See how to make the best DIY shower steamers! Aromatherapy shower steamers create an at-home spa experience, elevating your everyday shower in an opportunity to relax and recharge. This easy step-by-step tutorial includes a unique shower steamer recipe and 8 different scent ideas for every mood.
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Homemade aromatherapy shower steamer
You don’t have to visit a spa when you can pamper yourself in the comfort of your own bath. My DIY shower steamers transform your daily shower into an aromatherapy experience!
If you’ve ever thought that making homemade shower steamers is complicated, don’t feel intimidated. Once you have the hang of making them, it’s such a fun way to enjoy a little aromatherapy in your daily routine.
One of my favorite things about shower steamers is that you have near endless possibilities to customize them according to your mood and preferences.
In this post, you’ll learn not only my unique shower steamer formula. I’m also sharing 8 different essential oil scent recipes, including blends for relaxation, sleep, and focus.
This tutorial is a bit lengthy. That’s because I want to make sure I show all my best tips and tricks so your essential oil shower steamers turn out well.
To go straight to the shower steamer recipe, tap the Jump-To-Recipe button at the top of the page or click here for the recipe card.
What are shower steamers?
Think of shower steamers as bath bombs for your shower. They are small round disks that usually consist of baking soda, citric acid, and essential oils. Shower steamers are also known as shower bombs, shower fizzies, shower tablets, or shower melts.
What do shower steamers do?
When shower steamers come in contact with water, they fizzle away and release fragrant essential oils. The oils mix with the warm steams and provide an aromatherapeutic, spa-like experience.
What is an aromatherapy shower?
An aromatherapy shower is essentially a regular shower enhanced with essential oils. As you inhale the vapors, the scent molecules activate the smell receptors in your nose, which communicate with areas of the brain that affect emotions.
Whether you’re dealing with stress, sleeplessness, lack of motivation or joy, taking an aromatherapy shower can potentially improve these things.
Shower steamer bombs are one way to enjoy shower aromatherapy. You can choose different shower bombs depending on your mood and the desired wellness effect.
You can achieve a similar effect with shower spray or by hanging fresh eucalyptus into your shower.
Are shower steamers the same as bath bombs?
No, shower steamer and bath bombs are different and can’t be used interchangeably. Here is what you need to know about the difference between shower steamers and bath bombs:
- Bath bombs are a bath product meant to come in contact with your body. They contain nourishing oils that moisturize + soothe the skin and turn the bathwater into a rainbow of colors. Bath bombs contain essential oils at a level safe for skin care.
- Shower steamers are an aromatherapy application, not a skincare product. They release fragrant essential oils as you shower. Steamers are highly concentrated and should not come directly in contact with your skin.
Materials & supplies
You might be wondering just what goes into DIY shower steamers, so let’s get into that! The list seems a bit long, but you need only 4 ingredients to make a basic shower steamer (baking soda, citric acid, essential oils, and Sorbitan oleate). The rest is optional materials and supplies.
Shower steamer ingredients
These are the must-have ingredients. Scroll to the recipe card at the end of the post for the exact quantities.
- Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and citric acid make up the bulk of these DIY shower steamers. Combined, these powdery materials turn solid and maintain almost any shape. But once you add water, they dissolve with a fizzing reaction, releasing the essential oils into the air.
- Essential oils provide a natural scent and aromatherapy benefits. Using high-quality essential oils is key to achieve a strong fragrance. Cheap oils will result in a weak smell that fades quickly – not what we want! You can find 8 different shower scent ideas below.
- Sorbitan oleate is a natural, plant-based emulsifier made from olive oil and sorbitol. The ingredient helps to disperse the essential oils and binds the dry ingredients together. My shower steamer recipe also works with Polysorbate 80. Just keep in mind that Poly 80 is a synthetically made – stick to Sorbitan oleate for all-natural shower steamers.
The following materials can be used to customize the appearance of your steamers. Feel free to omit them if preferred.
