Chest Vapor Rub Recipe

All-Natural Chest Vapor Rub Recipe

Ugh, it’s cold and flu season. I have a rotten cold, which is why I haven’t been around as much as usual. I suppose it’s not a terrible time of year to snuggle in and watch about 20 movies in a row (give or take), but when you are hit hard and need a little relief from chest pain there is a natural way to do it and feel good about what is going on your body. This chest rub is similar to what you will find at the pharmacy, but it’s a homemade recipe that has natural ingredients that you know and can pronounce. Chest Vapor Rub Recipe

Always one to make the most natural of just about anything (check out the Natural Skincare Series for more natural recipes), I thought that making my own vapor rub might be just what the doctor ordered. The essential oils in this all-natural chest rub work wonders as a decongestant, so the next time you are so stuffed up that you can’t breathe, reach for a tin of this and rub it on your chest, under your nose, and/or on your feet (being sick is a great excuse to demand foot rubs from your loved ones).

The olive and coconut oils in this recipe also work to deeply moisturize skin, which is often dry if you’re spending your sick days indoors where the air is made drier by artificial heating systems. Plus if you have dry, painful skin under your nose from scratchy tissues, rubbing a dab of this on can help to relieve the discomfort. Coconut oil also has natural antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, which can only help when you’re fighting a cold.

Keep in mind that essential oils are powerful and not regulated like drugs are. Please use common sense with any recipe and know that “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean “gentle.” This recipe is homemade and works well for me and my family, but you should always test it on yourself before covering your whole body! You may have a reaction. Also, this recipe is for adults only, as some of the essential oils are not recommended for children.


Homemade Chest Vapor Rub Recipe

Makes 3 x 4 oz tins


Make it!

Melt the oils and wax over a double boiler or in a Turkish coffee pot on the stove. Be sure to stir it constantly and do not overheat. It should just melt, not cook.

Melt oils together to make natural vapor rub

Stir in essential oils. Pour into metal tins and let set. Re-melt to add more essential oils if you want it a bit stronger.

To Use:

Rub balm on your chest to help soothe congestion and cough. Rub under your nose for a stuffy nose and sore skin from scratchy tissues. Rub it on your feet (or have someone else do it)—the foot massage and tingling from the essential oils will feel good and distract you from your cold while the strong scent helps to ease congestion.

All-natural Chest Vapor Rub Recipe

You may also like this Homemade Natural Hand Sanitizer Recipe.

About the Author : Stephanie Rose

A city girl who learned to garden and it changed everything. Author, artist, Master Gardener. Better living through plants.

View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Pamela Sweet
    Pamela SweetJanuary 19,13

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I use essential oils all the time and they really work. I order mine online from Young Living Essential Oils.
    Yours in art,

  2. Deborah
    DeborahJanuary 20,13

    Thanks for sharing the recipe and all the others that I have seen on your blog page. I have a quick question ~ When the recipe calls for coconut oil, is the measurement in the semi-solid state or after it is liquidfied? I’m never sure

  3. Stevie
    StevieJanuary 20,13

    Hi Deborah, you are very welcome!

    I measured it for this recipe in the solid state but really packed it into the measuring cup.

  4. Sheila @sZinteriors
    Sheila @sZinteriorsJanuary 22,13

    This is fantastic! My daughter is suffering a bad cold right now, and we just bought the ‘other’ kind :-(
    I would love to give the all natural rub a try! Do you know how long it lasts shelf-life wise?
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Cerena walker
    Cerena walkerJanuary 26,13

    How long does this last for?

  6. Stevie
    StevieJanuary 26,13

    Hi Cerena, I can’t be 100% sure, but since coconut oil is antifungal and antibacterial as is the lavender and rosemary oils, it should preserve the rub for a while. I would say that if you keep it in a fairly cool and dark place, perhaps 6 months to a year. I would just keep a eye (and nose) out for any strange colour changes or odours. If you notice anything that doesn’t look or smell right, throw it away and make another batch. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Jen
    JenJanuary 26,13

    Ahhh this is perfect for flu season! I’m so excited to make this!

  8. Denise
    DeniseJanuary 26,13

    Rub some on the bottom of your feet when you have a cough, I swear it calms a cough! Tried & true! My 11 year old will ask for it to be able to go back to sleep on nights she has a cough. W*O*R*K*S!!!!

