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.
This shower steamer recipe was first published in December 2021 and has been updated with new content in April 2023.
I’ve tried twice with same results. Steamers never seem to stop expanding or dry completely. When I finally can take out of the molds, they mostly just turn to crumbs. I even kept them covered while drying. Is there anything I can add to the recipe to make them harden harder?
Hi Peggy! Sorry you have this issue. May I ask what type of emulsifier / brand are you using? You can sprinkle some Epsom salt into the mold into the mold before adding the steamer mixture. Epsom slat should help to dry our steamers. Please keep me updated so we can figure this out!
I have not made any of these shower steamers yet. I am interested in the steamers to wake you up or to calm you. The list of oils you gave to get the scent needed had more than one oil listed. Does that mean that you use all under that category or pick the one or two you would like?
Hi Sandy! The scents are essential oil blends. They are meant to be used in conjunction to get the desired aromatherapy benefits.
Of course, the beauty of creating your own products is that you can customize the according to your personal preferences and add or skip oils. Good quality essential oils can be quite pricy and I understand that it might be too costly to purchase a bunch of different oils. So you can certainly use only one or two oils form list.
I hope this helps you out and happy making!
Hi thank you for sharing this! I love it. I just made a batch and tried it. I’m trying to make some for mother’s day. My only concern is I didn’t like the use of mica with the sorbitan oleate because it made my shower floor slippery and it left residue (not stained, I just had to clean it with some soap and a sponge). Do you have another recipe that uses a different way of dyeing? and also won’t make the floor slippery?
Hi Viv! So happy to hear your enjoying the steamers! Yes, we have other shower steamer recipes without sorbitan oleate on the site that use high proof alcohol as the means to bind the mixture together. Here are the links:
Instead of mica, you could also try liquid soap colorant, which simply washes away with water. I recommend diluting the soap dye in alcohol first so it disperses better throughout the dry ingredients and you don’t end up with blobs of color.
I hope this helps you out and please let me know in case you have more questions!
I was wondering is it possible to ground down dried shower steamers to put them into a new mould?
Hi Tess! Yes, you can crumble down shower steamers and replenish them with with high-proof alcohol (e.g. rubbing alcohol or Everclear). Spritz the dry mixture, a little at a time, until is moistened and has a texture similar to dam sand. It keep its shape when you press it in your hand.
If the scent isn’t strong, you may also want to add addition essential oils. Then simply let your steamers dry.
I hope this helps you out and happy making!
Before I mix up a batch, which HAS to turn out because I’m giving them as gifts this weekend, your recipe calls for 1 cup of citric acid and 200 drops of oil. I know you say your recipe is better, but….all the other recipes online are 1/2 cup of citric acid and 20-40 drops of oil. Is your recipe for sure correct? Why the difference?
Hi Sarah! I can’t speak for the other recipes, but our formula requires 1 cup citric acid because that’s the way we developed it. You can always adjust the number of oils, but keep in mind that EOs are volatile. For a strong scent, you always want to have more rather than less.
Before you go ahead: Do you live in a dry area or is the environment humid? If humidity is an issue, be sure to dry the steamers in a airtight container (e.g. Tupperware) and add a a few silica packs.
Question. I have Polysorbate 20 , not 80.. pretty similar , can I use this instead?
Hi Gina! I haven’t tried making these steamers with polysorbate 20 so I couldn’t tell you it would work. If you try it, please let me know how it goes so I can include this information in the post. Happy making!
Can I use bowls/utensils from my kitchen, or should I have dedicated equipment?
Hi Judy! I’d say it depends. If you often create your own bath and aromatherapy products (at least once a week), it’s best to have dedicated equipment and tools. On the other hand, if you are an occasional crafter you can certainly get away with using your kitchen equipment. Use glass bowls if possible and be sure clean it really, really well after each use. I hope this helps you out and happy making!
I am planning a girl night and want to make your recipe shower steamers.
If I use your recipe with mica in a muffin tin or silicone can I dry the steamers in the oven?
If so at what temperature and for how long.
Hi Liz! I’m afraid drying shower steamers in the oven will not work. I’m sorry about that. When baking powder is mixed with a liquid and heated in the oven, it reacts and creates bubbles. Instead of drying, your shower steamers would expand and puff up. It’s the same reaction when you add baking powder to cake batter and bake it.
