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DIY All-Natural Vapor Rub

on October 4 | in Natural Remedies | by | with 183 Comments

I Miss My Nose

Because as great as it is to walk by a full bin of dirty cloth diapers unphased, gulping down a glass of vinegar that I’ve mistaken for water is, um, not-so-fun. Stuffy-nosed kids doing the snot slurp every few minutes? Also not so fun.

We have been fortunate to have experienced very few illnesses in this house over the past few years, so this was my first opportunity to test out a DIY “Better Than The Unnamed Company That Rhymes With Nicks” salve for myself. Folks, I love it! Though I can’t smell much of anything, I can BREATHE. I can sleep through the night and so can my kids (though one of them is choosing not to – I’m not naming any names Micah!)

Why Is This Better Than Store-Bought?

Because store brands contain special petrolatum (aka processed crude oil) and turpentine, a toxic substance that can be fatal to children in amounts as small as 3 teaspoons.¹ The new greaseless formula is even worse – parabens, diazolidinyl urea (a formaldehyde releasing chemical that is toxic upon . . . inhalation!²) and PEG-100 Stearate (wbich is often contaminated with cancer-inducing dioxane).

And third, your homemade version will contain all the proven active ingredients that famous brands use without all the junk I just listed! Below there are two formulas: One for older children and adults and one that can be used on children under two. I recommend rubbing this salve on the chest to help open breathing passageways and also rubbing a thin layer on the soles of your (or your little one’s) feet. Take extra care to place the oils right under the four smallest toes – this will help the healing properties of the oils be absorbed into the bloodstream where they can assist the body with its work. (Because getting sick every once in awhile is a good thing dontcha know!) Note: Do not apply these formulas directly under the nose.

This recipe takes five minutes to whip up once you have the ingredients. Are you ready to get started?

Homemade Vapor Rub

If you plan to apply to your nose/cheekbones/temples use 20 drops rosemary, 20 drops lemon and 20 drops eucalyptus.

For a chest/foot rub here are some popular combinations:

  • 20 drops eucalyptus, 10 drops rosemary, 10 drops lavender, 10 drops tea tree, 10 drops lemon
  • 20 drops each rosemary, lemon and eucalyptus
  • 20 drops each rosemary, peppermint and eucalyptus
  • 20 drops eucalyptus, 20 drops peppermint, 10 drops basil and 10 drops pine needle
  • 15 drops each lavender, rosemary, tea tree and eucalyptus

“Better-Than-Vicks” For Little Ones Under Two

*Please note that only lavender and chamomile are generally considered safe for babies under two months, eucalyptus (the smithii variety) can be introduced at two months and tea tree can be introduced after 6 months. Essential oils are very potent so use sparingly, alternating with this method for very young babies.

Method

  1. Melt beeswax/tallow and shea/cocoa/mango butter in a double boiler.
  2. Once melted turn off the heat and add coconut oil and essential oils.
  3. Pour into a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Makes about 3/4 cup.

Can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 year.

Essential Oils That Soothe Congestion

  • Eucalyptus – Potent antiseptic, antiviral, and decongestant. According to Valerie Ann Worwood of The Complete Book of Essential Oil & Aromatherapy, the eucalyptus smithii variety should be used on children and avoided until baby is at least two months old
  • Tea Tree - An effective antimicrobial, expectorant and antiseptic. Safe for babies over 6 months.
  • Peppermint - Helps to open nasal passages. Some say this should be avoided while pregnant. Personally I would use it for a brief period during a cold. More on contraindications here. Do not use on babies or young children.
  • Thyme - Powerful antiseptic that helps boost immune function. Useful for colds, flu’s  and chills. Avoid if you have high blood pressure and do not use more than 10 drops per batch.
  • Basil - Helps open nasal passages. Antiseptic.
  • Rosemary - Antiseptic, helps open nasal passageways.  Safe for babies over 2 years. Some say this should be avoided while pregnant. Personally I would use it for a brief period during a cold. More on contraindications here.
  • Pine- Great for colds and sinusitis. Has decongestant and antimicrobial qualities.
  • Lavender – Antihistamine, antiseptic and antimicrobial. Safe for babies of all ages
  • Clove - No more than 2 drops. I am not an aromatherapist or essential oil expert, but it is my understanding that higher concentrations of this oil should not be used without the supervision of a qualified professional. 
  • Marjoram - Antimicrobial. Helps with breathing.
  • Chamomile – Relieves congestion and helps calm cranky patients. Safe for babies of all ages.
  • Lemon – Stimulates immune function, but take care if using in sunlight because it increases sensitivity (safe for children over two years)
  • Sweet Orange – Helps with detoxification (safe for babies)

Essential Oil Recommendations

Many of you have asked what brand I use and recommend. Honestly, I am not loyal to any particular brand, but I do like this one and this one. This one is not multi-level marketing that I also like.

