Homemade Vapor Rub for Youngsters & Adults

vapor rubIf you’re a parent (or even if you’re not) you’ve no doubt experienced “the sickies” that seem to follow our youngsters around wherever they go. Sometimes it’s not a problem-I’ve seen more than a few tots run around mindless of their runny nose-but sometimes that congestion, especially when accompanied by cough, can interfere with sleep and overall comfort. When this situation crops up, don’t head straight for the Vicks Vapor Rub. It can be harmful (see note below) and you can easily whip up your own version, sans all the bad stuff.

Homemade Vapor Rub- make your own vapor rub with only 3 natural ingredients. It is so much safer for your young ones and it doesn't contain all of those nasty chemicals like store-bought versions do.

Here’s a recipe that is simple, safe, and that works for people of all ages.

You will need…
-10-15 drops of essential oil for scent (eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, lavender, any combination, etc.)
-1/2 cup of coconut oil or olive oil
-1-2 tablespoons of beeswax pastilles, candelilla wax or palm shortening (it can be made without it, but it won’t be as thick.)

vapor rub ingredients

If you’re using it, melt 1-2 tablespoons of wax in a double boiler.

When it has just finished up melting, stir in ½ cup of olive oil or coconut oil along with the essential oils you’ve chosen to use.

Stir all that goodness together until it’s completely blended and then transfer to a container with a tight fitting lid. Let it infuse for 24 hours.

melting the wax
coconut oil
eucalyptus essential oil

After a couple of months dispose of it, since you’ve been sticking your fingers in it, and make a new batch!

vapor rub

Vapor Rub Tips

  • Using olive oil makes a liquid rub, using the wax yields a “solid” rub
  • If you’re making this for a small child, half the recipe.
  • Always dilute the essential oils
  • You can get beeswax pastilles (chips) at many health food stores, or you can order it online. The same goes for candelilla wax or palm shortening.
  • Experiment with different ratios! If you want it thicker, add more wax, and vice versa. Find out what smells work best, and try to discover a great combination.

Risky Vicks

Vicks can be harmful to youngsters. It has ingredients that act as irritants which the body reacts to by producing even more mucous. That might not be a big deal for adults, but for little ones under the age of 2, that irritation can cause a whole lot of problems. An infant or young child’s airway is much narrower than ours, which means increased mucus and inflammation affects them more severely and makes breathing that much more of a struggle. That struggle can lead to upper-respiratory problems, and some reported cases of them have been quite nasty. (Vicks also contains turpentine oil…I wouldn’t want to be rubbing that on a little chest!)

Why Vicks feels helpful: It is notably the menthol in Vicks Vapor Rub that tricks the brain into thinking the body can breathe easier because of the cold sensation it causes. That cold feeling is processed as indicating more airflow, which is why it makes you feel better, but doesn’t actually help you breathe better.

Note: If you are making this for a child, always dilute by adding a higher ration of olive or coconut oil and a lower ratio of essential oil, and use as little as needed. Never rub directly beneath your/your child’s nose. Use only on chest, and for infants try rubbing on feet.

We Want to Hear from You! Let us know which remedies work and do not work for you, ask a question or leave a comment:


  1. VickieMcD says:

    I have a quick question about your “vicks vapor rub”. I have peppermint extract–the kind used for baking. Would that work in this recipe? Thanks.

    • Claire (Everyday Roots) says:

      Yes, but extract is less concentrated than oil, so you’d probably need to use a little more to get a strong enough scent. Generally 1 teaspoon of extract for every 1/4 teaspoon of oil works (15 drops is around 1/2 teaspoon, depending on the size of the drops.) Enjoy!

  2. Terry says:

    I’ve made just about every version of homemade ‘Vicks’ and have found that in order to get the most out of them, I had to add menthol crystals. This makes it just about spot-on with the original Vicks. With that said, you MIGHT want to either leave out the menthol crystals OR use them sparingly. But for me? I would NOT leave them out.

    • Terry says:

      I meant to say that if you have KIDS, you MIGHT want to either use menthol crystals sparingly or leave them out altogether.

  3. A.B. says:

    Dilute them how before use in this recipe?

  4. Sheri says:

    I like thank uou

  5. Joy says:

    The oil is not just for sent, essential oils have medicinal properties. In order for this to be effective you would have to use a good quality eucalyptus oil. All oils have different benefits, so make sure you are using the one that is right for you.

  6. phyllis RN says:

    for a child you say make a half recipe…. it is still just as strong… i would think you would double your wax and olive oil to decrease the strength of the ingredients for the small child…or just halve the active ingredients…the essential oils but leave the wax and olive oil the same…

  7. Carla says:

    Hi, I just want to know how long does it last? For how long can I keep it stored? Thank you!

    • Giselle says:

      I believe that you can keep it for a long period of time and specially if you don’t put your hand directly in there.

  8. Barbara says:

    If you have beeswax could you not chip some off and melt or does it have to beeswax pastilles?

  9. Tom says:

    where do you get menthol crystals?

  10. Marcia Bauchle says:

    I also add menthol crystal and melt them into the mix. You can but them online.

  11. Nancy says:

    Does this have to be refrigerated?

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