Introduction: Scented Bath Salts

Picture of Scented Bath Salts

Bath salts make great teacher gifts (or gifts for anybody else who might need to relax at the end of a long, hard day). They are easy enough for children to make themselves, but unlike framed toddler artwork (or a mug with your kid's mug shot), a teacher can either re-gift this or use it up. No clutter! When you make several batches with different scents and colors they present beautifully. 

Step 1: Ingredients & Containers

Picture of Ingredients & Containers


1 1/2 cup epsom salt
A few drops of food coloring (preferably the gel type)
1 tsp jojoba oil
1/4 tsp essential oil

Epsom salt can be found in any pharmacy. It could be replaced with some fancy schmancy dead sea salt, but really, you might as well flush your money down the toilet... the pricy alternatives make no discernible difference whatsoever, except as a marketing gimmick.

Jojoba oil has a very long shelf life and is well tolerated by practically everybody -- but it can be replaced with a number of oils including grapeseed, avocado, sweet almond, or even mineral oil.

Essential oils can usually be found in health food stores (even though they are NOT to be eaten!) and sometimes in pharmacies. Different oils will give the salts different properties: peppermint and orange are invigorating, lavender is relaxing, eucalyptus is great for head colds, etc. I used to think the various healing qualities of essential oils was about as serious as horoscopes, but I have lost some of my skepticism since I've begun experimenting with them. They won't heal you, and should not be considered a cure or medication, but different scents will definitely influence how you feel.

The container can be any recycled clear glass or plastic jar with a proper air tight cover. The containers I used in the intro picture were made from a clear plastic tube (designed to cover fluorescent lights) I bought from a hardware store, then chopped into pieces.

Step 2: Instructions

Picture of Instructions

In a small bowl or teacup combine the oils and food coloring (don't worry about mixing them together), then mix in a few tablespoons of salt to absorb all the oil and color.

Combine the colored scented salt with the rest of the Epsom salt, stir till the color is uniform, then pour into your container.

If you prefer fizzy salt add up to one cup of effervescent powder (a mix of equal quantities of baking soda and citric acid). You may need to add a few extra drops of color and essential oil, but do not add more jojoba oil or the mix might clump -- in fact, over time, fizzy salt will probably clump anyway, but it will still be perfectly usable.

(See my alka seltzer instructable for notes on citric acid)

Step 3: Use It!

Picture of Use It!

Pour approximately 1/4 to 1/3 cup into the tub as it's running and allow it to dissolve before jumping in.


use as decoration for my  cure for the common cold.

This recipe, along with many many others, is part of a book I'm working on called Make Anything, a handbook for saving money, living green and having fun with trash.


blnenni (author)2017-03-30

Does the food coloring come off in the bath water?

belsey (author)blnenni2017-03-30

The bath salts do not color the bath water in any noticeable way... by the time your bath is full, the food coloring is much too diluted.

3rdiii (author)2016-05-01

Can I hire you to make something specific for me using these methods? if so email me at

belsey (author)3rdiii2016-11-10

I didn't see this comment till today... PM me about your project if you're still looking for help!

Quinnamon (author)2010-12-16

Im using food extract, like McCormick's. The flavors are raspberry, mint, and vanilla extract. It works just as well without jojoba oil and expensive oils.

JulzRulzz (author)Quinnamon2015-04-11

Food grade is not the same as skin safe.

belsey (author)Quinnamon2010-12-16

Yes, I suppose you could omit the carrier oils, but they do help make your skin feel nicer after the bath, and they also make it easier to mix in the color. Extract can be used for scent too, but you need to use a lot more for an equal effect -- and they can be expensive too, so I'm not sure if you actually end up saving any money.

amanda.bendle (author)2015-04-06

Can you use a fragrance oil in place of a pure essential oil? A friend wants a tropical scent she found online and it's a decent product, but it is clearly labeled fragrance.

JulzRulzz (author)amanda.bendle2015-04-11

Be sure it is skin safe. A fragrance oil meant to make your house smell nice is not.

belsey (author)amanda.bendle2015-04-06

Yes, you can. As for any chemical (and essential oils are chemicals too) you need to stop using if if you have an allergic reaction, but if you like the scent and your skin tolerates it, then it should be perfectly safe to use in your bath.

thehbird (author)2014-04-14

Where do you buy effervescent powder

belsey (author)thehbird2015-03-20

Sorry, I only saw your comment now... You have to make the effervescent powder, it's one part citric acid, one part baking soda.

elizila (author)2015-03-19

Does the salts work just like a bath bomb? and does the food coloring dye your skin?

belsey (author)elizila2015-03-20

It doesn't fizz like a bath bomb unless you add citric acid and baking soda (this is described in step 2). And no, the food coloring does not die your skin, or even give the bath water much of a color, it's far too diluted by the time the bath is full.

