Are you looking for ways to improve your vocal health and recover more quickly from laryngitis and colds? You may have heard of steamers, vocal nebulizers, and humidifiers and wonder how they differ and what they each offer.
You can steam your singing voice with DIY steamers, or by buying a professional product designed for this purpose. The best vocal steamers for singers bring moisture into your voice box, soothe the vocal folds, hydrate, reduce swelling and calm irritation.
Read on to learn about the singer’s secret weapon in maintaining vocal health, get some recommendations and find out about the differences between the products currently on the market.
How can I steam my vocal cords?
Steaming is of the best ways to hydrate your vocal cords. Inhaling steam using a steamer, nebulizer, or your own steam bath will soothe your vocal folds. This can improve the performance of your voice. Vocal steamers don’t have to break the bank. If you don’t want to invest in buying one, there are plenty of cheap and easy ways you can create your own vocal steamer at home. You can try one of the following methods, or buy a steamer:
- Boil some water in a kettle or on the hob. Leave to cool for a couple of seconds, then pour the water into a bowl. Lean your face directly over the bowl and cover your head with a towel. Inhale the steam for 5-10 minutes.
- Make a steam inhaler jar – boil ½ cup of water and pour it into a mason jar. Allow to cool for a minute and then place your hands around the top of the jar and cup your mouth and nose to the jar’s rim. Inhale deeply through your nose for roughly 5 minutes.
- Take a hot shower – steaming your voice can be as simple as taking a hot shower and breathing in the steam! Be careful to not let the water run too hot and burn yourself, though.
You can even add some herbs for extra benefits and a pleasant spa-like experience. Here’s some more tips on how to do it.
Voice steamer for singers
For optimum results, aim to steam your voice for around 10 minutes every day. You can steam multiple times a day, but make sure you let your voice rest for a bit afterwards.
You could do it in one session and inhale the steam for 5 – 10 minutes continuously. Or you could break it down into several smaller steam sessions throughout the day. Breathe the steam in through your nose for roughly 3 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day.
This approach might suit you better if you find it too clammy to breathe the steam in for long periods of time. It also works well for singers, as you can steam your vocal folds before and after a performance as part of your warm-up and cool down.
Like with most things, steaming works best when it’s done in moderation. It’s fine to steam your voice every day, or even multiple times a day. But remember steaming is like a type of warm-up for your vocal cords and you need to give your voice time to recover after steaming.
Using a steam inhaler
Using a steamer is usually self-explanatory. Most vocal steamers you can buy work in the same simple way. But for a singer, these tips can help boost the benefits of your vocal steamer:
- Never use boiling water when you steam – use water that’s just off the boil
- Don’t add eucalyptus or any menthol oils to your water because these can irritate your voice
- Avoid breathing cold air for 20 minutes are you steam
- Try doing some gentle humming after you steam to warm up your voice
What is the best vocal steamer for singers?
As well as being good for all-round vocal health, steaming is a great way to treat laryngitis at home. Inhaling warm, moist air will soothe irritated and inflamed vocal cords.
Vocal steamer Amazon
One of the consistently highest-rated steamers on Amazon is the Rio Facial Sauna. One of the side benefits of steaming is that it’s also fabulous for your skin, so this is a catch-all tool, that’ll help you look and sound great.
Vocal steamer from Boots
If you’re seeking a very low price, basic steamer, look no further than high street store Boots.
Their value steamer – Boots Easy Breathing Steam Inhaler – usually retails at £6.99, but is often available on a half-price offer.
Vicks steam inhaler
The Vicks brand offers an excellent range of steamers and are cited among Best Review’s list of the top devices of 2020. Here are their top three, along with some other great buys.
- Vicks Warm Steam Vaporizer
- Vicks Personal Steam Inhaler V1200
- Personal Steam Inhaler V1200
- MyPurMist Handheld Steam Inhaler
- Healthsmart Margo Moo Steam Inhaler
More products for singers
VocalMist is one of the leading brands in steaming. Their bestselling product, the VocalMist Portable Nebulizer, is a “singer’s best friend.”
The VocalMist Portable Nebulizer is small enough to take anywhere with you – perfect for touring and gigs on the go. It features a removable face mask and is battery powered by rechargeable lithium batteries. Check out this video to see VocalMist in action:
The nebulizer can be bought directly from the VocalMist website. It’s not the cheapest option out there though, with prices averaging at $98.00 (£74.85).
Vocal nebulizer for singers
A nebulizer works in a similar way to a steamer. It’s a device that vaporises liquids into tiny particles that you can then inhale. A nebulizer produces smaller particles than a steamer, meaning you can inhale the moisture molecules much easier and quicker.
Unlike vocal steamers, you also can use a nebulizer to vaporise solutions other than plain water. Vocal coaches recommend adding salt to a nebulizer for optimum hydration. Saline water matches the natural fluid properties of our cells and using a 0.9% sodium chloride solution in your nebulizer is said to offer the best results.
Nebulizers offer some great benefits for your voice, but they may not be the best option for regular use. Nebulizers pose more risks than steamers. The device carries vapour further into your lungs than a steamer and can carry material into your bronchial tubes that shouldn’t be there.
Nebulizers are best used for medical reasons, or perhaps when your voice is impaired and under real strain. It’s not recommended to use them regularly just to maintain your singing voice.
Should singers use humidifiers?
As a singer, it’s crucial to keep your voice hydrated. This means trying out all the different methods available. Humidifiers are another great way to take care of your vocal cords.
Humidifiers are devices that can be set up in your home or workspace. They emit water vapour or steam into the air, increasing the moisture levels around you. They’re really beneficial for singers because the added moisture in the atmosphere relieves congestion and stuffiness.
Like vocal steamers, humidifiers keep your vocal cords hydrated and relieve irritation. It’s recommended that the ideal humidity for your house is 40% and you can use a humidifier to monitor and regulate this.
As found by Wiki Audio, the best humidifiers for singers include:
- PowerPure 5000 Warm & Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier. Best Single-Room Humidifier for Singers.
- Aircare EP9 Whole-House Humidifier.
- Mypurmist Handheld Humidifier.
- Everlasting Comfort Ultrasonic.
- Andyer Mini.
Humidifiers come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s worth researching which type would be best for your personal needs. Some have cool mist technology while others feature heated mist. You can also get personal humidifiers or models for your whole home.
Steamers are a safe option for most people to use. If you suffer from asthma you should consult your doctor before using a vocal steamer. But if you have a fungal growth in your nose or throat, avoid using a vocal steamer as inhaling the steam can accelerate the growth of the infection.
- How long after steaming can you sing?
It’s recommended that you avoid singing for at least 10 minutes are you use a vocal steamer. This allows the warm moisture on your vocal cords to cool. Some people avoid talking during this time too, to reap the full effect of inhaling the steam.
- Does steam make acne worse?
While steaming is an excellent way to open up the pores and release any impurities, it can make your face a little red. And in the case of acne, it can aggravate inflammation. This is best avoided with short sessions and by using water that isn’t quite so hot.
- What’s the best form of hydration for singers
A happy singing voice is a hydrated voice. Unlike water, steaming directly applies moisture to your vocal folds. This re-hydrates your voice box and cures hoarseness fast. It’s effective and beneficial, but should never replace drinking water, as O2 is the best way for singers to hydrate.
Do you steam, nebulise or humidify your singing voice? What’s your favourite hydration tool and method? Let us know your recommendations and tips in the comments below.