When flu season strikes, making your own vapor rub from natural ingredients is an absolute must. My homemade Vicks Vapor Rub recipe is a staple in our natural medicine cabinet to help decongest, soothe and provide respiratory support. This homemade recipe is simple to make and so enjoyable to use with nourishing olive and coconut oils as well as natural essential oils. I have been making this exact recipe for almost 10 years now. It’s a winner!
I must say-Homemade Vicks Vapor Rub is an absolute staple in my home during every season of the year. We are constantly using this homemade organic balm to decongest and heal. Needless to say, we have our fair share of allergies and colds and raw, stuffy noses are quickly and safely relieved now that we have a steady supply of organic, petroleum free all and natural vapor rub!!
Why Make Your Own Vapor Rub?
As most of you know, I am on a mission to rid my house of toxins. Making essential oils balms like DIY Neosporin, DIY Tiger Balm and now DIY Vick’s Vapor Rub is just the beginning! This journey of mine began when I started getting very leery of the skin care industry.
I was an Aesthetician for over 6 years before I became a mother and started this blog. While I worked in the skincare world I used and sold many professional skincare lines. I realized that even if a product is found in a high end salon or claims to be “natural” it most likely couldn’t be further from actually being good for your skin.
The laundry list of harmful ingredients that are put in skin care is staggering. I won’t bore you with statistics and hard to pronounce ingredients but this is serious. I wanted to simplify what I was doing to my skin and I wanted to use the most pure ingredients I could find. I started to formulate my recipes and it quickly led to revamping almost everything my family and I use!
So today, I wanted to share with you a simple homemade vapor rub recipe! Unlike commercial vapor rubs like Mentholatum or Vicks Vaporub, this recipe contains beeswax, not petrolatum or turpentine which is typically contaminated with PAHS (a highly toxic compound linked to cancer). These commercial products often have a base of petroleum jelly which is a by-product of oil drilling and can contain toxic chemicals if not refined properly. Plus, petroleum is highly comedogenic which means it can easily clog your pores.
If your household is anything like mine, you often have runny noses dripping around your house, not to mention allergies are always just around the corner! This recipe is so nourishing for the skin while also being a powerful decongestant. Pure essential oils like peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil and rosemary oil are potent and deliver great results without the side effects and toxic ingredients. All three of these oils deliver a cooling sensation that is so comforting during cold season.
If you’re new to essential oils, you might be interested in my beginner’s guide to essential oils.
How to Use Homemade Vapor Rub:
The most common way we use our vapor rub is by adding a small amount under and around the nose. Not only does this help with clearing the airways, it also helps accelerate healing of raw, sore noses.
Another effective way to reap the benefits of vapor rub is to apply it to the bottoms of the feet. The largest pores are on the soles of the feet which makes it easy for the body to absorb oils. Plus, the bottoms of the feet aren’t sensitive like the rest of the body so this is a great place to apply balms and essential oils on children.
Homemade vapor rub can also be applied down the spine of the back. This helps break up chest congestion and keeps children from being able to reach it and then touch their mouth or eyes. The spine is a great option for babies.
Using your vapor rub as a chest rub can also help break up congestion and improve breathing. The vapors are further away from the nose this way if you or your child is sensitive to breathing in essential oils.
You can also massage joint pain or sore muscles.
Essential Oils for Cold & Flu Season:
- Eucalyptus can open up airways by simply inhaling it.
- Peppermint is cooling and can promote deep breathing.
- Rosemary is soothing to the respiratory tract.
- Scotch Pine is a gentle decongestant.
- Cinnamon is a powerful immune-booster
- Clove also has immune-boosting properties.
- Frankincense is perfect for sensitive skin and added healing.
- Lavender promotes relaxation and healthy sleep and smells amazing!
- Lemon boosts the immune system and helps with healthy respiratory function.
- Thyme is good for a dry cough.
- Marjoram promotes healthy respiratory function.
More DIY Balm Recipes:
- DIY Healing Salve (neosporin)
- Gardner’s Hand Salve
- DIY Tiger Balm
- Badger Sleep Balm Recipe
- Hand & Foot Balm
- Thieves Balm Recipe
- Activated Charcoal Healing Balm
Homemade Vicks Vapor Rub Ingredients:
I prefer to use unrefined coconut oil as the base of this salve due to the extremely healing powers of coconut oil. It’s great for over blown sore noses! Refined coconut oil will work but not as well. Refined means it is highly processed so many of it’s healing properties have been removed. Refined coconut oil has no scent.
I also add cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil is nourishing and high in antioxidants. It is great for replenishing irritated skin.
However, if you only have coconut oil you can just use it or vice versa for olive oil. Avocado oil is also a fantastic oil to use if you have it rather than coconut or olive oil. Almond oil is another carrier oil that is a great alternative.