If possible, ask your participants to bring their own mold that they can take with them and finish drying at home.
I hope this answers your question. Have a fun girls’ night and Happy Holidays!
I made the “Relax” version of these. I weighed all of my ingredients but the mixture was really wet and stuck to the mould. I let the mixture sit for a few days and tried again. That time, they didn’t stick to the mould but they expanded when drying and still didn’t set hard. Any suggestions of what to try to fix these? I was thinking, based on what I’m reading in the reviews is to add some corn starch, remix, and spray with some rubbing alcohol. Potentially add more baking soda and citric acid.
I used the “pure or nothing” polysorbate 80 (cosmetic grade) from Amazon.
Hi Iris! I’m sorry you have an issue. Expanding steamers means they are absorbing moisture. Yes, adding absorbent materials such as cornstarch or kaolin clay will help with that. You about need 1/8 to 1/4 cup. Using rubbing alcohol is a great way to saturated the mixture as it evaporated quickly. I would also place the mold into an airtight container and add a few silica packs or a small bowl of baking powder to draw moisture from the steamers and the air.
I hope this helps and please let me know how it goes!
Hi Irena! I wanted to follow-up so if anyone else has the same issue, they know what I did to fix it.
I added 1/4 cup of cornstarch as you recommended and about a few teaspoons of rubbing alcohol (I didn’t measure) and the mixture had a coarser texture (larger granules) but it compacted great and didn’t expand overnight as I let them dry! Since it’s winter here and not very humid, I let them dry out on the counter and didn’t have any issues. I only made 4 to start and covered the mix with an airtight lid so I can finish them up today.
Thanks for your help!
Hi Iris! Thank you so much for sharing this feedback – it’s immensely helpful. I’m happy to hear that adding cornstarch and rubbing alcohol did the trick.
Thank you so much for sharing. This is the best shower steamer recipe I’ve come across. I played with the blends and created my own scent. These will make great Christmas gifts.
Hi Bethany! So happy you loved them! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review!
I’m looking to make these for Holiday presents this year and the reviews have me convinced that I should try this recipe. Only question before I start is: can I make these without the citric acid? From what I understand, the citric acid is mainly used for the fizzing effect and I want these to be primarily for aromatherapy. If I can make them without the acid, should I just replace the missing amount’s worth with baking soda? Thank you!
Hi Grace! Yes, the citric acid promotes the fizzing reaction, but it also binds with the baking soda and hardens the steamers. Steamers without citric acid are pretty delicate and prone to crumbling.
You could use cream of tartar as a substitute for citric acid, but it is more expensive and the steamers won’t dry as hard.
For the best results, I recommend adding citric acid.
I hope this helps and please let me know in case you have more questions. Happy crafting!
Hello from Canada Love the recipe and am so excited about giving them to my children for Christmas. Unfortunately my first two batches, after 24 hours, have not dried completely. Should I reduce the amount of Poly 80? This time of year is usually dry, but we have had rain lately. Is there a way to salvage what I have made? Thanks for you help. My house smells great, lol.
Hi Anne! Yes, moisture in the air will affect how the steamers dry, but nothing is lost. You can place your current batch into an airtight box (e.g. Tupperware) and add a small bowl of baking powder or silica packs to absorbs moisture from the steamers.
If that doesn’t help and the steamers remain somewhat soft (meaning they already have absorb some moisture that prevents them from drying hard), crumble the steamers back into a mixing bowl. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) and spritz the mixture with high proof alcohol until it has the texture of damp sand.
If the scent has weakened, you may top up the essential oils. The cornstarch helps to offset moisture and humidity in the air and prevent stickiness.
Then mold again. After molding, place the steamers promptly into an airtight container to dry.
Please keep me updated how it goes for you, I’m here to help and want to make this a success for you!
Thank you Irene, I’ll definitely let you know how it goes!
Hi Irene, tried both of the remedies, same results. They feel quite gummy. I checked the expiry date on my Polysorbate 80 and it is good. I tried one in the shower and it foams beautifully, but doesn’t seem to release much aroma. I’m using a cake mood, double checked my measurements, and am at a loss for what could be the issue.
Hi Anne! I’m sorry the issue persists. What brand of Ploy 80 are you using? Since your steamers seem to dissolve well but don’t harden properly, it’s the only thing I can think of that.
