Steam treatment carries essential oils directly to sinuses and lungs, and provides warm, moist air to help open nasal and bronchial passages. To do a steam, boil a pan of water, turn off the heat, cool 1 minute, carefully pour about 4-6 cups of boiling water into a large bowl or just use the same pan the water was heated in. Add 3-6 drops of an essential oil to the water and use a towel to corral the steam around your head as you breathe deeply. If steaming is impractical, inhale from a tissue to which a few drops of an essential oil have been added. Commonly used oils include eucalyptus, mint, wintergreen, cajuput, frankincense, juniper and menthol.
An aromatic diffuser disinfects the atmosphere by releasing droplets of essential oil as a cool, fine mist. It can be turned on in a sickroom for 10 to 15 minutes every hour to clear airborne bacteria. Because of clogging, do not use thick oils in a diffuser unless they have been diluted with a thin oil such as citrus, eucalyptus, rosemary or mixed with alcohol. If oils are left too long in a diffuser, they can oxidize and thicken.
Diluted essential oils can also be used as a throat spray through "nebulization." A perfume atomizer or spray bottle will work to create this fine spray. If you don't have a diffuser, simply combine water and essential oils in a spray bottle.