DIY Vapor Rub

Is this familiar? You've had a ton of success replacing products in your bathroom with versions in recyclable, plastic-free packaging, or with refillable options. But, when it comes to the items in your medicine cabinet, you just can't seem to make a dent. And while you're also a very pragmatic person who won't worry yourself too much over these products because modern medicine tells you that you need them, you still find yourself longing for more sustainable options.

Well, as we welcome in flu season, we have a tiny ray of sunshine to add to your gloomy plastic-y medicine cabinet - an alternative to conventional vapor rub!

What's not to love about conventional vapor rub?

In addition to being packaged in plastic, your trusty tub of vapor rub includes petroleum (petrolatum aka petroleum jelly) as one of the primary ingredients! 

Cosmetics containing petroleum jelly may contain Mineral Oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons (MOHA), which is considered possibly carcinogenic by the European Food Safety Authority.1

While the FDA hasn't recognized any concerns with the use of petroleum in cosmetics, a desire to avoid the use of nonrenewable resources for non-durable products may be incentive enough to steer clear.

The active ingredients in conventional vapor rub serve the purpose of suppressing coughs and relieving pain. And a lot of essential oils that you can pick up at your grocery store can fulfill the same functions! So, making your own vapor rub is not just possible, it's actually pretty accessible to many of us! Woohoo!


Adjust measurements depending on the size of your container. This recipe will make about 4 oz. 

2 Tbsp. beeswax (or 1 Tbsp. candelilla wax)

2 Tbsp. shea butter

4 1/2 Tbsp. liquid oil (almond, jojoba, olive, or sunflower)

20 drops peppermint essential oil

20 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Optional: 5 drops each of lavender, rosemary, and/or tea tree essential oils (just don't exceed 48 total drops of essential oils)

*As a general rule, don't exceed 12 drops of essential oils per 1 oz. of product.2 Reduce this amount if using on children. 


Suspend your jar in a pot of water and add wax and shea butter.

Heat on the stove until wax and butter are melted.

Add liquid oil while stirring mixture.

Add essential oil.

Stir and allow to cool.

Why peppermint essential oil?

When inhaled, peppermint essential oil has been shown to help with nausea, and when applied topically, it can help with muscle pain and headaches.3

Why eucalyptus essential oil?

Inhaling eucalyptus vapor can reduce and loosen mucus, and when applied topically, it can also soothe muscle and joint pain.4

Why rosemary essential oil?

Inhaling rosemary essential oil has been shown to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can be beneficial for immune function. Studies have also shown that applying rosemary oil topically can improve general cheeriness.5

Why lavender essential oil?

When inhaled, lavender oil can help with pain, nausea, and anxiety, and can aid in getting you that good night's rest you've been craving.6

Why tea tree oil?

Tea tree oil has been shown to effectively kill bacteria and viruses responsible for illness, including certain varieties of influenza.7 Including this in your mix will help sanitize your hands. Win for you, win for your friends. 

Ready to DIY but need some help with the supplies? Click the image below to shop. 


1| Petroleum Jelly, Wikipedia; 2| Essential Oil Dilution Chart, Mountain Rose Herbs; 3| Benefits of Peppermint Oil, Healthline; 4| 9 Unexpected Benefits of Eucalyptus Oil, Healthline; 5| 14 Benefits and Uses of Rosemary Essential Oil, Healthline; 6| Lavender: Use, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, ..., WebMD; 7| 14 Everyday Uses for Tea Tree Oil, Healthline

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