DIY Vapor Rub (with Essential Oils)

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No matter how careful we are or how many times we wash our hands, colds and flu do occur.  While you can buy many commercial products to easy the symptoms, you may wish to make your own. Keeping a bit of homemade diy vapor rub on hand, is a wise idea during any season.  In this way you can avoid petroleum-based products.  You can make your own natural vapor rub with beeswax and essential oils.

Make Natural Vapor Rub Using Beeswax

Gift ready jar of diy vapor rub made with beeswax image.

In my home, we used vapor rub products for more than severe colds.  Our family has always been plagued with seasonal allergies.  Sometimes the use of a bit of rub on the chest, made going to sleep much easier.

If you don’t have the desire of time to make your own vapor rub, be sure to choose the natural versions when shopping.  And, always read the use directions on the bottle because even natural essential oils are powerful stuff.

Good Substitute for Vicks Vapor Rub

I remember as a little girl the soothing sensation of my mom rubbing vapor rub on my chest.  Yes, that little blue bottle and I have quite a history.  It did help soothe my cough and sniffles and relieve congestion.

Commercial vapor rubs work well but they contain so many ingredients.  Most of them have a petroleum base and many contain camphor.  Camphor is a synthetic material made from mixing turpentine and menthol oil.

If it killed you-I would have died long ago.  But, that doesn’t mean that I would not rather have other natural soothing oils on my skin instead.

Be very cautious when using any product like this on young children.  Some folks make a kid version using half of the recommended essential oils in the recipe. However, I would always check with your doctor or health professional before using on the kids.

Listed ingredient used to make homemade vapor rub.


  • coconut oil
  • cocoa butter
  • beeswax
  • essential oils

Coconut Oil

Seriously, if there anything coconut oil is not good for? You can cook with it, use it in moisturizers and even make candles with coconut oil and beeswax .

It is a very versatile ingredient. You should be able to order it or find it in small amounts in the grocery store.

Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter is an all around good cream for the skin. It has vitamins that promotes healthy skin and serves as a barrier too. Along with the beeswax, it helps create the perfect thickness of your rub.

If you don’t have cocoa butter on hand – you may substitute shea butter instead. It is a bit different in chemistry but will perform well in this remedy.


Using beeswax in this chest rub recipe is beneficial because it helps hold in skin moisture. It also adds some body to the texture so the vapor rub is not too liquid.

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This natural wax is special because only honey bees can make beeswax. More valuable per ounce than even honey – we use the wax from many projects. Heck, even your wooden kitchen spoons can benefit from beeswax spoon butter.

Glass container of homemade beeswax vapor rub image.

Essential Oils for Vapor Rub

I listed a few popular essential oils to use in your diy vapor rub. Of course, you can choose others but these are known for being safe to use and effective. 

Peppermint oil does contain some menthol and creates a cooling sensation when inhaled.  It is also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Other commonly used oils include: lavender, rosemary and tea tree oil.

Eucalyptus oil is used in many products for stuffy noses or colds.  The cooling sensation of Eucalyptus helps open my sinuses. Be sure that the essential oils you choose are skin safe – not all of them are.

Cough drops containing eucalyptus can be useful – but I prefer my own homemade honey cough drops.

There is no cure for the cold. But, by combining skin safe oils and other natural ingredients together, you may find some relief from your symptoms.

How to Use Homemade Vapor Rub

This recipe can be applied to your chest when you are feeling congested or having a stubborn cough.  

Rub a thin coat of vapor rub into the skin. Mom insists on putting a warm piece of cloth over the area – but that’s up to you.

You may also apply a little under your nose if you are feeling stuffy.Beeswax is a natural humectant and helps hold moisture in scratchy skin . It may help that skin feel less irritated – beeswax lip balm works well for that too.

Some people report good results from rubbing homemade vapor rub on their feet!  But if you do so, be sure to wear socks – or you may slip and fall.

Store your product in a container with a tight fitting lid. If kept in a cool place – it should last for at least 12 months.

Small glass jars with wide opening for vapor rub image.

Expert Tips

  • Always label your jars – you may forget what is in there!
  • If pouring hot oils into glass – temper the glass first by warming it up
  • If making these for gifts – be sure to include the ingredients on the label

While I do not believe that essential oils are a cure for everything, they do have many beneficial properties. 

And, because there are so many good ones to chose from, you are sure to find something that appeals to you.  I even use some essential oils in my beekeeping.

If you want to pamper your skin even more – consider trying this whipped beeswax body butter – it has a luxurious feel. For the arms and hands homemade lotion is a good choice.

However, I also love the portability and feel of a good beeswax lotion bar. Just wrap it in a piece of cloth and when you need it – the heat of your hands will melt enough to use.

If the high cost of face cream is getting you down, perhaps you should try this recipe for face moisturizer. And, for those minor cuts and scrapes – you can’t beat this homemade Vaseline type product.

Gift ready jar of diy vapor rub made with beeswax image.

DIY Vapor Rub Recipe with Beeswax

Charlotte Anderson @ Carolina Honeybees, LLC
This recipe for diy vapor rub makes about 6 ounces of finished product. Even though it will keep for months, I prefer to make small batches. If you want more – just double the ingredients.
4.50 from 2 votes

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  • Start with preparing your beeswax and getting the right measurement. If you are using beeswax pellets, this step is a breeze.
    Using blocks of wax is fine – if you want to help the wax melt faster – you can grate the wax down into smaller pieces.
    Grated beeswax measured for making beeswax vapor rub recipe image.
  • Beeswax is such an easy medium to work with. Whether you are making beeswax candles or even body butter, it melts quite easily.
    However, beeswax is flammable if it is overheated and can scorch or burn. The safest way to melt wax is by using a double boiler.
    Because getting wax out of a good pot is almost impossible – I use a small double boiler insert for all recipes involving beeswax. I have several of various sizes and they are just so handy.
    Melting beeswax in a small double boiler insert image.
  • Once the beeswax is completely liquid, it is time to add your cocoa butter and coconut oil. The coconut oil will melt quickly, the cocoa butter takes just a few minutes. Stir well.
    Cocoa butter and coconut oil added to melted beeswax in boiler image.
  • Have your essential oils handy and ready to use. It is advisable to let the vapor rub mixture cool just a moment to lower the temperature. This avoids harming our essential oils.
    However, if you leave it too long it will begin to harden. Count the required drops and add the selected essential oils.
    Adding essential oils to beeswax vapor rub recipe image.
  • As soon as the essential oils are mixed in, pour your vapor rub into the selected containers. I used what I had on hand.
    However, as this is a rub that might involved you dipping it out with your fingers – keep that in mind when selecting a container.
    Pouring beeswax vapor rub recipe into containers image.
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