Can you take bath bombs on an airplane? What about packing bath bombs in carry on luggage? Our readers ask the BEST questions about TSA carry on rules and we can't wait to help!
I absolutely love it when readers send in their travel questions - and often those questions focus on packing, specifically packing and carry on luggage. And this month's question is an especially good one: Can you take a bath bomb on an airplane? The answer is yes. But I know you don't come to me for short answers! You want details! You demand explanations!
As a lover of relaxing baths AND easy to pack luggage, I am only too happy to dig a bit deeper into this particular query regarding toiletries and TSA carry on rules.
Packing bath bombs in carry on luggage: First, you've got to understand the rules about liquids, toiletries, 3-1-1 kits, and TSA carry on rules.
First, a little refresher on why questions about carry on luggage toiletries matter so much. It all starts with the complex rules surrounding 3-1-1 kits and TSA carry on regulations. As I first explained in my blog post about whether or not bath salts are a liquid for packing purposes:
"A 3-1-1 kit refers to a rule for restricting carry on liquid products. It was first adopted by the TSA in 2006 and most countries have followed their lead. It states that carry on liquid products can't just go in your toiletry bag like they used to. They have to be screened. And there's restrictions on what you can take, how much you can take, and how you can take it. You can carry on just 1 bag of liquids, it has to be 1 quart in size, and the liquids within have to be contained in containers of 3 ounces or less.
The TSA bans liquids and gels that are in containers greater than 3 ounces and not stored in a clear 1 quart bag. At first it sounds straight forward. Liquids go in the clear, 1 quart bag so they can be easily inspected as your carry on bag goes through security screening. All other toiletry items - like toothbrushes and eye shadow and combs - can stay in your toiletry kit bag. Nobody has to inspect the dry products in your toiletry bag"
So liquids are in a world all their own. But sometimes non-liquid toiletries, like bath bomb which are technically okay, find that their place in carry-on toiletry bags (like this one... mine is neon green) can be a bit complicated by association.
All bath bombs are the same - unless Harry Potter is involved! (YES. There ARE Harry Potter bath bombs).
The average bath bomb, like the top photo illustrates, is a dry product. It is a mix of dehydrated essential oils, Epsom salts, baking soda, milk powder, and other dry ingredients. As such, a bath bomb doesn't meet any of the criteria for being categorized as a liquid.
It's not a product that you can pour, spread, squeeze, or spray, and it does hold its shape when it's outside the container. Therefore, it does not need to go in the 3-1-1 section of your toiletry kit. It does not need to be screened like liquid toiletries in your carry on luggage. (And it's a good thing, too. I adore this gorgeous set from LUSH - it would be hard to travel with just one or two in a given trip.) In conclusion: Yes, you can take bath bombs on an airplane with your carry on luggage and, no, they aren't a liquid and they can go anywhere in your pack. They don't have to be in your3-1- 1 toiletry kit and they are exempt from TSA carry on rules.
Of course, not all bath bombs are "average". Ryan gave me these AMAZING Harry Potter inspired "Dark Arts" jelly bath bombs from Lush for Christmas - as you can see in the pics above. They look and feel like classic bath bombs from the outside but inside there is a layer of jelly (which is essential oils and such). It makes for a pretty sensational bath experience - and an incredibly messy bathtub! I'd categorize this as a liquid product even though a big part of the item is non-liquid. If this sounds like the kind of bath bomb you love, you might want to think twice before packing them in your carry on luggage as they might get flagged. (And, if you're super keen on picking up your own Dark Arts jelly bombs, note that in some countries they're named "Secret Arts")
It's not everyday that I get to combine my love of Harry Potter, ultra light packing, and indulgent baths in the same blog post so I'm a pretty happy gal ;-)
Err..... What about the name? You know... the "b" word....
While the ingredients and materials make it pretty clear whether or not a bath bomb is a solid or a liquid, there's another factor that makes travelers wonder "Can I pack a bath bomb in carry on luggage"? Sensitive travelers don't want to travel with anything that might be suggestive of something dangerous. And they get very nervous about the "b" word.
Obviously the term "bath bomb" is just a catchy phrase but there's something rather unnerving about traveling with anything with the word "bomb" in the description. While you should never, EVER use the word in jest while you're traveling, don't let this phrase cause stress. It's used as a descriptor in many innocuous items, such as with spicy or juicy food.
All the same, if it makes you feel more comfortable, if asked you can call it a "bath ball" or a "bath puck". Or you can also use solid bubble bars (like the yummy smelling one I'm showing off above - you can find a similar one here) which have a completely non-alarming name. Like my Harry Potter jelly bombs, I picked up my bubble bars from Lush. A little goes a long way, so I suggest breaking off a chunk and bringing the smaller piece with you in a plastic bag.
Fortunately, the shape of a bath bomb is just as innocent as its name. While it may bear some vague resemblance to the bombs seen in old fashioned cartoons (we're looking at you, Will E. Coyote), the sad truth is that when bad guys do bad things, there's no one shape or structure that's the norm. A smart border agent will investigate any unusual shape or item with an unusual density but there shouldn't be a problem once they see what the item is.
In short, no one is going to see a round bath bomb while scanning your luggage and think that it's an actual bomb. And if you're chatting with your travel companion about buying some new bath bombs as a treat, no one will overhear you and think something untoward is happening. Just be careful not to bomb-bard your fellow travelers with scent. A bath bomb in a loose paper bag or wrapped in tissue can still give off a strong scent that won't be appreciated by your seat mates should you open your suitcase mid-flight.
Packing bath bombs and other treats is well worth it.
While it may be a bit of an annoyance to have to research the rules about different toiletries, I think it's well worth the effort. Having a relaxing bath or shower isn't just a way to get clean. It's all about rest and relaxation and even sometimes about making a strange hotel room feel a bit more like home. I love taking tiny amounts of luxurious travel toiletries with me when I travel and bath bombs are a particular favourite. Here's to sweet smelling travel!
As always, we love hearing from you! Keep those questions coming!
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