Are Bath Bombs bad for your pipes?

September 28, 2017

Are bath bombs or bath truffles bad for your pipes? Maybe. It depends on primarily three things: additives, oils, and your plumbing.

First up: additives. Lavender buds and flower petals are pretty, but it's possible that they can get lodged in your pipes. Glitter and confetti look fun, but do not dissolve. Add all of them to something gross already building up down in there- like hair, and you could potentially create or exacerbate a problem.

Next up: oils. Soft oils (liquid at room temperature) are almost never a problem, but you definitely want to watch out for butters. Butters have a variety of melting points; if they cool too fast while traveling through your pipes (and they will the further they travel), they can solidify and create a blockage. (There's a reason you don't pour grease into the kitchen sink!)

For example, bath water is usually around 105F degrees. Cocoa butter has a melting point around 97F degrees, so it melts nicely in the hot bath water. At the end of the bath, however, the water may have already cooled to close to 98F degrees. When you open the drains, the pipes are easily going to bring that temperature below that 97F solidification point- potentially creating a buildup.

Last, the way your plumbing is configured matters. Many newer homes have robust, efficient pipes that move water out of the home quickly. A newer home may experience less problems than an older home. Personally, I have a house built in 1889 and the plumbing is not the most efficient. I need to be very conscious of what is going down my drains!

 

So what can you do? 

In the case of additives- this sounds silly, but tie the bath bomb in a length of pantyhose. It will let out the fragrance and color, but keep the plant bits, glitter, and confetti contained. If you want to brave the debris, keep a fine-mesh strainer nearby to fish out the bits that you don't want traveling down the drain before you empty the tub.

In the case of butters.... be conscious of your bath bomb ingredients. Most bath bombs have such a low butter content that it should not create much of an issue. Bath truffles, however, have a much higher butter content and should be used sparingly. Avoid butters with a high melting point, keep your bath water hot, and after the tub drains, run your faucet at its hottest setting for around 30 seconds to ensure the butters remain liquid until they leave your home's pipes.

Here are the melting points of some commonly used butters:

Cocoa Butter 93-100F 

Mango Butter 86F

Coconut Oil 77F

Palm Kernel Oil 75F

 

And if you don't have the best pipes? Sorry- I can't help you much with that! A quick internet search suggests two basic methods for drain and pipe health (disclaimer- I am NOT a plumber so do your research first!):

1. Baking Soda and Vinegar (via LiquidPlumr): Start by pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain. Next, pour in a cup of baking soda and an equal solution of vinegar and water (1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar). Cover with the drain plug and wait 5–10 minutes. Flush the drain with a second pot of boiling water.

2. Detergent (via Brendid): One lone internet warrior claims that only a detergent such as a dish soap has the powder to fight through grease. She recommends pouring down some detergent, waiting 5-10 minutes, and then flushing with large amounts of boiling water.

Well, there you have it! These questions were swirling around in my own head as I worked on my bath truffle recipes, so I wanted to be responsible about releasing them out into the world! <3

 

 

 




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