The 6 Best Steam Inhalers

Updated January 15, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

6 Best Steam Inhalers
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If you're looking for a convenient, drug-free way to clear your nasal passages and soothe your sore throat or dry cough, then try one of these personal steam inhalers. Our selection includes includes portable, handheld options, and some can also be used with essential oils or as a more effective delivery system for asthma medications. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best steam inhaler on Amazon.

6. Crane Classic 2-in-1

The Crane Classic 2-in-1 is a full-sized warm mist humidifier that can be quickly converted into a steam inhaler and back again, so that after treating your nasal congestion or dry cough you can continue with breathing moist air for a good night's sleep.
  • bacteria-free mist
  • not very portable
  • too hot at highest setting
Brand Crane USA
Model pending
Weight 4.6 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Feellife 360 Ultrasonic

The cordless Feellife 360 Ultrasonic operates with mesh technology to deliver undiluted medications directly to the lungs for a shortened treatment time. The lithium battery conveniently charges via USB and maintains its charge through multiple uses.
  • fits in the palm of your hand
  • no ac power option
  • medication spills if not upright
Model pending
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Nanosteamer Ionic

The versatile Nanosteamer Ionic is designed primarily for beauty treatments, but can function as an inhaler for nasal relief if used with a towel while keeping a safe distance from the warm steam. A 5-piece stainless steel skin care kit is included.
  • towel warming chamber
  • large water reservoir
  • cannot be used for aromatherapy
Brand Pure Daily Care
Model pending
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

3. Mabis Vaporizer

The compact yet powerful Mabis Vaporizer doesn't require filters, allowing you to use it continuously without having to pay for costly replacements. Soothing essential oils can be added to the separate aromatherapy compartment.
  • flexible latex-free mask
  • adjustable steam control
  • power cord is short
Brand Mabis
Model 40-741-000
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Vicks Personal

Ideal for those who frequently suffer from irritating allergies, the Vicks Personal provides a great temporary solution to congested nasal passages. It comes with a sample pad that adds a soothing menthol scent to the steam.
  • comfortable and soft hood
  • compact and lightweight
  • dual voltage for travel use
Brand Vicks
Model V1200
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Aura Medical Portaneb

If you need a nebulizer while on-the-go, the Aura Medical Portaneb is battery operated and small enough to slip into your purse or backpack. The top-loading medicine cup is easy to clean and the unit shuts off automatically when the cup is empty.
  • very quiet operation
  • ac adapter included
  • zippered carrying case
Brand Aura Medical
Model pending
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

Benefits Of Steam Inhalers

Though it seems new, the technology behind steam inhalers has actually been around for centuries. Inhalation therapy has been employed since ancient times to find relief from ailments by using natural methods. Inhaling smoke, steam, or essential oils can help treat or reduce a variety of health problems.

The modern steam inhaler streamlines the effectiveness of inhalation therapy. It uses warm, moist air to open the airways and restore regular function to the respiratory system. Because of this, steam inhalation is often recommended for alleviating symptoms of allergies, asthma, and the common cold. Steam inhalers may also be useful for people with bronchitis or sinusitis.

Moist air created by a steam inhaler works to loosen stuck mucus and open the airways, essentially acting as a natural expectorant. This, in turn, promotes regular breathing. The loose mucus is easier to eliminate, which may also reduce irritation in the throat. In addition to loosening the mucus in the airways, steam inhalers also create more secretions in general. While this seems counter-intuitive, the increased liquid production actually benefits the entire respiratory tract. The effect is a more productive cough, less irritation when blowing the nose, and clearer airways.

Heat from the steam provides its own benefits, as well. Heat causes the body temperature to rise. Blood vessels begin to dilate as the temperature of the surrounding tissue rises. This can increase the flow of blood to these tissues and promote better circulation throughout the body. Proper circulation is linked to reduced levels of toxins in the bloodstream, and can help reduce the symptoms of a headache or migraine. Increasing circulation in affected tissues brings fresh, oxygen-rich blood to the cells that need them. This oxygen can attach to toxins and move them through the blood stream to be eliminated.

There are also applications for steam in the beauty sector. Steam can open the pores of the face, which may reduce acne and make skin look younger. The skin produces oily sebum to naturally moisturize and lubricate its surface. This sebum can easily mix with dirt, air pollution, or makeup to clog the pores on the face and nose. Clogged ports can cause facial acne and blackheads. Steam softens up these blocked pores to allow the sebum to flow naturally, restoring vibrant, youthful skin.

Choosing A Steam Inhaler

There are many things to consider when purchasing a personal steam inhaler. The importance of these considerations will vary from person to person, and is likely the deciding factor in choosing one unit over another.

The first thing to consider is portability. Some steam inhalers are attached to a base unit that has to be plugged in to work. Others are battery powered and ready for use anywhere they are needed. A person who experiences regular allergy symptoms may find more benefit using a portable model. Someone who simply takes time off from work to lie in bed when they are sick may not mind a bulkier model.

Another consideration for many people is the price. Spending a lot on a steam inhaler may not be practical for someone who is only sick a couple times a year. They may find the cheaper models perfect for their needs. Likewise someone who wants relief from symptoms on a near daily basis may be willing to spend a little bit more for the highest quality possible.

Additional features also come into play with steam inhalers. Though the most basic version of a steam inhaler will still provide many of the same benefits as the most elaborate one, it is the additional features which make more complex models stand out.

Some units feature scent slots which can add helpful ingredients such as menthol to the steam. The scent of menthol triggers cold receptors in the airways to help people feel more relief from typical respiratory symptoms. Some units also double as humidifiers, increasing the humidity in the air when they are not being used directly as steam inhalers. All-in-one models like these may be especially enticing to people who don't have a lot of room to store devices.

What Is The Difference Between A Steam Inhaler And A Humidifier?

Steam inhalers, humidifiers, vaporizers, and even aromatherapy diffusers all have the similar function of introducing humidity into the environment. It is the mechanics and ultimate goal of each delivery system that varies. Humidifiers are often used in dry climates to bring moisture back into an enclosed area. They may also be found in offices where the air conditioning systems dry out the air. Most humidifiers release cool humidity into the air. There is typically no heating element in a humidifier, and the goal is simply to increase the humidity levels in the surrounding air, without increasing the temperature.

Vaporizers are designed to increase both the humidity and temperature in the air. They usually include a heating element to boil the water as it is released. The steam produced is then distributed directly into the environment. Vaporizers are more commonly used in the rooms of sick people for whom steam inhalation may be helpful. Oftentimes inhalants such as camphor or essential oils are added to vaporizers to improve symptoms, as well.

A personal steam inhaler is actually a type of vaporizer. Steam inhalers deliver steam directly to the sinuses and lungs instead of into an open room. This is typically more beneficial in the short term, as it provides the body with more steam in a shorter amount of time. Users may be add inhalants to some steam inhalers to improve symptoms if needed. People who are prone to perennial allergies or rhinitis may use both a humidifier and a steam inhaler to help control their symptoms.

Diffusers are used to disperse volatile compounds through the air, most commonly the essential oils used in aromatherapy. Diffusers work in much the same way as humidifiers. They do not have heating elements in them, as heat may degrade the quality or efficacy of the inhaled compounds.

Increasing the humidity in the air can improve the look and feel of skin, protect wood furniture, and may even help with sleep symptoms like snoring or a sore throat upon waking.

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Last updated on January 15, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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