Homemade Shower Steamers

How to Make Shower Steamers

By Erin Huffstetler | 11/11/2017 | 52 Comments
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Looking for more ways to enjoy the benefits of essential oils? Make a batch of shower steamers, and turn your shower into an aromatherapy spa. I started making these for my family a couple years ago, and we all swear by them.

Just mix a few ingredients together to form hard tablets that you can scent with your choice of essential oils. Then, place one in the bottom of the shower, and as the water melts it, the oils will be released into the steam. It basically turns your shower into a giant diffuser! And that’s a great thing, if you’re looking for relief from congestion caused by sinus problems, allergies, a cold or the flu. Just scent your shower steamers with essential oils that help to relieve congestion – peppermint and eucalyptus, for example — and by the end of your shower, you should start to feel some relief from all of that sinus pressure.

I tested lots of shower steamer recipes, and found most of them to be too soft and crumbly. So, I got busy developing my own recipe. My first attempt dried too quickly, but this version is just right. It’s incredibly easy to make, and results in steamers that dry quickly and non-crumbly. Here’s my recipe.

Packages of Shower Steamers

These shower steamers are also available in my shop. So, if you don’t want to make them yourself, you can still enjoy them.

Shower Steamers Recipe:

What You’ll Need:

2 cups baking soda (that’s one 16-oz. box)
1 cup citric acid
Witch hazel
Essential oils (I use the Now brand)
A silicone muffin pan (or something similar). This is what I used

Combine Citric Acid and Baking Soda

Measure the baking soda and citric acid into a bowl, and mix until well combined.

Add Essential Oils to Shower Steamer Mix

Add your essential oils. You can use up to two teaspoons. Stir to combine. If you’d like to color your steamers with food coloring, add that now, too.

Spritz with Witch Hazel

Lightly spritz the surface of the mixture with witch hazel. Then, give it a good stir.

Proper Consistency for Shower Steamer Mixture

Continue spritzing and stirring until you end up with a consistency of wet sand. It should hold together like this, if you squeeze it in your hand. Just be careful not to spray it too much. You don’t want your shower steamers to fizz before you use them in the shower.

Press Shower Steamer Mix into Molds

Then, divide your shower steamer mixture between the cups of a silicone muffin pan. Press it in with your hands or the back of a spoon, so it’s firmly packed. This recipe makes eight steamers.

Finished Shower Steamers

Allow the steamers to dry. Then, remove them from the muffin pan (they’ll pop right out if you used a silicone pan). Store them in an air-tight container until you’re ready to use them.

Drying times will vary based on how wet your mixture is and the weather, but it doesn’t take long.

Use Essential Oils Safely

Whenever you use essential oils, it’s important to stick to safe dilution rates. Most essential oil books recommend a 1% dilution rate for kids and a 2% dilution rate for adults. For this recipe, that means you could use up to 12 drops of oil per shower steamer for kids and 24 for adults. If you use a teaspoon of oil to make eight shower steamers, that’s the equivalent of 12 drops per shower steamer. If you use two teaspoons of oil to make eight shower steamers, that’s the equivalent of 24 drops per steamer.

Some essential oils aren’t safe for kids. Invest in a good essential oil book so you can educate yourself.

Essential Oils Book

I have this one: Essential Oils Natural Remedies: The Complete A-Z Reference of Essential Oils for Health and Healing. It’s arranged so that you can look up information by the problem you’re treating or by the oil. It’s become an important part of my reference library. I find myself reaching for it all the time.

Which Oils Do I Use in My Shower Steamers?

Essential Oils

My primary interest has been in treating sinus problems, so I’ve been using peppermint oil (good for headaches), and eucalyptus (a decongestant). Here’s the blend that I came up with:

Sinus Steamers

eucalyptus oil
peppermint oil

This blend also works well for cold/flu symptoms.

And here are some of the other blends that my family has been using:

Seasonal Allergy Steamers

lavender oil
peppermint oil
lemon oil

Migraine Steamers

peppermint oil
lemon oil
rosemary oil

You can either fragrance your shower steamers when you make them (store them in an air-tight container, if you do), or leave them fragrance-free until you’re ready to use them. This allows you to choose your oils based on your needs on that particular day, and ensures that your oils are at their most potent.

Stack of Homemade Shower Steamers

To Use Your Shower Steamers:

Place one on the floor of your shower, where it will get wet, but not drenched. Then, breathe in deeply as the oils vaporize. These steamers are long-lasting, so it’s quite likely they’ll outlast your shower. Just push it into the corner of your shower, and it’ll be there for next time.

