How to Make Herbal Steams for Colds and Congestion

How to make an herbal steam (3 ways!) for respiratory support during cold and flu season

By contributing writer Stacy K. of A Delightful Home

We’ve all been there…

Stuffed up nose, jam-packed sinuses, honking and snorting when you try to breathe freely…

The congestion and sinus pressure that accompany a cold or flu can be miserable!

Although relieving these issues naturally is often challenging, an herbal steam is one way to alleviate congestion without reaching into the medicine cabinet. I find the steam is comforting as well; which is a nice bonus when you are feeling ill.

Herbal steams can be prepared in a variety of ways, and you can use fresh or dried herbs as well as essential oils.

Usually, herbs or essential oils are added to hot water and the steam inhaled. This seems to be the most effective method, however, it is possible to create an herbal steam in the shower. A diffuser also works, but not as quickly.

Herbal steams need not be restricted to just a few herbs, as a wide variety of herbs work well to aid in clearing congestion.

I will begin by describing the three methods and then share a number of recipes.

3 Ways to Create an Herbal Steam

The Bowl Method

It doesn’t get much simpler than this. All you need to do is place fresh or dried herbs in a heat proof bowl, then pour hot water over the top.

If you’re using essential oils, pour the water in the bowl first, then add the essential oils.

In general you will need about one handful of dried herbs or two handfuls of fresh herbs to one pint of hot water. (This does not need to be exact.) If using essential oils, you will only need 2 or 3 drops.

eucalyptus chamomile steam

Water should be distilled or purified since any impurities or chemicals in water will be inhaled in the steam.… [Continue Reading]

The Best Essential Oil Diffuser Recipes for Fall

the best collection of essential oil diffuser recipes for fall: spiced chai, immune booster, and more!

I kicked my candles to the curb.

And I was quite the candle addict… So that’s saying a lot.

There’s nothing I love more than being enveloped by a warm, spicy scent when I walking into the house on a brisk, fall day. And who doesn’t love the flickering of a candle on a cozy winter’s night?

But once I started learning about some of the toxic junk my candle addiction was releasing into my house, suddenly my “warm sugar cookie” scented candles didn’t seem quite as appealing… Bummer.

As far as candle toxicity goes, it seems as though paraffin and lead-cored wicks are the two biggest concerns:

Thankfully, soy, beeswax, or tallow candles are much cleaner burning and non-toxic, so they are still a good choice if you still crave the ambiance a lit candle creates.

But What About Air Fresheners?

Sadly, they aren’t much better. I published a post a few months back that highlights some of the issues related to aerosol room sprays and plug-in air fresheners.… [Continue Reading]

How to Make Homemade Stevia Extract

how to make stevia extract

I have a sweet tooth.

There. I said it.

As much as I would like to be one of those people who can happily chug black coffee and has no problem passing up dessert, I’m just not.

Now, as my real-food journey has progressed, I have gotten much better than I used to be. White sugar is pretty much banned from our house, and I don’t even use as many unrefined sweeteners as I used to. Eating a piece of fruit generally satisfies my cravings for sweetness (which have lessened considerably), and I’m pretty darn creative about using small amounts of maple syrup, honey, or stevia to sweeten stuff instead.

Stevia is amazing stuff. It’s pretty popular right now, but in case you haven’t jumped on the stevia train yet, here is a quick run-down: Stevia is simply a plant. Yup– a plant. It’s not created in a laboratory and it’s most definitely not one of those scary artificial sweeteners. Stevia is 200-times sweeter than sugar and you can grow it right in your garden. That’s my kind of sweetener!

growing stevia

Of course, there is some debate surrounding stevia, (because, quite frankly, there is debate surrouding everything these days…) Some people question if it is safe to use in large amounts, and other folks don’t like the more-processed forms of stevia powder on the market today.

However, I feel pretty confident in simple stevia extracts, especially when you make them yourself. Just remember– stevia is SUPER sweet, so you’ll only want to use a drop or two at a time!

homemade stevia extract

How to Make Homemade Stevia Extract

You will need:

  • Fresh stevia leaves (Dry leaves can work too–see the note below)*
  • Vodka*
  • Clean glass jar with lid

*The amount of ingredients you need will depend on how much stevia extract you want to make.[Continue Reading]

How to Whitewash Your Barn and Chicken Coop

how to whitewash a barn or chicken coop

Wanna know how you can instantly feel like a homesteading rockstar?

Whitewash something.

I say this because:

(a) It’ll make all your friends give you a weird look (I always enjoy that)

(b) It’s delightfully old-fashioned

(c) It actually does provide some benefits to your barn/coops (besides just making you feel cool)

Whenever I think of whitewashing, my mind instantly goes to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. But before we dive into a bucket of whitewash, let’s talk a bit about why this is something you’d even want to mess with.

What is Whitewash?

Sometimes you’ll hear people referring to “whitewash” as simply painting something with white paint, but in the most traditional sense of the term, whitewash is powdered lime (lime as in limestone, not the green fruit!) mixed with water.

Whitewashing has been a favorite paint/sealant in farms and homestead for centuries because it is effective, simple, and cheap. It’s also safe for animals, and you don’t have to worry about paint fumes.

It’s important to pay attention to what type of lime you are using in your whitewash–be sure to select hydrated lime (also called mason’s lime)– NOT dolomite lime or garden lime. We were able to find ours at our local building supply store, although you might check feed stores too. Hydrated lime is different than the type of lime you spread on the ground/garden, so make sure you have the right stuff!


Why to Whitewash?

Whitewash is the perfect coating if you want a bit of old-fashioned charm, but it also has some practical applications too. The main reason I chose to whitewash my chicken coop is to brighten the dingy, dark wood. Whitewash also has some antibacterial properties, which makes it a handy option for sealing tough-to-clean surfaces against bacteria and insects.… [Continue Reading]