Inhaler/smelling salts


Inhaler (or smelling salts) is a product widely used in Asia especially in the countries of Southeast Asia. The main components are the essential substances that help relieve cold, nasal congestion, dizziness, and dizziness. It is produced in the form of a plastic cylinder that is small, compact, lightweight and easily portable.

Currently, most inhaler (smelling salts) users are middle-aged or older people. However, modern inhaler has enhanced its packaging with a distinctive and modern appearance so it is more possible to attract the youth and working people because modern people often do activities and relaxations after work in a limited period of time so they often relax themselves with aromatherapy that can meet their need anywhere and anytime. Therefore, inhaler is one of the most popular choices for relaxation and therapy. In addition, those who want to quit smoking often use an inhaler to stop smoking longer.


Mors inhaler (smelling salts) products contain menthol, camphor, eucalyptus oil and Borneol, while inhalers produced by rural people often contain many types of essential oils, such as peppermint oil, green oil and clove oil. Also, less-volatile oils are used as a solvent, such as sesame oil, mineral oil or extracts from other herbs.

Ingredients of the inhaler (smelling salts) mentioned above cause a cold and tingling sensation in the nasal cavity and freshness. However, a frequent inhalation of these substances may cause an irritation of mucous membranes lining the nasal passages that expose to the concentrated odor.

Example of inhaler main ingredients
Menthol 42.0%
Camphor 16.4%
Eucalyptus Oil 8.5%
Borneol 6.1%


1. Menthol
Menthol, or peppermint flake, is deemed the main substance of the inhaler (smelling salts) ingredients. It is a white crystalline with cold fragrance and is in essential oils obtained from the leaves of mint. It is used to as a carminative and flavor of medications, such as stomach-coating drug. It is a mild local anesthetic and can reduce the swelling of blood vessels in the nose and pain. Upon contact with the skin, this substance provides a cold sensation. If inhaling it in high concentrations and using is for a long time, it may cause irritation of respiratory tract and pneumonia.

2. Camphor
Camphor is a shiny white flake with a pungent and cold fragrance. Originally, it was extracted from camphor plants, but at present it is a synthetic substance because it is made more easily and cheaper than those extracted from plants. It is well absorbed through the skin and provides a cold sensation when contacting with the skin as same as menthol. It is a mild anesthetic and anti-microbial agent and is locally used to cure sprain, swelling, poison from insects, and skin diseases. In addition, it can stimulate the central nervous system so it is widely used an ingredient of present inhalers (smelling salts).

Camphor may be harmful by inhalation because of respiratory irritation. Convulsions have been reported in infants when ingested by accident. Camphor is used in the cars for conditioning the air and creating freshness. It is found that camphor can be vaporized, and when using it in a car that turns on the air conditioner all the time, camphor will be vaporized to catch onto the air-conditioning vents. Also, if the car is parked in a hot area, the vaporization rate is faster and we can feel that the volume of camphor decreases. If adding camphor continuously without opening the doors or windows to allow it to vaporize, the concentration of its smell will increase that is dangerous for health, especially lungs and liver.

3. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus essential oil is used as an ingredient of cosmetics used in the spas as well as a key ingredient in the inhaler (smelling salts) to inhale all the time making a clear breath and better concentration. In addition, it is mixed with skin massage oil to relieve physical and psychological fatigues. For aromatherapy, it is used to create a sense of alertness and powerfulness. It can also dry out the skin and it is therefore used to reduce the skin’s oiliness. Moreover, it can control the sebaceous gland and thus can get rid of the excess fat that causes oily skin or acne.