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183 Responses to DIY All-Natural Vapor Rub

  1. Tana Agudelo says:

    Oh Heather, thanks, thanks, thanks for this! The natural vapor rub at the Healthfood store is SO expensive for a tiny amount, and I sort of made up my own just using coconut oil and a few essential oils. This is much better – and I’m making it up this weekend to have ready. Thanks SO much, especially for the info on the specific oils and for what ages they are appropriate!!!

  2. Kimberly Mallette Pete via FB says:

    Did you mention quality of essential oils? Twice I’ve used Olba’s, & both times my child was worse off (first as an infant, then as a 19 month old). Naturally, the time it happened as an infant (5 months?) was a much more frightening & dangerous experience. He’s never had a problem with organic essential oils, nor “therapeutic grade” essential oils.

    Perhaps I used too much? Perhaps it was just a bad batch? Maybe something else? I was under the direction of our pediatricians, though at the time they were not educated about essential oils. Now they are very specific about the quality of the oils used.

    Thank you for these recipes! We are just knocking out slight coughs, but I’ll make this to have on hand!

    • Tiffany says:

      % of essential oils is crtitical with children. No more than .25% (about 1 drop per 4 tsp) should be used with an infant (6mo to a 1yo)…if at all and only when necessary (even lavender and chammomile). There is no such thing as therapeutic grade as there are no standards for these. Unless you understand gas chromatography or constituents, I wouldn’t worry about it as long as you are buying from a reputable source. Some retailers command an extreme amount coupled with fearmongering and their sales soar. Oxidation is huge in the world of essential oils too. If they are not stored properly (whether from where you bought it from or yourself) they can become oxidized and create problems on the skin including dermatitis. Good luck!

      • Ariane says:

        HI Tiffany,
        My son is 7 months old now and I’m trying to calculate how much drops is needed from the rub for kids under two. I count here 14 tsp of beeswax + shea + coconut. So to make it .25%, it’s like about 3 drops of each essential oil… Right?

        • Lindy says:

          Since Vicks is/was a totally useless product….look it up on Mayo Clinic website….I’m assuming the oil products are useless too considering they can’t be absorbed into the skin. How can they do anything unless they are absorbed into the skin? The smell is going to cure stuff?

          • Alissa says:

            Essential oils are definitely absorbed into the skin and bloodstream. Additionally, because they are lipid, they can bypass the cellular membrane and kill viruses inside the cells that antibiotics can’t touch.

  3. Carissa says:

    That is awesome!! What brand of essential oils do you use?

  4. Lindsay A. says:

    I just love your blog, and this recipe is going in the file and being made asap! Thank you for all of your fantastic information.

  5. Kimberly Mallette Pete – That’s a great point, thank you! I’ve edited the post to clarify that I mean only high quality, therapeutic grade oils :)

  6. katie says:

    I was wondering what brand of essential oils you use? I have been researching them, but would like to get your opinion as well. Thanks so much for the recipe.

    • Heather says:

      Hi Katie! I actually buy mostly from a local woman who has been handcrafting them for years, but for most people it’s usually easier to buy from a reputable company like Young Living ;)

    • katie says:

      Thank you so much, I will look into that!

    • Sue says:

      Be careful buying from the multi-level-marketing companies – there is a lot of dangerous information their salespeople spread and you can find EOs that are much better – certified organic brands for example. Young Living and the off-shoot company doTerra, which was started by former employees who left because (they claim) of all the fraud and lies and misinformation, are very expensive EOs, not organic, and the companies themselves are under investigation by the FDA and FTC for breaking federal laws for claims they make for their products.

  7. Molly says:

    where does one find grass-fed beef tallow?

  8. Julia Beshara via FB says:

    How long is the all natural vapor rub good for?

  9. Mégan Miles Alba via FB says:

    Children aren’t the only ones to react. I was on a trip a couple years back, got a virus, and only had access to the store bought stuff. Within a few hours I had a nasty red rash where I’d put it. That’s the LAST time I ever tried it. Therapeutic grade oils for me from now on!

    • Tiffany says:

      This is most likely from oxidation of improperly stored essential oils. There is no such thing as therapeutic grade…that is a marketing tactic. There are no standards for therapeutic essential oils. Only people who understand gas chromatography and constituents can determine what ‘grade’ of eo’s they are…different species will also offer different %’s of constituents.

  10. Julia Beshara- That’s a great question! Because it is not a water-based emulsion it does not require a preservative to last at room temp for about a year. (The essential oils act as a natural preservative anyway but it would be shelf stable without them :-P)

    • Tiffany says:

      Not all essential oils can be used as a preservative…and never with water. Most eo’s oxidize at different rates…citrus the quickest, etc. A good general rule of thumb for oxidation is 1 year properly stored and this can change with MANY different factors…

  11. Yikes, Mégan Miles Alba! That is awful!

  12. Christa Held via FB says:

    going to make this today….one kiddo just got over a cold and another has started…seems like I’ll need a double batch this year:) Thanks!

  13. dianthe says:

    i am NEVER going to be a good enough mom to make all these things – so i think you should make all this stuff and sell it so that i can just buy it – you know, in your spare time!! ;)
    miss you guys!