- Colorants (optional) like mica powder or plant powders can be enlisted to color your aromatherapy steamers. I like to coordinate the color and scent and use mice powder to tint the shower steamer tablets you see in the photos. Refer to the FAQ section of a list of plant-based colorants.
- Botanicals (optional) such as dried flowers, petals, herbs, and spices make lovely decorations for essential oil shower steamers. I skipped the botanicals in this case, but feel free to browse my other recipes for inspiration.
Shower steamer mold
When it comes to shower steamer molds, you have several options. Let’s take a look!
- Cylinder silicone mold creates classic round shower scent bombs. You simply press the mixture into the mold and let it dry. The benefit is that you can release the steamers easily. I’ll explain the whole process in a moment.
- Mini muffin pan can be used as a shower steamer mold. The benefit is that you may already have a mini muffin tin. The drawback is that removing the scented shower steamers is more difficult.
- Plastic mold: A hard plastic mold allows you to craft aromatherapy steamers in interesting shapes and with imprints.
- Bath bomb molds: You can also form shower steamers by packing the mixture into small bath bomb mold halves. Let the mixture dry in the molds, and then gently push out.
- Mooncake press: Another idea is to employ a mooncake press. This is the second technique I’ll be showing you in this tutorial. Using a mooncake press is more advanced, but the results are absolutely gorgeous!
You also want to gather the following tools:
- Digital scale or measuring cups and spoons: Measuring with a digital scale will yield the most precise results. Of course, I’ve also included measurements in cups if you prefer to measure by volume.
- Small and large glass mixing bowl to mix the shower steamer mixture.
- Whisk for combining ingredients.
- Sift (optional) to remove clumps. You can also break large lumps apart with your hands.
- Nitrile gloves: Raw citric acid wears off nail polish, and baking soda dries out the skin. I recommend wearing nitrile gloves to protect your hands.
- Face cover (optional): Some dust arises when you initially combine the baking soda and citric acid. Covering your mouth and nose ensures that no dust gets in your airways.
- Brush isonly needed to dust the mooncake mold.
A few notes before getting started
Shower streamer formula
These DIY shower steamers are unlike any other recipe you’ll find on the internet. Based on the feedback we received from our other shower bomb recipes, Cyna and I created a unique formula that is easier to make and performs better.
- Easier to make: With most recipes, you have to spritz the dry ingredients with water, alcohol, or witch hazel, and it can be a struggle to figure out just how much you need. Add too little liquid, and they don’t hold together. Too much liquid, and you accidentally start a fizzing reaction. Not so these DIY shower steamers! Our recipe uses Sorbitan oleate, which doesn’t cause a reaction.
- Dry rock-solid: Another benefit is that these aromatherapy steamers harden really well. They don’t break and crumble as easily as other homemade shower bombs. You can even ship them to friends or customers without worrying that they will receive a dusty mess.
- Last longer in the shower: Some of you asked me how to make shower steamers last longer because regular shower steamer recipes often fizzle out within minutes. These shower tablets last longer and turn into a fragrant foam as they dissolve. The self-cleaning recipe will leave no trace in your shower, safe a few dried flower petals (should you add them.)
Why use Sorbitan oleate?
Baking soda and citric acid are dry powders and require a liquid to stay together. That liquid needs to evaporate (so the shower soothers harden up), mustn’t be greasy to avoid making the shower slippery (no oils or plant butters), and ideally shouldn’t cause a premature fizzing reaction.
Can you guess what ingredient meets all 3 requirements? That’s right, sorbitan oleate!
Sorbitan oleate is a dream to work with. Unlike water, witch hazel, or alcohol, sorbitan oleate will NOT cause a reaction when you add it to the dry materials. As you can see in the video, I poured it all onto the dry ingredients, and no reaction occurred.
Instead, it creates a soft texture that you can easily press into a mold. As they dry, the liquid evaporates, leaving you with sturdy shower steamers with crisp, sharp edges that won’t crumble.
Sorbitan oleate also helps to dissolve and disperse the essential oils. Plus, the emulsifier will wash away any colorants, such as mica, and protect your shower tray and tiles from staining.
