Sunday, October 2, 2011

Homemade Vapor Rub

When I made a fresh batch of my calendula salve a couple days ago, I posted the link to the recipe on my Facebook page for those that missed it when it first went up.  One of the comments following that post on Facebook mentioned that they would like to find a natural alternative to Vick's Vapor Rub with their questionable petrochemicals.  I haven't bought Vick's in many years if ever, but it got me thinking.  With my allergies, I frequently use eucalyptus to clear out my nasal congestion and it sure would be nice to have a way to get eucalyptus oil to hang out by my nose so I could breath freely for longer, without holding a bottle of oil to my nose for extended periods of time.

An idea was born.  I could make a salve-like ointment thing (I don't really know what the differences are in those terms, but whatever.  I don't need to.  You know what I mean) that could be made in different strengths, depending on where the user wanted to apply it.  I made a very mild one to dab under my nostrils, but you could increase the eucalyptus to whatever level you'd like to make a much stronger version to rub on the chest or throat like the Vick's VapoRub you'd buy at the store (and spend way more for). 

It should be noted that my version doesn't contain camphor oil or menthol like the storebought version, so it won't be as effective for muscle aches and other topical pain relief applications, but it has fewer potential side effects as well (and I didn't want it for topical pain relief anyway, just for clearing out a stuffy nose and/or helping with cough).  The smell of menthol also makes me feel like I'm going to vomit, and using it in the form of peppermint burns my skin, but if you'd like to add either of these oils back in, you may want to keep in mind that the proportion of the three oils in Vicks VapoRub is approximately 5 parts camphor, 2 parts menthol, and 1 part eucalyptus, so you could reduce the amount of eucalyptus oil you use and add the others in those proportions or vary it according to your personal preference.
The contents of my medicine cabinet get stranger all the time.

Anyhoo, here is my mild-enough-to-stick-in-my-nostrils version (just to clarify, I'm talking about just inside the rim, not nose-picker zones).  Like I said, you may want to increase the strength of the oils used if you have a different use in mind.

Vapor Rub

1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp shredded beeswax
40+ drops of eucalyptus oil

Gently heat the olive oil.  Remove from heat.  Add beeswax and stir until melted and dissolved.  Add oil.  Pour into a opaque container for storage (you can use a clear glass container if you make sure it doesn't get left out in the light) and let cool to solidify before using.


  1. Vicks for babies doesn't use menthol either. It's eucalyptus and rosemary and lavender. You made Vicks Babyrub! (Which is also expensive!)

  2. Cool! Although if it was intentional, I might have put the lavender and rosemary in there too, since I do have those oils laying around. lol

  3. Hi! Do you just heat the olive oil until warm, not boiling I assume. Also, what grade of olive oil did you use? Extra virgin?

    Thanks! Love your site!

  4. Lol, the minute you said you were posting this the babyrub is what I wanted to craft with it.....that stuff is addicting when you have a cold. Nice hot bath, slather some on and enjoy a nice soak and some reading time. :)

    Gonna have to dig out my coupons for essential oils and pick up what I need at the store. In the middle of a cold right now and I think I started my homeopathic remedy too late to kick it quickly.

  5. Kimberly, you are correct to assume the oil is just warmed, not boiled. I used extra virgin olive oil, but that's just because that's what I had on hand. Any kind should work, I think, since it is just a carrier, not the active ingredient.

  6. Could you use coconut oil, instead of the olive oil and beeswax? (I don't have any beeswax on hand, but I do have coconut oil, which is solid when it cools.)