  14. Carmen Johns says:

    Great recipe, thanks for sharing!!! We love essential oils (and loathe petroleum) so thanks for the post! I just had to share with you a blend called Breathe made by doTERRA (which last month received the title of the largest essential oil company in the world!). Their oils are 100% certified pure therapeutic grade so 100% organic and pure with no fillers. Anyways, the breathe bled is truly amazing!! And a 15ml vial is only $26.67 retail and $20.00 wholesale which is significantly cheaper than buying all the oils in the recipe individually. It contains laurel leaf, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon and ravensara. It smells amazing!!!! It could be used in this recipe or just diluted with a little carrier oil, like coconut or almond, and applied directly. The Greener Good is Fort Worth sells little sample vials of doTERRA oils. Or, if someone was interested in a vial or a sample, they could contact me! http://www.mydoterra.com/carmenjohns or carmenjohns.doterra@gmail.com (and yes, that was shameless self promoting but only because I am so in love with doterra and this blend I would just love for others to try it out!!)

    • Willow says:

      doTERRA oils are NOT organic!!!!!!! Therapeutic grade is a made-up trademarked term created by that company and in no way guarantees any special qualities of the oils. Try Floracopeia if you want truly organic and sustainably wild harvested oils of high quality and integrity.

  15. Priscilla says:

    Now I have a question. I’ve been using essential oils in the baby wipes liquid I use on myself and my 3-year-old. I was planning on using this formula for my little one due any day. Is this not safe for infants? This is the first I’ve heard of it not being safe. Thanks!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Priscilla! It depends on the oils you’re using :) Personally I did use a solution with a few drops of tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar before my babies turned 6 months old.

    • Tiffany says:

      This was from something that I replied to above…% of essential oils is crtitical with children. No more than .25% (about 1 drop per 4 tsp) should be used with an infant (6mo to a 1yo)…if at all and only when necessary (even lavender and chammomile). There is no such thing as therapeutic grade as there are no standards for these. Unless you understand gas chromatography or constituents, I wouldn’t worry about it as long as you are buying from a reputable source. Some retailers command an extreme amount coupled with fearmongering and their sales soar. Oxidation is huge in the world of essential oils too. If they are not stored properly (whether from where you bought it from or yourself) they can become oxidized and create problems on the skin including dermatitis. Good luck! From an aromatherapist with 4 children.

      • Heather says:

        Hi Tiffany! I have read up on therapeutic grade oils and tend to agree with you, it’s just easier to specify than “high quality” because often people don’t really know what to look for. Can you suggest another phrase that might help distinguish between high and low quality oils?

        • Tiffany says:

          That is actually a very difficult question. Seriously. It really boils down to trusting your supplier for the average person that doesn’t read gas chromatography, etc. There are alot of great suppliers. I don’t get all my essential oils from the same supplier as they don’t all offer the oils that I want or effect that I am trying to achieve (constituents/country/species). You will notice that species can be different of the same plant and that will alter their potency of different constituents. It seems to me that most suppliers that throw around the therapeutic grade are really trying to sell a trustworthy ‘feeling’. DoTerra and Young Living are great oils I am sure (never used them…could never justify the price, as most of it comes from the multi-marketing). You know Heather, ‘high-quality’ is something that most people wouldn’t recognize if they tried. After many years of experience, most aromatherapists will tell you…the nose knows. I know this may sound silly, but it’s soo true. ‘Reputable supplier’ I think is the best bet. I have seen ‘therapeutic oils’ that were junk and amazing oils come from a no name…this takes pure trial and error. I am enjoying your blog, thank you…

  16. wow thats crazy i use this every winter for my girls!!!!!

  17. Bailey says:

    Thank you for this! That book that you mentioned by Valerie Ann Wormwood is my absolute favorite reference book on essential oils. I wish we could still use oils because they do work so incredibly well. We had to stop using them when we started using homeopathy because many of the oils will antidote homeopathic remedies. Mountain Rose Herbs is another good source for 100% pure pharmaceutical grade oils.

  18. Christina says:

    Love this!! Is there another method if one doesn’t have a double boiler?

  19. Vivian says:

    Just wanted to share my favorite essential oil brand so far. Therapeutic grade and inexpensive compared to other companies, heritageessentialoils.com. They’re local (for me in Texas) and have been super helpful. For those of you who don’t have the time to gather all the ingredients, they have a similar product called Mom’s Remedy. I don’t work for them or anything, I’m just a happy customer!

  20. teri says:

    I have palmers cocoa butter formula on hand. Is this acceptable to use or does it need to be a pure cocoa butter?

    • Heather says:

      i probably wouldn’t heat it because I’m not sure the preservatives would be stable in a double boiler but I think you could probably just blend the essential oils with the cream.

  21. Monica says:

    This is wonderful! My husband has a cold right now, but the only oil I have is peppermint. :( Any ideas? I am slowly buying products to transition to making all our own personal care products, essential oils included. They are so expensive upfront, even though they last a while. Where do you get yours?

