Homemade Vapor Chest Rub - Dr. Axe

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Homemade Vapor Rub


Homemade vapor chest rub - Dr. Axe

Vapor rubs are typically used on the chest, back and throat to help with symptoms of a common cold or minor aches and pains of the muscles and joints. Of course, you can purchase vapor rubs in stores, but these products can contain toxic ingredients that are harmful to your health.

For example, camphor is the most common ingredient and recognized by its woodsy smell, but while camphor oil can confer some benefits, too much can be problematic. Manufacturers warn that it should not be applied in or near the nostrils and not used on children under 2 years of age.

According to Dr. Bruce Rubin from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, an over-the-counter vapor rub “may make people with congestion feel more comfortable, but it does nothing to increase airflow or actually relieve the congestion.” In fact, research performed on ferrets found that an over-the-counter vapor rub increased mucus and decreased mucus clearance. This means that these topical treatments may not only ignore the source of the problem, but they may actually make symptoms worse.

So why do people feel better after using these creams? It’s menthol. The strong menthol odor tricks the brain into feeling like your nasal passages are unclogged.

In high doses, menthol side effects may include drowsiness, abdominal pain, convulsions, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, ataxia and coma. For some people, it may cause allergic reactions and symptoms such as headache, flushing or contact dermatitis.

How to Make A Homemade Chest Rub

Luckily, this homemade vapor rub recipe really works and is completely natural! You can feel confident in what you are putting on your body. You only need five simple ingredients: olive oil, coconut oil, grated beeswax, cedarwood essential oil and eucalyptus essential oil, along with a container to store the mixture in.

The essential oils deliver a soothing feeling while giving off an aroma that helps to open up the respiratory system and help improve the ease of breathing.

In fact, the cedarwood and eucalyptus essential oils pack this rub with a number of benefits. Cedarwood essential oil possesses an antispasmodic ability and may help to relieve a cough. It also contains a very soothing scent that helps people with sleep issues. Eucalyptus essential oil functions as an expectorant, helping to cleanse the body of toxins, making it great for relieving symptoms of the cold and flu. It has also proven helpful with sinus and respiratory problems.

For anyone over the age of 3, you can also substitute peppermint essential oil for cedarwood, as peppermint oil is used for muscle pain relief, sinus care, fever reducing, headache help, nausea relief and so much more. But don’t use peppermint oil for anyone under the age of 3, as it can increase the risk for seizures.

Try this homemade vapor chest rub today. Simply pour the olive oil, coconut oil and beeswax into a glass jar. To save containers, choose a jar you can store your homemade vapor rub in later. Fill a saucepan with two inches of water and place over low heat.

Then, set the jar in the saucepan and wait for the oils to melt. Stir to combine. Once you mix all of the ingredients together, allow to cool and add in the essential oils. Use a wooden spoon to combine.

You can store on the shelf. Ideally, use the product within six months for maximum effectiveness. Apply to chest before bed.


This DIY recipe is not recommended for babies. And just a reminder that eucalyptus oil is not safe for internal use and should only be used aromatically or topically. For children, make sure to restrict usage to the chest area and not near the face.

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Vapor rub

Homemade Vapor Chest Rub

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  • Author: Dr. Josh Axe
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 30 uses 1x


This homemade chest rub recipe really works and is completely natural! You can feel confident in what you are putting on your body. You only need five simple ingredients.


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup grated beeswax
  • 20 drops cedarwood essential oil
  • 20 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • glass jar


  1. Pour the olive oil, coconut oil and beeswax into a jar.
  2. Place a saucepan with 2 inches of water over low heat.
  3. Place jar in saucepan and allow oils and beeswax to melt. Stir with wooden spoon to combine.
  4. Once combined, allow to cool and add in essential oils. Stir to combine.
  5. Pour mixture into metal tins or storage containers and allow to set.


For children over the age of 3, you can substitute peppermint oil for cedarwood oil.

  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Category: Body care
  • Method: Mixing

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  1. Jenna on

    Hi! I can’t wait to try this. This winter has been awful with my family constantly passing something along. I have been researching the many different uses for vapor rub. I have found that it may reduce belly fat and/or diminish stretch marks. Would this recipe have the same properties? And secondly, it has helped some people with toenail fungus. Would this recipe help with that as well?
    Thank you!

  2. Linda Johnson on

    Bees wax may smell like smoke, because of the process of extracting the honey/wax, from the hive. They smoke the hive, to get the bees to leave, then extract the honey. It’s the easiest process, to rob, the hive.

  3. Jeannette on

    I absolutely love your recipes! Where do you purchase your essential oils? The oils I use are 100% pure therapeutic grade, which means they are not diluted in any way. Would I need as many drops of oils in your recipes?

  4. Jo on

    For a chest rub, I use just coconut oil and eucalyptus EO. The eucalyptus pretty much overpowers the smell of coconut oil. I’d add a little beeswax if I was traveling with it to make sure it didn’t melt. Eucalyptus could be added to plain, or plantain, or pine needle infused olive oil for a chest rub too. I use 1 tablespoon melted beeswax/4 oz. olive oil. Plantain & pine needle infused oil works as a decongestant on its own too. So many options!

  5. Jessica on

    Dr Axe, do you know if there is a local supplier that carries a comparable grade beeswax? I am north of Nashville and don’t mind a drive within a couple hours.

  6. rhonda on

    Just remember not to put peppermint on children under 3. It can cause throat spasms and their airway to close. You could use different essential oils for young children. Niaoli and rosemary and Melaleuca arternfolia.

    • Dr. Josh Axe on

      I can’t say exactly but I do know that the shelf life of each of the ingredients individually is for a very long time and none of them require any kind of refrigeration or upkeep!

      • Paula on

        In an answer to another question you say this should last 2-4 weeks. Here you say for a very long time. Since a breathing rub isn’t necessary for me, I would want this to last. Thanks

  7. Ann-Marie on

    Dr. Axe, it says on the last step, “Pour mixture into metal tins or storage containers and allow to set.” Can you not just keep it in the glass jar to set? Or do you let it set in the other containers then scoop it into the glass jar?

  8. Julie on

    Is this ok to use as a daily moisturizer? Will the peppermint or eucalyptus be drying to the skin? I love the idea of such a soothing refreshing body lotion. I currently make my own with Shea butter, coconut oil and jojoba oil but I never add essential oils.

  9. Butterfly Girl on

    Greetings Dr Axe

    Is there a good substitute for coconut oil? I simply don’t like the arouma as it makes me feel nauseous . Any ideas ?

  10. Heather on

    To clarify my “searched all over” comment above, I mean that when also shopping in store, i find it does smell smokey.

  11. Heather on

    I see above that the bees wax is linked to an item on Amazon. I have read reviews everywhere about the bees wax smelling of smoke. I searched all over and found that this is the norm. So my questions are, where exactly do you personally buy beeswax and is it possible to find it without the smoky smell? And, if that is something to be expected, is there a way at all to get rid of it?

    Thanks so much!


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