  9. Cybele
    CybeleJanuary 27,13

    What a wonderful idea. I am going to try this one. Thank you for sharing x

  10. Shane
    ShaneJanuary 29,13

    lavender is a super disinfectant…should last at least a year. BTW lavender, red clover, and chamomile make a great restful tea that can assist in curing infections and also will make you sleep. Be carefu drinking this then driving though.

  11. Allison
    AllisonJanuary 29,13

    Is there something to use in place of the lavender? I’m highly allergic to it but want to try to make my husband his own “Vicks” because he uses the stuff religiously.

  12. Stevie
    StevieJanuary 29,13

    Allison, just leave the lavender out. It will not change it’s effectiveness.

  13. Allison
    AllisonJanuary 30,13

    Sweet. Thank you!

  14. Willem
    WillemJanuary 31,13

    This is something I never thought I would be making myself, but I’m going to give it a try. Thanks for the recipe.

  15. Leslie
    LeslieMarch 9,13

    Are the rosemary & camphor oils necessary?

  16. Stevie
    StevieMarch 9,13

    Hi Leslie, rosemary – no, but the camphor is the active ingredient in Vapo Rub.

  17. Karen Jones
    Karen JonesApril 18,13

    hello there
    Thanks for this wonderful recipe. Please tell me, is it safe to be used when pregnant?

  18. Stevie
    StevieApril 18,13

    Hi Karen, I have read that there are certain essential oils to stay away from while pregnant such as camphor and eucalyptus. I’m not sure what the reasons are so I would talk to one of your practitioners about it. While I can’t speak to it’s safety for you, I made these up while pregnant myself and had no issues.

  19. Karen Jones
    Karen JonesApril 19,13

    Thanks very much for your advice Stevie.

  20. Joanie
    JoanieMay 25,13

    Can you please tell me where I would find the tins for this or what is an alternative. Thanks

  21. Vicky
    VickyJune 5,13

    I love this idea!! If any one need some of the best Essential Oils on the market contact me or go to….. THESE OILS ARE AMAZING!!! ..VERY LOW SHIPPING IF YOU CONTACT ME [email protected] Enjoy

  22. Tiffany
    TiffanyJune 25,13

    Is this safe for toddlers/infants?

  23. Stephanie
    StephanieJune 25,13

    Hi Tiffany, The ingredients in this rub are more natural versions of what is in the commercial one. The commercial one has camphor and so does this, but the store bought version has been tested and this is an untested home recipe. The oils and waxes are quite safe on anyone, but it would be best to check with you health care provider as with the use of all essential oils. Essential oils can be powerful and it’s hard to know how any one person will react. I hope this helps!

  24. Stephanie
    StephanieJune 25,13

    Hi Joanie, I found some 4 oz tins here

  25. Jenni
    JenniJuly 7,13

    What other oil would work with this? I’m allergic to olives.

  26. Geraldine Valles
    Geraldine VallesJuly 10,13

    Where can i purchase all these Oils at. Would you get them at Body and Bath in stores like that or Walmart ..

  27. Pegg
    PeggOctober 6,13

    The recipe calls for “mint” essential oil. What kind of mint? I’m guessing peppermint but want to be sure. Thanks

  28. Stephanie
    StephanieOctober 7,13

    Pegg, choose what you love. Peppermint is fine, so is spearmint. I use a mint medley that is a combination of both.

  29. Yvonne
    YvonneNovember 5,13

    I have a question – I’m highly allergic to anything MINT! Is there anything else I can use in place of this oil? I’m also wondering where is the best place to purchase these oils if you can’t do it online? I live in Minneapolis, MN and am willing to go to a brick and mortar store if there is any close to me.

    • Stephanie
      StephanieNovember 6,13

      Hi Yvonne, leave out the mint then for sure. It should work just fine without it. I will add some links to where you can buy the oils online as well. Just click the essential oil names above to find them.

  30. Tracey
    TraceyNovember 25,13

    This is pretty awesome! As an avid vicks vapo rub user I love this all natural alternative. Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

  31. Alex
    AlexNovember 28,13

    What a great idea! Excuse me I have to Pin this ASAP

  32. Kayre
    KayreNovember 30,13

    Thanks for sharing…I’m a Vicks girl!