I have shared other shower steamer recipes that only use high-proof alcohol as a binder and that is the route I would try next. Here is what you do:
Combine the dry ingredients and add the essential oils. Spray the mixture with proof-alcohol until it has a consistency similar to wet sand. The mixture should hold its shape when you press some in your palm. The press the steamers and let dry.
Essential oils are pretty volatile and evaporate quickly. I recommend wrapping each steamer individually and then place them in a jar or airtight container to preserve the scent.
I hope this helps and please let me know how it goes!
Thank you for the recipe. Can I use hydrogenated castor oil instead of sorbitan oleoate and what is the essential oil and menthol crystal in percentages . Thank you
Hi Jay! I had success replacing some of the Sorbitan oleate with castor oil, but haven’t used hydrogenated castor oil.
It might be worth trying tough. I would start by adding 1/4 cup / 50 g hydrogenated castor oil and check the texture of the mixture. If it holds together when pressed in your palm, it’s ready for molding. If it’s still crumbly, spritz the mixture with high-proof alcohol until it sticks together.
Please keep me updated how it goes for you!
I will updated the post with different essential oil measurements as soon. 🙂
Thanks so much for answering my questions. I will keep you updated on how it goes.
That’s great. Thank you, Jay!
Hello! i can’t seem to find the video of the mooncake press tutorial! Could you let me know where I can find it please?
Hi Xan! I double checked and the video should be visible now. Happy crafting!
For anyone struggling with expanding shower steamers as they dry, I put mine straight into an airtight tin to dry, on a piece of baking paper, with a couple of silica packets (you can buy those on Amazon). It worked perfectly.
Thank you so much for sharing your tips, Zoe! Using silica packets is such a smart idea!
Hello! I love the look of these but have the same issue as many of the above women with moisture in the air. Would drying them in a dehydrator work? or would the heat be an issue?
Hi Caitlin! Drying the steamers in a dehydrator should work fine as they are not affected by heat. Some of the essential oils may evaporated (they are heat sensitive), but you can top the scent up by dropping fresh oils onto the steamer before using them.
I hope this answers your question and happy making!
Hi! I would love to make these for my bridesmaids but I don’t know where to buy the sorbitan oleate. When I look online all that’s comes up is polysorbate 80. Is that the same thing? I would prefer using the most natural ingredients.
Hi Melissa! Sorbitan oleate and polysorbate 80 are two different emulsifiers. While Sorbitan oleate is consider natural, polysorbate 80 is synthetic compound. You can find Sorbitan oleate on Etsy and at Making Cosmetics.
Polyglyceryl oleate is another lipid-based emulsifier that would work here. You can find the later on Etsy and at lesamesfleurs.com, which delivers in Canada.
I hope this helps you out and please let me know in case you have another question!
I’m wondering about this too and was thinking about combining olive oil and sorbitol (the main ingredients) but don’t know how much of each to blend.
Hi Allison! I’m afraid combining olive oil and sorbitol won’t create Sorbitan oleate. While these are the main components, the chemical process is more complicated. I have linked to the sources where you can buy Sorbitan oleate in the post. Happy making!
I made these and I am having issues with them swelling, cracking, then ‘sweating.’ Please, what am I doing wrong?
Hi Ivory! I’m sorry to hear you have an issue! I saw you making steamers on your Instagram and the texture of the mixture looks absolutely perfect
Swelling and cracking would indicated that the steamers are absorbing moisture from the air. If the steamers absorb moisture, it expands and cracks. Could this be the issue?
Id’ love to help you figure it out and get it right!
Irena, oh my gosh! You responded, yay! Also, you’ve seen my IG?! That is pretty cool! Thank you so much for wanting to help me figure it out. So after making the shower steamers, I do let them sit out. Should I not do that and wrap them immediately? Some are cracked, and others are still intact. Truthfully, I love them either way, but I know customers may give me a hard time. Thanks again for responding. Have the best day today! 🙂
Hi Ivory! Yes, I love your work and find your story and products so inspirational.
If you are experiencing cracks, I would cover the steamers right after making them. My guess is that they are absorbing moisture from the air, which then leads the steamers to expand and crack. On humid days, I like to pop the seamers into a large Tupperware box and cover the box tightly with plastic wrap. It’s really about blocking out moisture and humidity.
