There's a grand tradition in my house of me making things for people as gifts that must have started from when I was as young as five. This past holiday, I scrapbooked for the first time because it was my first year living in another part of the country from my family and wanted to give her something that was distinctly about the two of us and how much I appreciated her.
My next gift (which may or may not get out to her in time) is going to be a mini spa kit. My mom works a part time job but also runs an EBay business, so she's constantly busy and, with my brother only just 18 and still living at home, stressed out as well.
I thought I'd share my recipe for bath salts (which I've used and perfected in the past - I developed and branded product in the bath and body industry for an assignment in college) for anyone else looking for a personal touch. Some of the ingredients also have links to suppliers I've used in the past to help you out if you don't have anything handy. I apologize that this tutorial won't have photos as my digital SLR camera USB cord seems to have run away, but I'll try to update with a photo of the finished product later.
TRIO OF BATH SALTS
Bath salts are a quick and easy way to make any bath more soothing. Including them in multiples allows the receiver to choose a fragrance that best suits their mood, or the mood they'd like to be in!
Epsom Salts or Bath Salt Base
Essential Oils or Fragrance Oils
Food Coloring (optional)
Bath Salt Containers (in your choice of size and material)
Wax Paper and a Large Surface to Dry Salts on
Disposable Spoon or Other Mixing Tool
With a kitchen scale or by eye, measure out the number of ounces of salts that your container will hold; add on an additional two to four ounces to compensate for any salt shrinkage that may occur as you add wet materials to them. Move measured salts into a mixing bowl or other large container that you will NOT use for food in the future - obviously, not a good idea to eat essential or fragrance oils, even if it smells like chocolate, or blueberry muffins, or whathaveyou.
Begin with your food coloring - if you choose not to color your salts, you can skip this step. Color choice is based on personal preference; if you have a color theme that your scent doesn't fit into, it's not a big deal. Because food coloring is a wet ingredient, it is important to add this in slowly and in small quantities at a time. Add it in drop by drop, mixing the salts as you go with a spoon or other tool that you can dispose of after the batch is complete. When you have achieved your desired color intensity, put the food coloring aside and continue to mix for five minutes or so as the salt dries and absorbs the last bits of dye. If after this the salt still appears wet, spread it out on wax paper over a large, flat surface to allow it to dry further before proceeding - it will not absorb the fragrance well it is still too wet, in my experience.
Once your bath salts are dry, you can begin to add fragrance. There is no exact formula to tell when you have exactly the right amount of fragrance added, but you can certainly under- or over-fragrance these salts. When you've added too much, the salts become incredibly wet and begin to shrink. There's no "in-the-process" way to really tell when you've added too little - you just have to wait until they're dry to test their aroma. If it's too weak, you can just add more fragrance and let them dry again. in my experience, it's better to add more fragrance than to be wimpy with it, as long as you're still falling short of the salts shrinking. Since you need to air dry them, some of the fragrance will be lost in the process, so personally stronger is better for me.
After placing your salts back in the mixing bowl, begin adding your fragrance, blending it in as you add (as you did for the coloring). Eye droppers are extremely helpful during this process so you can have a greater "drop by drop" control of the fragrance - you don't want to add a lot at a time. It's good to take short breaks between adding batches of fragrance to ensure your salts are absorbing them by mixing without adding additional fragrance.
After adding the fragrance, the salts should look a little slick, but not sopping wet. There should not be excess fragrance in the bottom of the bowl after blending; if there is, drain it out of the bowl. Distribute salts evenly over a sheet of wax paper on a large, flat surface and let them dry for a couple of hours (or until dry to touch). The salts must be allowed to dry thoroughly before being placed in containers.
All that's left then is to pack them up and design the packaging (perhaps use the Spring Gift Tag Kit?)! You salts will be able to be used immediately, although I've personally noticed the fragrance pops a lot better when used after a week or two.