Properties of Eucalyptus Oil in Inhaler (smelling salts)
• It is used to treat the symptoms of respiratory system, asthma, pneumonia or sinusitis. It is effective against bacteria, fungi and viruses and reduces inflammation and swelling. It is dropped into cotton for inhalation or dropped into a hot tub, then covering the head with a towel and deeply inhaling its vapor. Alternatively, it is mixed with other oils, such as Ho Ho Ba or coconut oil, and applied on the chest area as well as wrapping the neck with a cloth to allow the heat to evaporate it into the breath.
• It is used for wound healing and for disinfection. Also, it can be used to treat a fire-caused blistering wound or scratch. In addition, it can treat the insect bites and chase the insects.
• It is mixed with massage oil to loosen the muscles. With its properties that cause numbness and reduction of swelling, the painful muscles can be relaxed as well as it can cause a better blood circulation.
• It directly affects the nervous system and therefore causes a peace and relaxation immediately after inhalation.
• There have been reports describing that eating Eucalyptus oil can help reduce blood sugar and diabetes. You should consider the correct method of use thoroughly before eating.
• It is used as an air-conditioning solution or liquid deodorant by mixing it with clean water and spraying it on the area to be disinfected or the area where more fragrance is required. It can also be used as a deodorant.

It is for external use and should not be eaten or inhaled in a high dose or should not contact the skin directly. If it gets in your eyes, immediately rinse it with clean water several times before going to the doctor. In case of skin contact, immediately wash it with soapy water. Otherwise, it may cause allergic dermatitis and should not be used in excessive amounts because it will cause a headache. People with epilepsy, high or low blood pressure, diabetes who need insulin (it may cause abnormal sugar level), chronic disorders of liver, kidney or stomach, and pregnant women or those lactating a baby under the age of five years should also use it.

4. Borneol
Borneol is a small and flat white or reddish flake with a cold fragrance. Pure Borneol has a hexagonal shape. Originally, it was obtained by mixing camphor with other drugs. However, currently it comes from synthetic substances which are spicy against your tongue. If it is naturally genuine, it is not spicy against your tongue but cools the mouth and throat instead. Medically, it is mixed in an inhaler to inhale for nausea relief as well as applied for reducing sprains. However, it may be dangerous if inhaled in large quantities because this substance can cause irritation of respiratory tract. Also, it can stimulate and calm the central nervous system.

Medical Effects of Inhaler (smelling salts)
When inhaling an inhaler containing the substances mentioned above, it will clear the nose and cause a cold and tingling feeling and alertness. In addition, it is useful during fainting, dizziness or nasal congestion.

Precautions of Using an Inhaler (smelling salts)
An inhaler should be correctly used by inhaling it nearby rather than directly contacting it. It is not recommended to get it remained in the nose because every substance can cause irritation on contact. You should avoid using an inhaler that once contacted the nose of other people because it can cause infection. Inhaler can only reduce symptom temporarily. In case of severe symptoms, you should meet a doctor. Inhaler in the forms of liquid or ointment should be dropped into cotton or handkerchief or slightly applied on the chest, then inhaling its vapors. Alternatively, it may be applied outside of the nose but with a very small amount. If there is any existing disease of the nasal cavity, such as sinus inflammation due to allergy or nasal cavity or sinus infection, it is recommended to avoid using it because the allergy symptoms already have a damage of nasal cavity mucous membranes, and if inhaling a very concentrated inhaler, it may be more irritable. This inhaler may cause harm to children so it should be kept away from children.

In addition, an inhaler (smelling salts) may cause addiction. Because some chemicals used in production of an inhaler, such as menthol and camphor, which can affect the nervous system, it can cause addiction. However, “inhaler addition” is just a habit similar to turning a pen or hugging a side pillow at bedtime. It can be observed that if we forget to take our inhaler out of the house and do not inhale it the whole day, we may just feel want to inhale it, but when working or studying during the day, we can just ignore that thought.

Inhaler (smelling salts) is a household drug that is useful if you know how to use it properly and do not inhale it for a long time. When feeling abnormal, you should stop using it immediately and consult a doctor. However, it may be useful for some people who require it to prevent some diseases and make them healthy without relying on drugs.