two hands in cloudy white bath bomb water

Do Bath Bombs Clog Drains?

Plop and fizz – that’s the sound of a night well spent in the bath. Using bath bombs transforms an already relaxing experience into something even more luxurious. Light a few candles and put on your favourite playlist and you’re in for a treat.

While this routine might help you feel more tranquil after a hard day at work, your bath tub drain (and your wallet) won’t be thanking you. Bath bombs can clog drains!

Not all bath bombs pose the same risks, however. So how, exactly, do bath bombs clog drains? It comes down to what they’re made from.

What goes in a bath bomb?

bath bomb and candle sitting on bath tub caddy

To understand what goes in a bath bomb to make it fizz when you drop it in water, you need to cast your mind back to primary school and that paper mache volcano we all made.

This classic science project combined white vinegar and baking soda to create a fizzing volcanic eruption. Mixed together, this reaction produces sodium acetate, water and carbon dioxide gas. The gas released is what causes the fizzing and bubbling.

Bath bombs work in very much the same way but are a little less dramatic – replacing vinegar with water tones down the reaction just a touch. Bath bombs more often are made with more than just the fizzing ingredients though.

Other than the fizz making ingredients, what are bath bombs made out of? You’ll commonly find:

  • Epsom salt or other bath salts for the muscle relaxing abilities
  • Cocoa butter as a moisturising agent
  • Essential oils for fragrance
  • Flower petals and colourants for the aesthetics
  • Glitter to add some sparkle to your tub

How do these clog drains?

Due to the cooler temperature of your drain compared to your hot bath, the dissolved oils and salts from your bath bomb can congeal and clog your drain. Other chunky additives which make your bath look nice are also a cause for concern. Your drain wasn’t designed with flower petals and glitter in mind.

Chances are, there’s also a build-up of hair, skin cells and more which will only make the blockage worse.

If your drain is blocked, you can expect slow drains when you remove the plug from the tub, or worse yet, the water won’t drain at all!

What about bath bombs in hot tubs?

So you want to use bath bombs in a hot tub? You’d be wise to reconsider.

Jetted hot tubs use a pump to suck water in and jet it out. Not too long after sucking in your bath bomb’s essential oils, glitter and flower petals, you can expect to need to replace the whole pump.

Probably worse than clogged drains, you’ll be up for a big bill to repair this damage.

How to Prevent Your Bath Bomb Clogging Your Drain

dark blue bath bomb dissolving in water

Using bath bombs might sound like a lost cause, but fear not! All hope is not lost yet. There are a few ways you can still use a bath bomb without so great a risk of ruining your tub’s plumbing.

Consider putting your bath bomb in a fine mesh screen or bag. This could be a washing bag or even a pair of tights.

The mesh will allow the oh so important fizzing ingredients out as well as much of the colour and fragrant oils. But it will capture the chunkier ingredients as well as solids that did not dissolve.

When your fingers are nice and pruney and it’s time to drain the tub, you can prevent clogs here too.

For bath tubs with a removable plug, you can also prevent clogged drains by using a strainer to catch debris when you drain it. This might be a specific strainer made for your tub, or you could simply hold that same mesh from earlier over the drain. Just toss the remaining chunks in the bin!

With the water drained, give your bath tub a good clean. Be careful with any glitter – it could scratch your tub! With the tub wiped out, run and drain with hot water to try and rinse any solids or debris that might have accumulated in your pipes.

Now, we’re not saying you should never use bath bombs. They’re a little luxury that can really elevate your bathing experience. A night in the tub with some bubbles and bath oils can be just as good as bath bombs, however, plus there’s no risk of a plumbing catastrophe.

That said, bath bombs clog drains if you don’t take the steps to mitigate it. Following these steps to prevent blockages means you can have your cake and eat it too.

Published: 11 Feb, 2021

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