And in case you’re wondering, Sorbitan oleate is fully biodegradable, non-toxic, non-irritant, free of palm oil, and approved for natural skincare preparations.
How to make shower steamer
Are you excited to make DIY shower steamers? Great, you’re in the right place! After making the shower bomb mixture, you got 2 options to form steamers using a silicone mold or mooncake press.
I’ll explain both methods and walk you through how to make shower steamers step-by-step. Let’s get to it!
- Wear gloves. Start by putting on nitrile gloves and a face cover. You can take the face cover off once the shower steamer mixture is mixed.
- Measure. Weigh out the ingredients.
Make the shower steamer mixture
- Combine dry ingredients. Sift the baking soda and citric acid into a glass mixing bowl and stir to combine.
- Add colorant. To make colored aromatherapy steamers, stir in the mica powder or plant powder. Without a coloring, the aromatherapy shower steamers will appear white, which is also pretty. Set aside.
- Mix liquid ingredients. Pour the Sorbitan oleate (or Polysorbate 80) into a small mixing bowl. Add the essential oil and swirl together until well blended and you no longer see streaks of the essential oils.
- Make shower steamer mixture. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry materials and whisk to combine. Using your hands, knead until the liquids are well distributed, and the dry mixture is evenly moistened. The mixture should have the consistency of wet sand and maintain its shape when pressed together.
- Adjust texture. If you live in a dry environment, you can add 1 to 2 additional tbsp Sorbitan oleate. I don’t recommend this step in humid areas because baking soda and citric acid absorb moisture from the air. Adding more liquid would make the mixture too wet.
Method 1: Silicone mold
Follow these steps to form DIY shower steamers using a silicone mold:
- Add decorations. Optionally, sprinkle a few botanicals at the bottom of each mold. Go lightly and avoid placing the botanicals too close to the edge.
- Fill mold. Next, fill the mold with mixture and press down with your fingertips, paying particular attention to the edges. Continue to load and compress the mixture until the cavity is completely full. I like to use the bottom of a 1/8 measuring cup to press down each shower tablet and achieve a flat bottom.
- Dry. Let the shower steamers dry in the mold undisturbed for 24 hours. Room temperature is fine, and you can leave the mold uncovered.
- Unmold. Before unmolding, gently tap the back of a steamer. Does it feel and sound solid? Then it’s time to unmold. To unmold the steamers, carefully pull the silicone away. Using your thumbs, gently push the steamer out of the cavity.
Method 2: Moon cake press
And this is how you create shower steamers with a mooncake press. Be sure to watch the video instructions, too!
- Assemble press. Choose your desired faceplate and connect it to the mold. The faceplate has little hooks to lock it in and keep it in place.
- Dust. Using a flat, soft brush, lightly dust the inside of the press with mica powder. Dusting ensures that the mixture doesn’t stick and releases easily. I recommend doing this for every shower steamer.
- Load up. Loosely fill the mooncake press with mixture until 2/3 full. DO NOT pack and press mixture into the press. If you pack the mixture in, the steamer won’t release properly, and the pattern will break.
- Release. Line a cutting board or tray with plastic wrap/cling film or parchment (baking) paper. Put the mooncake press down on the board. Press the handle down to compress the mixture. Then lift the press 0.5 in / 1 cm above the board and gently push the handle down again to release the steamer onto the board or tray. The shower bombs are soft and delicate at this point, avoid touching them.
- Dry. Allow your shower steamers to dry until solidified, about 12 to 24 hours. Your DIY shower steamers are ready!
Tips for success
- Texture – You know that the texture is right when you can form a smooth ball of mixture with your hands that stays together as you see in the photo. The mixture cannot be stored. It will harden if you leave it sitting out, so immediately continue to the next step.
- Color – I find it easier to add the colorant with the other dry ingredients than to the wet mixture.
- High humidity – Humidity influences how the steamers turn out. If possible, avoid making shower steamers on a humid day and try to find the driest place in your home to dry them. If you have, place the steamers before a dehumidifier for 24 to 48 hours.
