Mother’s Day is May 10! Give Mom a relaxing spa day at home with these spa science gifts you can make yourself using mostly household items. Bath salts add luxury to an ordinary tub while teaching about hard and soft water. Fizzy bath bombs delight the senses through a skin-safe chemical reaction. Homemade sugar scrub introduces exfoliants and humectants and their effects on the skin.
What you need:
• Plastic mixing bowl
• Plastic mixing spoon
• 1 cup Epsom salt
• 1 cup sea salt
• 1/2 teaspoon glycerin
• Fragrance or essential oils (craft or health store)
• Colorant (craft store)
• Liquid soap
• Jar with lid, baby soda bottles* or other airtight container
What you do:
• Mix together the Epsom salt and sea salt in the mixing bowl.
• Add glycerin to the salt mixture and mix through. (The glycerin is not necessary, but it helps the colorant and oil get dispersed evenly through the salt.)
• Add a few drops of fragrance or essential oils.
• Add a few drops of colorant. We recommend getting oil-based skin-safe colorant from a craft store or else leaving out the colorant.
• Wet your hands with tap water, add a drop of soap to your hands, then rub together to form a lather.
• Observe how much lather forms, then rinse off your hands.
• Fill a sink with water and add about 1/8 cup of salt mixture to it.
• Use your hands to stir the water to help the salt dissolve.
• With your hands still wet from the salt water, add a drop of soap to your hands and rub them together to form a lather.
• Store the remaining salts in a jar, keeping the lid on tightly to keep moisture out. Use about 1/4 cup of the salts in your bath.
What Happened: Most likely you found it easier to form lather (and more of it!) when using the water with salt rather than the water with no salt. This is because of the difference between hard water and soft water. Most households in America have hard water. Hard water has a high mineral content, usually with calcium and magnesium, whereas soft water contains less of these minerals. Calcium and magnesium ions in the hard water react with the soap, forming insoluble gray flakes called soap scum rather than a lather. This means you need more soap to get clean and the bathtub gets a grimy ring around it from the leftover soap scum. One way to soften hard bath water is to add bath salts. The calcium and magnesium ions in the water are replaced with sodium and potassium ions from the salt, allowing the soap to lather much more easily. (If your home has soft water, you may not notice too much of a difference in how well the soap lathers in the water with your bath salts and the water without the bath salts. However, the salt and essential oils will still have a beneficial effect on your skin.)
Another benefit of adding bath salts to your bath has to do with osmosis. Osmosis is the movement of water through a membrane (such as your skin) to achieve equilibrium. Your body contains water and salt, whereas an ordinary bath contains mainly water and very little salt. Therefore, water passes through your skin in an effort to balance the concentration of water and salt in you and in your bath. This excess water causes “pruning” (your fingers and toes wrinkle). Adding bath salts to the water causes a more equal balance of salt and water in both you and in the bath, so less water enters your skin and less wrinkling occurs. Salt is also thought to draw impurities and toxins out of your skin and soothes sore muscles!