I hope this helps you out and please let me know how in case you have another question!
Thank you so much! Just the booster I needed. You have made my day with your beautiful response. I will be sure to give your suggestions a go. I’ll provide feedback after I complete the next batch. Best to you.
Aw, so happy I could be of help. Yes, please let me know how it goes!
LOVE this recipe and have been following it with great success. I do however occasionally have a batch that doesn’t swell, but rather “weeps” after being dried. They do not initially set themself off, but do create a oily, soapy look that is less than ideal. (then, eventually, I am afraid they are more prone to setting themselves off.) Has anyone experienced this or have any trouble shooting options? I would say I am going low on the Poly 80 (closer to 1/4 cup, because I am adding a fair amount of essential oils to produce the fragrance I am after.) Thanks!
Hi there! I’m so happy to hear you enjoy these shower steamers!
From what you are describing it seems that you might be using a greater amount of essential oils than indicated in the recipe. The weeping indicates that the mixture is probably oversaturated with oils, which then weep from the steamers.
Could you please let me know which oils you are adding and how much? I’d love to advise more!
I got some shower steamers for Christmas last year, and loved them – it got me thinking that these would make wonderful gifts for my friends/moms this year! ^_^
I ~love~ the tutorial you provided, but I just have a question. You said that the sorbitan oleate is olive oil based, and I’m just a bit nervous about using something like that in a gift for my mother and mother-in-law. Both are ‘mature women’, and I would hate myself if they used these and slipped in the shower from the residue.
I’m not familiar with the product, so I don’t know how it reacts. Do these leave a slippery residue after they’ve melted? I love that your recipe makes a nice, crisp tablet, but if there’s a risk to them, I’ll have to find a different one. Sadness!
Thanks for the help!
Hi Jenn! I completely understand your concern and I’m so glad you asked! Sorbitan oleate dissolves completely in the shower and doesn’t leave a slippery residue behind. I also have these wellness shower melts and energizing shower steamers that are made without sorbitan oleate. I hope this helps you out and happy making!
Hello! I’m excited to make these, but wondering how best to store them as they will be a gift. Should I wrap them in plastic wrap? Would they store well in a mason jar?
Hi Shannon! You want to protect them from moisture and humidity. I recommend to wrap each steamer in plastic wrap and then store them in a mason jar or other airtight container. Happy making!
Surely there is an easier way to add the essential oils than counting out the massive number of drops.
Hi Kim! Of course, you can weigh out the oils with a digital precision scale. 20 drops equal approximately 1 g / 0.03 oz. If I find the time, I’ll create a printable that has measurements in grams and ounces.
Is there a place to just BUY these? They look amazing and probably smell just as good. I am not a crafty person at all (think Pinterest Fails website). I would love to purchase some. Thanks.
Hi Paul! You are too kind. Unfortunately, we don’t sell any physical products, but only share tutorials. If you Google or search on Amazon or Etsy you might find something similar. Thank you for stopping by!
Mooncake steamers turned out perfectly. Nice and hard and no crumbling. However, disappeared fast in shower. Approx. 2 minutes. How long are the large mooncake press steamers supposed to last? Should I halve the amount of citric acid maybe? Would that slow it down a tad? Would help if we had a shower shelf. On shopping list
Hi Debbie! So happy to hear you enjoy our steamer recipe. Are your steamers by any chance exposed to a direct stream of water? Ideally, you want to find a location in your shower where they aren’t in direct contact with water so only the steams can reach them. That way the should last quite a bit longer than 2 minutes. Mine usually last 10 to 15 minutes.
If you have you can also place them in a soap dish or but them into a mousseline bag. I hope this helps!
Making these with a crafting group of around 10 women. Couple of questions:
Can I pre-mix the dry ingredients so they are ready to add the sorbitan to?
Can we use plastic containers? I see that you have mentioned glass and non reactive.
Was hoping to have prep work done for the ladies before we start to save time.
Hi Melissa! Yes, you can premix the dry ingredients and use plastic bowls for mixing. Tip: Ask the ladies to bring something for transportation. The steamers need a while to dry, which might take longer than the event. I wish you and the other ladies a great time crafting!
Hello! I just made my first batch and they look so pretty! But I’m not sure what to do next. Do I let them sit out to dry? Immediately wrap them up? Do they dry covered or uncovered? Thanks!
