diy essential oil recipes

DIY Menthol Pads For Steam Vaporizers

December 24, 2013

DIY Menthol Pads for Steam Vaporizers

My family and I recently got over a long bought with an irritating cough. It was miserable, but thankfully we had some natural options to help us through.

We used a honey onion syrup as well as a steam vaporizer to help calm our coughing every night.

Now like I mentioned in my article on using steam vaporizers for cough and congestion, there are several options you have to boost their effects… one of which is using essential oils. This time around we placed some essential oils straight into the medicine cup and you could definitely smell it, but my vaporizer also had a place to insert menthol pads that also helped to get that smell into the air. This got me curious. Do these things really work to help you breath better, and what’s in the the store-bought variety.

Well, like most store-bought things, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the ingredients in them, and I knew I could make them cheaper and healthier on my own. So today, I’m going to show you how to make your own DIY menthol pads for your steam vaporizers, and I’m also gonna let you in on how menthol works to help your breath better.

How To Make DIY Menthol Pads For Steam Vaporizers

DIY Menthol Pads for Steam Vaporizers

First you’ll need the following:

DIY Menthol Pads for Steam Vaporizers

Cut a 1 inch strip from the side of the felt. Next cut each strip into 2 inch sections. You should get around 4 pads from each strip of felt you cut and they should each roughly measure 1×2 inches.

DIY Menthol Pads for Steam Vaporizers

Find a small bowl and add 1 tsp. of your carrier oil to it. I used sunflower oil in mine. Next add your essentials oils to your carrier oil. The amount isn’t critical just so long as it smells nice and strong to you. I used 5 drops of eucalyptus and 10 drops of camphor, but you can do whatever you’d like.

This amount of essential oil to carrier oil is much high than you’d use if you were putting this on your skin. It’s sole purpose is to be strong for aromatic purposes only. It’s not for topical use.

DIY Menthol Pads for Steam Vaporizers

Lastly put your pads into your oil mixture and allow them to absorb the oils. I got 3 pads loaded with the amount of oil I made which was more than enough to get us through one night. You could always make more and store them in your glass jar until you need them, but I wouldn’t recommend storing them in anything plastic as essential oils tend to react to plastics.

You can dispose of the pads after each use or reuse them if you’d like. It’s up to you. The great thing about this is that these pads are simple and easy to make so you can make then whenever you need them.

How Does This Help?

I wondered this exact same thing because there’s a lot of speculation out there over whether or not menthol actually opens the sinuses and helps you breath better. It’s known to cool the skin and provide relief for itching and pain, but does it actually open the sinuses when a person is congested?

Well, unfortunately there’s no hard evidence to say that, “yes, it does help to open the sinuses,” but people do say it works. How it works isn’t known for sure. Maybe it just makes you feel like you can breath better due to it cooling the skin. I don’t know. All I know is that when I’m congested, I want my vaporizer and some sort of menthol. It can be a vapor rub, menthol in the medicine cup or water, or these handy little menthol pads. No matter, if I feel like I can breath better, I’m a happy camper!

UPDATE: Use caution when using menthol essential oils around children under 6 years old. Some children can experience decreased respiration.

What do you think? Do you know why menthol seems to help open your sinuses and allow you to breath better? Share your thoughts, experiences, remedies, and ideas in the comment section below!

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  • Reply Cheryl April 29, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    Thanks for this! I was trying to figure out what to use to make these. Do you think wool felt would work? Or colored felt? I have a lot of wool scraps I could use. Also, why the carrier oil? Couldn’t you just use straight essential oil?

    • Reply Meagan April 29, 2014 at 2:08 PM

      Wool felt would work I’m sure. As far as why to use the carrier oil… I’m sure you don’t have to, but it helps the essential oils to not evaporate so quickly, extending the time you smell the oils. Just my thoughts. You could try it both ways and see how it goes though. I’d love to know which you like best!

  • Reply RettaDet November 20, 2014 at 10:18 PM

    One question on the essential oils you put in the medicine cup. Do you put them straight into the cup without any diluting with either a carrier oil or water? I’ve been doing that with mine, but haven’t really been smelling the oils, and my medicine cup is hard to clean out because it’s so ridiculously skinny. Thanks in advance!

    • Reply Meagan November 20, 2014 at 10:37 PM

      You can put them straight in and they will evaporate out, but maybe try it with a bit of warm water and see how that goes. As far as cleaning it goes… I’m no help there! Best of luck!

  • Reply Asis Panda March 8, 2015 at 12:42 AM

    I am going to use these pads to stick into a Vicks Vaporizer humidifier. I touched the pad area on the device and looks like it gently heats the pads. Do you think its safe to use these DIY pads there ?

    • Reply Meagan March 8, 2015 at 7:17 PM

      I’ve used mine in a Vick’s Steam Vaporizer Asis, and they work perfectly fine. It doesn’t get hot enough to burn them or anything. The steam simply picks up the oils on the pads. Obviously you should keep an eye on anything like that to see how it does the first time you use it though.

  • Reply Holly S March 16, 2015 at 9:31 PM

    This is a great idea! I use our vaporizer all the time, especially when my son (currently 3) is sick, and I love those little vapopads. Why have I never thought to try making my own before? I am going to try this very soon!

    • Reply Meagan March 17, 2015 at 8:13 AM

      Yeah they’re quick and easy to make when the kiddos are sick. Hope they work well for you Holly. Thanks for your comment!

