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.

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. Use carnauba or soy wax as a vegan substitute for the bees wax. You can even leave out the bees wax completely, and use the product as a massage oil, rather than a balm. 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, camphor and lavender.

Cost & Shelf Life

Cost Price: R48 per 100ml.
Lasted me about:
 1 year using when anyone in my household was sick.
Estimated shelf life: 1 year if stored away from direct sunlight and moisture.

*Costs accurate at the time of writing, and based on the best retail prices I’ve found.


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

Cherry on Top

  • 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 here )
  • 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.

Recommended Retail Options

If you can’t make this recipe yourself, then you can buy Earthway Infusions Vapour Rub . It is, however, double the price of making it yourself.

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


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