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DIY Shower Melts for Colds & Congestion

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If you need quick sinus relief, learn how to make easy DIY shower melts for colds and congestion! These soothing eucalyptus shower steamers are made with essential oils and menthol to help you breathe easier.

DIY shower melts.

Whether it’s a cold, allergies, or another cause, congestion is miserable. And when it strikes, you need something that works quickly and easily.

This simple recipe is great to have on hand for those times. When placed into your shower, these cold relief shower melts release a soothing, eucalyptus-scented vapor that helps open airways and relieve some of the pain and pressure associated with sinus congestion.

Aside from their decongestant properties, the essential oils in this recipe have also been associated with relieving muscle tension and headaches, which often go hand-in-hand with having a cold. So they can help you feel better in that respect as well.

This is an easy-to-follow shower melts recipe with no complicated steps required. Simply mix your ingredients, place into molds, and let dry.

For troubleshooting and tips for how to make and use shower melts, be sure to consult the tips section.

As well, if you’re interested in other kinds of shower aromatherapy, check out our other post on DIY shower steamers – it includes several recipes for sleep aid, energy, relaxation and more.

DIY eucalyptus shower melts for colds and congestion.

How to ease congestion in the shower

When you’re sick or congested, taking a hot shower is one of the best ways to get relief. Steam is incredibly soothing to blocked sinuses. It can also help thin the mucus that’s causing you so much discomfort in the first place.

There are things you can do to make a shower even more effective for sinus relief. Some popular tricks for easing congestion include applying vapor rub to the shower wall, or steaming fresh eucalyptus under the showerhead.

But there’s a better way to get the benefits of eucalyptus in the shower than steaming it! And while vapor rub may work in a pinch, you can breathe easier without making a mess of your shower.

The answer is to use shower melts, and it’s incredibly easy to DIY your own.

What are shower melts?

Shower melts (also called shower bombs, tablets, fizzies, or steamers) turn your shower into one big essential oil diffuser.

Water activates the tablet, causing it to fizz, dissolve, and release the essentials oils into the air. Then, the steam in your shower creates and circulates the vapor for potent aromatherapy.

Essentially, shower melts are like like a bath bomb, but for your shower. And instead of pampering your skin, they deliver a concentrated dose of essential oils to your sinuses.

There are many different uses for shower steamers – for instance, some help wake you up, and others provide sleep aid. But these DIY shower melts are made specifically for colds and congestion relief.

Benefits of eucalyptus shower melts for congestion

Not only are shower steamers convenient, but they may also work better than other home remedies for sinus relief.

For one, eucalyptus essential oil is rectified to contain only the beneficial parts of the plant1. So, your bottled eucalyptus oil is going to be more helpful for your stuffy nose than using the whole plant.

Plus, the work of extracting and distilling the potent essential oils has already been done for you – no waiting for the leaves to steam.

DIY shower melts for colds.

As well, this sinus shower melts recipe contains some of same essential oils typically found in vapor rub (such as the popular Vicks brand), but in a tablet form that’s much more convenient for use in your shower.

So, no need to smear vapor rub in your shower – just make your own vapor rub shower tablets.

Ingredients for cold and congestion shower steamers

These sinus relief shower bombs are surprisingly easy to make with simple household ingredients. You will need:

  • Baking soda and citric acid. These ingredients are carriers for the essential oils, and they’re also required for the chemical reaction that makes the melts fizz. You can find more information on why citric acid is necessary in the tips section.
  • Arrowroot powder or cornstarch. Baking soda and citric acid will dissolve in hot water, but starch won’t, helping to make your shower melts last longer. Both arrowroot starch and corn starch are popular choices as they’re easy to find. Neither one works better than the other, so use whatever one is available to you.
  • Essential oils. Of course, the essential oils are what provide the therapeutic properties that makes these DIY shower melts work so well for congestion! The main essential oil in these eucalyptus shower steamers is of course eucalyptus oil (specifically the globulus type), but you’ll find other choices in the section below.
  • Menthol crystals. Menthol crystals are a more concentrated form of the naturally occurring menthol found in certain essential oils, such as peppermint. While optional, menthol has potent decongestant effects. More information on this in the tips section.
  • Spirulina powder. A small amount of optional spirulina gives your steamers a nice green color. You can also use green mica.
  • Spearmint leaves. While optional, a sprinkling of herbs adds a nice decorative touch. I used spearmint, but you could also use peppermint or another herbs. And seeing as eucalyptus is the shower melts’ main ingredient, eucalyptus leaves would be an even better choice!
  • Alcohol. You will need a small amount of alcohol in a spray bottle to moisten the mixture before packing it into the mold. You can use rubbing alcohol or vodka. Both evaporate quickly thanks to their alcohol content. Whichever one you choose, just be sure to work in a well ventilated area.

    I don’t recommend using water or witch hazel, as this may make your shower fizzies too wet – you want them to fizz in the shower, not the mold! You can find more information on creating the best consistency in the tips section.
DIY shower melts for congestion.

Aside from your basic ingredients, you will also need a few pieces of equipment:

  • Silicone mold. Silicone molds make it easy to gently remove the melts after drying. You can use any shape of molds you would like. I used these round molds for a single-use tablet shape that’s perfect for one shower.
  • Mixing bowl. Use a large non-metallic mixing bowl to combine your ingredients.
  • Gloves. You should use nitrile or latex gloves to protect your hands while kneading and shaping the mixture. Citric acid will irritate sensitive skin and will also ruin a manicure.

The best essential oils for congestion shower melts

  • Eucalyptus. Of course eucalyptus essential oil was perfect for this shower melts recipe. Its main constituent is cineole, which is known for its soothing effects on the respiratory tract. Eucalyptus oil has been used to treat the symptoms of colds, bronchitis, and congestion1. It can also reportedly help relieve cough symptoms – eucalyptus oil is mucolytic, meaning it thins mucus and makes it easier to expel2.
  • Rosemary. If you don’t have eucalyptus oil on hand, you can also use rosemary cineole oil as a substitute. Rosemary is another useful essential oil for congestion and respiratory woes, specifically the cineole type. It also has antibacterial activity3. However, even rosemary cineole is still not as quite as high in cineole as eucalyptus oil.
  • Peppermint. Peppermint essential oil is another easy choice for shower melts for colds, as it’s commonly used for symptomatic treatment of cough and cold1. Peppermint oil is high in menthol, which is known for its cooling, soothing qualities, especially on congested sinuses. Inhaling peppermint oil may also help relax muscles and ease headache pain4.
Sinus relief shower melts with essential oils and eucalyptus.

I wanted to make these DIY shower melts easy to make. So while the list above includes three choices, the basic recipe includes only eucalyptus essential oil and menthol crystals as congestion aids.

The combination of eucalyptus and menthol is very effective to help you breathe easier. But if desired, you can also omit the menthol crystals and use peppermint oil instead. As well, peppermint oil works well for headache relief shower melts.

More essential oil blends, including blends for sleep and relaxation, can be found in this post on aromatherapy shower steamers.

Tips for making DIY shower melts for colds

Making shower melts can be a bit of a hit-or-miss process because the melts themselves can be affected by many variables, including the temperature and humidity of your home.

But I’ve tried to make it as easy as possible, and I’ll also provide tips to make to solve common issues when making shower melts.

Homemade shower melts for colds – stacked on marble plate.

How to get the best shower melts texture

The main thing to be mindful of when making these sinus shower bombs is their moisture level. You want the “dough” to have the consistency of damp sand, but not waterlogged sand.

If your mixture is too dry, your homemade shower melts may end up cracking or crumbling apart. If this happens, you can still salvage them with the instructions below.

