Introduction: DIY Vapor Rub

Picture of DIY Vapor Rub

This DIY vapor rub is a great natural substitute to the standard Vicks vapor rub we all got covered in when we were kids.

It's made using essential oils and beeswax and includes either coconut or olive oil as a carrier. If you choose coconut you'll end up with a slightly firmer rub. :)

Seeing as I just got sick, I've tested this out over the past two days and I'm very happy with it. I tried using it on my upper back, chest and the bottoms of my feet. Breathing's been easier and I much prefer the smell of this rub to Vicks. It also tingles MUCH less, which I really like!

Step 1: Ingredients + Cautions

Picture of Ingredients + Cautions
  • 1/4 cup olive or coconut oil (I'm using olive because it's cheaper)
  • 1 tablespoon grated beeswax
  • 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 10 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 5-10 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 1-2 drops clove essential oil (optional - be wary if you have sensitive skin)

You'll also need a small glass jar for storage (these are cute and cheap!) and a glass measuring cup to melt the oils.

I'm using all NOW Foods oils - this brand is reasonably priced and I've never had any issues with the quality of the oils. I use them in burners, balms, rubs, cleaners and all sorts of other things!

This vapor rub has about a 3% dilution of essential oils - if you're making this for a person under the age of 5, I recommend halving the amount of essential oils you put in.

If you have sensitive skin you should use also less of the oils - and it wouldn't be a bad idea to cut out the clove essential oil completely! I like the way it rounds out the smell of the vapor rub, but it can cause skin irritation.

Make sure to apply a little to your forearm or another easily washable area and give it a little time to make sure you won't have a reaction. If you slather it all over your chest without testing and then rash up you're going to feel much worse. It's rare but it happens!

Step 2: Grate Your Beeswax

Picture of Grate Your Beeswax

Use the largest side on your grater - grate just enough to fit into a tablespoon. Press it down into the tablespoon to make sure you're getting an actual tablespoon's worth. :D

Step 3: Melt the Oil and Beeswax Together

Picture of Melt the Oil and Beeswax Together

I do this in the microwave to save time - just microwave it for 30 seconds at a time and stir after every stint in the microwave. Keep repeating this until the mixture is clear and homogenous.

Step 4: Add the Oils and Pour Into Your Container

Picture of Add the Oils and Pour Into Your Container

Add in your oils - if you have bottles without droppers, you can use an 1/8 teaspoon measure filled almost all the way. Doing it that will give you right around 10 drops worth of oil.

Mix this well and pour it into your glass container.

Step 5: Let It Cool and Use!

Picture of Let It Cool and Use!

The rub will become solid fairly quickly - just make sure to leave the lid off while it hardens so you don't get any condensation. Once the rub has hardened, it's time to try it out!

It won't smell as strongly once it's hardened, but rest assured that you don't need much! I apply maybe 1/8-1/4 teaspoon each time I use it. As you rub it into your skin the smell will become stronger.

Make sure to always apply with dry, clean hands and avoid getting any liquids into the rub. Make a fresh batch every cold season and enjoy! :)


mesobesto (author)2017-03-31

Wow Amazing information there.

Marekot (author)2017-02-24

Wonderful blend! Love that it sits around 3% dilution. You might want to mention a lower dilution for those over 65 years of age, too.

Sabri345Amaya123 (author)2016-07-01

very good idea because I've tried it and it works perfectly. I also read on other sites web health and beauty tricks fantastic! I recommend you try and experiment !

bookheart (author)2016-01-17

Would this work on fingernail fungus?

jimvandamme (author)bookheart2016-01-17

You could try tea tree oil, but good luck. Almost no topical goop works to kill fungus. You need a prescription systemic fungicide.

Georgia1937 (author)jimvandamme2016-01-17

When I was really poor and didn't have money for a prescription product AND I had a foot fungus, I used bleach to rid myself of it. It stung like hell but I did get rid of it after 2 treatments of 20 minute each. gb

HoppyH1 (author)Georgia19372016-02-26

I can attest to the efficiency of bleach as an anti fungal treatment. Years back, I worked in a granite shop where I had to CNC cut a Marble counter top which contained a fungus from hell that soaked into my boots. It laughed at every prescription anti-fungal the VA had. So, I tried straight bleach as a foot bath. It worked like magic, but I caution you all to be careful with it. My use in this manner worked, but it also damaged the skin cells so that years later, my feet are so dry they crack and bleed in the dry months of summer

Tinggu (author)jimvandamme2016-01-21

Ethylene glycol really works. Don't waste your money at the pharmacy - it won't fix any quicker.

manicmonday (author)jimvandamme2016-01-17

Never ever ever take oral fungicides!!! Very toxic.