A Word of Warning:

I’m not a doctor or even an expert on essential oils, so I can’t tell you what’s safe for you and your family. It’s smart to do your own research (I always do).

And not to get all obvious here, but shower steamers could pose a tripping hazard for some people (young kids, the elderly and the accident prone). Use your own judgement there.

More Awesome Uses for Essential Oils

How to Make an Essential Oil Inhaler

How to Make an Essential Oil Inhaler

Diffuser

How I Use Diffusers in My Home

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Comments

  1. another great idea I’ll have to try – love your suggestions using essential oils.

    By the way, when you use items for things like this – such as your silicone pans, do you still use them for cooking too? I was wondering…..

    thanks, how’s the cabin coming? love the updates! HAPPY SPRING!

  2. Good question. I bought that blue muffin pan specifically for projects like this, but since this recipe only includes baking soda and washing soda (ingredients that I use in my dishwasher detergent), I wouldn’t hesitate to use any pan, spoon, etc. that I use for food. When I get into adding essential oils to things or melting wax, I use designated molds, pots, etc. for those. I even have designated crockpots for crafting — one that I use for melting beeswax and one that I use for melting paraffin wax.

    The cabin progress has been slow, but steady lately. I’ve been repainting lots of curb finds, so it’s fun to see the color scheme and furnishings coming together. If we sell enough carpenter bee traps, we’ll do the roof and electricity this summer. That’ll be a huge turning point because we’ll be able to tackle the finishing work after that. And I have lots of fun things planned 🙂

  3. Sounds very interesting and I can manage to get all the ingredients here in Canada. I just may give these a try once I get organized again (well I really mean get all my other projects finished).

    God bless.

    • Ha! I know what you mean about getting all of your other projects finished. I always seem to have a million going at once. I think I’ve finally caught up, but I’m sure that won’t last for long 🙂

  4. Oh, Erin, I cannot wait to try these. So simple to make, but yielding such good things.

    I have a concern: the cost of essential oils. I am a complete newbie when it comes to using them, and they seem a bit pricey when I seek them out online. Do you find essential oils a bit pricey? I ask because you have such great judgement in terms of the frugal life, so I wanted to know your opinion.

    • Hey, Tara. Essential oils can seem kind of expensive, but since you’re usually only using a few drops at a time, a bottle lasts a long time. Just to give you an idea, there are 600 drops in an ounce of essential oil. I buy the Now brand of oils because they always earn very good quality ratings, but cost a lot less than some other brands (DoTerra and Young Living are pretty expensive, in my opinion). I’ve built my collection of oils slowly, starting with a couple key ones, and then expanding as I needed a certain oil for a project. In most cases, essential oils have a really long shelf life (citrus oils being the one exception). I usually buy large bottles because they tend to be cheaper. Amazon’s oils are reasonably priced. Sometimes GNC (the vitamin company) runs a sale on their essential oils, and I’ll order through their website.

  5. I am new to essential oils and found this post on making shower melts more helpful than others. Question – I am learning about dilution rates. How did you come of with 12 drops of EO for a 1% dilution rate per a shower melt and 24 drops for a 2% dilution rate per a shower melt. Thanks!

    .

    • Hi Janice,

      Dilutions rates are based on the weight of the finished product. So, you weigh your other ingredients, and then 1% or 2% of that weight is what you can safely add in essential oils.

      Mountain Rose Herbs has some good information and examples on this: http://mountainroseblog.com/dilutions-conversions/

      When you’re making candles, hot process soap or another product where you have to heat up your ingredients, you can go higher on the dilution rate. That’s because the heat is rough on the oils, and lessens their scent. You have to add enough to counteract the damage the heat does. You can find more information on that on candle and soapmaking sites, if that’s ever something you get into. Just wanted to explain that 1-2% isn’t the rule for everything. But it is what you want to stick to on any product that you can make without heat.

      Hope that helps. Dilution rates are kind of tricky. It’s something I still find myself reading more about. I’d love to build a dilution rate calculator some time.

  6. Is there any way I could just add the essential oils first? I’m wanting to give these as christmas gifts. Or would it be easier to make them, let them harden, and then apply the oils before wrapping?

  7. HI there Erin,

    Just found your site and I am thrilled to see your cleaning supply list. I think I pinned each and every one. It is 2am here in Nova Scotia and I just made a bucket of laundry detergent. Tomorrow I will make your dishwasher soap recipe and your shower diffusers. Can’t wait to surprise my husband with one next time he is stuffed up. Wonderful ideas. Thanks for sharing all your great ideas. What a kind girl you are.
    MUCH THANKS from Nova Scotia Erin.
    Darlene

    • Hi Darlene, Glad you’re finding ideas you can put to use. I’ll be making dishwasher detergent tabs today, too 🙂 I like to make a year’s supply while I’m off over the holidays.