But if they’re too wet, they’ll fizz early. Too much moisture “activates” the melts, so to speak, kickstarting the chemical reaction between the baking soda and citric acid.

If you don’t stop the reaction, the mixture will continue to expand in the mold, causing lumpy, misshapen shower melts.

This is fine if they’re for your own personal use, of course. But it’s always nicer when your homemade bath and body products are aesthetically pleasing to you, too.

Luckily, there are ways to fix both situations:

  • Too dry: To fix shower melts that are dry or crumbling, unmold and empty the entire batch into a bowl. You can break apart any lumps with your hands (don’t forget to wear gloves), but if it’s too difficult, you can also place the mixture into a freezer bag and use a heavy object to crush it back into a fine dust.

    Spritz with your alcohol to re-hydrate, and add half the amount of essential oils called for in the recipe – this is to replace any lost to evaporation, which is inevitable. Re-form the shower melts and place into molds.
  • Too wet: If your shower melts dough is fizzing in the bowl, simply sprinkle more cornstarch or arrowroot powder into the mixture until the excess liquid is absorbed and the fizzing stops.

While neither situation is ideal, in my opinion it’s better to err on the side of too much moisture than not enough. It’s easy to fix a wet mixture, but it’s harder to salvage dry, crumbly shower dust!

Why make shower melts with citric acid?

Many people seek out shower melts without citric acid, but in my experience citric acid simply makes them work better.

This is because the reaction between citric acid and baking soda helps launch the essential oils into the air. So for the most potent DIY shower melts for cold and sinus relief, I find that using citric acid is best.

Of course this doesn’t mean that shower bombs without citric acid don’t work, they just might not release their scent as quickly. And when you’re congested or have a cold, you simply want some thing that works fast.

How to make decongestant shower melts stronger

For strong shower melts, I recommend using menthol crystals in conjunction with eucalyptus oil. Menthol is the naturally occurring cooling compound in peppermint oil, but distilled and highly purified.

As a result, it’s more potent than peppermint oil. And because it’s water soluble, menthol quickly vaporizes into the air for fast sinus relief.

In my opinion, using menthol creates the best shower melts for congestion. It also makes for an invigorating shower experience, especially when you have a cold!

That said, you can still make these without menthol. Simply use peppermint essential oil as a substitute to make peppermint shower melts.

DIY shower melts for colds with eucalyptus.

How to make shower melts last longer

The best way to make shower melts last longer is to use a bit of clay, as clay helps the steamers hold their structure for longer.

This basic recipe is made without clay, but we also have a eucalyptus shower steamers recipe with kaolin clay if you’re interested.

The only downside of clay is that even small amounts can clog your pipes. So if you’re going to use clay, it’s a good idea to put your shower bomb in its own designated soap dish or small container. That way, you can easily dispose of it after it has dissolved.

How to use eucalyptus shower melts for colds

Wondering how to use shower melts? Below I have included some helpful tips for use:

  • Starting the reaction: I like to give each melt a little bit of a jumpstart at the beginning of my shower. Simply splash a small amount of water onto it to begin the reaction and start releasing the decongestant essential oils.
  • Where to place the shower melt: Some like to place their tablets on the floor of the shower. This works, but I find it more useful to place them as close to your face as you can, which allows the vapor to quickly reach congested nostrils.

    If you have a soap dish or shower caddy near your showerhead, that’s perfect. But if you don’t, just place your shower melt on the closest available shelf. 

    Another solution is to place it in a thin reusable bag such as a muslin bag, and then hang it somewhere near the showerhead.

    Plus, any extra muslin bags can be used to make aromatherapy bath tea!
  • Boost your shower melts’ scent: If you’re especially congested, it can be helpful  to “boost” your eucalyptus shower bombs by placing a few drops of essential oils directly on top of them right before use.

    This was something I discovered while attempting to revive old shower melts. On the same topic, if your shower steamers don’t work or no longer smell, this is a great way to rescue them.