  33. Collin Reddington
    Collin ReddingtonDecember 1,13

    Is there a vegan alternative to beeswax that I could use? It seems like an important ingredient so I wasn’t sure if just leaving it out was an option.

  34. Stephanie
    StephanieDecember 1,13

    Hi Collin, yes, you can try Candelilla Wax

  35. Kristen m.
    Kristen m.December 8,13

    How young would you recommend this dilution to be safe for?

  36. Stephanie
    StephanieDecember 9,13

    Hi Kristen, please have a look at my response to Tiffany above. I just can’t say how any person or child would react to essential oils, but as I explained there, this has the same active ingredient at Vick’s, but more natural alternatives to the other ingredients.

  37. Julie
    JulieDecember 16,13

    I was wondering if there is an alternative to coconut oil because my daughter is highly allergic to coconuts

  38. Valorie
    ValorieDecember 16,13

    I’m wondering how long it will keep. Without going rancid?

  39. Nihan
    NihanDecember 17,13

    Can I use it my 6 months old baby? Do you have any idea?

    • Stephanie
      StephanieDecember 17,13

      Hi Nihan, I’ve mentioned in the comments a few times that I can’t recommend the use of essential oils for any particular child as I have no idea what they might react to, but this recipe is a more natural version of the one sold in stores which is intended to be used on children. This recipe is my homemade version and not tested in a lab so proceed with that in mind. I would suggest that you discuss it with your health care provider to be safe.

  40. Samantha Rossi
    Samantha RossiDecember 24,13

    I made this a few weeks ago and since I couldn’t find camphor at my local health store, I substituted tea tree oil. I rub my daughter’s feet with this almost every night before bed, then put socks on her. The nights I do this, she sleeps well and doesn’t wake up coughing (she is waiting to see an ENT to get ear tubes due to bad drainage – coughs frequently when laying down). If I forget to do this, she wakes up coughing. This is a life saver for us. For us, we don’t even miss the camphor :)

  41. Deborah
    DeborahJune 9,14

    Just found this vaporub recipe. Thank you! Rosemary –I am allergic to it. Can something else be used instead? Or should I just leave it out?

  42. Stephanie
    StephanieJune 9,14

    Just leave it out, Deborah. It should still work well.

  43. puresilverstyle
    puresilverstyleJune 30,14

    What, other than the melting point, would happen if I left out the beeswax? Does it change the effectiveness?
    Please and thank you!

  44. Stephanie
    StephanieJuly 15,14

    Hi puresilverstyle, the wax holds the balm together (otherwise it wouldn’t become a solid) and also serves to hold moisture on the body where it is applied.

  45. Carrie
    CarrieNovember 3,14

    I am glad to have found this, but I am wondering if you have any suggestions as to an alternative to coconut oil. I am severely allergic to coconut and tree nuts. All these sort of healthy/natural rubs contain it and I don’t know what to do about it. Any ideas?

  46. Joe Bloggs
    Joe BloggsDecember 4,14

    I showed this to my girlfriend last night and it made sense

  47. TheSweetSnazzoo
    TheSweetSnazzooJanuary 9,15

    Just found your recipe and already have a question. How many 3×4 containers will this recipe make? Thanks!

  48. Stephanie
    StephanieJanuary 10,15

    Hi Carrie, try olive oil but you may have to adjust the beeswax content.

  49. Stephanie
    StephanieJanuary 10,15

    TheSweetSnazzoo – this makes 2 cups or 16 oz. If each tin is 4oz it will make 4 of them.

  50. Emily
    EmilyJanuary 16,15

    I’ve read a lot about Rosemary and Eucalyptus oils not being safe for kids under age 10. It can slow respiration in some children due to the constituent 1,8-cineole.

    • Stephanie
      StephanieJanuary 20,15

      I would have to agree with you, Emily. I have done some reading about it as well and there is varying research on the ages and which oils, but I would say that eucalyptus, rosemary, and camphor should be avoided with young kids.

  51. Holly
    HollyFebruary 25,15

    Also for when the kids have a cough you could rub the bottoms of there feet with this and the coughing will stop in about 20 min. That is the greatest trick of all.

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    googleSeptember 7,16

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  53. Fernie
    FernieFebruary 6,17

    There are other things to use for coconut oil-Cocoa butter, Kokum butter,Mango butter and shea butter also a natural vegan was is emulsifying wax but it is not as firm as beeswax.

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