble bath, it brings me to an Amazon page selling sweet orange essential oil for $110. I’m not sure if it’s just me (or why it would take me to that page) or if the link is not working correctly.
I use a Canadian company called Rocky Mountain Soap based in Canmore, Alberta for shampoo, conditioner and all body soaps and lotions as I have an extreme allergy to sodium lauryl sulfate. I’m not in any way affiliated with the company, just a very grateful customer as everything they sell is natural and free from SLS (and other nasty chemicals). Also, living in Canada, often it is very expensive to buy and ship things from the US.
But I definitely appreciate new ideas and DIY recipes, so thank you for all your hard work and effort to make these posts available.
So sorry about that! It’s working on my end. Here it is again.
I have hard water issue also
I usually always put baking soda in it to help nitrulize the water for the minion as she loves playing in water but had some open wounds and it seemed to not itratate them as bad
I’ve mixed this before and it almost never comes out great but I also didn’t do it with baking soda that time
Would adding baking soda first then more towards the end adding this might help for the bubbles????
Or is there anything else that could help???
And if our kids drink this water is it okay??? My kiddo always sneaks some water in while playing. She’s only 22 months lol
Baking soda would be expected to have little to no effect on suds, if that’s your “issue”; as likely to decrease as increase them. Not sure what you’re trying to neutralize in the water with it. Most “hard” waters already have an excess of bicarbonate ion, so adding more isn’t going to bring it closer to pH neutral, if that’s what you mean, but just make it more alkaline. Ordinarily someone with open wounds shouldn’t be immersing them in bath water to begin with.
I’m excited to try this because my kids miss bubble baths so much and I haven’t found anything on the market that I think is safe enough! I’m a little confused about the essential oils though. The recipe says to mix the oil of choice in with the other two ingredients, but then you say that the oils should always be diffused with a carrier oil. So is putting the oil in with the castile soap and glycerin enough to diffuse it or does it need to be added separately with another oil? Thanks!
Yes, combining it with theater ingredients is enough 🙂
I like this if I want bubbles in my bath. Wondering what you think of it for kids?
Aura Cacia Aromatherapy Foam Bath, Peaceful Patchouli and Sweet Orange
Also, alkalinity is not the main reason soap stings eyes, because most pH-neutral shampoos sting eyes about as much as soap — for instance, lauryl sulfate-based Prell. Alkanolamides used in shampoos as foam stabilizers and/or thickeners sting like crazy.
I’ve never heard of oxybenzone as a bubble bath ingredient. Maybe somebody got it mixed up with sunscreen.
My own bubble bath worked great, though a commercial flop. It didn’t use soap. I also made bubble baths using Ivory Snow back when that was made of soap, and while that worked, there are problems with soap-based bubble baths:
1. A tubful of most people’s water has enough hardness to require a large-to-huge amount of soap before it makes suds rather than just curds and scum. Until you’ve run all the water in, you don’t know how much soap it’ll take; if you add it while the water’s running, you may get suds that then turn into curds as more water comes in. My experience with Ivory Snow was with NYC’s soft water, but many people who’ve tried recipes such as published here have reported a total absence of bubbles and then a ring.
2. Soap has a low ratio of bubbles to grease cutting. Bath water sudsy from soap is as grease cutting as dish water. We don’t have that strong a solution on our skin for a long time when we WASH with soap, so many who soak in soapsuds water get itchy or rashy. For bubble bath, you want a high ratio of bubbles to grease cutting. You just want some foam to play with; you’ll wash quickly with soap and shampoo and rinse to get clean.
Bubble baths made of other surfactants are milder and more effective. I made mine of sulfosuccinates and betaines. I didn’t perfume it, and it smelled nice to me.
Robert – Do you have a recipe?
Mix 2 volumes 40% diammonium lauryl sulfosuccinate with 1 volume 40% disodium laureth-3 sulfosuccinate solution. Mix 2 volumes of this with 1 volume of alkamidopropyl betaine solution.
The alkamidopropyl betaine solution can be plain 30% active (35% solids) lauramidopropyl betaine, but preferably a 2:1 (or better 3:2) mixture of 30% active lauramidopropyl betaine and 30% active palmitamidopropyl betaine solution. The palmitamidopropyl betaine solution’s a little hard to get, but adding it makes for a more skin-softening product with cottony foam.
it may be hard to get any of these ingredients in less-than-commercial amounts. Try reading and asking at either Susan Barclay-Swift’s blog (swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.com) or itsallinmyhands.com for help obtaining ingredients for toiletry experimentation in hobby amounts.
I have tried this recipe before, but, because I get fluoridated and hard water in my city, the bubbles last two seconds before leaving me with cloudy water. I did find Aura Cassia brand in the organic section of the store, though, and found this brand to be easier on my skin. I wish there was some thing that would work for my water.
Just about anything that makes suds and is NOT made from soap should work. Soap is even included in some laundry detergents as an anti-foam. For instance, the ingredients of All Free & Clear liquid include sodium cocoate (coconut soap) for “suds suppression”.
I absolutely LOVE your blog! Because of it, I’ve taken the time to invest in and learn the how-to of making all of my own bath care products! I’ve truly saved more money by doing DIYs and have even turned it into a somewhat lucrative side business! Plus the chance to experiment with different scents has been a dream. Who would’ve thought it’d be so easy to make a soap that smells just like a great mug of spiced hot cocoa?! DIVINE!