Natural Vapour Rub

This quick recipe is a natural and homemade alternative to Vicks VapoRub. This recipe uses an essential oil blend to provide the same topical relief of cold and flu symptoms. It will open your airways, calm your coughs and get rid of those pesky headaches.



Lasted me about: 1 year using when I, or anyone in my household was sick.

Estimated shelf life: 1 year if stored away from direct sunlight and moisture.

Remember: Most of these ingredients have a long shelf life and are common in natural recipes, so you will be left with ingredients to make more recipes, and won’t have to buy everything all over again.

*Costs accurate at time of writing this blog post.


  • The essential oil blend in this recipe is not safe for epileptics, pregnant women or babies.


  • Cheaper than buying Vicks Vaporub. The cost of 50g of Vicks Vaporub is about R45 for 50g (at the time of writing), whereas you can make double that amount at home for the same cost.

  • You benefit from ALL the properties of these pure essential oils, not just their ability to open your airways. Some other benefits of this blend include : the relief of headaches, nausea, lethargy and muscle pain, antibiotic, better circulation and reduced fever.

  • Detoxifying. Castor oil and the essential oil blend will help your body detox.

  • You avoid the petrolatum (or paraffin wax) and turpentine in traditional Vicks Vaporub.


  • Castor Oil: it improves immune function and aids detox by stimulating the lymphatic system, boosts circulation, improves digestion, reduces inflammation and relieves muscle and joint pain. (Buy cold-pressed castor oil here from Faithful to Nature or from Dischem).
  • Eucalyptus essential oil: antibacterial, boosts immunity, relieves and treats respiratory ailments, relieves seasonal allergies and headaches. (Buy from Faithful to Nature )
  • Rosemary essential oil: boosts immune system, relieves respiratory problems, headaches and pains. (Buy here)
  • Peppermint essential oil: treats respiratory problems, headaches, nausea, fever, and muscle and joint pain, reduces inflammation and prevents allergies and sinusitis. (Buy here)
  • Beeswax: moisturises the skin and hardens liquid oils to set them into a balm. (Buy here)

Important note: Castor oil is not safe for pregnant women. Castor oil may irritate some skin types, so please do a patch test first. Peppermint, rosemary and eucalyptus are not safe for epileptics, pregnant women or babies. Read more about how to use essential oils safely here.

Need help finding these, or other ingredients? My shopping guide may help you.

Natural Vapour Rub



  1. Makes about 100ml.
  2. Melt the beeswax in about 1 tablespoon of the castor oil over a double boiler.
  3. Once the beeswax is melted, add the remaining castor oil.
  4. Stir until you have a uniform liquid texture without beeswax clumps. Do not allow the mixture to overheat or boil. You just want the beeswax to melt.
  5. Remove mixture from heat, and transfer into container.
  6. Immediately add the essential oils, and mix well before it cools.
  7. As the mixture cools, it will harden and set.
  8. Store in an airtight container away from moisture and direct sunlight for up to one year.

Recipe variations

Castor oil is the most healing carrier oil for this purpose, however you can use any carrier oil for this recipe.  If you don’t have beeswax (or any other wax), you can use a solid carrier oil like coconut oil or shea butter. You can even leave out the bees wax completely, and use the product as a massage oil, rather than a balm.

Essential oils: If you can only afford one essential oil in this recipe, I recommend buying Eucalyptus oil. It is the best essential oil for a chest rub. Other good essential oils you can use are tea tree, spearmint, clove and lavender.


If you don’t want to make it yourself, then these are some natural vapor rub products which you can buy. They are, however, more pricey than making it yourself:

  1. The Apothecary Decongesting Vapour Rub ingredients: Coconut oil (organic, virgin), olive oil, beeswax (raw, locally sourced), essential oils (peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree, rosemary, clove).
  2. Earthway Infusions Vapour Rub ingredients: Coconut Oil, Natural Beeswax, Cocoa Butter, Eucalyptus Essential Oil, Peppermint Essential Oil, Lavender Essential Oil, Rosemary Essential Oil, Tea Tree Essential Oil, Camphor Essential Oil.


Do you think that this is an effective vapour rub? If you’ve tried it, please share your feedback in the comments below.