Herbal Decongestant Steam & Homemade Saline Solution

Winter is definitely here where I live, very frigid with a couple more months of it stretching out before us. It’s common in this weather to develop a deep cold with a congested head, nose and chest. It sneaks up on us and not fun at all to endure!

Here’s a nice, soothing remedy that uses a blend of dried herbs that can help break up that uncomfortable stuffiness. If steaming isn’t your thing, I’ve also included below DIY instructions for using a saltwater solution.

Herb Blend Recipe:

4 tsp peppermint leaves
3 tsp rosemary
3 tsp thyme

(Makes two treatments)


  • Mix all the items together, split in half and save one part in an airtight container or ziploc bag.
  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the 1/2 herbal mixture.
  • Cover and steep for 10 minutes.

Follow the instructions for use on this pageEdited Slightly Below

  • Place pot on counter or table (on top of a hot pad to protect the table surface) and take off the lid.
  • Cover your head with a large clean towel and position face over the vessel (with the fabric acting as a tent over the bowl to capture the steam).
  • Keep eyes closed and face at least 10 to 12 inches from the piping hot liquid.
  • Your nasal passage should clear quickly, when it’s possible to do so, breathe in deeply (through nostrils) the fragrant steam.
  • Enjoy the soothing heat and relax, it feels good to be able to fully breathe through nostrils again but don’t overdo it. Keep the time between 5 to 7 minutes before getting up and removing the towel.
  • When the time is over, splash skin with slightly cool water and pat dry.

Do this two nights in a row to help break things up. This is especially beneficial for head colds.

Another Tip:

If you’re not up to doing a full treatment, try pressing a wet, hot washcloth positioned across the nose and cheek bones. When heating the cloth, run the water as hot as possible (only as skin will tolerate but not enough to burn you). Rest quietly until the cloth has cooled. This should help relieve pressure.

If it’s a deep chest condition, consider trying the recipe for a mustard plaster found on this page. It’s a tried-and-true home remedy that your grandmother is likely familiar with ;).

How To Relieve Sinuses With A Saltwater Spray

There’s no need to buy special nose drops or sprays, a homemade saline nasal solution is easy to make and all the ingredients needed are likely in your cupboard right now…


  • Boil then cool to (comfortably) warm a small pot of water. Remove 1 cup and then bottle and refrigerate the rest. This refrigerated batch can be used again without boiling, just heat to the temperature most comfortable to you and proceed to the next steps below.
  • Dissolve 1/2 tsp of Kosher salt (or any non-iodized salt) and a 1/2 tsp of baking soda into the 1 cup you set aside. The baking soda isn’t strictly necessary but it does act as a buffer against stinging.
  • Pour the mixture into a small squeeze bottle or neti pot then carefully squirt/pour the fluid into nostrils to rinse the nasal passage.
  • After draining all the liquid, blow out through the nose any remaining residue. This can be done three times per day.
  • How To Use The Neti Pot (or bottle): Simply bend over a sink, tilt face to the side (9 o’clock position), then while breathing with your *mouth*, pour or squeeze the salt solution into the top (left) nostril (it will run out the other side and into the sink), then do the same for the other (right) nostril (turning head the other way, 3 o’clock position). It’s not complicated but if you can’t visualize this or are struggling, just do a search on YouTube for directions and you’ll see how easy it is.


    • If you have congested nasal passages or a stuffed/severe headache or a toothache or jaw ache that puts you through the roof, you may have a sinus infection–don’t be shy about having your doctor check it out.

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    • Lynne Trout

    This tip is ‘off the wall’ but really works! If you have a chest cold, rub the bottoms of your feet with Vic’s Vapo-rub and put on a pair of cotton socks. This is to be done at nighttime as you are turning in to bed. My biggest problem is keeping the socks on all night long. I don’t know why or how, but it works. Your chest cold is gone in no time.

    • TipNut

    That is a cool tip Lynne, thanks!

    • Beth Coughlin

    First, I also looove the vicks/socks treatment. It totally works when you have a bad cold. Second, I cannot wait to try the peppermint, rosemary and thyme steam. And third, for a bad cough, try infusing apple cider vinegar with lemon thyme, lemon balm, and lemon zest; then, mix 1 tsp with 1 tsp of honey. Keep well and thanks for all the great “tips”.

    • Gypsy

    The Vics works – and it is also great to use with steam. I use a small tin – like from a can of mushrooms. Put in 1 or 2 tablespoons of Vics Vapor Rub and set down slowly in a pan of boiling water. It will not only clear up stuffy noses but help heal dry & abused sinus’ very quickly.

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