Best shower steamers (8 shower scents)
Suffering from a cold or stuffy nose? This decongestant shower steamers with eucalyptus essential oil can help ease nasal congestion so that you can breathe easier.
- 80 drops peppermint essential oil
- 45 drops eucalyptus essential oils
- 30 drops pine essential oil
- 25 drops lemon essential oil
- 20 drops rosemary essential oil
Feeling down and worn out? Recharge by reaching for these energizing shower bombs. A blend of citrus and cedar will make you feel revitalized and motivated for the tasks ahead.
- 90 drops sweet orange essential oil
- 65 drops tangerine essential oil
- 30 drops cedarwood essential oil
- 15 drops balsam fir essential oil
To kick the day off with a refreshing shower, try these citrusy wake-up shower steamers. The revitalizing scent of lemon and grapefruit will wake you gently and ready you for the day ahead.
- 85 drops grapefruit essential oil
- 65 drops lemon essential oil
- 30 drops peppermint essential oil
- 20 drops Scotts pine essential oil
Make shower time the best time with these uplifting shower soothers. The blend of ylang-ylang, lime, and sandalwood is perfect to put you in a good mood and assist your wellness goals.
- 120 drops ylang ylang essential oil
- 50 drops lime essential oil
- 30 drops sandalwood essential oil
Lacking focus? Rosemary is known for encouraging mental alertness and focus. By the time you’ll dry off, you will feel refreshed and ready!
- 90 drops rosemary essential oil
- 70 drops grapefruit essential oil
- 40 drops petitgrain essential oil
Reap the benefits of lavender’s calming effects and indulge with these relaxing essential oil steamers. The natural scent will pamper your mind and senses, making you feel relaxed and rested.
- 80 drops lavender essential oil
- 50 drops rose geranium essential oil
- 25 drops black spruce essential oil
Slip into a hot shower with one of these vanilla-scented steamers before bed, and you’ll be ready for a long, restful night of sleep.
- 100 drops botanical vanilla extract
- 55 drops copaiba oleoresin
- 30 drops vetiver essential oil
- 15 drops cypress essential oil
Infused with balancing scents of bergamot, patchouli, and lavender, these calming shower tablets provide tranquility and add pure bliss to your self-care by making showering more enjoyable and relaxing.
- 120 drops bergamot essential oil
- 50 drops patchouli essential oil
- 30 drops lavender essential oil
How to use shower steamers
Now that you have a beautiful selection of shower fizzes, it’s time to put them to good use! Follow these easy steps to use your homemade shower steamers recipe:
- Place. Be sure to place the steamer outside of the direct water stream.
- Activate. Activate your shower bomb by wetting it with a few drops of water or steam.
- Inhale. Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths to inhale the vapors. Enjoy!
Where should a shower steamer be placed in the shower?
- Shower floor: Put a steamer on the bottom of your shower basin, towards a corner out of the direct water spray.
- Soap tray: For a stronger scent, place the shower bomb in a soap tray, shelf, or ledge closer to you.
- Cotton bag: You can also place your steamer in a cotton or fine mesh bag and hang it anywhere in the shower stall.
- Water bowl: To enjoy a steamer outside of the shower, dissolve one in a bowl of hot water. Sit next to it and inhale the aromatic steams.
How long does 1 shower steamer last?
Small shower steamers will usually last for one 10-minute shower. Large shower steamers (like the ones I made with the moon press) can last for 1 long shower or 2 quick showers.
Of course, you can use multiple steamers per shower and mix and match different scents according to your mood! If you like a strong smell, use 2 to 3 steamers.
How to make most of your aromatherapy shower
- Water exposure. The steamer should be lightly sprinkled with water to melt gradually. If exposed to the direct water stream, the steamer will break down quickly, and you won’t feel the aromatherapy benefits.
- Hot steam. A hot, steamy shower creates the vapors that help to release the essential oils.
- Fizzing reaction. You know that your shower fizzy is activated when it begins to fizzle.