  22. Amanda Cowgill says:

    Love this! Cannot wait to try!!! But I do have one question- I love the smell of Vicks, what combo of oils would you say comes closest to the smell of real vicks?

  23. Ana says:

    Hello! Thank you very much for this recipe! I can’t wait to try to have it in the house. I have one question. Can I replace coconut oil with other vegetable oil like olive oil? I know coconut oil is in fact solid…but just asking to know what to procure.. olive oil I have plenty of it here in Greece:) Thank you very muchf the wonderful site that you have!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Ana! You could easily substitute palm oil since both are semi-solid, and if you’d like to play with the ratios a bit (incorporating more solid butters) I’m sure olive oil would be fine.

      • Heather says:

        It will, however, shorten the shelf life a bit since olive oil is less stable at room temp :(

        • Ana says:

          Thank you very much for the answer! I’ll try to procure the coconut oil to be sure I won’t make something wrong as it will be my first time when I’ll something like this:)

          • Tiffany says:

            Sweet almond and grapeseed are also great for chest rubs. Just make sure they are cold pressed and unrefined (processed with a chemical/hexane).

  24. Cookie says:

    I will be making a batch of this soon and LOVE essential oils! I carry a vial of eucalyptus oil with me everywhere to counteract other peoples chemical perfumes. But PLEASE do an allergic reaction test before using essential oils, especially tea tree oil. I had a horrible reaction to tea tree oil that I will not soon forget!

  25. Danielle L. says:

    Made this last night for my kiddo’s, it was wonderful and my hands are so super soft! Nothing like something to make the kids feel better and also gives me an added bonus too! Thank you for your great post, I was especially grateful for all the info for the infants!

  26. [...] It’s that time of the year to find your favorite way to cure the common cold.  If you end up with a cold, you can try homemade vapor rub. [...]

  27. [...] was pretty psyched with cold season upon us to come across a convenience store medicine hack.  DIY VapoRub may be the next thing I try when my Tiger Balm is [...]

  28. [...] to resort to Vick’s vapor rub to get little noses breathing at night in your house? Try this homemade vapor rub instead, with no nasty chemical [...]

  29. [...] wall for treating a cold naturally. I also loved reading about this cure for the common cold, this homemade vapor rub, and these natural flu remedies. And since we all know vitamin C is important when you are [...]

  30. Sarah says:

    This may seem entirely unrelated, but by chance, do you have any knowledge or suggestions for colicky babies? I want to enjoy these first weeks with my baby, but she’s miserable and I’m exhausted. She’s entirely breastfed, and I’m entirely real food fed… Thanks…

  31. Mary says:

    Is there a specific temp that the beeswax and coco butter needs to be heated up to? Also, once removed from the double broiler do the essential oils work best when added to the wax and butter at a specific temp?

    • Heather says:

      I heat them just enough to gently melt them, then add the oils. Since I’m adding coconut oil after heating it cools the mixture down quickly and preserves the potency of the essential oils.

  32. Hi, thanks for the recipes! My sister Aimee recently started selling Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils for an amazing company called Doterra. So far they are the only company to have earned the CPTG status from the government. I think it has to do with the fact that they have extremely high standards and only except the most purest oils form plants grown in their most indigenous area. (At least that is what my sister told me.) They also have a large staff of scientist constantly working to make the best blends for an assortment of conditions. I started using them recently and I love them so much more than Young Living who was the only company I used before Doterra. Like I said I don’t work for them, but my sister does. This is her website just in case your interested in looking them up. http://www.mydoterra.com/aimeenielsen/

    • Sue says:

      I can’t believe I missed this the first time I visited!! “So far they are the only company to have earned the CPTG status from the government.” This is completely UNTRUE. There is no government – not the USA or any country on the planet – that grants “CPTG status”. This is a totally made up status and completely meaningless…there is no such thing as “therapeutic grade” and “CPTG status” is the company’s own made-up criteria. It’s 100% marketing.

  33. Shyxter says:

    Thanks for sharing this Heather! I really love DIY stuff, especially when it it is health-related. As a mother, I want to know how to make homemade treatments because I don’t want to rely everything on the things that we buy from the drugstore. I will follow your instructions and make my own vapor rub :) Please share more like this. Thank you very much!

  34. blueteapots says:

    Thanks for the recipe. I am new to essential oils and have a question. Doesn’t putting the essential oils in the hot mixture change the chemical properties of the essential oils? Making there benefits less effective? Thanks!

  35. Amanda says:

    I very much agree with Tiffany on her info about the elusive “therapeutic” quality of essential oils. That there is no such testing agency or anything that actually ranks essential oils into different qualities. Some of those pyramid essential oil companies actually even claim that they sell only grade A, not B, or C like other companies. Which is just plain made up stuff. There is no such grading system. After much research, I get most of my oils from Mountain Rose. A few from Aura Cacia as well, but most from Mountain Rose. http://edge.affiliateshop.com/public/AIDLink?AID=128731&Redirect=%2Faroma%2Fess.html is there link directly to their oils.

