Herbal Decongestant Steam & Homemade Saline Solution

Towel & BowlWinter is definitely here where I live, very cold with a couple more months of it stretching out before us.

Sometimes in this weather a deep cold with a congested head, nose and chest sneaks up on us and it’s no fun.

Here’s a nice, soothing remedy that uses a blend of dried herbs that can help break through that uncomfortable stuffiness. If steaming isn’t your thing, I’ve also included below a DIY recipe & 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 page

Edited Slightly

  • Place pot on counter or table (on top of a towel to protect the table surface) and remove lid.
  • Cover your head with a large clean towel and position your face over the pot (with the towel acting as a tent over the bowl to capture the steam).
  • Keep your eyes closed and your face at least 10 to 12 inches from the piping hot water.
  • Your nasal passage should clear quickly, when it’s possible to do so, breathe in deeply (through your nose) the fragrant steam.
  • Enjoy the soothing heat and relax, it feels good to be able to fully breathe through your nose 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 up, splash face with slightly cool water and pat dry.

Do this two nights in a row to help break things up.

Another Tip:

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

How To Relieve Sinuses With A Saltwater Spray

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


  • Boil then cool to (comfortably) warm a small pot of water. Remove 1 cup of water and then bottle and refrigerate the rest. This refrigerated water 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 of the water 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 water into your nose to rinse through the nasal passage.
  • After draining all the liquid, blow out through your 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 your head to the side (9 o’clock position), then while breathing through your *mouth*, pour or squeeze the salt water 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 your 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 “how to use a neti pot” and you’ll see how easy it is.


    • If you have congested nasal passages or a stuffed up head with a 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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What Readers Are Saying: 4 Comments
  1. Lynne Trout says:

    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.

  2. TipNut says:

    That is a cool tip Lynne, thanks!

  3. Beth Coughlin says:

    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”.

  4. Gypsy says:

    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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