EdwardN (author)2014-09-08

Awesome - very interesting and amazingly simple. Thanks!

LeighDino (author)2013-12-11

What essential oils did you use in the top picture?

belsey (author)LeighDino2013-12-11

Different ones for each color, and they're marked: orange, a combination of geranium and yiang yiang, eucalyptus, lavender and the last one is not an OE but a perfume: chocolate

LeighDino (author)belsey2013-12-11

Okay, wasn't sure so i thought i'd ask. Thanks :)

kyzla (author)2010-12-13

Idea for Container!
At Ikea they have small spice jars called Rajtan, in the kitchen section.
They are perfect for this. Sold in sets of four. I'm giving a set of 4 salts (each a different flavor) using the Ikea packaging to protect the jars. They are glass, and meant for spices, so they keep it air tight. Perfect!
I found them to preserve my beach collection :)

Merry Christmas!

belsey (author)kyzla2010-12-14

Thanks for sharing your idea/tip!

WhyHello (author)2010-12-03

I like it, the package looks alot neater than the others i've seen on this site

paulanorma (author)2010-12-02

Mmmm, amazing!

tbcross (author)2010-11-30

Great ible, I love giving bath stuff for presents I feel like it sorta forces people to pamper themselves a bit. I was wondering if you might show how you stoppered the ends of your tubes? I'm having trouble figuring what I could use there. I'm assuming that the tubes are sorta like PVC and hard?

belsey (author)tbcross2010-12-01

No they're not quite as hard as PVC because the plastic is much thinner. For the ends I bought little plastic caps which were designed to work with the tube, but unfortunately the caps had holes in them (for electrical connections). I used cardboard circles to block the holes but it wasn't an ideal solution. I think you might have better luck finding tubes with caps in a good stationary store, or just use other types of jars. With a big jar you can stack layers of different color salt like you do in a sand bottle, and that is super pretty too.

tbcross (author)belsey2010-12-01

I'll keep my eyes open for some containers. Thanks again. Super idea.

tinadalton (author)2010-11-30

Use any oil but mineral oil. It's an odd oil that actually dries out the skin. When I was taking my classes for massage therapy that was almost the number one question on every test. The school couldn't stress it more, do not use mineral oil on the skin.
Otherwise this is a great instructable.

belsey (author)tinadalton2010-11-30

It is possible that there are different grades of mineral oil. Baby oil, for example, is 100% mineral oil (plus fragrance) and it is considered good for babies because, unlike many vegetable oils (think nuts) it is much less likely to cause an allergic reaction. It is a VERY common ingredient in all sorts of commercial moisturizers, even high end ones like Clinique face creams. That said, I prefer to use other oils too. They feel nicer.

tinadalton (author)belsey2010-11-30

This is a really good site to explain why it's important not to use mineral unless you have no other alternatives. My other degree is isn Early Childhood Education and when I was teaching we received a letter from the state asking us to voluntarily stop using mineral oil. There were a number of cases in which children were having breathing issues. It wasn't mandatory but we did discontinue using it. It's a personal choice but everyone should be aware of some of the side effects.
I really love using Olive oil in my massage, it absorbs well into the body and has many great benefits. It's cost is also as low as mineral oils. Tea Tree is also good but can be a bit pricey unless you can buy it in bulk.

belsey (author)tinadalton2010-12-01

I read the article, but to me it sounds more like someone's personal rant rather than actual data -- all the "references" were links to irrelevant sites or studies: court case about false claims on labels of products containing mineral oil, study about cutting oil (which is not the same stuff as the mineral oil used in cosmetics), some FDA spreadsheet which says no more than 10 parts mineral oil per million should be in food... then the comment about how FDA information relating to mineral oil use on infants could not be located really confirmed my opinion that whoever wrote the article is a quack, intent on proving something which has no basis in fact. Perhaps in years to come we will find out that mineral oil is, in fact, responsible for all the evils in the world, but at this point there is no evidence in that direction. Mineral oil does not "moisturize" skin, that much is true, but it does provide an excellent barrier which prevents moisture loss through evaporation. You might not like how it feels (I'm not a big fan either), but it doesn't dry out the skin.

vikjob (author)2010-12-01
this is fantastic!

ChrysN (author)2010-11-30

What a great gift!

tim13211 (author)2010-11-30

Where can you get essential oil? Can it be made?

belsey (author)tim132112010-11-30

Kiteman posted an instructable on distilling your own perfume oil ... I've never tried it myself though. Too lazy, and no garden... If you can't find essential oils in local health food stores or pharmacies, there are tons of online vendors.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a paper engineer, writer, maker and chemist wannabe. In addition to pop-up cards I design and build furniture, lights, costumes or whatever I ... More »
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