A hot shower is one of my favorite escapes. In the never-ending search for self-care, a shower often seems more attainable than committing yourself to taking a long bath. If you’re in a rush, all you really need is five minutes and a couple of shower bombs to turn the whole thing into a spa-like experience. Yep, even a quick aromatherapy shower can work wonders if you’re feeling tired, stressed out, or just cranky.
Try upgrading your shower with fresh eucalyptus or an aromatherapy shower spray. Or whip up a few simple shower bombs, and keep them on hand for the next time you need a pick me up. Simply pop one in the corner of your shower and let the essential oils fill the air, so you can de-stress, relax, and rejuvenate in the time it takes to wash your hair.
The Complete Guide to Making Shower Bombs
So, what are shower bombs?
Shower bombs, also called shower steamers, are just like bath bombs, except they’re specially made to dissolve in the shower.
For starters, they’re flat, so they can sit on the floor of the shower without rolling away. Since they’re supposed to dissolve and release their scent into the air, they contain more essential oils and botanicals than bath bombs. And shower steamers are a little bit smaller than your typical bath bomb, so they’ll dissolve completely by the end of your shower without leaving a mess for you to clean up.
Basic Shower Bomb Ingredients
All shower steamer recipes start with the same four components:
A the main ingredient in shower steamers, baking soda works as a binder and absorbs the essential oil fragrance, only to release it later in the shower.
Citric acid is what makes shower bombs fizz. When the acidic compounds in citric acid combine with the basic compounds in baking soda, adding water kicks off the chemical reaction that produces bubbles. You can achieve that same reaction without acidic powders by using compounds such as cream of tartar, but the fizz is more pronounced with citric acid.
Water or witch hazel
Either water or witch hazel is used to dampen the baking soda mixture just enough to press it into a mold. Adding too much water can cause your shower steamers to start fizzing before they ever reach the shower. So, I recommend putting water in a spray bottle or using a dropper to add a tiny bit of water at a time until you reach the right consistency.
This is what gives shower bombs their aromatherapy benefits. You can use any essential oils you like, but if you want some scent recommendations, we’ve got a bunch for you later on in this post.
Due to environmental factors, such as weather and humidity, your shower bombs may need a little help sticking together. The following ingredients can be used to make your steamers last longer, pop out of the mold more easily, and hold together better in the long run.
Shower bombs need a binder to help them stick together and dissolve more slowly. If you don’t have cornstarch, you can use tapioca starch or arrowroot starch instead.
Another binder, coconut oil is my secret ingredient in both shower steamers and bath bombs. As the coconut oil cools, it solidifies, binding the ingredients and holding them together as you remove the shower steamer from its mold. Once you place the steamer in the shower, the coconut oil melts, kicking off the fizzing reaction and releasing the essential oils.
Vodka or rubbing alcohol
According to some fellow DIYers, alcohol may help shower bombs stay together better than water. So, if your shower steamers tend to flake or fall apart, try adding half a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol or vodka to the mix.
How to Customize Shower Bombs
With the basic ingredients figured out, it’s time to start thinking about fun things you can do to mix up your steamers! Natural colors, flower petals, shimmery micas, and absorbent clays can help boost both the effectiveness and the appearance of your shower bombs.
Dried flower petals. Sprinkling a few dried lavender, rose petals, or chamomile flowers into the mix can take your shower bombs to the next level and boost their aromatherapy benefits at the same time. Just be sure not to add too many petals, or they could wind up clogging your drain.
Herbs. Dried rosemary, mint, green tea, and other herbs can also add aromatherapy benefits to your bombs. Like with flower petals, make sure your herbs are finely ground or small enough to pass through the drain without slowing things down.
Natural pigments. My favorite pigments for homemade shower bombs are brightly colored herbs and botanicals. All you need is beetroot (reddish-pink), chlorella (green), turmeric (yellow), and butterfly pea (blue) powders to cover all your bases. Or you can always mix them to create your own custom shades. Just note that some pigments, like turmeric, may stain a light-colored tub or tile, so use them wisely!
Sea salt. Halotherapy, also known as salt therapy, is the process of breathing air infused with sea salt (or ocean air) as a means of improving lung and other health problems. While adding salt to your shower steamers isn’t quite the same as visiting a spa or doctor’s office, you may find that inhaling salt water steam makes you feel better. I would try this only with pure sea salt—not table salt.
Mica. Mica powder has purely aesthetic benefits—it’s colorful and fun to look at! Either add a pinch to the baking soda mixture as you’re making your shower bombs or dust some on top for a little sparkle.
Clay. Because it’s so absorptive, clay is sometimes used to help shower bombs stick together. Personally, I like using clay for its color. Try adding French Pink or Green clay to the mix for a soft, natural hue that won’t stain your shower.
Oddly shaped molds. I’ll be talking more about molds next, but using interesting molds can help customize the look and feel of your shower bombs. Rather than make single-serving bombs, I sometimes like to use large soap or baking molds and break the steamers into smaller pieces just before use. You can also use small baking tins or cookie cutters to make fun shapes.
Shower Melt Molds
You can use pretty much any container to mold your shower steamers. When looking around for good options, look for a mold with a flat bottom, so you won’t have to worry about your steamers rolling away mid-shower. And try to keep your mold between 1 and 3 inches in diameter. Anything larger may be too big for shower steamers (but perfect for bath bombs!)
If you would prefer to use larger molds, make sure to break your steamers into smaller pieces before use.