- Stronger smell. Use 2 to 3 steamers at the same time for a stronger scent. Another tip is to place the shower steamer not on the floor but somewhere closer to your face, like a soap dish.
Shower steamer packaging
Baking soda absorbs moisture from the air, and this moisture can cause the steamers to dissolve prematurely. To avoid this reaction, place your DIY shower steamers in an airtight glass jar or food storage container.
How to store shower steamer
The best place to store shower steamers is a dark, cool location protected from direct sunlight and moisture, such as a cupboard, drawer, or lidded box.
If possible, store your steamers outside the bathroom. Bathrooms are notoriously moist and steamy, which can cause a reaction, as I’ve just explained.
You want to avoid sunlight because UV rays deteriorate essential oils, causing them to break down and become less effective.
Stored airtight, shower steamers will be good for a least 1 year. Citric acid loses its potency over time, and the scent will fade eventually. Hence, I recommend using your steamers within 12 months of making.
How to top up the scent
If your steamers have gone stale, freshen up the scent by dropping fresh essential oils on the back and top of your steamer. Use right away.
Shower steamer gift set
Homemade gifts are my favorite to give and receive. They show so much thought and are handmade with love. And DIY shower steamers make gorgeous wellness gifts!
To put together a lovely shower steamer gift set to pamper your loved ones, arrange the steamers in a small box or decorative glass jar. Seal the container airtight and decorate with a printable label and instructions.
To preserve the scent and protect them from moisture, wrap each steamer individually in plastic wrap/cling film or sealing them with a vacuum sealer.
More shower steamer recipes
Looking for more essential oil steamers? Then try some of our other favorites likes these:
FAQ & troubleshooting
Colorants for shower steamer
I colored my DIY shower steamers with mica, a finely ground mineral powder, but also promised you a list of plant-based colorants. Here it is:
- Yellow: goldenberry, yellow safflower
- Orange: carrot, annatto
- Red: red beet, red radish
- Pink: pink pitaya, fuchsia hibiscus
- Purple: blueberry, purple yam
- Blue: blue spirulina
- Green: green spirulina, spinach
- Black: activated charcoal
Plant powders aren’t as finely milled as mica, creating a more patterned appearance. In any case, you have that option.
My shower steamers have no scent. What did I do wrong?
There is a couple of reasons why your shower steamers may have no smell.
- Essential oils: The quality of your oils really shines through in shower steamers. I recommend using pure, high-quality oils from a reputable manufacturer. Cheap oils are often diluted and contain synthetic components that don’t last very long.
- Fragrance load: Double the essential oil quantities for a stronger scent.
- Storage: To ensure the scent doesn’t evaporate, wrap each steamer in plastic wrap, and keep your storage container tightly closed.
- Placement: Finally, be sure to place the shower steamer as close to your face as possible. See the section above for tips.
Why are my shower steamers expanding?
Expanding steamers means they absorb moisture from the air, which is usually only an issue in high-humidity environments.
Why are my steamers crumbly?
Crumbliness indicates that the mixture was too dry. Try to add a little more Sorbitan oleate next time. You can still use a brittle shower steamer, though.
Can I use shower steamers as bath bombs?
No, shower steamers shouldn’t be used as bath bombs. As said earlier, shower steamers are much more concentrated than bath bombs and might cause skin irritation if used in a bath.
DIY shower steamer without citric acid
Can I make shower steamers without citric acid? is a question I hear frequently. While I prefer shower steamers with citric acid, you can certainly omit the ingredient from the recipe by increasing the amount of baking soda.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Citric acid bonds with baking soda and hardens the texture. Shower steamers without citric acid are more fragile and crumblier.
- Without citric acid, the essential oil steamers won’t dissolve as well, and you may end up with heaps of undissolved baking soda.
Shower steamer with Epsom salt
To make shower steamers with Epsom salt, replace half of the citric acid with Epsom salt. Since salt granules are coarser than, skip the mooncake press and pack the mixture into a silicone mold.