Vapo Cresolene – The Coal Tar Inhaler

Vapo-Cresolene, marketed in various forms since the late 19th century, vaporized a coal-tar by-product in the included apparatus for inhalation to allegedly treat a host of diseases, including diphtheria and influenza. Though the FDA successfully moved against this product under the 1906 Act, the manufacturer transferred the therapeutic claims from the label to Vapo-Cresolene’s advertising.

The United States Food and Drug Administration.
Vapo-Cresolene product box next to the vaporizer.

This disturbing product is from the FDA collection “American Chamber of Horrors“. The collection features dangerous foods, drugs, and cosmetics from the early 20th Century. Horrors like Vapo Cresolene lead to the 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Vapo-Cresolene“, FDA. No known copyright restrictions.