    Another thing you can do is simply make your shower steamers unscented and drop the essential oils onto them right before use. It might not be quite as convenient, but it cuts down on any wasted essential oil lost due to evaporation!

Storing homemade shower melts

It’s extremely important to store your melts in an airtight jar. This is because essential oils are very volatile substances. So unless you use a closed container, the essential oils will evaporate, and your shower steamers won’t provide any sinus relief.

As well, it’s important to remember that light will rapidly degrade essential oils as well. This is why you should also use an opaque container. An airtight cookie jar or tea canister works well for storage.

Even with proper storage, the nature of essential oils means that these shower melts will not last very long. You should aim to use them within a few months. I know – this isn’t exactly conducive to keeping them on hand for a cold!

However, as mentioned above, you can also boost them if their scent has faded by the time you need one. Or you may wish to plan to make a batch of homemade shower melts at the beginning of cold and flu season, or right before seasonal allergies are set to begin.

Homemade sinus shower steamers.

DIY Shower Melts for Colds Recipe

1/2 cup baking soda
1/4 cup citric acid
1/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
40 drops eucalyptus essential oil
1/2 tbsp menthol crystals or 20 drops peppermint essential oil
1/8 tsp spirulina powder or green mica (optional)
Spearmint or eucalyptus leaves (optional)

Equipment

Spray bottle filled with alcohol
Round silicone mold
Non-metallic mixing bowl
Nitrile or latex gloves
Airtight jar for storage

How to make eucalyptus shower melts

  1. Before you begin, crush your menthol crystals into a fine powder. Large chunks of menthol in your shower melts won’t dissolve as quickly, and they also just won’t look as nice. To do this, place your menthol into a baggie and use a heavy object such as a rolling pin to crush.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients. Place baking soda, citric acid, cornstarch (or arrowroot powder), crushed menthol crystals, and natural colourant in your mixing bowl. Whisk well to combine.
  3. Add eucalyptus essential oil. If not using menthol, add peppermint oil as well. Be sure to even disperse your oils throughout the mixture. Then, whisk well to combine.
  4. Spritz the mixture with a few sprays of alcohol to moisten it. Then, don your gloves and knead the mixture briefly to combine all the ingredients together.
  5. Grab a small handful of shower melt “dough” and squeeze it to assess the texture. If it sticks together like damp sand, it’s ready to mold. If it crumbles or falls apart, add a few more sprays of alcohol until you get the right texture. Be careful not to add too much moisture – see the tips section for help.
  6. Now, it’s time to mold your shower melts. Before you begin, spoon or sprinkle a small amount of spearmint or eucalyptus leaves into the bottom of each mold, if desired.
  7. Pack the mixture tightly into your silicone molds. If at any point the mixture starts to dry out too much, simply spritz a bit more alcohol until it stays together.
  8. Once you’re finished, smooth out the tops and leave your steamers to dry for at least 24 hours. However, if you live in a humid area, they may need more time. You’ll know they’re ready when they feel dry and hard to the touch.
  9. Once dry, carefully remove your melts from the mold. Gently peel back the silicone and push on the base of the shower melt. It should pop out easily.
  10. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

Recipe notes

This recipe makes about 10 small shower melts, depending on the size of your mold. If you’d like extra to keep on hand or for DIY gifts, simply double the recipe.

If you don’t have eucalyptus oil, you can also substitute rosemary cineole oil.

DIY eucalyptus shower steamers for congestion.
Yield: 10 shower melts

DIY Shower Melts – Eucalyptus Shower Steamers for Colds & Congestion

DIY shower melts.

Learn how to make easy DIY shower melts for colds, congestion, and sinus relief! These soothing eucalyptus shower steamers are made with essential oils and menthol to help you breathe easier.

