Good Old Fashioned Steam Inhalations

Sharon Brown

Good old fashioned steam inhalation using pure essential oils that have therapeutic properties, is a great way to help alleviate some of the symptoms that come with colds, flu and other respiratory issues such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and such.

Even though we have hit spring on this side of the world, it seems that colds and runny noses are abound; I currently have next to no voice (some might say that's a good thing 😊) due to a head cold that the hubby has kindly shared with me. Some of you may remember grandmothers swearing by it and may have never done it yourselves, but I do urge you to give it a go; its one of the first methods I use in combating mine and my families colds. 

Essential Oils such as:-

  • Sandalwood
  • Frankincense
  • Tea Tree
  • Eucalyptus
  • Rosemary
  • Ravensara
  • White Sage
  • Peppermint
  • May Chang
  • Lavender

Have properties that are anti-viral, anti-bacteria, anti-microbial, antiseptic, decongestant, expectorant, febrifuge (brings down fever) to name a few, making them great choices for using in a Steam Inhalation. 


  • Get a bowl with a small amount of warm to hot water (don’t want to scald your nasal passages). It needs to have some steam happening.
  •  Add about four drops of Pure Essential Oils or a pre-mixed blend of Essential Oils such as our Flu Buster is ideal. For young children I would recommend 2 drops of Essential Oils.
  • You will need a bath towel.
  • Make sure you have a box of tissues next to you; you are going to need it!
  • With your head over the bowl, create a tent over your head with the towel and the bowl.
  • Ensure you close your eyes while doing this or it will be more than your nose that will be running.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply, in through your nose, hold for a few seconds and then breathe out through your mouth.
  • Repeat a few times.
  • This will help clear the sinuses and nasal passages.
  • Then breathe slowly and deeply, in through your mouth, hold for a few seconds and then breathe out through your mouth.
  • Repeat a few times.
  • This allows the therapeutic properties of the oils to get into your airways and lungs.
  • Come out of the ‘tent’ and give your nose a good blow with the tissues.
  • Repeat the process at least twice.

Due to our daughter being born 3 months premature, her lungs were a weak area for her and in the first 7 years of her life, she suffered from several bouts of severe pneumonia and asthma.  The steam inhalations with essential oils were one of the complimentary medicines we used to have her bounce back to full health. But for children, getting them to go under the towel may be a little scary and challenging.    So, I would sit her on my lap and we made it into a game.  We would go under the ‘magical’ towel, and we made up a little song that we would say out loud together and yell out the last word at least 3 times.  It went like this….

Abracadabra allakazam
let this magic potion
make this cold


I can still hear her giggles when we would do this and even though she is all grown up now, she still does the steam inhalations when she gets a cold.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes. 

Remember, never leave children unsupervised around hot water and essential oils.  Aromatherapy is a complimentary medicine, always check for any medical contraindications of the essential oils on the label and seek medical advice.