Instructables
Picture of Cough Drops
Try this homemade cough drops recipe the next time you need something to soothe your sore throat.  Carefully selected herbs also make these great as natural cold and flu remedies.

After getting knocked out by an H1N1 vaccine, I had plenty of time to consider just what I was looking for in a lozenge.  I wanted something herbal and not overly potent, not too sweet, but tasty enough to finish. 

You can make these with any flavor or coloring you prefer - a blend of your favorite sickness-busting herbs is a great way to go.  I'll suggest a few in the next step.  But if you don't have access to such things, or you just want results NOW, consider what you might already have on hand!

Making hard candy requires sugar (or a lot of crazy chemical sugar substitutes), and flavor.   That's about it.  So why not take some of the yummy herbal blend teas I so love and stock up for times of sickness like these, and lozenge-ify those?  A perfect cup of tea in a long-lasting lozenge.  Perfect!

 
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Step 1: Ingredients

I made these as simply as possible with herbal tea and sugar.  That's really all you need.

But if you want to get fancy, you can use a blend of sugar or substitutes, food coloring, additional flavors, and custom blend your own herbs.

Some great herbs (and their uses) for lozenges are:
  • Horehound - (be careful - this stuff is strong!) pain reliever, stimulates digestion
  • Echinacea - best before full onset of cold, anti-bacterial + blood cleanser
  • Peppermint - expectorant, decongestant and mild pain reliever
  • Eucalyptus - relieves congestion
  • Camphor - relieves congestion
  • Ginger - pain relieving, antiseptic and antioxidant
  • Goldenseal - antiseptic and immune stimulant
  • Licorice - anti-viral, chest and throat soother
  • Sage - good for sore throats
  • Fennugreek - expectorant
  • Juniper - relieves congestion
  • Yarrow - reduces fevers and inflammation
I also used powdered sugar to make my candy molds, and to toss them in so they wouldn't be so sticky.  If you have candy molds, these work just as well!

Finally, a well-calibrated candy thermometer makes this task almost effortless!  To make sure it's accurate, check the temperature of a cup of boiling water to be certain it registers 212oF (100oC).  If it doesn't, make note of the difference.
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fuzzylumpkin111 months ago
I would totally do this right now because I'm sick, but I'm allergic to eucalyptus. Is there anything that could replace the eucalyptus?
Jar Sqwuid2 years ago
You're the only person I've ever met who knows what horehound is. I'm eating some now! Great recipe :)
Grandpa used to make these candies for me with horehound growing wild outside. (I miss Grandpa's old-time concoctions.)
justbel71 year ago
Store the leftover powdered sugar for the next time you make the drops (it will keep a long time) or use it for making frosting, etc. If you are concerned about the bits in the sugar, run it through a sifter to remove any hardened pieces.
smadrus1 year ago
I have tried this THREE times now and each time my sugar burns =( I'm so frustrated. Any suggestions as to what is going wrong? To stir or not to stir? My foams up like CRAZY! Also, medium heat or high heat? My first burnt at 300, my second just under and this last one... oi vay SUPER burnt before even 260.
Sigh
Help?
kathynv1 year ago
Those are wonderful. I now know a way to carry my favorite chai with me! I don't know if your recipe will allow me to use milk as a liquid, but it's well worth a try. Thank you!
scoochmaroo (author)  kathynv1 year ago
Ooh, that sounds interesting! Cream sounds nice too. Let me know how it goes!
OrIsIt3 years ago
What do you do with the leftover sugars
kathynv OrIsIt1 year ago
I suspect that the best/easiest thing to do would be to strain it to get the hard strands of candy out, then store it for the next time when you need powdered sugar.
Can you rinse off the powder to make it shiny and smooth?
scoochmaroo (author)  Keira_Yagami1 year ago
You can rinse them, but they might get sticky. They will not get shiny and smooth lie commercial candy - you need a device called a sugar panner for that.
auntcandie2 years ago
After twenty years in Holistic Medicine, I love a line of teas called Traditional Medicinal. They have phenomenal blends for different conditions. My favorite for colds/flu is Gypsy Cold Care. Can hardly wait to make up a batch of these cough drops. Thanks for the tutorial!
scoochmaroo (author)  auntcandie1 year ago
Yes, that's exactly the kind I used! Good taste :D
Apxeon2 years ago
yes, what can you do with the leftover confectioner's sugar?
Saturn V4 years ago
YAY!!! Homemade mints! Do you know how to get a wintergreen flavor?
One might try essentialoils.com
IrishTink2 years ago
I tried the powdered sugar mold and I'm not sure where it went wrong but instead of acting as a mold, the mixture dissolved the powered sugar and now it just looks like mush. Any Idea why???
Sounds like you may not have let your 'candy' get to 300F. when you use a candy thermometer, you clip it to the side of the pan and don't take it off, and keep the tip just above the floor of the pan so that it's not touching the floor of the pan itself.
I think if you try again and make sure it gets all the way to 300 you will be successful!
smcgill13 years ago
Thanks for this wonderful recipe & details. I made honey ginger drops (with mostly white sugar) and they turned out great! I put photos and how I made the ginger tea on my blog.
OrIsIt3 years ago
You thing I can put in zotz powder(forgot the instructable but last time i checked they closed it) to make candy with this?
OrIsIt OrIsIt3 years ago
Think*
jantinarose4 years ago
I made these tonight, and I'm not sure if I did something wrong, but it took 2 1/2 hours to get these to the hard crack stage. Is that normal?
Use a candy thermometer, and a sugar temperature stages guide. Here's one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candy If you don't have a candy thermometer, they you can do a cold water test as described here: http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/candy/sugar-stages.html Enjoy!
Mitsuskitzo4 years ago
You confuse me. You seem to be big in to herbal remedies yet you get the H1N1 flu vaccine dont you know whats in that vaccine. thats like being a vegitarian and eating steak once a year
never underestimate the placebo effect.... that's pretty much all the therapeutical benefit you'll get from herbs and it's still strong enough to cause debate to this day
Actually I think you'll find that some herbs have very potent healing properties, an have been used for centuries.
LOL. Do yourself a favor and pick up a small bottle of Clove oil, swab a bit of that on the inside of your cheek and tell me how much of a placebo effect you fe
el, (It'll numb up your mouth pretty well).