    I also have the book The Fragrant mind by Worwood. I love making healthy things with my oils. It’s a wonderful obsession. :)

  36. [...] really debate him on that evaluation.  In the basket you could find Vicks Shower Disks,Vicks Vapor Rub, lip balm, Vanilla Brown Sugar Body Scrub, Oatmeal Bath Soak, Lavendar Bath Salts, Bath Fizzies [...]

  37. Michelle says:

    I add essential oil of camphor to our rubs.

  38. Christina says:

    I just happen to have Young Living wintergreen and thieves oil along with two sick kiddos (9 months & 3.5 years). Think those would make a good rub?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Christina! I haven’t researched the safety of those particular oils for small children so I can’t really say, sorry!

    • Tonya says:

      Wintergreen and Sweet Birch essential oils should be considered a BIG No-No for children. For the same reason it is recommended to refrain from giving a child with fever aspirin, these oils should be avoided as well. Both of the essential oils have over 90% salicylates (methyl and ethyl). Salicylate (acetyl) is the active ingredient in aspirin.
      From the ReyesSyndrom.org website, I found this helpful link: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1009987-overview

  39. [...]  I also found this awesome list at Mommypatamus ,this will help grow my oil [...]

  40. Nicki says:

    hey heather! i read that only eucalyptus smithii is safe for babies over 2 months but i cant seem to find it. i checked with mountain rose, young living and doterra and none of them carry the smithiii variety. any thoughts where i can find a good quality eucalyptus smithii?
    i realized this after i made a baby safe version with the eucalyptus globulus variety from mountain rose:( also in your DIY beauty book when you refer to eucalyptus which variety? looks like possibly citriodora?
    thanks so much!!

  41. Tonetta says:

    Okay, I found your site via a google search becuase I was in desperate need of a baby vapor rub recipe. Boy oh boy what a blessing. My baby sounds so much better already! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your site is pretty awesome by the way. I prefer natural/organic food and personal care items, especially for my new baby so your vapor rub recipe is a godsend. He is sleeping so soundly now without all of the mucus/congestion he had last night. I am so happy! Thanks for sharing.

  42. [...] This image is meant to be a source of inspiration.No copyright infringement intended.I do not own images posted on this page. For more details please visit this mommypotamus.com [...]

  43. [...] should not be introduced until child reaches a certain age. There’s a list at the bottom of this post which compiles the opinions of several [...]

  44. Lucy says:

    The recipe for “under two” calls for 30 drops altogether of 4 different oils one which I’m afraid of putting on my 4 month old which is tee tree oil. I also don’t have chamomile because it was not in my budget. I couldn’t justify paying $60 for a little bottle so I have lavender oil and eucalyptus oil. What would the ratio then be? I’m afraid of putting too much of one specific oil and end up making it too harsh for my baby. Is that possible? Help please?

  45. Lauren says:

    I was wondering if you could just do the essential oils in coconut oil and store it that way? Is the beeswax and cocoa butter necessary? I realize that using just the coconut oil will make it softer, but other than that would it still work the same? Thanks! Love your blog by the way. I follow by RSS.

  46. […] natural Vapor Rub!  I found this recipe some time ago and have “tweaked” the oil amounts just a little.  Because of the potency […]

  47. Jessica Saxton says:

    Great idea. I’d be psyched if someone could come up with DIY plug-in vapor pads. They’re expensive and always seem to be sold out when I need them. If you have any ideas of what to use for the pads (like stiff paper towel type material), it would be easy enough to soak them in eucalyptus oil. I just can’t figure out what to use for the pads.

  48. Kourtney says:

    Can you use lard instead of beef tallow?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Kourtney, you sure could! Tallow and shea butter, etc tend to absorb more quickly but if you don’t mind feeling a little extra greasy I don’t see any reason not to use it :)

  49. rita says:

    Hi Heather,
    Love your blog! One quick question…my son has epilepsy and eucalyptus is one of the oils on the list to avoid if you have epilepsy. Just wondering if you think it would still work well with some combinations from above without the eucalyptus? Thanks!

  50. Kat says:

    Hello Heather! I have YET to buy cocoa, shea or mango butter and live in a tiny little town in central British Columbia (that doesn’t usually supply things like that). I order most things online but shipping is OUTRAGEOUS. Just wondering if you know of any reputable online stores for these things with cheap or no shipping?? (Canadian would be great) I have been meaning to order from New Directions Aromatics but am not sure how the quality is? Anyone with a testimony for these products would be great!!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Kat! I’m sorry, I don’t know of any companies to recommend for Canadian Readers. However, it is not absolutely essential to have these ingredients to make a good rub. Though it will be more greasy you could just substitute plain oil, such as coconut or jojoba.

