Here is a tip from Michael from The Trimmed Wick. I hope this helps everyone.
"we finally got it to work and pressed out over 500 bombs today. After all I have read, and all you told me, you won't believe the remedy, but it is perfect every time! We mix the Sodium Bicarbonate and Citric acid together. Spritz in alcohol until it is just about to clump in your hand when squeezed. Then we add oils, salt, and fragrance. It is just enough more moisture to firm it up for pressing. If we add the salt and oils in the dry material it failed every time.
One thing we did notice when spritzing is to work the material a little longer before adding more. Keep mixing. We also found that letting it rest for a couple minutes before starting to press helped it a lot."
Goes against everything I ever read anywhere, but it has worked flawless for us.
it's me again. playing with my wonderful machine. I have to tell you that I was still a bit frustrated with making the smaller bombs. It seems that it was a hit and miss on whether they would turn out. Today I tried something different and it worked perfect everytime. I want to share this with anyone who is having difficulty getting the smaller bombs to stick (this will work with the larger ones as well.)
I would try putting the mixture in loosely but they would still break. I tried packing it in and still no luck. Then i tried half and half. the bottom would be packed tight while the top was loose. that would work sometimes but not all the time. then I tried something else. I would pack it tight half way but I would use my thumb to make a trough in the middle of the packed mixture. then i would fill it the rest of the way very loose. I would level it off at the top as i found too much made a mess when i pressed it. they came out perfect everytime. they even slid out of the mold without any effort.
I hope this helps anyone who is having the same problem as I was. just remember to make a trough in the middle of the packed mixture before filling it the rest of the way up with very very loose mixture and level it off at the top.
After working with the press and slowing the piston down on the way back up, I was able to produce solid bath bombs. It took a few tries, but once the piston slowed down on the way back up, my mold stayed in place. I also followed all of the tips on this forum and also the detailed instructions and photos on All Things Hemp Seed on Facebook. I am anxious to make more bath bombs with the bath bomb press!
I wanted to note that at first I was very frustrated that the press kept slamming on the way up and would cause the mold to come out of the groove and at times knock the mold over. I was wasting ingredients because the bath bombs were not sticking together. After a few wasted batches and finally figuring out that the piston needed slowed down on the way back up, the machine was then under control and didn't tip the mold. Finally, I got it figured out and we now have bath bombs!
She also said that she is using a foam for them to sit in to dry. Please see the note from her (for some reason she was unable to post this on the board so I am cutting and pasting it :)) "the foam I am using to dry my bath bombs I bought at a fabric store. It's extremely soft so it cradles the bombs and allows them to dry evenly. I also turn them once during the drying so as not to stick to the foam which is sometimes does. not a big deal really. This memory foam is for pillows as it's extremely thick and soft. Great for drying all the bombs especially with the groves as they stop the bombs from rolling around. Hope this helps others. Catherine
I wanted to note that at first I was very frustrated that the press kept slamming on the way up and would cause the mold to come out of the groove and at times knock the mold over. I was wasting ingredients because the bath bombs were not sticking together.
After a few wasted batches and finally figuring out that the piston needed slowed down on the way back up, the machine was then under control and didn't tip the mold. Finally, I got it figured out and we now have bath bombs!
How do I slow the piston down for on the way up only?
We made over 3000 bath bombs in the last couple of weeks and wanted to follow up with some more updated tips.
We made them in batches of 40 or 50 each as we found that more manageable for mixing. We noticed when we initially pressed and they were breaking in 1/2, it required more witch hazel. We did the extra mixing with the witch hazel by hand as we like to "feel" every batch coming out. Again, it should feel like wet sand and can squeeze in your hand.
When we initially pressed and they were breaking in 3 parts (top, sleeve, and bottom) then it was a bit too wet. We let it sit about 3 minutes and mixed again, then pressed and they all came out. We noticed that the batch got a bit more grainy but it did not affect any of the bath bombs once pressed.
Also, when working with a larger batch of material. We would remix the batch by hand a couple of times during pressing so the top of the bottom of the batch did not remain so wet compared to the top of the batch.
I hope that helps out with folks working with larger batches.