homemade vapour rub – or how to keep your spouse from giving you a long suffering look when you cough all night

I’m a little late to the party – but I never knew that VapoRub works better on coughs when you rub it into the bottoms of your feet. I really could have used that knowledge when the littles were littler. However, now I know.

The feet have the most pores on the body so essential oils can easily penetrate the skin and absorb into the bloodstream fairly quickly. Apparently, it is one of the best ways to use essential oils, especially on babies and young children.

I couldn’t find any of the store bought kind, plus if I’m changing to all natural products, using one that contains petroleum probably isn’t the best choice. I decided to make some vapour rub for myself. I figured I had everything I needed, and I was right. I had just bought a brick of beeswax from the local apiary (for some future experimentation) and the rest is part of normal stock.

I found this recipe on Crunchy Betty and followed it to the letter. I used the higher amounts she listed for the essential oils, to give it more vapour oomph. Just as she promises, the rub has the same consistency of the other brand, smells great and feels acceptable going on. It’s got to be good for your skin, too. I rubbed some on my chest and the soles of my feet, put my socks on and hopped into bed. It worked pretty well. I don’t think I got the hairy eyeball from the other side of the bed. But then again, I was asleep.  And my feet felt nice and soft in the morning. And, if it works well enough, my mother won’t threaten to come over to apply a mustard plaster. Oh, how I hated mustard plasters.

Homemade Vapour Rub

  • 2 tsp beeswax (grated)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or experiment with an oil of your choice)
  • 35 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 15 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 15 drops rosemary essential oil

Melt the beeswax and olive oil together until smooth (I used a glass bowl in the microwave, stopping and stirring a couple of times until it was completely melted). Stir well with a whisk. Continue whisking while adding the essential oils drop by drop. Transfer to a small lidded container. Store in a cool, dry place for up to  a year (or more).

I found the cute little yellow glass jar at the Sally Ann store (Salvation Army) for $0.25 a while back – I knew it would come in handy for something.

Hopefully this helps resolve the cough quickly – I’m old enough now that a coughing fit causes me to bend and brace myself so that I don’t pee and throw my back out at the same time.

Linking to Frugally Sustainable, Sorta Crunchy, Farmgirl Friday, Cheerios and Lattes, An Original Belle, A Delightful Home, GNOWFGLINS

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39 thoughts on “homemade vapour rub – or how to keep your spouse from giving you a long suffering look when you cough all night

  1. simpleintn says:

    I’m going to try it too! It sounds wonderful. And by the way, your self deprecating humor is much appreciated. I’m enjoying your blog a lot.

  2. Glad you are feeling better. I’ve never heard of mustard plaster, but from the sounds of it I’m probably better off not. I never could use vaporub it burned my skin when my mother used it on me as a child. Seriously, it would leave beat red burn marks on my skin. When I feel a cold coming on I resort to something my grandfather taught me. Hot water (or tea) with organic honey and lemon juice. It works every time! I’ve converted plenty of people to using this as its better for you and cheaper than OTC medications.

    • Yep, I drink honey lemon tea too – it even feels like a bit of a treat. My husband’s grandma used to make me hot buttered rum, too, but I wasnt as fond of that. She swore by it though. Chicken soup always helps too, especially homemade – it just makes me feel better.

      As for mustard plasters, they are a poultice made with mustard powder or seed, then wrapped in a cloth and applied on the chest (the paste doesnt contact the skin, thankfully). It heats up on its own. I’m not exactly sure what it’s meant to do – but it gets hot quickly. I hated them as a kid. Then, to make the experience that much more pleasant, mom or grandma would grease our chests and neck with medicated ointment and pin an old wool sock around our neck to keep it warm. Itchy, greasy fun.

      And don’t get me started on the cold baths to reduce fevers. Brrr.. I think now they’ve decided that those are no longer a good idea, due to risk of convulsion.

      • Thanks so much for defining mustard plaster, yuck, glad I never had to go through that! My grandfather used a towel around his neck when he drank his honey,lemon, water but thankfully never had me do it.