  8. Hello! I was wondering how you add the essential oil! Do you just add drops to the top of the shower meat after it is dry?

  9. Hi! I stumbled upon your recipe and love the quick dry time. I’m wanting to make these during a girls-night-in class that only lasts about 2 hours and I’d like them to be finished by the time the girls go home. Question: would this same basic principle work for bath bombs too?

    Thanks again for sharing!
    – Alianne

  10. Erin, I’m curious. You said you like to make a year’s worth of dishwasher tabs. Do you also work outside of the home? Love your posts. Can’t wait to see the updated cabin photos!
    Tamara

    • Hi Tamara,

      This website is my full-time job. I also write for thebalance.com, and have a product line that we sell on our site, at craft shows and in stores. That keeps my husband and I very busy 🙂 I usually make a year’s worth of dishwasher tabs over Christmas break. I have less going on then, so it’s a good time to get ahead on things like that.

      We should have lots of progress to share on the cabin next summer. It’s made it to the top of our savings goals 🙂

  11. I’m so excited to make these! I don’t have witch hazel on hand. Is there an easy substitute I could use or should I just wait and run to the store? Thanks!

  12. I made the shower steamers and am having trouble with the mixture sticking to the silicone molds and thus crumbling. Any advice?

    • Hmmm … I’ve never had a problem with them sticking to my silicone molds. But if they’re crumbling, it’s possible you aren’t pressing them down hard enough. I use my fingers or palm to compress the steamers as much as possible. Give that a try, and see if that makes a difference 🙂

  13. Hi Erin-IS there any salvaging fizzies that are overreacting in the mold? My first batch turned out great but today I pressed them in the same silicone mold and are bubbling in parts.
    Thank you

    • Hi Maryellen,

      Sounds like you used a little too much witch hazel in the second batch. That’s the cause for the fizzing. The good news is that they’ll probably have plenty of fizz left in them when you go to use them.

  14. This is a great recipe. I figure the Witch Hazel will help my skin!!! I love steamers and these are one of the best. Thank you!

  15. Hi, thx so much for the recipe! I’m going to make these plain, no eo’s in the mix. Because I want to use them for different times, not only for the shower. So, my question;. With no eo’s in the recipe, will it still hold up? Or should I add a tablespoon or so of jojoba oil? Tia

  16. Hi Erin
    I’m new to making shower steamers, just made my first batch and they are rising out of the silicone mould like bread, did I go overboard on the witch hazel? I did add it gradually ?
    Elaine

    • Hi, Elaine. Yep, that’s what happens when you add too much witch hazel — it activates the other ingredients early. That batch should still be useable, though. They just may not be quite as fizzy. Next time try to use just enough witch hazel for the steamers to hold together. You’ll get it after a batch or two 🙂

  17. Hi Erin.
    I’m about to embark on making the shower bombs. When using for migraines do you add more than one essential oil to the recipe? If so how much? Or is it just one essential oil?

    • Hi Jeanne, I would use equal parts lemon, peppermint and lavender essential oil, if you want to make migraine shower steamers. That’s the blend that I use in my migraine inhalers. https://www.myfrugalhome.com/how-to-make-an-essential-oil-inhaler/

      Incidentally, since I’ve started using my migraine inhaler, I never have a migraine advance past the weird eyes stage. If I take some Excedrin Migraine, drink something with caffeine and start using my inhaler as soon as I start having weird vision, I never get the headache part or the nausea. Having had migraines for close to 30 years, I was really surprised to find something that works. I think the lemon EO is the biggest piece of it. It lowers your blood pressure and improves circulation, which is just what you need when a migraine hits. Hope this blend helps you as much as it’s helped me.

  18. Hi Erin,

    I’m making diy toiletry baskets for everyone this Christmas, the first to-do is shower steamers. I watched dozens of videos on it and read tons of blogs, but when I made my first batch and pressed them into my mold, they kept severely puffing up. I don’t have a spray bottle, so I slowly sprinkled in the water while stirring, and on the advice of several other soap makers/DIYers I added 20 extra drops of essential oils so the auromatherapy effect would really pop. I think the citric acid is reacting somehow and creating gas causing the puffing effect, but I don’t know what to change to fix it. Any advice here? Why do you think my steamers are puffing up? Any help appreciated.
    ~jen

    • Hi Jenna,

      Your shower steamers are puffing up because you’re getting the mixture too wet and setting off the fizzing action that’s supposed to happen in the shower. I strongly recommend using witch hazel (which will evaporate quickly, so the mixture doesn’t stay wet for long), and using a spray bottle, so you’re applying less moisture to the mix. You can pick one up at the dollar store. You don’t want to add any more witch hazel than is necessary to get the mixture to hold together like wet sand. Hope this helps.

