Aromatherapy shower steamers are tablets that dissolve in the shower. In the process, they release a fragrance from essential oils. A person may simply enjoy their aroma or use them for health reasons.

Aromatherapy is a type of complementary therapy that uses essential oils from plants and resins for their therapeutic effects. Some essential oils appear to have an effect on the body, but not all of the claims about them have scientific backing.

Because essential oils naturally contain hundreds of chemicals, it is important to use them safely. Not all essential oils are suitable for everyone, and some can cause adverse effects. People should consult a doctor before trying them.

Read on to learn more about aromatherapy shower steamers, their potential benefits, and how to make them.

Although research suggests essential oils may have some health benefits, it is important to remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not monitor or regulate the purity or quality of these oils. A person should talk with a healthcare professional before using essential oils and research the quality of a particular brand’s products. It is also important to always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.

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Shower steamers are highly fragranced tablets or balls that dissolve in water. A person places them at the bottom of the shower so that the steam will carry the fragrance upward. Alternatively, they can put the steamer in a mesh bag to hang near the shower.

Many steamers consist of a combination of baking soda and citric acid, much like a bath bomb. This causes them to fizz when they come into contact with water.

The fragrance in shower steamers can come from essential oils, which are highly concentrated compounds that come from plants or resins. They can also come from fragranced oils, which are laboratory-created perfumes.

There are no studies that specifically focus on the benefits of shower steamers. However, some research examines the potential benefits of inhaling essential oils. They may:

  • Improve mood: A small body of research suggests that some essential oils may improve mood by acting on neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers in the brain. Lavender, Roman chamomile, and bergamot may have this effect.
  • Aid sleep: Lavender essential oil may help increase melatonin levels in the blood, the hormone that makes a person feel sleepy at night.
  • Increase energy: Some people find certain fragrances uplifting or energizing. Some examples include citrus oils, such as orange or lemon.
  • Clear congestion: Many people use peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils to help with nasal congestion. The steam from a shower may further help with this.
  • Pleasure: The fragrance of shower steamers is pleasant to many people. Using them may be an act of self-care that helps a person relax, slow down, or cultivate mindfulness.

Shower steamers also have some benefits of their own. Unlike some other methods for using essential oils, they:

  • are easy to use
  • do not require any special equipment
  • take up no extra time in a person’s routine
  • leave no waste behind

Whether or not aromatherapy shower steamers are worth buying depends on a person’s budget and priorities. Some people prefer to make their own and find this a fun hobby. Others may opt to save time by buying premade shower steamers.

A person may wish to consider:

  • Cost: A single store-bought shower steamer may be similar in cost to an inexpensive bottle of essential oil. This makes them more expensive since a person can only get one use out of them.
  • Convenience: Shower steamers may be more convenient than some other aromatherapy types. However, they may also be messier and take up more space than other aromatherapy products.
  • Effectiveness: Shower steamers release their fragrance quickly and then wash away. This may mean a person does not get as much of a benefit from the essential oils as they would with other forms of aromatherapy.

According to the blog One Green Planet, a person can make aromatherapy shower steamers with five basic ingredients:

  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of powdered citric acid
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch, arrowroot, or cream of tartar
  • witch hazel in a spray bottle
  • 12–24 drops of essential oils, depending on the desired strength

Some people also add flower petals or food coloring for decoration. To make the shower steamers:

  1. Using hands, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. People with sensitive skin should wear gloves for this.
  2. Add the essential oils and mix well.
  3. Begin to spray the mixture with witch hazel water while rubbing it in. Continue until the mixture looks like wet sand.
  4. Once the mixture holds together when squeezing it together, form it into shapes.
  5. Spoon it out into an ice cube tray or silicone mold and press down to compress the mixture.
  6. Leave to set in a dry place for at least 24 hours.
  7. When dry, release from the mold and store in an airtight jar.

Some essential oil combinations to try include the below.

Peppermint and eucalyptus

This refreshing combination may help a person feel more awake in the morning. Peppermint oil may also help with nausea, while eucalyptus may ease congestion.

Mix two drops of peppermint for every drop of eucalyptus oil. However, use these sparingly, as these oils have a strong scent.

Vanilla and lavender

Lavender and vanilla are a soothing combination. According to a 2022 paper, lavender may also help raise melatonin levels, making it easier to sleep. To use this blend, mix equal parts lavender and vanilla.

Jasmine and lavender

A person may find this combination relaxing and floral. Try mixing two parts jasmine with one part lavender for a stronger, more floral aroma or equal parts of both for a more relaxing blend.

Citrus blend

Citrus oils may help a person feel more awake and energized. Some research also suggests they may improve mood. Try mixing two to three citrus oils of any variety in equal parts. Some examples include bergamot, orange, and lemon.

Similarly to any other chemical, essential oils pose some dangers. Some potential risks include:

  • Allergies: Some people have allergic reactions to essential oils. Before trying a new oil, perform a patch test to make sure.
  • Skin irritation: Using highly concentrated essential oils directly on the skin can cause irritation, itching, and even burns. Do not let essential oils touch the skin directly — they need diluting with a carrier oil.
  • Poisoning: Some essential oils are toxic to consume. For example, eucalyptus oil is toxic and can cause seizures. Always store shower steamers and essential oils securely, out of the reach of children or pets.
  • Other adverse effects: People should not use essential oils around children, pets, or pregnant people, even if they follow safety guidelines. Some essential oils are not safe for these individuals.
  • Long-term effects: The long-term effects of essential oils on any person are unknown. Some research suggests they may disrupt endocrine function, potentially affecting hormone levels.
  • Drug interactions: Some essential oils may interact with prescription or over-the-counter drugs. If a person takes any medications, they should talk with a doctor before using them.

Aromatherapy shower steamers can be an enjoyable addition to a person’s routine. They cannot serve as a replacement for medical care, but they may help a person relax and create a spa-like experience at home.

People who practice aromatherapy also believe they have additional benefits, although not all claims about essential oils have strong evidence behind them.

Essential oils also pose some risks. It is important to keep them out of the reach of children and pets, and individuals should stop using them immediately if they experience a harmful reaction. People with underlying medical conditions or who take medications should consult a doctor before using essential oils.