AnnabellaMarie (author)bookheart2016-01-27

Tea tree oil (melaleuca) hates fungus! It works topically. I've had great luck with doTerra brand oils.

Tinggu (author)bookheart2016-01-17

Ethylene glycol, regular car antifreeze is a superb anti fungal and non toxic used topically. Slow to work but all fungicides are. Google "ethylene glycol fungicide". The drug companies will never spend the money on the testing as there is no profit to be made, that is why a doctor cannot recommend it. Worked a treat on my wife's toenails.

Ilan Voyager (author)Tinggu2016-01-18

Ethylene glycol works very well on all fungus even on the wood. Mixed with sodium octaborate it's a first class wood treatment againt insects and fungus. It is not toxic on the skin but beware it's a deadly poison on dogs and even children. Its sugary taste is very atractive for dogs.

lovekatz (author)Ilan Voyager2016-01-21

toxic for cats, too

Ilan Voyager (author)lovekatz2016-01-21

You're right, however cats are not attracted to sugary taste as dogs and children, so the risk of ingestion is a bit smaller. Now fluorosceine and denatonium (a bitter produit) are added to antifreezes to prevent ingestion. I amend my precedent post as it appears that in some cases ethylene glycol can poison through the skin, but I doubt that you can get a dangerous dose by the toes' skin.

In fact ethylene glycol is a poison for any living creature and it's a very painful death for mammals.

i used glen20 to get rid of mine

formee2 (author)bookheart2016-01-17

You can use Vaseline for digit fungus. It will block access to air and cause the fungus to die. Vapo or any other...they sell one at the dollar store yes it's a dollar. Just remember to keep it on the are with a fungus.

bookheart (author)formee22016-01-17

Oh,thank you.

Tinggu (author)bookheart2016-01-17

Ethylene glycol, regular car antifreeze is a superb anti fungal and non toxic used topically. Slow to work but all fungicides are. Google "ethylene glycol fungicide". The drug companies will never spend the money on the testing as there is no profit to be made, that is why a doctor cannot recommend it. Worked a treat on my wife's toenails.

Georgia1937 (author)bookheart2016-01-17

When I was really poor and didn't have money for a prescriptionbproduct AND I had a foot fungus, I used bleach to rid myself of it. It stung like hell but I did get rid of it after 2 treatments of 20 minute each. gb

MichiganDave (author)2016-01-30

I certainly shall try this out next winter. Or earlier if Michigan ramps up the Snow and Cold Godz again. BIG thanks!

CliffA2 (author)2016-01-17

To make a "Bunsen Burner," Use a big, empty glass water bottle, 20 gal / cork it with an input tube from your water faucet and an output tube to the input of a quart jar of gasoline or wood alcohol with an output tube to your burner. Start by turning on the water. As the bottle fills with water, air is forced out and bubbles through the liquid fuel, then into the burner.

AnnabellaMarie (author)CliffA22016-01-27


caitlinsdad (author)2014-11-21

If you need an industrial strength rub, get a hold of authentic Tiger Balm from any Asian grandmother. It is legendary stuff and guaranteed to put hair on your chest. One whiff of that clears up the sinuses of everyone in the room. We didn't catch colds as kids for fear of having that stuff dabbed under our noses.

msdrpepper (author)caitlinsdad2014-11-23

Amen, sister!! Can also get it from health food stores if you don't have an Asian grandmother handy!! ;)

thebeatonpath (author)msdrpepper2014-11-23

I actually saw it at either Walgreens or Target recently. Surprised me.

That is probably the As Seen on TV mass produced version which cannot compare to the original magic ointment that seems to have been aged for centuries.