Don't underestimate the herbs. Some of them are as strong as very potent Pharmaceuticals (like belladonna, a very strong painkiller used when a patient has developed resistance to traditional meds).
Now see thats not true. Im very familiar with the placebo effect. You expect me to believe that every disease and illness can only be cured and treated by pharmaceuticals that are only man made. Nature has healing powers, be it in herbs, trees, plants, dirt, minerals, vitamins, and even our own bodies. Most man made medicines usually kill our natual ability to cure our selves they completly vaporize our immune system and then they make it seem like you have no choice but to rely on their medicine wich you pay for. I dont use any kind of man made medicines and i very rarely get sick. If and when i do it dosent last any more than a day. My immune system erradicates what ever is ailing me.
scoochmaroo (author)  Mitsuskitzo4 years ago
Yeah, my boss said we had to. 
It's the first vaccine I've ever gotten (since I was a wee lass)
It could well have been something else I was fighting at the time that took over once I got injected.  I'm not a big fan, and I probably won't do it again.
I would have quite my job or gotten fired If I was forced to inject something in me that is potentially harmful or even crippling or life threatening. I'm sorry no job is worth that
Hi Scooch, I was wondering, if I make say four cups of my choice of tea, then do I use four cups of sugar as well? Also, how long did it take you to reach the hard crack stage?
keastes4 years ago
just a thought here why not use cornstarch? less of a sugar sock when you first use it, it shouldnt affect the taste, also when you said licorice, did you mean anise?
adam724 years ago
I use coughdrops a lot for sore throats, or even just as a treat and I thought this would be a great idea. My only question is, where do you think I could get some of these herbs? A store? Thanks!
Knightsabre4 years ago
 Great 'ible!  One thing I noticed that has been bugging me a little...you say to wash away any crystals from the side of the pan when boiling the sugar, but you don't say why.  I don't remember for sure, but there is a significant reason for that, correct?

Then again, I could just be thinking about it too hard.  ;)  I would love to try this sometime, but I don't have the supplies/facilities right now!


The syrup you boil out the water until its a supersaturated liquid sugar.  As it cools it no longer holds its solid shape and slowly hardens.  It really really wants to be solid, but stays liquid a bit longer than it should because of the temperature.
If you add just 1 solid sugar crystal to it, it will 'flash crystallize' - where one seed crystal is all it takes to catalyze the hardening, and you will have a solid crystal in your pot and no candy :(
Keep your pot edges clean! 

Sidenote:  Same reaction happens to sodium acetate in those clicky crystal heating pads that you boil and melt the crystals - they stay statically as a liquid until they're shocked into hardenning, the clicker creates one crystal, and the rest grow instantly...

 Ah, yes...now THAT sounds like what's been lurking at the edge of my memory!

Thanks!
yeah; searching virtually any hard candy instructions and it should refer to doing this pot-cleaning.  I should make a video showing it happening.
they burn on the sides of the pan and ruin the flavor, coloration and texture of your caramel. Its a lot easier to brush them of with a damp pastry brush than witha  damp cloth, and a lot less dangerous
scoochmaroo (author)  sameotoko4 years ago
Yup, that's it!
And good point about the cloth - I've never tried it, but I've seen it recommended more than once. 
 Ah, yes.  Thanks for the reply, both of you!  :)
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