Thursday, October 4, 2012

Natural Vapor Rub For Coughs and Colds

Cold season is nearly upon us and since school began my kids are bringing home germs along with their homework. We've already experienced our first cold as a family from a virus the preschooler brought home. My little guy was up in the night from all the coughing. Coughs have their place in healing but we never like to see our children suffer.

When you take a cold syrup to mask your cold symptoms it causes you to feel better and go about life without taking the time to slow down, listen to your body and rest. Letting mild illnesses run their course is the best method on the path to healing. I rarely use any cold medications as they give a false sense of wellness, do not provide healing and often end up prolonging the illness.

Why Make Your Own Vapor Rub?

It's simple, easy, natural and frugal. I love to keep things as natural as possible in my home. Last year I became interested in using essential oils around my home and as a more natural way to treat common
mild illnesses.

Most store bought vapor rubs contain petroleum products and other fake, unnatural ingredients. When you make it yourself you control what goes in and can use the best ingredients for your family.

Since I've wanted to incorporate more natural treatments using essential oils at home I discovered The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy at my library. I was inspired to start compiling my own basic care kit with a few essential oils and put them to use. For example I put a few drops of lemon oil in my homemade vinegar cleaner and a few drops of eucalyptus in the humidifier overnight.

What's In This Vapor Rub?

I use organic, unrefined coconut oil that I buy in bulk in a one gallon container. Coconut oil is a healthy saturated fat that has antiviral, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. There is evidence that it can kill cold and flu viruses. Beeswax is an all natural by product secreted by worker honeybees. It has a lovely honey scent and is moisturizing to skin.

I choose this blend of eucalyptus, rosemary and lemon essential oils from The Complete Book of Essential Oils and AromatherapyEucalyptus essential oil is a versatile oil that cools the body in the summer and protects it in the winter. It is antiinflammatory, antiseptic, antibiotic, analgesic and antiviral. It's best known for it's effectiveness against coughs and colds. Rosemary essential oil is an antiseptic oil that is a physical and mental stimulant. It treats all muscular conditions, headaches, coughs and flu. Lemon essential oil is an antiseptic and antibacterial oil. It is useful in oils blends for it's contribution to synergy.

You can experiment with other oil blends as well. Hyssop, peppermint and thyme are other oils that help relieve chest congestion. Some essential oils should be avoided during pregnancy, so check the safety of any oils you plan to use if pregnant.

Natural Vapor Rub
2 parts coconut oil
1 part beeswax
Lemon essential oil (about 5 drops per oz)
Eucalyptus essential oil (about 8 drops per oz)
Rosemary essential oil ( about 12 drops per oz)

Melt the oil and beeswax in a pan over very low heat, remove from heat and add the essential oils. Pour into a glass, metal tin or other container.

The salve will harden within 10-15 minutes. If it's too solid you can remelt and add more coconut oil. Conversely, if it's too soft you can remelt and add more beeswax.

To Use: Massage around the chest, neck and sinus area (forehead, nose and cheekbones) as needed. One odd way I like to use it is before bed I massage the salve into the bottoms of my feet, put on thick socks & let it soak in while I sleep. When I've done this I've had significant improvement in cold symptoms overnight. It's weird and I don't know how it works but a friend recommended it to me and now I do it to myself and kids when sick.

Where can you buy essential oils and beeswax? Your local health food store is a great place to start as they can answer your questions. You can also buy online from
Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

I would recommend only using therapeutic grade essential oils.

I've found high quality, organic unrefined coconut oil at major grocery stores, Amazon and Azure Standard.

What are your favorite homemade remedies?

This post is part of: Frugal Days, Sustainable WaysLiving Green TuesdaysWomen Living WellSmall Footprint FridaysSimple Lives Thursday, Country Homemaker HopMonday ManiaClever ChicksMama Moments MondayMorris TribeMake Your Own MondayHomestead Barn HopNatural Living MondayEarning My CapeWildcrafting WednesdayHealthy 2Day WednesdayBackyard Farming Connection.


