A vaporizer is a small appliance that uses steam to add moisture to the air. The increase in humidity soothes stuffy noses, clears chest congestion and alleviates dry skin. Vaporizers are designed to run on plain water, but other ingredients are often added to increase the therapeutic effect of the steam. While there are a ready-made mixtures that have been designed specifically for this purpose, they can be cost prohibitive and difficult to find. Homemade vaporizer solutions are simple to concoct and work just as well as their more-costly commercial counterparts.
Pour 1 qt. of water into a pitcher. Add 1/8 tsp. regular table salt and stir briskly until the salt is completely dissolved.
Add 10 drops of camphor essentail oil to the water and mix until the two are well blended. Inhaling camphor vapors will soothe nerve endings and reduce the urge to cough.
Pour 10 drops of cedarwood essentail oil to the mixture and stir vigorously. Steam that is medicated with cedarwood oil will encourage lung function and helps remove phlegm from the respiratory tract.
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Put in 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil to help clear sinus congestion. Vapors that are medicated with eucalyptus act as a natural expectorant, loosening and thinning thick mucus, easing its passage out of the body. Additionally, eucalyptus oil has antibacterial properties and can help to rid the body of infectious agents.
Add 10 drops of peppermint essential oil, if desired, to calm irritated tissues. Cool and refreshing, peppermint oil quiets coughs and clears chest congestion. Peppermint oil is a natural source of menthol, a popular component of many cold remedies.
Pour the solution into the base of the vaporizer. Add enough water to reach the top of the fill line.
Plug the unit in and turn it on. Wait two to three minutes for the medicated steam to emerge.
Seat yourself near the machine. Drape a towel over your head and lean into the vapor, breathing deeply. Repeat up to three times a day.
Add any combination of the essential oils you'd like, using up to 40 drops of oil per quart of water.
Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.