Active Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 15 minutes
Difficulty Moderate
Estimated Cost $5

Materials

Tools

  • Spray bottle filled with alcohol
  • Silicone mold
  • Non-metallic mixing bowl
  • Nitrile or latex gloves
  • Airtight jar for storage

Instructions

  1. Before you begin, crush your menthol crystals into a fine powder. Large chunks of menthol in your shower melts won't dissolve as quickly, and they also just won't look as nice. To do this, place your menthol into a baggie and use a heavy object such as a rolling pin to crush.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients. Place baking soda, citric acid, cornstarch (or arrowroot powder), crushed menthol crystals, and natural colourant in your mixing bowl. Whisk well to combine.
  3. Add eucalyptus essential oil. If not using menthol, add peppermint oil as well. Be sure to even disperse your oils throughout the mixture. Then, whisk well to combine.
  4. Spritz the mixture with a few sprays of alcohol to moisten it. Then, don your gloves and knead the mixture briefly to combine all the ingredients together.
  5. Grab a small handful of shower melt "dough" and squeeze it to assess the texture. If it sticks together like damp sand, it's ready to mold. If it crumbles or falls apart, add a few more sprays of alcohol until you get the right texture. Be careful not to add too much moisture – see the tips section for help.
  6. Now, it's time to mold your shower melts. Before you begin, spoon or sprinkle a small amount of spearmint leaves into the bottom of each mold, if desired.
  7. Pack the mixture tightly into your silicone molds. If at any point the mixture starts to dry out too much, simply spritz a bit more alcohol until it stays together.Homemade shower melts for colds in silicone mold.
  8. Once you're finished, smooth out the tops and leave your steamers to dry for at least 24 hours. However, if you live in a humid area, they may need more time. You'll know they're ready when they feel dry and hard to the touch.
  9. Once dry, carefully remove your melts from the mold. Gently peel back the silicone and push on the base of the shower melt. It should pop out easily.
  10. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

Notes

  • This recipe makes about 10 small shower melts, depending on the size of your mold. If you'd like extra to keep on hand or for DIY gifts, simply double the recipe.
  • For troubleshooting and tips for how to make and use DIY shower melts, be sure to consult the tips section above.
  • If you don't have eucalyptus essential oil, you can also use rosemary cineole oil.

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How to make eucalyptus shower melts.

Health and safety disclaimer

It’s important to note that these shower melts for colds are not meant to treat or cure any illness. They are only for temporary symptomatic relief and to help you breathe easier until you are well again.

Please do not make or use this recipe if you have any health conditions. As well, please note that menthol and menthol-containing oils such as eucalyptus, peppermint and rosemary may not be safe for pregnant women or young children.

However, we have another decongestant shower steamers recipe using kid-safe oils.

As always, it’s up to you to do your research. Before making this recipe (or any DIY recipe you see on the internet), you should consult your doctor to see whether it’s safe for you.

Finally, please note that shower melts are not safe for use as bath bombs.

  1. Horváth, Györgyi, and Kamilla Ács. “Essential oils in the treatment of respiratory tract diseases highlighting their role in bacterial infections and their anti-inflammatory action: a review.” Flavour and fragrance journal vol. 30,5 (2015): 331-341. doi:10.1002/ffj.3252
  2. Fischer, Juergen, and Uwe Dethlefsen. “Efficacy of cineole in patients suffering from acute bronchitis: a placebo-controlled double-blind trial.” Cough (London, England) vol. 9,1 25. 21 Nov. 2013, doi:10.1186/1745-9974-9-25
  3. Rakover Y, Ben-Arye E, Goldstein LH. [The treatment of respiratory ailments with essential oils of some aromatic medicinal plants]. Harefuah. 2008 Oct;147(10):783-8, 838. Hebrew. PMID: 19039907.
  4. Göbel, H et al. “Effect of peppermint and eucalyptus oil preparations on neurophysiological and experimental algesimetric headache parameters.” Cephalalgia : an international journal of headache vol. 14,3 (1994): 228-34; discussion 182. doi:10.1046/j.1468-2982.1994.014003228.x

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