      • Kat says:

        Thanks Heather! I usually do the EO and coconut oil thing but this recipe looked really awesome!! I’m going to order some ingredients soon because I find more and more that I am unable to make a lot of things with JUST coconut oil :P

    • Sue says:

      Shea Butter Market is based in Mill Bay, British Columbia, Canada. They manufacture all natural skin care products made with certified organic, fair trade compliant shea butter. Free Shipping to Canadian Customers on Orders over $75.00
      http://www.sheabuttermarket.com/

  51. Sue says:

    First – yes “your homemade version will contain all the proven active ingredients that famous brands use” and so will your homemade version – all the “active ingredients” (a term which means drug ingredients) and all the very same RISKS. This is one reason mentol IS regulated by the FDA as an OTC drug ingredient – because there are benefits as well as risks, when an ingredient has medical effects. We all watch TV and hear the ads for drugs where the list of side effects is even longer than the list of what the drug will help! The same goes for a drug you make at home. The children did not die from the petroleum jelly part of Vicks – they died from the menthol. The same menthol in your essential oils.

    So a warning – there is no such thing as “therapeutic grade” – PERIOD. And if a company selling essential oils will lie about this – what else might they be lying about? http://www.aromaweb.com/articles/therapeuticgradeessentialoils.asp

    Again “there is no such thing as a ‘therapeutic grade essential oil’, and no quality standards for the authentication or performance of essential oils specifically exist within aromatherapy per se.” http://www.cropwatch.org/Therapeutic%20Grade%20Essential%20Oils%20corrected.pdf

    “Take extra care to place the oils right under the four smallest toes – this will help the healing properties of the oils be absorbed into the bloodstream where they can assist the body with its work.” – complete nonsense. The ONLY people who promote this type of garbage are the multi-level-marketing companies whose salespeople have never taken a professional-level, industry-approved class in the safe use of essential oils.

    • Heather says:

      Hi Sue, I agree, which is why I note in the post that these formulas should not be placed under the nose, just as manufacturers of the commercial alternatives do.

      I also agree about the term “therapeutic grade,” but because there is no industry standard per se I feel I must make some distinction between oils that have a track record of quality and ones which may be poorly produced. As I mention at the end of the post I am currently researching a more affordable, non-MLM company that I hope to recommend, but I have not completed the due diligence process.

      On your third point, I suppose we just have a difference of opinion there. Thanks for taking the time to comment! :)

      • Sue says:

        Re: third point – here’s the thing – I guarantee you, you will not find a certified aromatherapist who will agree that “to place the oils right under the four smallest toes – this will help the healing properties of the oils be absorbed into the bloodstream”. In fact, most aromatherapisits will explain that EOs are not absorbed into the bloodstream most of the time – they may absorb into the upper layers of the skin but not into the bloodstream. Those that do, usually need some kind of penetration enhancer in order to get this to happen. And why would you WANT EOs to enter the bloodstream? If you can point to some scientific basis for saying any of this – I’ll listen. Marketing from MLM companies is not science.

        Now if you would like the names of some reputable suppliers – let me know. Are you interested in purchasing wholesale or retail?

  52. KaLee says:

    I love your books and blog!! I was wondering if the toddler recipe is ok for expecting mothers…I know that there are several essential oils that are not encouraged during pregnancy.

    Thank you!

  53. Mariana says:

    The footnotes in the beggining of the post are empty, aka dont take you to where the quote was taken from.

    • Heather says:

      Thanks for letting me know, Mariana! I wrote this post last year and it seems the pages have moved since then. I have updated the links to archived versions of the page :)

  54. Erin says:

    Hi there! I made the vapor rub tonight and used it on my 4 year old. Is it supposed to solidify? Mine is complete liquid in my sealed jar… Did I do something wrong?

  55. […] think this is a great alternative to Vicks since can be customized to your scent preferences or specific […]

  56. Sarah says:

    I’ve made is for my son and it’s fantastic. In fact, I’ve made it for all of my mommy friends too? Quick question… One of my mommy friends has a son that is allergic to coconut….Is there something I can substitute for the coconut oil?

  57. […] Healing Salves – thank you Camp Wilderness, Mommypotamus, and theprairiehomestead, whose ideas and recipes are incorporated […]

  58. […] Garlic Salve for Coughs and Colds from The Elliott Homestead DIY Natural Vapor Rub from Mommypotamus DIY Vapor Rub from Homegrown & […]

  59. Pamela says:

    I seem to have all the ingredients for this rub for my 13 month old but I have some questions:
    I only have the beeswax in little pelets (as opposed to grated) so I am not sure how much to use. And second, I have Eucalyptus globolus and Eucalyptus radiata. I don’t know if it is possible for me to purchase the smithii kind right now. Is it ok to use any of those two for the rub?
    And lastly, how long are essential oils good for. I’ve smelled every single one of them and they seem fine and hava a nice fragrance. But I know I have had some of them for a while so I am not sure. It is hard to find concrete info online. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    • Heather says:

      From what I understand the smiithi variety is the only one considered safe for small children. I haven’t used the pellets so unfortunately I cannot make any recommendations on that, sorry! Regarding shelf life, it varies greatly depending on the specific oil, overall quality and storage method.

  60. […] DIY Natural Vapor Rub using essential oils from Mommypotamus. […]

  61. Christina says:

    We love the ‘under two’ recipe. Not only is it fabulous as a vapor rub but it does wonders to bug bites. Thank you for posting it.

