Make Your Own DIY All-Natural Vapor Chest Rub for Coughs!

Homemade Chest Vapor RubEveryone in our household has asthma. It’s well-controlled for all of us, but it does mean that when we get sick, it always ends up in the chest. Coughs galore for weeks on end. This happened at the top of the month with my daughter, whose asthma was ignored when we went into the doc initially. Now she’s back on oral steroids (briefly), and I’m doing my best to keep her from being overloaded with meds as they struggle to strengthen her lungs.

One thing that came up was that we had been using a nighttime chest rub (of the Vapo-rub variety) to help her sleep. It was the only thing that had been working, and I asked if it was okay to continue. The doctor said she had seen some studies that suggested it actually made inflammation worse and recommended we stop.

I came home that night determined to find an all-natural DIY chest rub I could make at home that had safe ingredients. This was particularly important after I re-read the ingredients on ye olde chest rub and realized it contained petroleum and turpentine in the inactive ingredients. Yuck.

The batch I whipped up has been used three nights in a row, and not only has it controlled my daughter’s cough through the entire night, it also works better than the Mucinex she was taking! Super win.

*     *     *

DIY All-Natural Chest RubAfter poking around, I decided to adapt a recipe combining the best elements from other posters, including Back Door Survival. After taking into consideration what I had on hand and how I wanted to approach the task (quick and easy!), I settled on something that was embarrassingly fast. I will never use store-bought vapor rub again!

I decided on coconut oil as the carrier because I have lots of it, it’s a bit thicker at room temp, and I figured it would be less stain-y. I have no beeswax on hand and so went with shea butter instead to make things a bit thicker and add a moisturizing element to the rub. So far, the rub has worked best simply stored in the upstairs bathroom cabinet. (The fridge made it too cold, according to my little one.)

1/2 cup (or 8 Tbsp) coconut oil
2 Tbsp shea butter
1/4 tsp (or 15 drops)  eucalyptus essential oil
1/4 tsp (or 15 drops)  rosemary essential oil
1/4 tsp (or 15 drops)  peppermint essential oil
1/4 tsp (or 15 drops)  cedarwood essential oil

  • In a small to medium-sized jar, combine the coconut oil and shea butter. Don’t bother melting it unless it’s crazy solid. The friction from your stirring should be enough to create a fluffy cream. A fork or whisk will help add air.
  • Add each of the essential oils and stir again.
  • Store in an air-tight, lidded container somewhere cool and dark if possible.
  • You’re done. Crazy easy, right?

A few important notes: If you’ve got a child under two: Do some more poking around. Some essential oils are more safe for infants than others. It’s worth knowing what substitutions are best to make.

If you don’t have shea butter, you could use beeswax (definitely melt it before you combine it though), mango butter, or cocoa butter. You can also substitute a different carrier oil for the coconut. Olive oil seems highly recommended (but just be aware it may stain).

As for staining, I’ve yet to see anything on my daughter’s sleep shirt; however, it may happen. I was not overly worried since it’s her sleepwear and not something she’ll be seen in outside the house. If you are worried about staining, you may want to rub everything in, wait a minute, and then gently remove the excess.

Good luck and happy breathing!


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