Karvol vs Calpol Vaporisers

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Throughout LP’s babyhood we used an electrical Karvol Diffuser plug in every time she had a cold, was chesty or a bit under the weather. We plugged it in whilst we got her ready for bed and left it plugged in for a few hours, unplugging it during one of her night feeds.

How good are the Karvol Vaporisers?

At times, this Karvol Vaporiser was an absolute dream – it gave LP a great night sleep when nothing else would work and helped us get much needed sleep too. We found that each refill lasted for about 3 nights – so each stint of ‘poorly’ we would use one plug in refill. We bought refill packs as and when we needed them and the Karvol plug in was a very valued item in our house at night times.

About a year ago I started to realise that I couldn’t buy the Karvol vaporiser refills anymore. They just weren’t around. I could not get hold of a packet anywhere apart from ebay – at an extortionate price.

We have spent the last year vaporiser-less. I hoped that the refills would come back into stock and didn’t want to spend more money on another plug in vaporiser if I didn’t need to. So I waited and waited until I found myself with two teething, chesty babies. It was at this point that I found out that Karvol Vaporisers had been discontinued and are currently unavailable.

Is the Calpol Vaporiser a good alternative to the Karvol Vaporiser?

I then turned to Twitter for advice and a lot of people recommended the Calpol Vaporiser instead. So off I went to the pharmacy and bought one, along with ten refills.

In all honesty, the vaporisers smell slightly different from their aromatic oils but work exactly the same with the same natural vapours! I am so incredibly happy that I bought the Calpol vapour plug after recommendations, it’s a great help for easy breathing.

My only criticisms are that the refill pads don’t seem to last as long at home, they are pretty much used up after one night rather than Karvol’s three nights.

Also, the Calpol plug in has a big blue light on it when plugged in. It’s like a light on a runway to show aeroplanes where to land, a homing beacon. In the middle of the night this light is the brightest thing I have ever seen.

But, when the children are poorly it’s nice to have a good nightlight to be able to see them instantly in the cot/bed – so I quite like the light. Also, the refills of the Calpol Vaporiser say not to touch them directly. There wasn’t any warning like this on the Karvol Vaporiser so no idea what the Calpol one contains or the strength of it to warrant this warning!

Karvol vs Calpol Vaporisers

Calpol vaporisers are definitely a good replacement for the Karvol ones, or if you haven’t ever had a vaporiser then the Calpol one does a good job – The children seemed much better with the plug in switched on.

Since writing this I have found out that Boots do their own plug in vaporiser products too and Boots vaporiser refills which is suitable from two years onwards. Although we haven’t tried it this may be worth giving a go if you’re in the same position that we were in.If you have older children Karvol capsules are fantastic and can be purchased at any online chemist or pharmacy. Let me know what works for you.

Karvol vs Calpol Vaporisers


  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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  1. We have a Calpol one and it did seem to help when Toby had a cold. You’re right though – the refills don’t last long. I wonder if you could put a few drops of Olbas for kids or something like that on the used pad? Might be cheaper than buying more refills…

  2. I hadn’t realised the Karvol ones have been discontinued. We too had trouble getting hold of them, but then started putting a few drops of the Karvol liquid in to the refills and reusing them – been doing this for months now with no problems. I just really, really hate the light on the Calpol one, as any light at all is a signal to our son that it’s wake up time! Seems an odd feature to add to the product, as surely most people already have a nightlight if they use one. Ah well!

  3. I have used Karvol inhalants for years & find them a great success and relief with catarrhal congestion.
    I am finding it incredibly difficult to obtain Karvol now, & keep being offered Olbas as a substitute which i find totally ineffectual I would be very grateful if you could tell me where I can find a supply of this excellent old fashioned product that works..

    1. So grateful for this post. I’ve just started the search for vaporiser refills and have quickly realised I can’t find them anywhere and then saw some day discontinued. So gutted as it worked wonders. I do have the Calpol one as a back up but never found it as good as the Karvol one which helps them breathe so easily with a cold. I wish they’d bring the refills back! But thank you for filling in the picture for me Ava stopping me researching all the options of alternatives!!

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