        As for the cold baths, I endured them in the first two years of my life, but when I say cold I mean cold. The doctors had them pack me in a tub of ice water, yes tub filled with water and almost equal parts of ice. I’m told I screamed till they took me out. That’s one memory I’m glad I don’t have.

      • I’m not sure which sounds worse, the illness or the cure! I’m glad the mustard plasters, greasy wool socks on the chest and cold baths are not part of my childhood illness memories. But maybe with the treatments you ended up spending less time sick than I did. (Or at least you may have well learned how to hide it!)

  3. Shira says:

    Amazing! Going on the list FOR SURE! I never knew about the feet thing either? Makes so much sense! Can’t wait to bust this out to provide relief for me family 🙂 Thanks!

  4. I didn’t know about rubbing it into the feet, either! Thanks for the great info.

  5. Thanks for this, Heidi! We do the rub on the feet (with socks) but use a store bought rub. I’d love to try a more natural rub. Hopefully you’re feeling better and I hope to not have illnesses until next winter 😉

  6. Somer says:

    I would love to know if it works. I LOVE essential oils! and please don’t pee and throw your back out at the same time! You may not be able to get back up to change yourself! 😉

  7. Janet S says:

    This is great. And you have just told me about the feet application while my own babies are small…so thank you! I love Unpetroleum Jelly (made without dinosaurs) and I wonder if mixing the essential oils into that would be one way to shortcut. Think it would work?

    • I don’t see why not. They just need a carrier of some sort. I’ve never heard of unpetroleum jelly before. That would also have been handy to know when my kids were little.

      • Janet S says:

        Unpetroleum Jelly is made by alba and contains castor seed oil, coconut oil, beeswax, vitamin E. I love it and use it for lots of stuff.

    • Somer says:

      unpetroleum is great, but you can use olive or coconut oil just as effectively. The reason rubbing the oils on the bottom of the feet works so well is that the pores on the bottom of the feet are the largest pores in the body, so it allows the oils to absorb more quickly into the blood stream when you apply them to your feet. Just don’t heat the oils when applying them into whatever solution you are making as heating them can destroy their effectiveness and their healing properties.

  8. Great information, and info that I could have used years ago. I wonder if rubbing vaporub into sore feet would make them feel better.

  9. It’s amazing the things we can make at home that we have “forgotten” about. Great post.

  10. I’ve used vaporub all my life (and now on my little one) and had no idea about the feet trick–Thank you! Will file that away and try this homemade version.

  11. coville123 says:

    I didn’t know it works better rubbed into the bottom of the feet,my husband coughs all the time I must try it tonight.Thanks for the tip!

  12. […] got that covered. We recycle. I have a small fascination with essential oils lately – see the Homemade Vapo-Rub, Lip Balm and Rosemary – Mint Body Wash and Shampoo. I also made Lemon Olive Oil […]

  13. So I just made this, and it was very runny. ((Though it hasn’t even cooled yet)) Is the rub quite runny before it sets??

  14. […] don’t forget that you can make your own homemade version of Vapour Rub, minus the dead dinosaurs (petroleum). Share […]

  15. Hi, can you tell me what EVOO is please? I would like to make this homemade version.

  16. sista says:

    I use to put that stuff on my kids feet when they were little. I was told it was to keep the wee ones from getting it in their eyes and the vapor would waft up inside the blankets and do the job. Pretty hard to reach your feet when you are sleeping.

  17. Elria Ellis says:

    Hello, I live in Belgium and have no idea what EVOO is. Could you please explain, maybe I can find a local replacement? Thanks! Elria

  18. blowingoffsteamandmore says:

    So excited to see this!! My daughter has been coughing at night and I didn’t want to give her the other guy we all know. Perfect timing! Now I just have to figure out where to get beeswax…

  19. […] found the recipe on Heidi’s blog, Lightly Crunchy.  If you’re ever looking for great information on how to live life in a sustainable way, […]

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