What is blooming and how do I do it?
If you've been lurking around Facebook help groups or just the internet in general doing your research on bath bomb colourants, you'll almost certainly have come across the term 'blooming'. So what does it mean?
When you receive water soluble dyes for the first time, it's easy to assume that you've been sent the wrong product. In their neat, dry form, water soluble dyes can look dull, uninspiring and even a different colour to that which was ordered. It's not until the dyes come into contact with water that they come alive.
Take Acid Red 52 for example- in it's dry form, this dye looks brown. Add it to water however and you'll see it turn into the most stunning hot pink colour.
Blooming is the process of adding your dye to hot water and mixing it with bicarbonate of soda to bring out the colour of the dye to its full potential. This makes the colour 'blossom' and is how the term blooming came about.
If you've already tried making bath bombs, you'll know that you can't add very much water without risking activation and, as a result, colours can sometimes look muted and lack the bold colour that most bath bomb makers hope to achieve. This is why some bath bomb makers like to pre prepare their dye and bicarbonate of soda.
Okay, so how do I do it?
1. Put the kettle on (no, not for coffee, you’ll actually need it for the blooming process)
2. Weigh out 650g of bicarbonate of soda and set aside.
3. In a small vessel (preferably glass or something clear), add a quarter teaspoon of water soluble dye.
4. Add 30mls of hot (just boiled) kettle water to the vessel which contains the water soluble dye and mix until all of the powder has dissolved. You’ll be able to see this better if you’re using a clear container to mix the dye with the water.
5. Add the dye water mixture to your bicarbonate of soda and mix thoroughly, either with a stand mixer, or by hand until the colour is evenly distributed and the mix is uniform in colour.
6. Once you’re happy that the dye is thoroughly mixed into the bicarbonate of soda and there are no colour specks, spread the mixture thinly and evenly on a baking sheet/tray and set aside it to dry. This can take anywhere from 24-48 hours. The bicarb MUST be completely dry before using it or you will risk activating your bath bombs.
TIP: Be sure to wear gloves if mixing by hand. Water soluble dyes won’t permanently stain your hands but it’ll take a good few washes to get rid of it completely if you don’t wear gloves when hand mixing.
TIP: You can hasten the drying process by putting the bicarb in the oven at 50 degrees celsius. Don’t be tempted to crank up the heat however as bicarbonate of soda turns into carbonate of soda (washing soda) if heated beyond 50 degrees.
Is blooming necessary?
In short, no, blooming isn’t necessary. You’ll still get the same show of colour in the bath water regardless of whether you bloom or not.
A lot of bath bomb makers find that they are unable to add sufficient water to their recipe to enable them to get the desired depth of colour so it’s necessary to bloom. Other bath bomb makers can add a lot more water to their recipes making blooming unnecessary.