  62. John says:

    Hi,
    First off, thanks for these instructions! Secondly, I’m a nursing student, and as such I come across some pretty terrible smells that run the gamut of bodily fluids coming out of sick patients. I just wanted to throw out there that I used your recipe with a Thieve’s Oil blend of essential oils and I rub a little under my nose periodically while I’m in the hospital and it seriously helps to cover any other bad smells I run into! I made some for my friends that work in a burn unit (they used to use Vicks) and they say they’d rather forget their wallets at home than leave this behind :) Vicks never quite did the trick!
    Thanks again!

  63. Mary Habermehl-Hummel via FB says:

    ty was just looking for something like this yesterday.. now i can make it today :)

  64. Kay Copsey via FB says:

    Dawn Neubauer Jorgensen – Did you see this?

  65. Raina Lucille Smith via FB says:

    Mary Sue Spears

  66. Brittainy-Joshua Bjork via FB says:

    KaylaandAndrew Davis I remember you talking about wanting to do this :)

  67. Heather Haake via FB says:

    I just now made a BIG batch of this for Christmas gifts! My third time making it so I’d say it’s a winner! Thanks for the recipe!

  68. Angela Bertalot via FB says:

    I just use an empty baby food jar, fill half full of the organic coconut oil, add the essential oils and that’s it. Not saying the other ingredients don’t have their health value, it can just get spendy…coconut oil does solidify, but it melts with the touch of your finger tips.

  69. Mona Bradley Goodwin via FB says:

    That’s an awful lot of EO for a child. I make this with a 1:1 ratio for myself and our 7 year old. Be careful with EO’s please.

  70. Brandy Wilkins via FB says:

    Doesn’t vapor rubs inflame the lungs of children, making it worse?

  71. Melissa Gustafson via FB says:

    Does anyone know what quantity this makes? I’m ordering tins right now to package it for holiday gifts and I haven’t made it yet so I’m guessing.

  72. Jennifer N Kenley Malveaux via FB says:

    @Mommypotamus What is the oil you use that is not bought through a multi level marketing company? The link is not working.

  73. Mona Bradley Goodwin – I believe it’s only about a 0.5% dilution, which in my understanding is what is recommended for therapeutic use: http://eethomp.com/AT/dilutions.html

    Of course, there are a lot of opinions out there. I definitely recommend that all parents do their own research and use the amount they are comfortable with.

  74. Brandy Wilkins – It is my understanding that some oils, like peppermint, should not be used on very small children because they are too strong. In the post I list oils that are generally considered safe for small children by aromatherapists.

  75. Jennifer N Kenley Malveaux – Plant Therapy

  76. Melissa Gustafson via FB says:

    Mommypotamus, would this recipe fit in a 2 oz tin or ?? Just trying to figure out what to buy for making gifts…

  77. Jennifer N Kenley Malveaux via FB says:

    Thank you.

  78. Melissa Gustafson – The recipe makes about 10-11 oz

  79. Alissabeth Taylor via FB says:

    I have seen 1% for a child, 2% for an adult.

  80. Melissa Gustafson via FB says:

    Many thanks!

  81. Alissabeth Taylor via FB says:

    I love a eucalyptus, tea tree and lavender combo for my kids. Use it on a diffuser, in the bath, etc. very effective.

  82. We made this and it is awesome – thank you!!!

  83. Alissabeth Taylor what ratio of the three do you use in the bath

  84. Carmen Hazelton via FB says:

    I make my own too. Great recipe to compare with. I also like the oil combos. Thanks for posting!

  85. Katie Buck, this looks like something you may be interested in.

  86. Katie Buck via FB says:

    Awesome! Yes!

  87. Chase LeMaster via FB says:

    Laura Cozelos, this made me think of you!

  88. Okay this is seriously cool! I love the idea of having an alternative option for normal vapor rub AND I can use my EOs too! Win-win! #oils4everyone

  89. Sarah Lenard Lancaster via FB says:

    This stuff is wonderful. I have been making it since you first released the recipe, and it WORKS! Make it, folks.

  90. Amanda Weber via FB says:

    Laura Kaesser

  91. Andrea Barbre says:

    You have specified what is safe for babies, however are their any oils that should be avoided during pregnancy?

  92. Dannelle Wilson via FB says:

    This stuff is awesome, and it works great for my kiddos

  93. Kelsi Atticks via FB says:

    Aisha Smith this looks neat, we should make some!

  94. Lora Schmitz via FB says:

    Sally Kibler Rachelle Kibler :-)

  95. Debbie Harper via FB says:

    Gisella Daiker

  96. Lori Beth Geils via FB says:

    Christelle Sanchez Jaimi Kunz Becky Geils Tooley Lori Beth Geils

  97. Bobbi Rasmussen via FB says:

    could have used this recipe this week, poor little asthma kiddo has a nasty cough!