Hi Rebecca! In a dry environment, let them sit out on the counter until they have hardened up and can be handled, then wrap them and and store them airtight. If you live in an high humidity environment, place them in an airtight box and add a few silica packs so they dry out. I hope this helps you out and thank you for trying our recipe!
I just made the recipe last night and used poly 80 instead of the Sorbitan Oleate and all of mine activated very shortly after I had put them in the molds. I use a dehumidifier as well. Any idea what went wrong? Was it the Poly 80?
Hi Ellen! I’m sorry you had an issue. I don’t think it was the Poly 80 since it doesn’t contain water that could activate the steamers. My guess is they steamers still pull moisture from the air despite having the dehumidifier there. There are 2 things you can do for your next batch:
1) Add 1 tbsp kaolin clay. Kaolin clay absorbs moisture and acts as hardener.
2) Cover the mold tightly with plastic wrap immediately after filling them with shower steamer mixture. The goal is to limit the steamers’ exposure to air.
However, depending on the levels of humidity this may still not be enough. Please keep me updated on how it goes!
Hi! On paper I love this recipe and would love to figure out what I can do to make it work. I followed the recipe to a T but unfortunately my shower steamers are expanding and not drying. I do live in South Carolina and humidity is definitely a factor. I also used poly80. Any ideas?
Hi Morgan! I’m sorry you have an issue. Expanding shower steamers means the steamers are absorbing moisture from the air, which can be an issue in humid environments. This moisture activates the citric caid/baking powder and causes the puffiness.
However, there are a couple of steps you can try to prevent this from happening:
If you have, dry the steamer in front of a dehumidifier. If that isn’t an option, release the shower steamers on to a lined board or tray. Then place the board into a large plastic box and seal it airtight. You can also cover the steamers with several layers of plastic wrap so moisture cannot reach them. Essentially, you want to block out any moisture while the steamers are drying.
I hope this helps you out and please keep me updated how it goes!
Do the steamers still work if expanded?
Hi Natasha! If the expanded steamers dry eventually, they will work fine.
Hi! I make these and could not get them to dry. I could only find one supplier of sorbitan oleate so I ordered some off of etsy. When I made the shower melts (exactly to your recipe), I noticed they were really soft and easy to work with. However, when I washed my hands, I had real difficulty getting the mixture removed. It was very greasy and I wondered if it would make the shower slippery. After almost 2 weeks, the shower melts were not dry and I ended up trying to remove them anyway and they were a crumbly, yet soft mess. They did foam and smelled great, but my silicone mold was really slippery and I had to wash with dawn dish soap to remove the residue that I believe is from the sorbitan oleate. Do you think I purchased a bad batch of Sorbitan Oleate or is did I use too much? I used 1/3 C per the recipe. I did reduce the amount of oil drops due to the oils costing so much and I was mixing my own blend of fragrance. The label on the bottle says: “Can be added to formulas as is, usual concentrate 2-10%”. Does this mean I should have used less? Thank you in advance.
HI Katie! I’m sorry you have an issue. The shower steamer should dry up nicely, not be greasy or stay soft. 1/3 cup is right amount of Sorbitan oleate and creating your own essential oil blends is fine, too. I can only guess that the problem relates to your batch of Sorbitan oleate.
Do you live in an area with high humidity? Moisture in the air would prevent the steamers from setting up as well.
If you like the formula, you can also try the recipe with Polysorbate 80 instead of Sorbitan oleate.
Please keep me updated. I’d like to help you get it right!
Where do you typically buy your essential oils? You have some specific titles.
Hi Kofi! I’m not set on a specific brand, but I really like the essential oils from Plant Therapy and Tisserand.
These are beautiful and can’t wait to make some. Ingredients are ordered! The instructions are very clear but I would like to watch the video that you referred to but can’t find it. Can you point me to the video on the mooncake press?
Thank you so much, Debbie! I double checked and the video should be visible now. Happy crafting!
These are so pretty, and I cannot wait to make them! I so appreciate you providing natural alternatives to the recipe. Thanks a bunch!
Thank you so much, Carol! I’m glad to hear you find our shower steamers recipe helpful. Happy making!
What size are your molds?
