Is generic vapor rub your go-to cure for all cold and flu conditions? You may draw the line at ingesting it to treat bad colds, but pretty much revere it as a cold remedy that works every time.

Not to name any names but, despite being a common product in most households, some popular brands have recently gotten a bad rep due to their ingredients.


The constituents of popular vapor rub formulations often include petroleum, parabens, turpentine oil and synthetically produced camphor. Many of these might not be considered the safest things to use, especially for small children and infants.

The problem is the little ones are the first to come down with infections and get on with their bouts of sneezes, coughs and snot slurps. Here's the solution – homemade decongestant vapor rub!


The essential oils used in this vapor rub are what give it beneficial, homeopathic properties. They lend potent antimicrobial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties to the salve. Also, they make a superbly aromatic blend to clear sinus congestion.


The two main essential oils used are eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils. Eucalyptus oil is considered an excellent expectorant. Both eucalyptus and peppermint oils are considered decongestants and help clear out the sinuses. Peppermint oil has analgesic properties, and its menthol content provides a calming and soothing effect.

Lavender oil adds antihistamine properties to the vapor rub. It also calms the body and brings the stress level down, allowing you to catch up on much-needed sleep so that your body can fight the infection.

Another addition to the balm is lemon essential oil, which can stimulate the immune system. It’s great for respiratory problems and can help reduce coughing and wheezing. Last but not least, tea tree oil is an important addition, especially if the congestion is due to a sinus infection.

The essential oils are mixed in a base blend of coconut oil and shea butter, which results in a light salve that’s skin-friendly and absorbs readily. These ingredients should be at room temperate when you use them.

Steps to Make a DIY Vapor Rub

Things you’ll need:

diy vaporub things need

  • Coconut oil  – ¼ cup
  • Shea butter – ¼ cup
  • Eucalyptus essential oil (excellent expectorant) – 15 drops
  • Peppermint essential oil (provides a calming and soothing effect) – 15 drops
  • Lavender essential oil (calms the body) – 15 drops
  • Lemon essential oil (stimulates the immune system) – 10 drops
  • Tea tree essential oil (treats sinus infection) – 10 drops

Step 1. Whisk melted coconut oil and shea butter together

mix coconut oil and shea butter to make vaporub

  • Pour ¼ cup of melted coconut oil into a mixing bowl.
  • Pour in ¼ cup of melted shea butter as well.
  • Whisk the two ingredients together with a hand blender.

Step 2. Add in the essential oils and whisk again

add essential oils to make vaporub

  • Put 15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil into the bowl.
  • Add 15 drops of peppermint essential oil to it.
  • Add 15 drops of lavender essential oil.

add essential oils

  • Add 10 drops of lemon essential oil.
  • Add in 10 drops of tea tree essential oil.
  • Whisk the essential oils into the blend with the hand blender.

Step 3. Store the vapor rub in a jar

store the homemade vaporub

  • Pour the mixture into a small jar with a wide mouth for ease during application.

The vapor rub may solidify depending upon the local climate but should be soft enough to use. Use your homemade vapor rub to treat colds and congestion.

Take a nickel-sized portion of the balm and rub it over your chest, temples and the back of your neck.


  • Shea butter can be substituted with cocoa butter or can be skipped altogether in the recipe. A simple coconut oil base can be used in a pinch. But using Shea butter gives the balm the desired consistency.
  • Add beeswax to the salve to give it a firmer texture.
  • Do not apply this DIY vapor rub directly over or under the nose or near the eyes.
  • Some other essential oils that can be used to make a decongestant balm include thyme, basil, rosemary, pine, clove, marjoram, and chamomile.

Summary of How to Make Your Own Natural Vapor Rub

diy vaporub

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