Steam Inhalations

Steam Inhalations

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Steam inhalations are extremely useful to clear stuffed up sinuses, resulting in easier breathing, less nose blowing, better sleep, and less irritation of the skin around the nose from wiping with tissue.

How do they work? First, the steam warms and thins the mucous making it easier to clear from your nose and lungs. Second, the steam warms the mucous membranes lining the respiratory tract all the way down into the bronchi of the lungs. This slows the replication of the virus as it does not like the elevated temperature.

Careful: This uses very hot water and employs hot steam to help you feel better. Extra care must be taken to avoid spills of hot water and nasal scalding. For this reason, steam inhalation is not safe for children.

  • You will need:
    – A large, high- sided, glass mixing bowl
    – 5-6 L of boiled water 
    – A large towel (a beach towel is best)
    – A box of tissues
    – Oven mitts or a tea towel to carry the mixing bowl filled with hot water
  • Fill the bowl 1/2 to 2/3 of the way to the top with boiling water directly from the kettle.
  • If you have Eucalyptus essential oil available, add no more than two drops to the water.
  • Where to do it: Either place the bowl of hot water on the floor and sit cross-legged in front of it, or place the bowl of hot water on a table and sit in front of it. Warning: Placing the bowl of hot water on the table comes with a greater risk of spilling hot water on yourself, but it might be more comfortable for those with less flexibility or mobility.
  • Place your head under the large towel and place the towel over the bowl of hot water. Wrap the towel tightly under your chin to contain the steam.
  • Position your face above the bowl of hot water so that the steam is warm/hot as it passes through your sinuses, but does not burn! To start, this should be about 18 inches above the water.
    – Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose.
    – If you find the steam is still too hot, open up the towel to let some room temperature air inside your steam tent, or remove the towel all together for a minute to let the water cool.
    – As your steam inhalation proceeds, the water and steam will cool. Lower your face closer to the water to find the warm steam.
    – Periodically you will need to remove yourself from the steam tent to blow your nose.
    – Continue for 10 to 15 minutes. You will likely find this quite comfortable and meditative. 
    – Your skin will also appreciate the warm steam!
    – The thicker the mucous in your nose, sinuses, bronchi, or lungs, the longer the steam will take to thin and clear out.

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