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Homemade Vapor Rub


Homemade Vapor 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 contain toxic ingredients — such as camphor — that are harmful to your health.

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. (1) 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. (2)

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, peppermint essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil and then 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 peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils pack this rub with a number of benefits. Peppermint essential oil is used for muscle pain relief, sinus care, fever reducing, headache help, nausea relief and so much more. 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.

Try this homemade vapor 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 medium-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.

Homemade Vapor Rub

Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 30-60


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup grated bees wax
  • 20 drops peppermint 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 medium low heat.
  3. Place jar in saucepan and allow oils to melt. Stir to combine.
  4. Once combined, allow to cool slightly and add in essential oils.
  5. Pour mixture into metal tins or storage containers and allow to set.

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  1. Dee on

    I am interested in links for the purchase of the pure essential oils. DoTerra is far too expensive, I cannot afford their oils no matter the purity. Tropical Traditions was mentioned, who are very reasonable; there must be others. Help.

    A page with links would be a wonderful addition to your site, Dr. Axe.

  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. on

    Dr. Axe would this rub be safe for my dad who has COPD or would he be better off with the milder recipes for children

    • Dr. Josh Axe on

      Try mixing shea butter and coconut oil with frankincense and geranium and put a thick layer over your feet each night before bed. Put socks on right after and sleep with them on.

  7. 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.

    • Rita on

      doTERRA oils are safe for children when diluted properly. Synthetic oils are very problematic when used on children, and for oils bought OTC or from most online retailers, you have no idea whether or not the oils being sold are real, natural oils without adulterants. doTERRA tests all its oils, and guarantees them to be pure, natural plant oils of stated species.
      Peppermint is a strong oil, and should be diluted even when used by adults. The best carrier oil is one that is as pure as the EO it’s used with. Pure organic olive oil or coconut oil are both good choices, although the coconut oil is much less likely to go rancid.

      • Brooke on

        Rhona is right. Even with pure, unaltered oils, the natural chemical make up of peppermint and eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3, especially on their throat or around the mouth as it can possibly trigger a reflex that can slow their breathing. There are safer options to use: pine, balsam fir, blue spruce, cedarwood that are safe with kids. I encourage you to do your research, Rita, be educated on safe usage.

  8. elena on

    Just made it…….. Smell Soooooo gooood!!!!! Easy to make and ingredients are not that expansive ……

    • 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

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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 ?

  12. Heather on

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

  13. 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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