Hi Deb! I used a large moon cake press, which is 2.16 in / 5.5 cm in diameter. The shower steamers weigh between 40 to 50 grams once dried. Happy making!
Hi, I couldn’t find the video for the mooncake pressing technique.
Hi Jennifer! I double checked and the video should be visible now. Happy crafting!
Hello I’m in France and can’t find any sorbitan do you think I can replace it by decyl glucoside ?
Hi Leslie! I don’t recommend surfactants like decyl glucoside because they contain water and that will cause a reaction. We tried that and it didn’t work out. Instead, prepare the steamers with Polysorbate 80. I hope this helps and happy making!
Hi! First of all….this is the best recipe for making shower steamers there is! I can’t tell you how many I have tried that I have not been happy with….too crumbly, too coarse, feels rough, etc. I am over the moon to have found this one! Thank you for sharing!
Now, on to my issue…I made them with the Moon cake press and they released beautifully and look amazing. But, when I went to check on them I see that some of them have expanded. I live in Florida, so humidity can always be a factor here. Is there something that I can do that will stop them from expanding?
Hi Janet! Thank you so much for your positive feed back, I appreciate it so much.
The shower steamers expanding means they are absorbing moisture from the air. That moisture activates the baking soda and citric acids and the steamers puff up. There are a couple of things you can try to prevent this from happening:
If you have, dry the steamer in front of a dehumidifier. If that isn’t an option, release the shower steamers on to a lined board or tray. Then place the board into a large plastic box and seal it airtight. You can also cover the steamers with several layers of plastic wrap so moisture cannot reach them.
I hope this helps you out and please keep me updated how it goes!
These look amazing! Could you repost the link to the mooncake press? The link above doesn’t seem to be working,
Thank you so much, Judy! For some reason, I can’t directly link to the Amazon in the comment section, but I’ve included the link to the moon cake press in the Materials & Supplies section under “Shower Steamer Molds.” Please let me know if you still can’t find the mold and I’m happy to email you the link. Happy making!
I was looking at your ingredients listed, and the baking soda and citric acid both show 1 cup, but the grams and oz show the citric acid should be half. Should we use 1 cup of each or 1 cup baking soda and 1/2 citric acid? Looking forward to trying this. Thanks!
1 cup / 300 g / 10.6 oz baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
1 cup / 150 g / 5.3 oz citric acid
1/3 cup / 70 g / 2.5 oz Sorbitan oleate (can sub for Polysorbate 80)
260 drops essential oil (or more/less according to your preferences)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp mica powder
Hi Kay! Thank you so much for catching that! You need 1 cup baking soda + 1 cup citric acid. The cup/volume measurements are correct, but the weight (g/oz) were from an older version of the steamer recipe. I have updated those now. Happy making!
I was curious on how many shower steamers can be produced with the recipe above and at what size preferably in grams? Thank you!
Hi Lisa! The recipe makes approx. 12 shower steamers with the large moon cake press mold I used. They are 2.16 in / 5.5 cm in diameter and weigh between 40 to 50 grams once dried.
The exact number of steamers will depend on the size of your moon cake press and how much mixture you fill into the mold. A smaller mold will most likely give you 20 to 24 steamers.
I hope this helps you out and please let me know anytime in case you have further questions. Happy making!
I love the molds that you used! Can you direct me where to buy them? Thanks!
Hi Danielle! Yes, of course. I used this moon cake press to form the shower steamers. I hope this helps you out and happy making!
These are the prettiest shower steamers! I love that you give natural colorant options.
Thank you so much, Emma!
Hi, I have been reading your post and wondered what the difference was between the Sorbitan oleate and polysorbate 80. I am struggling to find suppliers of the sorbitan oleate here in the UK.
Hi Nicola! Sorbitan oleate is considered a natural ingredient, whereas Polysorbate 80 is synthetically created. As far as these shower steamers go, it makes no difference which on you use. We tested the recipe with both ingredients.
I’m aware that Sorbitan oleate isn’t available everywhere and included Poly 80 as an alternative for that reason.
I hope this helps and please let me know in case you have any other questions. Enjoy your time on our site and happy making!
HI, loved this!!!! Can’t wait to do my Shower Steamers Thank you for sharing. Do you have a printable version?
Thank you, Sofia. You’ll find a print button in the DIY card. That allows you to print the instructions. Happy making!