  • Reply Sol May 13, 2015 at 9:59 PM

    This is my first time using essential oil so I’m not familiar with the carrier oil. Do i have to use the carrier oil or is ok with out it. I wasn’t able to find anything called carrier oil at the store.

    • Reply Meagan May 14, 2015 at 8:26 AM

      You need to use a carrier oil, but a carrier oil is any plain vegetable oil like olive oil, sweet almond oil, fractionated coconut oil, etc. Hope that helps Sol!

  • Reply Phil July 19, 2015 at 8:42 PM

    Menthol vapors, in the right concentration have been shown in a number of research papers to improve nasal patency. You have the sensation of free air flow into the nose although there is no physical change to the tissues. BUT relief from the symptoms is all you can really hope for. Nothing really cures a cold.

    • Reply Meagan July 22, 2015 at 9:02 AM

      Thanks for sharing Phil. That’s my understanding as well.. that it gives you a sensation of being able to breath although there’s no actual physical changes. If you have links to specific studies I’d love to check them out so I can link to them in the post. Thanks!

  • Reply Bella August 16, 2015 at 11:24 AM

    I’ve been using vicksvapo pads in a plugin unit for my 9 month old. Its not a humidifier or vaporizer, but its own separate thing that slowly warms the refill pads. I would love to make a DIY version on the rosemary lavender pediatric ones, but I’m wondering if this is not intended to be used in the standalone unit. Both the humidifier and plugin use the same refills, which look exactly like yours. I’m only concerned about fire risk as the plastic gets pretty hot! I’m glad I saw this. I told a friend I was going to buy oils and just add a few drops to the vicks pads themselves! Those things are pricey.

    • Reply Meagan August 17, 2015 at 7:45 AM

      Thanks for your comment Bella. Someone suggested using wool felt I believe in the comments of the post so that could be another option if you’re worried about the craft felt getting too hot. The only way to know for sure is to test it and keep an eye on how hot your device gets. I certainly wouldn’t leave the electrical units plugged in for extended periods of time… like overnight for instance. The steam vaporizers are different than the electrical plugin ones… they don’t get as hot.

      Anyway, I would consider using something other than rosemary on my little one as rosemary isn’t the safest EO for her age. Lavender is great, and you can combine it with eucalyptus radiata or eucalyptus smithie which are supposed to be safe. You can check out this post here on essential oil safety or this aromatherapy book for kids to learn more.

  • Reply Lily August 30, 2015 at 2:44 AM

    Thank you Meagan, I’m new to EO, but really love the idea of making those pads at home. Your post really helps me. I use a Vicks Vapopads plugin, and reuse its refill pads to add drops of Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Peppermint. It works OK for me and my children.

    • Reply Meagan August 31, 2015 at 7:28 AM

      Thanks for sharing Lily. I’ve found that using a combination of things, like herbs and essential oils, helps more than using one or the other alone. When my kids are congested, using EOs in our steam vaporizers is just part of what I do to help them through it.

  • Reply Sue September 6, 2015 at 5:18 PM

    I do hope everyone will check out the safety guide lines for using these strong and potent oils around children..

    • Reply Meagan September 7, 2015 at 9:50 AM

      Yes… that’s very important. I need to update this post to include a blend for kids under 6.

  • Reply Lauren October 3, 2015 at 2:53 AM

    Hi there. I have the waterless vaporizer unit. Can I use anything else besides felt as a vaporizer pad? Like a rag washcloth or a sock or something? Also I read in comments is not good for over night use , so would you not recommend using it overnight or is it okay, because I’ve heard it is a good alternative to bully humidifiers. I’ve got bad asthma and hoping this helps, and I’m very pro-natural/homemade stuff as opposed to chemicals.

    • Reply Meagan October 3, 2015 at 9:11 AM

      Great questions Lauren. I actually don’t know anything about waterless vaporizers so if you can’t use them overnight, you may want to buy one of these cheap steam vaporizers. The steam helps to keep my kids from being too dry and congested and it adds humidity to our air in the cool months when our heat is on. Our wood stove dries the air terribly! Anyway, yes you could use a washcloth. I’d just make sure it’s soaked really well as you don’t want it dry at all. Hope that helps!

  • Reply Shirley Ross October 7, 2015 at 6:08 PM

    Can you use these pads with a hand held Vicks vaporizer?

    • Reply Meagan October 7, 2015 at 9:32 PM

      I’ve never used one Shirley, but I would assume so. It should be very similar.

  • Reply TIA November 6, 2015 at 10:39 AM

    I’ve been doing something similar to this for several weeks now. I take a cotton round, one you might use to apply a toner to your face, add EOs of choice, set it over the medicine cup and run a humidifier. For my kiddos I do lemon, lavender, and pine (they are 2.5 and 11mo) and for my husband and I, it’s thieves. I will have to try a carrier oil, because the smell is always gone by morning. Btw, Meagan, i wanted to say thanks for your blog. I’m a RN as well and have recently started my natural living journey and its nice to know that i can find evidence based, honest information from a medical professional and that other medical professionals are out there who dont see herbal, natural, realfood living as foolish. Thanks.

    • Reply Meagan November 7, 2015 at 9:34 AM

      I love that idea, and I love the oil blend you’re using for your kids. I bet that smells so good! As far as adding the carrier oil… I don’t feel like it really extends the smell but definitely try it and see what you think. I think the steam just carries the vapors away and they’re all used up afterward. And you’re very welcome for the info. It is nice to meet other medical professionals who see the value in natural living and want to promote this lifestyle. It will definitely pay off in the end.

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