LeslieGeee (author)caitlinsdad2016-01-17

Hi, :)

Actually if it is still in the little red or green tin with the Tiger on it it is the original. It became main stream a long time ago. When I was little I was brought up with organic and health foods before it became well known and my mother used to get Tiger Balm from the health food store we used to have to travel almost and hour to get to :)

Exactly! Very available nowadays

Mark 42 (author)caitlinsdad2016-01-18

I buy Tiger Balm on eBay from Thailand or Singapore.
Much cheaper, and always the same quality (so far)

jessyratfink (author)caitlinsdad2014-11-23

I can't believe there's a version stronger than the drugstore version! Dang. I bet it would put hair on my chest :D

bookheart (author)jessyratfink2016-01-17

What is it called at Walgreens?

allen.benge (author)bookheart2016-01-18

When I lived on the farm in southern Indiana, we used a lot of the products for animals because they worked better than the commercial products, and were much cheaper. Now there are a couple of companies who make stuff that is supposed to be like the old animal stuff, but it is much milder. Horse liniment took care of muscle strains, mane and tail treatment was the best shampoo, hands down, bag balm took care of the little nicks and burns your hands pick up on a farm, nd we always kept a tin of Tiger Balm around, just in case.

jessyratfink (author)bookheart2016-01-17

Tiger Balm! It'll be next to the arthritis supplies. :)

noooooo ... we don't want that ! :)

I LOVE Tiger Balm! It's awesome stuff. Great for sore muscles, arthritis and headaches too. One time I was very sick and my head hurt so bad I wanted to cry, but I couldn't keep any medication down. I rubbed a bit of Tiger Balm into my temples and the pain was gone almost instantly. It doesn't last as long, only about 20-30 minutes, but it was long enough to let me get to sleep.

Another thing it's good for is blocking out the smell of a skunk. Whenever I detect that aroma wafting through the windows, I grab the Tiger Balm, dab some on a Kleenex, and hold it over my nose. No more skunk smell! (I really hate the smell of skunk spray)

Definitely do not dab it under your nose though. And for anyone who hasn't used it before, be very, very careful how much you apply. I burned myself bad the first time I used it. A little dab will do. You may not feel it at first, but just give it a couple of minutes.

Agree that the stuff you get in the drug stores is not quite the same though. I used to buy mine at a small convenience store that was run by an older Chinese couple. Unfortunately, they aren't there anymore and I haven't been able to find the real stuff for awhile.

Oh THATS what tiger balm is!

Ha Ha..... I guess I got a little carried away there. Once upon a time it was not very well known here (outside of the Chinese community). It still isn't realy. So I'm used to doing a lot of explaining, and promoting, about what it is and how to use it.

Love Tiger Balm!

eilu (author)caitlinsdad2014-11-23

They rub it *inside* noses too. Plus the stuff lasts forever. We have a jar of it I swear is older than I am.

msdrpepper (author)eilu2014-11-23

Haha no kidding, right - it's taken a few years of diligent use to empty my Vicks and I use it almost every night, plus several times a day with any sinus allergy or whenever I actually do have a cold!

caitlinsdad (author)eilu2014-11-23

Smells like old money for some reason. Good as gold.

lovekatz (author)2016-01-21

What if I skip the grating and just gently warm the beeswax in the oil? Ihaveshaky hands and graters are like WMDs for me.

AnnabellaMarie (author)lovekatz2016-01-27

Yes, but it will take a bit longer. Just be patient. I would recommend beeswax pellets. No grating required. Available at Michael's and other hobby/craft stores or sometimes at Wally World (Wal-Mart).

lovekatz (author)2016-01-21

Graters kill my shaky fingers. Can I just warm the wax in the oil gently?

jessyratfink (author)lovekatz2016-01-21

Maybe try to find some beeswax pellets? It's pretty important to measure the beeswax while it's solid for best results.

But if you're good at eyeballing measurements, it could work to just break off a chunk a bit smaller than a tablespoon and melt it. :)

MikeWhitfield (author)2016-01-17

Okay, the picture got me on board, but I'm confused. Are you mixing your own because it's cheaper, because it has a more pleasing odor, because Vick's irritates your skin, because everyone needs a hobby, or ?

It smells better, and I feel better about putting on myself and others because I know everything that's gone into it. The commercial version has petrolatum and I try to avoid that!

And you know, because. I just like to make things. :)

Gotcha. Does it actively help congestion or is it just soothing as it's rubbed in?

It does help! I've used it several times when I've been sick. Even made a batch for my sister and her kids. :)

robert.latterman (author)2016-01-17

Very cool (so to speak)..... great project..... going to have to make this......

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