  98. Sue says:

    Make sure if you are giving this as a gift you explain that you are giving them an over-the-counter drug and that this is not a cosmetic. Also make sure if you use lemon warn them not to use it on the skin if the skin is going to be exposed to the sun since lemon is photo-toxic*. And that shea butter is a nut and can trigger nut allergies. And not to use if they are pregnant unless you check the essential oils you are using to make sure they are allowed. It is one thing to make a medicinal product for yourself but it’s a big responsibility when you give (or sell) it to others – especially children when you do not know their medical condition or any possible allergies or sensititivies.

    *I am not sure where the author got the idea that lemon is only photo-toxic to people over the age of 2 – it is phototoxic to the skin of people of all ages.
    NOTE: And clove should have more warnings in this formula than just “no more than two drops”: http://aromatherapyunited.org/clove/

    • Heather says:

      Hi Sue! Thanks for your comments. Just to clarify on the lemon essential oil, what I wrote is that it increases photosensitivity and is generally considered safe for children over two years old. I will check out the link you provided on clove :)

  99. Brittany says:

    I have a humidifier and there is a thimble sized bowl that is heated by the steam as it rises out of the humidifier. is there anyway to modify this recipe so I can continue to use it with my humidifier instead of putting it directly on the sick individual?

    • Brittany says:

      Also, if there was a way to do so while maintaining a liquid form(like the store bought stuff) what do you think the shelf life would be?

    • Heather says:

      I’m not sure, Brittany. Some people say that heating the oils (even via steam) diminishes their therapeutic benefits.

      • Sue says:

        Those people probably have no education in aromatherapy or the safe use of essential oils. The specific essential oils in your recipe work via inhalation – and while a diffuser which creates a mist without using heat would be best – some gentle warmth like a tealight diffuser or the warmth of the body when used topically, is not going to reduce the effectiveness.

  100. Erica K. says:

    And….done! Thanks for the recipe! I’ve had it stored for a long time and finally made it tonight. Looking forward to slathering it on me and the babe! I made some thieves oil (used the recipe on MRH’s blog) and used 60 drops of that, hoping that was ok and not a bad idea. It smells yummy, kind of like Christmas! I also used organic candelilla wax instead of beeswax, because I had it on hand, hopefully it sets ok (candelilla is harder than beeswax so I only used 3 tsp). Thanks again for the recipe!

  101. trisha says:

    thank you so much for compiling this information! i have two questions about the specific types of oils:
    do you know if i should use roman chamomile or german chamomile? also, i was looking for these oils on the Young Living site, and they have three different kinds of eucalyptus (blue, globulous, and radiata), but not smithii. do you know if any of the ones they sell is the same or as safe?

    my last question is: do you think it would be okay if i made the rub with just coconut oil? i know it will be runnier and need more massaging to soak in, but if i don’t mind the messier application, would it be as effective? thank you!!

  102. […] -How about this DIY All-Natural Vapor Rub for those over the age of 2 from MOMMYPOTAMUS? […]

  103. […] I am talking about colds – a fully customizable vapo-rub!  Just add different oils to address your discomfort! […]

  104. ejmc says:

    What combinations (and how many drops) could you make with just peppermint, lavender, lemon, and eucalyptus?

    • Amanda @ Mommypotamus Support says:

      EJMC, This is what Heather recommends in her post:
      If you plan to apply to your nose/cheekbones/temples use 20 drops rosemary, 20 drops lemon and 20 drops eucalyptus.

      For a chest/foot rub here are some popular combinations:

      20 drops eucalyptus, 10 drops rosemary, 10 drops lavender, 10 drops tea tree, 10 drops lemon
      20 drops each rosemary, lemon and eucalyptus
      20 drops each rosemary, peppermint and eucalyptus
      20 drops eucalyptus, 20 drops peppermint, 10 drops basil and 10 drops pine needle
      15 drops each lavender, rosemary, tea tree and eucalyptus

      Try using peppermint or lavender instead of rosemary!

  105. Leah says:

    Bummer…none of the essential oil combinations for adults are considered safe for pregnant/nursing women (eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint…)

  106. […] DIY All Natural Vapor Rub by Mommypotamus […]

  107. Sara says:

    Where do you buy the smithii version of eucalyptus oil? I can’t find it anywhere!!!!!!!!!!

  108. Amyah says:

    I did a version of it when my kids were young and it was awesome too… I was using (and still use it) Ravensare E.O. also in my little mix. Smell exactly like the Vicks but less the toxic side and it works so great!

  109. Shruti says:

    I have been looking up different recipes for soothing wet cough of my 8 month old but not sure of the right proportions, given there are so many different things on the net. This one looks safe as per whatever little I know of aromatherapy. However I can’t get bees wax here, where I live. so is it possible to use the essential oils only with coconut oil. I do have pure coconut oil and the essential oils mentioned here. And if yes, what proportions should I use.

  110. Kshauers says:

    So mine doesn’t look all white and jelly like it’s yellowish soft, but I’m wondering if it’s because it’s 80 degrees in the house. and I smell coco butter over the EO. Suggestions?

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