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HQ 950893

March 11, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 950893


TARIFF NO.: 3307.30.5000

Mr. David B. Brown
Potter Anderson & Corroon
Delaware Trust Building
P.O. Box 951
Wilmington, DE 19899

RE: ActiBath Carbonated Bath Tablets; Bath Preparation in heading 3307

Dear Mr. Brown:

This is in response to your letter of November 18, 1991, submitted on behalf of your client, The Andrew Jergens Company. Your inquiry requests the proper classification of carbonated bath tablets under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA). You submitted samples with your request for a binding ruling.


The product, known as ActiBath Carbonated Bath Tablets, imported from Japan, comes in four versions: Spring Floral, Blue Forest, Moisture Treatment and Light & Fresh. It is marketed as the world's first carbonated bath tablet which provides therapy for the body and mind. The tablets are composed of either succinic or fumaric acid, sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, Peg-150, fragrance, calcium silicate, cellulose gum, magnesium oxide, sucrose stearate and FD&C Blue 1. The moisture treatment Actibath is composed of succinic acid, dextrin, sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, cetyl octanoate, titanium dioxide, Peg-150, steareth-6, fragrance, petrolatum, oleth-9, cholesteryl isostearate, isostearic/myristic glycerides, polyquaternium-10, FD&C Blue No. 1, tocopherol. When exposed to water, the acid reacts with the sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate forming carbon dioxide bubbles.


Whether the ActiBath Carbonated Bath Tablets are classifiable in subheading 3307.30.1000 as bath salts; or rather in subheading 3307.30.5000 as other bath preparations.


The General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's) taken in their appropriate order provide a framework for classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA. The majority of imported goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relative section or chapter notes. Pursuant to GRI 6, the GRI's, section notes and chapter notes pertain to subheadings in the same fashion.

The product is classifiable according to the terms of heading 3307 which provides, inter alia, for bath preparations. However, at the subheading level 3307.30.1000 provides for bath salts while 3307.30.5000 provides for other bath preparations. Pursuant to GRI 6, the product is classifiable according to the terms of the appropriate subheading. Thus, it is necessary to clarify the term "bath salt" and determine whether the subject product fits the definition. To this effect, the term is to be given its common or commercial meaning. See 2 D. Serko, Import Practice 79 (1991).

Bath salts may be formulated with either crystalline salts such as rock salt and epsom salt, which effloresce, or may be a product of sesquicarbonates, phosphates and borates. The latter type functions, in part, as a water softener while the former does not. Sodium carbonate serves as the water softening agent not only in bath salts, but also in bath tablets which may be formulated from crystals or sesquicarbonates as well. See 7 Kirk-Othmer, Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology 167 (1979) and H.W. Hibbott, Handbook of Cosmetic Science 123 (1963).

However, as the inquirer properly provides, and research confirms, sodium compounds or, more specifically, sodium carbonate, are commonly employed in, but not unique to, bath salts. Bath powders and water softeners are generally made with either dried sodium carbonate or sesquicarbonate while bath pot- pourri is generally made with borax crystals (a compound which includes a hydrated sodium borate). See 3 W. Poucher, Perfumes, Cosmetics and Soaps 3-18 (1960) and R. Harry, Cosmetics: Their Principles and Practices 508-516 (1956). In addition, the inquirer cites several bubble bath products which include either sodium laureth sulfate or sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate. In the past, it has been Customs' position that bubble bath is not classifiable as a bath salt. See Headquarter's Ruling Letter (HRL) 085166. Thus, the fact that the product contains sodium carbonate or bicarbonate is not proof that it is, in fact, a bath salt.

Contrary to the inquirer's position, the product is not distinguishable from a bath salt because of its soothing or relaxing effect. Apparently, all of the bath products mentioned above share this same quality. Likewise, for similar reasons, the product's skin moisturizing capabilities are not probative in this regard.

However, this product is distinguishable from a bath salt due to its unique ability to release carbon dioxide when placed in water, resulting from the chemical reaction between the succinic (or fumaric) acid and the sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate. Although bath salts, when placed in water, may effloresce, they do not, nor are expected to, react with water and release carbon dioxide bubbles producing the accompanying effect. For these reasons, the product is not a bath salt and is classifiable in subheading 3307.30.5000.


The ActiBath Carbonated Bath Tablets are classifiable in subheading 3307.30.5000, HTSUSA, as "Pre-shave, shaving or after- shave preparations, personal deodorants, bath preparations...: Perfumed bath salts and other bath preparations: Other." The general column one rate of duty is 4.9 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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