  19. Hi! First time making shower steamers and they are so fun. Here is my problem. I realize after reading comments they puffed out of molds due to too much witch hazel. I used spray bottle and spritzed 3 rounds, of 2 to 3 times around mixture, stirring in between. As soon as they were in mold they stafted rising. I left them dry for a full 24 hours. They felt hard. They popped out of molds albeit not pretty looking. I put them in mason jars. Next day, noticed they looked funny and opened lid to find they all mashed together. They look like just a huge clump of rock. Where they not fully dried? What happened? I would love to get this down so I can gift them. I also saw all other recipes call for cornstarch. What is reason for that?

    • Hi Danielle, It sounds like you activated the shower steamers by adding too much witch hazel, So instead of hardening to the shape of the mold, they just continued to rise and change form (even after you put them in the jar). Next time try to use as little witch hazel as possible. I usually do a few spritzes; then, stir the mixture. Do a few more spritzes; then, stir it again. There’s a very fine line between enough witch hazel and too much, and it just takes making a few batches to get a feel for it. Stop adding witch hazel as soon as the mixture holds together like wet sand.

      Some shower steamer and bath bomb recipes use cornstarch as a filler ingredient. Since it’s not a necessary ingredient, I’ve opted to leave it out.

  20. Hi Erin,
    I have read everyone’s comments, and I don’t think I saw anyone ask this…..you mentioned using food coloring to add color. Have you found that this stains the tub or shower? I know natural colorants can be used on bath bombs but it seems the shower steamers are a different process so I wasn’t sure if that would work or not.
    I love your recipes for the shower steamers. Seems so easy. Thanks for sharing.

  21. These great things help us breathe, but they also clean the dirtiest parts of my shower without me lifting a finger! I move them around in my shower to clean various areas.

  22. Hi! This recipe looks amazing! Quick question: have you tried it using small silicone molds (like little stars, shells, etc)? I’m worried they will crumble if I use a smaller mold. Also, how long should I leave in the molds to dry? I’m afraid if I attempt to remove them too early and they are still slightly damp they will crumble. It’s wet outside and mid December. Thanks!

    • Hi Anna,

      These work fine in any size mold. Just be sure to press them firmly into the mold. The more compressed the mixture, the stronger they’ll be. I usually leave my shower steamers in the mold for 24 hours, just to make sure they’re good and dry. If you’re making several batches and need to take them out of the mold sooner, you can do that too. I usually wait a few hours (so they feel pretty hard). Then, carefully remove them from the mold, and leave them out on a table, so they can continue to dry/harden.

  23. I appreciate you answering everyone’s questions. It is so helpful! My son has been selling bath bombs at my husband’s business and wanted to include shower melts in his products. However, the recipes online are too crumbly. We will give the witch hazel a go instead of water. I honestly dont see how finger pressing into a silicone mold becomes hard enough from a just damp mixture! We have tried a variety of recipes and procedures and without packing them in like bath bombs, they just dont seem to be able to travel well. We have heart shaped molds and are trying for Valentine’s day but we can attempt regular muffin tins too. I am glad to see your steamers you sell in your shop actually mail out well. My 2nd question is, do you incorporate the eo’s in or drip them on top…for the ones you sell in your shop. We dont have airtight packaging and would just advise people to transfer when they take them home. Thank you for your help! We are getting desperate as we already have orders and cant make it work yet!

    • Hi Rebekah,

      I make bath bombs, too, and the only difference between my shower steamer and bath bomb recipe is that I add oil to my bath bombs. If you add enough witch hazel to achieve a wet sand consistency, you should be able to press your steamers into a silicone mold just as tightly as you’re used to when making bath bombs.

      To answer your other question: I add the EOs to my mixture when I’m making the shower steamers.

  24. Hi Erin,
    I’d like to make these for gifts. I’m not sure what to pack them in so the essential oil fragrance will last. Would you mind sharing where you purchase the zip top bags you use?

  25. Hi, I’m going to try the shower steamers but have a question. When you use more than 1 oil, do you still only use 12 drops, ie 6 of 1 and 6 of other if using 2 fragrances or 12 of each?

  26. Love your recipe for these shower steamers!! Have attempted several recipes with disastrous outcomes! I am a certified aromatherapist and have my own line of essential oils! If you are interested would love to share my oils with you and possibly your blogs? I have all high quality essential oils but make them affordable! Thank you for sharing!!

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