  1. I bet is smells just heavenly compared to the awful Vicks smell.
    I've been told the same thing about rubbing it on your feet at night and having it help. I'll be sure to take that easy step next time a cold hits.
    Thanks for the great recipe!

  2. I'm totally going to be trying this! Thanks for the article. :)

  3. Sounds wonderful!
    What relief.....

  4. LOVE this site!! I want to try this, as I have one little boy who is prone to coughs at night. Question: my coconut oil gets pretty hard outside of summertime temps (we keep our house on the cool side in the winter). Would it work to whip the oil/beeswax? I've done this with shea butter & coconut oil for a body creme, but maybe it's the shea butter that's whipping rather than the oil ... any thoughts?

    1. I haven't tried to whip it so I don't know if that would work. I lean towards no as I think it's the shea butter that would whip up better, the beeswax is very hard at room temp. This mix is pretty cold & hard for me too now that it's cold weather. I use a fingernail or small spoon to scoop it out and then let my hands warm it to a softer consistency before I rub it on my son. It only takes a few seconds to warm up.

    2. Leave out the beeswax. It is only used for hardening anyway.

  5. I never thought of making my own vapo rub, but you make it sound simple! I've actually heard that trick about rubbing it on feet before, so there may be something to it.


  6. Hi, Nicole,
    I just discovered your site and have looked over enough of your content to know that I just have to ask you to join in over the weekly Wednesday link-up. If you would like to or are able to, many would benefit from your site. Love your practical and helpful posts.
    I can just smell the wonderful ess oils in your vapor rub~ Umm...
    Thank you.

  7. Thank you for linking up with the Clever Chicks this week! I hope to see you back again next week with another clever blog post!

    The Chicken Chick

  8. I am really looking forward to making this natural vapor rub. I suffer from chest congestion and allergies all winter long. Vapo rub always helps. This homemade one with natural, petroleum free ingredients will be much better for me. Thanks bunches. I am so glad you shared this awesome recipe on the Country Homemaker Hop.

  9. This looks great and simple! I just posted my chest rub recipe recently too. It is so great to have around! Thanks for sharing on Natural Living Monday! I hope you come by and share more this week.

  10. I love natural remedies and will be adding this to my list for future use!

    And thank you so much for linking up with Healthy 2day Wednesdays as always! Hope you have a blessed week and hope you’ll be linking up this week!

  11. This is great! I've been planning to make a vapor rub for a few weeks, now. My 5 year old is OBSESSED with the Vicks Baby Rub we have. I want to make a more natural one. This looks great!

  12. If you've ever heard of foot reflexology, for each area of your body, there are corresponding parts on your feet. I know the soft padded part down from your big toe has to do with lungs, so whenever my kids are congested, I rub the oils there and massage it. I particularly love thieves oil from young living-it smells awesome. Google reflexology charts and thieves oil-very interesting! I've also read that frankincense oil is being used in some medical settings for skin cancer/ tumors!

  13. This sounds fabulous! However I would recommend only therapeutic grade oils, some cheaper ones can be toxic.

  14. My Aunt Edythe Used to tell me that germs and bacteria gather at the feet and that is many times why soem have "stinky" feet She also recommended and believed that rubbing the feet down with vapor rub such as this and putting on socks kill off the bacteria.

  15. Joyful potter I use lavender oil in shea butter and it makes a nice cream. I am going to try adding coconut oil to it for the thicker effect. I have reached the age (or my skin has) needs thick creams rather than lotion. Lavender is very soothing if you are stressed or restless. Helps calm the mind and the body.

  16. The pores on the bottom of your feet are the largest in your body, so they absorb things the quickest...that's why you rub it there. :)

    Also, just FYI, the proteins in the coconut oil will break down the therapeutic properties of the Essential Oils. So, the longer this combination sits, the less therapeutic properties the Essential Oils have. It truly is ideal to mix a drop with the coconut oil before you apply.

    This is great if you are in a hurry! Great concept! Thank you for sharing! :)

  17. Though I've never made my own (I should!) vapor rub... I highly recommend using like you do on the feet. It definitely works. People look at me so strangely when I suggest this as an option for their situation, etc.

    I do it!



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