Beeswax is what thickens the oils and makes them into a butter like balm. It also provides a barrier to protect the delicate nose tissue.
Cocoa butter and shea butter can also be added for even more intense replenishment. I don’t find it necessary though and save those yummy butters for other recipes.
Properly Diluting Essential Oils for Vapor Rub Recipe & Precautions:
This recipe will make about 4 ounces of vapor rub.
- Adults: 30-40 drops of essential oils per 4 ounces
- Sensitive adults and children 10 and under: 15-20 drops essential oils per 4 ounces
- Not recommended for babies under 1.
If you make your vapor rub too strong, you can dilute it. You can reheat your mixture in the same way you made it and add more coconut oil or olive oil. Remember to reheat it on low-medium heat so you don’t destroy the healing properties of the oils. I would add 1 extra tablespoon of carrier oil, allow it to cool completely then assess if that worked. If you’re worried your balm might be too soft after adding more carrier oil, you can add a pinch of beeswax as well (be sure to melt it in the balm or it won’t work). A little beeswax goes a long way so don’t overdo it or your balm could be too hard to scoop.
If the vapor rub is burning your skin or your child’s skin, layer more coconut oil or olive oil on top of it to immediately extinguish the burning sensation. Washing off with water will not soothe and could make the burning feeling worse.
*Since I have posted this recipe, I have learned that rosemary essential oil is not recommended for young children 10 and under. I’ve replaced it with Fir Pine Essential Oil which also has decongestant properties if you are making this DIY vapor rub for children under 10. You can also omit Rosemary all together.
There is information that warns against using peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil on children as well but that is with regards to using it undiluted. The essential oils in this recipe, if formulated for a child (15-20 drops per 4 oz.), make up less than 1% of the total recipe.
For more information on kids and essential oil safety, I found THIS post super helpful!
Also, if you’re pregnant or nursing, I have written a guide on which essential oils are safe for pregnant or nursing mothers.
What You’ll Need to Make Homemade Vicks Vapor Rub:
- 1/4 cup Coconut Oil (find it HERE)
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil (find it HERE)
- 1 heaping TBSP Beeswax (find it HERE)
- 20 drops Eucalyptus essential oil (find it HERE)
- 15 drops Peppermint essential oil (find it HERE)
- 5 drops Rosemary Essential Oil (find it HERE) or Pine Essential Oil (find it HERE)
- Medium sized pot
- Pyrex glass measuring cup with spout or glass bowl (like THIS)
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Stir stick
- 4 ounce glass jar (find it HERE)
- *optional* A 2nd container for the excess vapor rub. I suggest lip balm tubes or 1 ounce tins.
**For added cooling you can add a small amount of menthol crystals. I have added them in the past but find that sometimes they can be too intense for my kids to use. They are not recommended for sensitive skin. I do love to add them to my Air Conditioning in a Bottle recipe though!
- 1/4 cup Coconut Oil
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil
- 1 heaping TBSP. Beeswax
- 20 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
- 15 drops Peppermint essential oil
- 5 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
- Medium Sized Pot
- Glass Pyrex Measuring Cup w/ Spout
- Stir Stick
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- 4 Ounces Glass Jar
- Fill a medium sized pot 1/2 way full with water.
- Place a glass pyrex bowl with a spout in the pot of water and add your coconut oil, olive oil and beeswax.
- Once beeswax is melted remove double boiler from heat and add essential oils.
- While the mixture is still liquid pour in a 4 ounce glass jar.
- Allow to cool.
- Store at room temperature.
- This recipe makes 4 ounces.
- You will have about an ounce left over. A lip balm tube, tin or small jar is great for the excess so you can take it on the go!
- The vapor rub will not take long to harden but if you want to speed up the process you can put your jar in the fridge.
Where to Get the Best Essential Oils:
When using essential oils, high quality, organic oils are a must. I typically get my essential oils from Plant Therapy. I love that they offer organic oils that are affordable. Plus they offer fast and free shipping. You can use my code JENNIRAINCLOUD to get 10% off your order! You might be interested in my full Plant Therapy Review. They also have several certified in-house aromatherapist to analyze their essential oils to ensure consistent quality. They have a huge selection and their prices are much lower then YL! I also like getting essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs. They tend to be expensive with shipping and ship slower though.
Don’t forget to use this homemade vapor rub on your temples for headaches, neck aches and even on sore muscles for instant pain relief!
Making your own natural homemade vicks vapor rub is a must. I have been making this exact recipe for over 10 years now. It is a tried and true recipe that takes no time to make and is so much better than what you can buy at the store. This time of year, making your own natural vapor rub is a good thing!