How do I Heat Vicks VapoRub in Water to Relieve Sinus Pressure?

Vicks VapoRub contains menthol, eucalyptus and other ingredients in a petrolatum base 1. Fumes from VapoRub temporarily open the airways, allowing relief from chest and sinus pressure and congestion. Warming the ointment in warm water may aid this effect and is a common home remedy for sinus pressure and congestion; however, you must be careful. Use warm water only--not hot or boiling water. Directions for the product on the Vicks website do not recommend heating Vicks VapoRub on the stove, in a microwave or placing it in hot water 1. Vicks VapoRub added to hot or boiling water can splatter and cause burns, the company warns 1.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Fill a 1-qt. stainless steel or aluminum sauce pan 1/2 full of clean water. Place the pan on a stove burner.

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Turn the burner on high and heat the water until it just starts steaming--do not bring it to a boil.

Turn off the burner beneath the pot. If you are using an electric stove, move the pot off of the burner entirely after turning it off. If you left the pot on too long and it started bubbling, wait now until the water is simply steaming and no longer bubbling.

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Carefully place 1 tsp. of Vicks VapoRub into the water and let it start to dissolve 1. The vapors should start immediately releasing now into the steam.

Place a trivet on a table or other sturdy surface and carefully place the pan on this trivet.

Sit near the pot. Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose, but don’t place your face over the pan until it has sufficiently cooled or you risk steam burns.


Do not leave the pot of water on the lit stove burner unattended and do not expose this product to open flames. It contains flammable oils.

Do not reheat the mixture. When you are finished, dispose of the water and Vicks down a sink and wash the pot out well with water and dish soap before using for cooking.