Some good options are:
— Ice cube trays
— Cookie cutters
— Silicone baking molds
— Soap molds
— Muffin tins
— Muffin cup liners
— Cookie press
Shower Steamer Scent Options
You can use either essential oils or fragrance oils to scent your shower bombs. Personally, I’m a fan of essential oils because they’re safe to inhale and can even provide health benefits. But choose whatever you prefer.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to use roughly 2 teaspoons of essential oil for every 3 cups of dry mix (i.e., baking soda and citric acid). Of course, stronger scents may need less, while mellower fragrances may require more.
Here are a few essential oil blends to get you started:
How to Make Shower Bombs
Shower bomb supplies
—2 cups baking soda
—1 cup citric acid
—½ cup corn starch
—Water in a mister bottle or dropper
—4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
—2 teaspoons essential oils
—Spoon or whisk
—Sea salt, herbs, or flower petals
—Mica powder for shimmer
Step 1 | Combine dry ingredients
Combine baking soda, citric acid, and cornstarch in a large bowl. Stir well to break up clumps.
Step 2 | Add extras
Add any dry colorants, such as turmeric or pink clay, mica, flower petals, or herbs, and mix again.
Step 3 | Add coconut oil
Slowly pour in the melted coconut oil and mix well. I like to use my hands to break apart clumps and make sure the oil is well combined.
Step 4 | Add essential oils
Add the essential oils and a few drops of water or witch hazel. If using a mister bottle, lightly spritz the mixture until it’s just barely wet. Once blended, the mixture should hold together like wet sand.
Step 5 | Pack into molds
Spoon the mixture into your molds and use your fingers to press down firmly.
Refrigerate for 15 minutes before removing your shower bombs from the molds. Place on a plate to continue drying for another 8 to 12 hours.
I find that these shower bombs tend to get crumbly if left to sit out more than a couple of days. Store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, and let them come to room temperature before using.
How to Use Shower Bombs
Your shower steamer should be roughly 2 inches wide; otherwise, it may be too big to dissolve completely. If you made large steamers, like I did, then start by breaking your shower bombs into smaller pieces.
1. Place one steamer on the floor of your shower in a spot where it will get wet but not drenched (this helps prolong the lifespan of your shower bomb).
2. As the steamer melts, the essential oils will get released into the air, turning your shower into a spa. So, feel free to breathe in deeply as the oils vaporize and let the aromatherapy get to work.
3. Rinse any remaining shower bomb residue down the drain before hopping out.
Shower Steamer FAQs
Do shower steamers last more than one shower?
No. Shower steamers are supposed to last for about 10 to 15 minutes (roughly the length of the shower), but no more. Once they’re wet, the ingredients start to dissolve and break down, making it hard to pick up the steamer and save it for later.
How can I make my shower steamer last longer?
The more water that hits your shower steamer, the more quickly it will dissolve. So, make sure your shower steamer is sitting where it can be slightly misted but not washed away while you shower. You can also try adding a tablespoon of Bentonite or kaolin clay to your shower steamers to help them dissolve more slowly.
Can I put a shower steamer in the bath?
Sure, if you want to!
Can I use a bath bomb as a shower steamer?
Yes, a bath bomb can double as a shower steamer in a pinch. But because they’re so big, you may want to break yours into smaller pieces first, so it will not roll away or dissolve entirely during your shower.
Ready to DIY? Here are 7 Recipes to Try!
De-Stress Aromatherapy Shower Tablets
Lavender [source] and chamomile [source] both offer calming, soothing benefits—perfect when you need to de-stress after a long day. These tablets are super easy and inexpensive to make: you only need baking soda, essential oils, and dried lavender and chamomile.
Get the recipe for De-Stress Aromatherapy Shower Tablets
Clear Your Sinuses with These DIY Menthol Shower Steamers
Can’t breathe? These DIY menthol shower steamers use the power of menthol crystals and essential oils to quickly clear your sinuses and ease congestion from colds [source].
Get the recipe for Menthol Shower Steamers
Peppermint Shower Bombs
A shower can be the perfect afternoon pick-me-up after a lazy morning (thinking of Sundays). The fresh scent of peppermint is perfect for using in the shower to revitalize your energy [source].
Plus, these shower bombs add some fun fizzing action. This recipe makes quite a few bombs, so why not package them and share with friends?
Get the recipe for Peppermint Shower Bombs from Pink When
Citrus Shower Melts
If you’re not a morning person, these energizing shower melts are just the incentive you need to get out of bed. The uplifting scents of orange, lemon, and bergamot [source] will scent your entire bathroom and help you wake up happy.
Get the recipe for Citrus Shower Melts from Abundant Health
Breathe Easy Eucalyptus Shower Disks
Make these shower disks that open the sinuses—thanks to eucalyptus essential oil, one of the best essential oils for congestion [source]. Combine its scent with the steam from the shower for easier breathing or headache relief.
Now you can skip the long bath and head straight to bed! Follow it up with an easy vapor rub to keep your sinuses open while you sleep.
Get the recipe for Eucalyptus Shower Disks
Lavender Shower Melts
Try using cornstarch instead of baking soda for these soothing lavender shower melts. Lavender is a soothing scent any time of day, plus it can help with headaches [source] and stress [source]. Combine a couple of drops of red and blue food coloring to give it a pretty purple color.
Get the recipe for Lavender Shower Melts from Utensi
Vapor Rub Shower Bombs
These easy shower melts require no essential oils. Just mix cornstarch and vapor rub together, and in 20 minutes, your shower melts are ready for stuffy nose relief.
Get the recipe for Vapor Rub Shower Melts from The Homespun Hydrangea902