Aromatherapy: Using Steam Inhalation

One way to reap the benefits of essential oils is to inhale them as steam vapours. This can be achieved by adding a few drops of oil to a bowl of steaming water or to an invigorating morning shower.

Steams cleansing properties

Even without the addition of healing oils, steam helps to open your skin's pores, aiding the expulsion of toxins and clearing blockages caused by your body's natural oils. It also assists in breaking down mucus in the nasal passages and sinuses, clearing congestion.

Steam inhalations are therefore especially effective for treating skin conditions such as acne, and clearing phlegm and catarrh, which can build up in the respiratory tract.

The Best Oils to Use in Steam Inhalations

Choose oils that have strong decongestant and detoxifying properties.

Soothes inflammation in the respiratory tract, while its antiviral action clears catarrh.
Has antiseptic, expectorant and stimulating actions.

Aromatherapy eucalyptus

Good for detox. Stimulates the lymphatic system.
Juniper berry:
Has detoxifying and diuretic properties.
Promotes the growth of new skin and helps to balance oil production.

lemon aromatherapy

cleanses and purifies.
Tea Tree
Stimulates your immune system to fight off viral infections by activating white blood cells. Also strongly antiseptic, so good for the skin.

Preparing a Steam Inhalation

Steam inhalations are easy to prepare and, with the addition of a few drops of the right essential oil, can be used to relieve a number of common ailments.

  1. Fill bowl: Fill a large heatproof bowl with hot, steaming water. You could do this at your kitchen table, or you may prefer to use the wash basin in your bathroom.
  2. Add oils: Add 5-10 drops of essential oil to the steaming water. There is no need to dilute them with a base oil first, as the water and steam will act as the carriers.
  3. Inhale the steam: Using a towel to seal the vapours in, lean over the bowl and take a few deep breaths. Continue for about 10 minutes.

Skin Cleansing

Your skin produces a natural oil, known as sebum. If this is allowed to build up, the pores can become blocked and infected, leading to pimples and blackheads.

A facial steam encourages the pores of the skin to open, allowing these impurities to be released and gently cleansed away.

A facial steam alone will improve your skin, but adding the following essential oils will enhance the benefits, further benefiting the appearance of your skin.

  • 3 drops lavender
  • 2 drops lemongrass, lemon or lemon verbena
aromatherapy facial steaming

An Invigorating Steamy Shower

Help to banish aches associated with flu and stuffy colds with a steamy shower that clears your head as you wash.

Add the following essential oils to a handful of lemon shower gel.

  • 2 drops eucalyptus
  • 2 drops rosemary
  • 1 drop sandalwood

Rub this cleansing wash over your skin and deeply inhale the fragrant steam to benefit from the oils' decongestant properties..

Clearing a Blocked Head

To relieve a blocked head and nose, fill a large bowl with very hot water and 10 drops of 2-3 different oils. Inhale the vapour deeply.

Cold fighting oils

The following oils have properties that make them especially useful for fighting respiratory infections. Try mixing a few together in a steam inhalation to fight the symptoms of a cold.

  • Grapefruit fights fever and has invigorating effects.
  • Lemon is renowned for its detoxifying properties.
  • Pine is an especially effective decongestant.
  • Rosemary is antiseptic and decongestant.
  • Thyme is great for clearing blocked sinuses.