DIY Menthol Pads For Steam Vaporizers

DIY Menthol Pads For Steam Vaporizers | Growing Up Herbal | Support your child's respiratory system during colds with these DIY menthol vapor pads!

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

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

As I mentioned in my article on using steam vaporizers for cough and congestion, you have several options 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 them. However, my vaporizer also had a place to insert menthol pads, which also helped to get that smell into the air. This got me curious. Do these things actually work to help one breathe better, and what’s in the store-bought variety?

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 let you in on how menthol works to help you breathe better.

How To Make DIY Menthol Pads For Steam Vaporizers

DIY Menthol Pads For Steam Vaporizers | Growing Up Herbal | Support your child's respiratory system during colds with these DIY menthol vapor pads!

First, you’ll need the following:

DIY Menthol Pads For Steam Vaporizers | Growing Up Herbal | Support your child's respiratory system during colds with these DIY menthol vapor pads!

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 | Growing Up Herbal | Support your child's respiratory system during colds with these DIY menthol vapor pads!

Find a small bowl and add 2 teaspoons of your carrier oil to it. I used sunflower oil in mine.

Next, add the essential oils of your choice to your carrier oil. The amount isn’t critical, just so long as it smells nice and strong. The amount of essential oil to carrier oil is much higher than you’d use if you were putting this on your skin. Its sole purpose is to be strong for aromatic purposes only. It’s not for topical use.

For adults, a nice blend is 10 drops of eucalyptus and 20 drops of camphor essential oils. Peppermint and rosemary are lovely, but you can do whatever you like. If using these for your children, remember their ages and use appropriate kid-safe oils. This one and this one are my favorites!

DIY Menthol Pads For Steam Vaporizers | Growing Up Herbal | Support your child's respiratory system during colds with these DIY menthol vapor pads!

Lastly, put your pads into your oil mixture and allow them to absorb the oils. I got 4 pads loaded with the amount of oil I made, which was more than enough to get us through one night.

DIY Menthol Pads For Steam Vaporizers | Growing Up Herbal | Support your child's respiratory system during colds with these DIY menthol vapor pads!

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 them whenever you need them.

How Does This Help?

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

Unfortunately, there’s no hard evidence to say it helps open the sinuses, but people report it works. Some medical professionals report that it makes you feel like you can breathe better because it cools the skin. I don’t know. All I know is that I want my vaporizer and some menthol when I’m congested. It can be a vapor rub, menthol in the medicine cup or water, or these handy little menthol pads. No matter, if I feel I can breathe better, I’m a happy camper!

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

    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?

    • Meagan says:

      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!

  2. RettaDet says:

    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!

    • Meagan says:

      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!

  3. Asis Panda says:

    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 ?

    • Meagan says:

      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.

      • mICHELE says:

        Hi, I’ve bought box after expensive box of the Vicks lavender and rosemary. It really does help with three large dogs and myself and my husband (who has sleep apnea) sleep better. I have mild asthma and my standard poodle have asthma, and I use the original Vicks ‘flavor’ if we feel congested or the lavender and rosemary to calm. Also have used lemongrass during the day just to refresh the room and provide humidity to the air.

        So, I have saved over 80 of the dried out Vick’s brand pads I removed, and they are in fine condition. As I understand the process, I use the sunflower oil (or other), add the organic essential oils to the carrier oil in a bowl, and allow the pads to soak in the bowl and absorb the mixture. Take them out, let them dry, put them in an airtight container, and use them in my Vick’s Cool Mist Vaporizer as needed. Is this correct?

        Thank you so much for this DIY trick. At almost $10 for a box of a dozen pads, it’s a very expensive way of adding oils and humidity to our slumber time :-).

        • Meagan Visser says:

          You’re right, Michele, only the pads don’t dry out. I squeeze out the excess oil before storing them in a glass container. Then, when I’m ready to use them, I put them into the vaproizer. Hope you enjoy these!

  4. Holly S says:

    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!

    • Meagan says:

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

  5. Sol says:

    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.

    • Meagan says:

      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!

  6. Phil says:

    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.

    • Meagan says:

      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!

  7. Bella says:

    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.

    • Meagan says:

      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.

  8. Lily says:

    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.

    • Meagan says:

      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.

      • Nick says:

        Wat kinda herbs do u normally use?

        • Meagan says:

          When it comes to my kids being congested, it’s most often the result of a cold which is a virus so I try to give them anti-viral herbs that support their immune system (my elderberry syrup is our go-to) during the time as well as other herbs to support their respiratory system as well. Ginger is a great herb during this time because not only does it benefit the immune system, but it can work to thin mucous so it can come out rather than stay stuck in the nasal passages. Hope this helps a bit, Nick! Thanks for your comment!

  9. Sue says:

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

  10. Lauren says:

    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.

    • Meagan says:

      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!

  11. Shirley Ross says:

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

  12. TIA says:

    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.

    • Meagan says:

      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.

  13. Abby says:

    I just bought a Vicks humidifier that has the slot for the vapo pad things. It came with a sample pad, which I liked OK but I much prefer to use essential oils. Thanks for your post – I was A little nervous about using essential oils in there, didn’t want to mess up the humidifier in any way – but I’m glad to see someone else has had success with DIY pads! Totally trying this tonight.

  14. Anu says:

    Great Posting. Thank you sharing this.

    I have a question about the “eco-craft felt”. Please post the link to buy these (what brands and where to buy). I looked into Amazon and found several felt (which contains recycled plastic).

  15. 50 Natural Remedies for Common Cold or the Flu | Dr. Karen S. Lee says:

    […] How To Make DIY Menthol Pads For Steam Vaporizers [Growing up […]

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  18. Marilyn says:

    Thoughts on using 100% wool yarn? I want to crochet an tiny rectangle and try it.

    • Meagan Visser says:

      I love wool, but I’m thinking that a crocheted square may be too large to fit in the vapor pad slot most steam vaporizers have. Maybe if you made several and felted them in your washing machine (where you put them in sections of pantyhose and wash them) they would shrink down and possibly fit then. Let me know if you try it!

  19. will says:

    This has inspired a great idea (maybe…) when I am not sick, I will make these with the aromas like cotton candy, or sugar cookie to make my room smell sweet, or like a fresh bakery.

  20. Anonymous says:


  21. Carol says:

    I just cut a piece of cardboard to fit the slot with a tab to pull it out. I put 2 drops of EO on each pad. I see no need for oil. It works just fine, and I’m not stressing about chemicals on a few inches worth of cardboard! I would think getting tattoos and dying ur hair would be a whole lot more dangerous to ur health, yet most people think nothing of that! I can just reapply the EO as needed. The cardboard doesn’t get hot or wet.

  22. Colleen says:

    Wondering if putting these essential oils in a diffuser eould work the same way?

  23. Peter says:

    Thank you for making this post. I bought a steam vaporiser but the pads are so expensive!

  24. Varnam says:

    While menthol may not have any effect – Tea Tree and Eucalyptus Oil does disinfect the air of bacteria. You should use it in small doses (no more than maybe 3-5 drops per pad, but I do it whenever I feel a sicky coming on.

    This Scientific article also lists some oils that may have some good use vaporized: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7163989/

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