These creamy, sugar-studded little nuggets of pumpkin-spicy goodness are like a hybrid between a mini scrub bar and a bath melt. They self-emulsify with your bath or shower water on your skin as you use them, turning into a creamy, mouth-watering scrub that buffs away dead skin and leaves you hydrated and glowing. Then, when you’re done scrubbing, the sugar dissolves and you’re left with a bath that pretty much has a self-emulsifying pumpkin spice bath oil in it—all pumpkin spice, skin-softening goodness, but no oily tub. Score!
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I’ve used a combination of two different emulsifiers (a complete emulsifying wax and a solubilizer) to ensure these nuggets instantly emulsify on damp skin, and they do—beautifully. On the first glide down a damp arm you’ll immediately notice creamy white, skin-softening goodness as the oils in the wee bars emulsify with the water on your skin, transforming into lotion. There are options for the emulsifiers (see the big list at the end of the recipe), but I don’t recommend eliminating either of them.
A blend of stearic acid and cetyl alcohol solidifies these scrubby nuggets to just the right point, which is a fairly fussy thing with a project like this. The nuggets need to be solid enough that they stay solid when you aren’t use them, but melt readily on your skin and in bath water that isn’t scaldingly hot (I’ve definitely made a few batches like that and you just end up with sad clumps of ick in your tub). If you live somewhere quite a lot hotter than I do, you may want to store these nuggets in the fridge; you’ll notice they soften quite readily at body temperature, so if your house is about body temperature… they will be very soft. If you make them harder they won’t melt as readily on your skin, so I suppose one could probably say that if it’s hot enough where you live that you don’t take baths, it’s probably also too hot to make these 😉
Our scent blend stars all the things I love paired with pumpkin—sweet vanilla with spicy accents from cinnamon bark, clove bud, ginger, and a titch of nutmeg. The scrubbiness comes from granulated white sugar. That’s just plain ol’ white sugar—not fancy large crystal or berry/caster sugar. You could also use table salt as an alternative, but salt + pumpkin spice just seemed wrong to me, even though we aren’t eating it 😝
Like most oily things this one is a simple weigh and melt, with some more stirring at the end to get that sugar to stay in suspension before we pour. I did it twice—once with an ice bath, and once without. It’s definitely much faster with an ice bath! Just be sure to stir constantly if you’re using an ice bath and have everything ready as it’ll set up much faster and you may find yourself scrambling for your mould if you don’t have it on hand from the get-go.
I’d recommend storing these in a wee tub or tin to keep them dry, and probably not in your bathroom since bathrooms tend to get hot and steamy on a fairly regular basis. Each nugget is a single-use-one-and-done thing as they are preservative-free, so keep that in mind when you choose your mould so you aren’t trying to use a scrub nugget the size of your fist in one go 😝 Enjoy your Pumpkin Spice Scrub Nuggets!
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Pumpkin Spice Scrub Nuggets
0.25g | 2 drops vitamin E oil
2 “blobs” benzoin resinoid
5 drops cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) essential oil
2 drops clove bud essential oil
2 drops CO2 extracted ginger essential oil
1 drop nutmeg essential oil (optional)
35g | 1.23oz granulated white sugar
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a small saucepan.
Weigh the polawax, polysorbate 80, fractionated coconut oil, stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, and kaolin clay into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
Once everything has melted through, remove the measuring cup from the heat, dry it off, and stir it occasionally as it cools (an ice bath will help cool this along, though you’ll have to stir constantly if you go that route lest it set up solid before you can pour it!). As it cools, prepare your mould by putting it on a plate so you can easily carry it to the fridge (this is especially important for floppy silicone moulds!).
When the mixture has a bit of viscosity to it, stir in the vitamin E, essential oils, and sugar. Keep stirring occasionally as the mixture cools (again, you can use an ice bath here, just be sure to stir constantly), until it has enough viscosity that the sugar doesn’t immediately settle out. At that point, pour it into your mould, and then quickly transfer the mould to your fridge to chill.
After about twenty minutes the nuggets should be all set up, though this will depend on the size of each nugget. Once they’ve set up, release them from the mould, taking care to handle them as little as possible—they melt quite readily on contact with skin!
Because these scrub nuggets do not contain any water, they does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Be sure to keep it dry to ensure it lasts as long as possible—don’t let any water get into the container and it should easily last a year. Each nugget is a single-use thing, so choose your mould size accordingly. Once the nugget gets wet, use it all up in one go!
- You can use Emulsifying Wax NF instead of Polawax. You could also use BTMS-50, but it’s definitely more expensive than the other two options and you’ll just be washing it down the drain, so it seems like a waste to use it here.
- You can use Olivem300 (NOT 1000!) instead of Polysorbate 80
- You can use a different lightweight, inexpensive liquid carrier oil instead of the fractionated coconut oil (think safflower, sunflower, canola, grapeseed, sweet almond, etc.)
- You can probably use more stearic acid instead of the cetyl alcohol, but not the other way around. The melting point of these little nuggets is quite carefully balanced, so messing with these ingredients can really throw off the entire recipe.
- You can use any warm/brownish clay instead of red kaolin, like French red or even rhassoul—it’s just for colour. You could also use white kaolin if you don’t care for the colour.