Taking a bath is one of the best forms of entertainment for a child (in addition to getting them clean). And let’s face it: it can also be a wonderfully relaxing activity for mom too. I have two kids who love taking baths, they much prefer them over showers, and they really like bubble baths the most.
There is just something about being able to be surrounded with bubbles that the bath toys will disappear under, using the bubbles to make crazy looking hair and beards and other things on their bodies, and blowing sudsy bubbles off your hands and onto the walls during bath time.
I remember doing that as a child, and I love to watch my kids have the same type of fun that I used to have (some things just don’t change from one generation to the next!). When it comes to bubble baths and the options out there, when my kids were babies I, like so many other moms, blindly trusted Johnson’s Baby Bubble Bath & Wash (1). As they grew older I used various “better” bubble bath (meaning, I didn’t buy those cartoon character covered, bright red or blue brands…but turns out what I was using wasn’t too great).
A few years ago I became much more educated about toxins in bubble baths. Ingredients such as fragrances (irritant), surfectants like sodium laureth sulfate (irritating with high contamination concerns from the manufacturing process) (2), artificial dyes and colors, and retinyl palmitate (cancer and organ system toxicity) (3) are just a few of the things that I don’t want going into my kids’ (or my) bath water anymore.
For a while, that meant no bubble baths.
Well, we tried using liquid castile soap a few times, but it barely made any bubbles and the ones it did create were small and went away quickly. After a while I researched and discovered that there was a brand that did very well on the EWG Skin Deep Database. I opted to buy a bottle of the California Baby (4) to make the kids (and mommy) happy with some actual bubble bath the produced those bubbles we remembered and missed.
But even though this product worked very well, it costs a small fortune for something that gets used so often. I found that we really had to ration it or else we would run out very quickly. We still use this product off and on, but the cost made me wonder if liquid castile soap could, in fact, be tweaked enough to create larger, longer-lasting bubbles because the overall cost would be significantly lower and that would make me a happy mama.
I tried two different recipes, both using a base of castile soap, in hopes of coming up with a DIY non-toxic bubble bath recipe that my kids and I would both enjoy. In the spirit of full disclosure, I trialed and tested these recipes in my double wide kitchen sink, and not the large bathtub.
There are several reasons I did it this way:
This allowed me to use less than half the total amount of ingredients that I would end up using in our bathtub (I try to not be wasteful with my ingredients during trials and formulations!); I was able to run two different formulations at the same time to compare them both; and it helped me avoid needing to take photos in my bathtub since our bathroom is the only room in the house that we have not renovated since we moved in 7 years ago (trust me…it is better off this way!).
- Gently stir ingredients together and add to bath under running water.
I could easily pick up a handful of soft, sudsy bubbles and blow them off my hand. There are enough bubbles to cover the kids faces and hair and make them look silly.
They lasted for a decent amount of time, and I was able to “puff” them back up a little by using the hand sprayer (you could use the one in your bathtub to get the same effect).
- Whip egg white gently with a fork. Stir the rest of the ingredients in gently and add to bath under running water.
I could pick up more bubbles in my hand with this recipe. Kids would easily have fun playing with the bubbles for a little while.
The one and only thing that I did not care for was the sticky feeling that was on my skin after handling the bubbles, which I am assuming was caused by the egg white. For most people this isn’t going to matter since you are going to thoroughly wash your children, or yourself, down with soap at the end of the bath. But it is something worth mentioning to be aware of.
Of the two recipes, this one lasted the longest But only by 10 minutes or so over the first recipe).
You can add essential oils to further enhance your (or your child’s) bubble bath experience. My kids love sweet orange with a little bit of ylang ylang essential oils. I love lavender and ylang ylang (these can be combined or used separately). I would say you can add herbs into the bath water too, but anything that will pop the bubbles will cause them to go away quicker than using essential oils will.
Overall, I was happy with the outcome of these recipes, with Recipe # 2 producing the best bubbles.
I will definitely make this a regular part of our bath time routine on bath days.
If your children’s hands need extra scrubbing before enjoying their bubbles, give them a sugar soap scrub first!