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Cheap, Free, and Happy

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Making Vapor Rub


After I received my order of beeswax from Mountain Rose, I realized I was going to be able to make a lot with it. A pound of beeswax goes a long way for a small family! Today we made homemade vapor rub, and early this summer we are going to make a big batch of lip balm with Nana to share with all my sisters.
I wanted to make two variations of vapor rub – a strong one with camphor for the Chief, and a mild one with lavender for the babies. Camphor is very strong and I don’t want to use it for the little ones.
I used 8 ounces of olive oil, about 2 ounces of beeswax. I warmed the oil over a double boiler (actually a cheap pot of water and a small bowl I picked up at the thrift store.) The oil goes in the bowl over the gently bowling water, so the oil doesn’t burn. Next time I make this, I want to use oil infused with some kind of mint to add extra strength to it – I know we will have a garden full of mint this summer. I melted the beeswax gently in the oil, and took it off the heat as soon as it was melted.
I poured the wax/oil into two tubs – repurposed from butter tubs. A real herbalist probably wouldn’t reuse old plastic butter tubs, but what can I say? They were the right size.
Then I added the oil. I used 40 drops of eucalyptus in each tub. I added 30 drops of lavender to the children’s tub and 30 drops of camphor to the Chief’s tub. I encourage anyone who wants to try this to experiment and see what works for you. Especially for kids, less is more.

The finished products smell really good!!!

I used:
Available from Mountain Rose:
White Camphor Oil
Eucalyptus Oil
Lavender Oil
Olive Oil (I bought mine on clearance at the grocery store)
Butter tubs – metal tins or glass jars would be better

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy the latest recipe, for herbal cough drops you can make in your kitchen.

I am putting together a kit for those who would like to try to make this themselves without the hassle of buying all the ingredients seperately – if you’d like to be put on the waiting list for the kit, fill out the form on my product page. The first run will be a short run and most likely limited to those on the waiting list. Or join my email list to the right – you’ll receive my FREE e-book in December and I’ll be sure to let you know when new products are launched.

23 comments on “Making Vapor Rub

  1. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!! I wonder if there is a way we can grow eucalyptus… or buy it.

  2. Oooo; I can’t wait to find out, too. I am following your blog. :)

  3. Any herbs you wish to use in something like this can be soaked in the warm oil for a few weeks first and then you will not need to buy the expensive e-oils for this wonderful remedy you have made. I buy all of my herbs from the same company you got your wax from. I keep them in the chest freezer where they will keep for years.

  4. Buy eucalyptus oil; don’t try to grow it. It spreads like crazy, drains the water table, and is highly flammable. Let the pros harvest it and package it safely to use.

    I shall have to try this rub. I have a big disk of beeswax waiting to be used.

  5. Love the idea of making my own vapor rub for my family. Can’t wait to try it. Such good ideas and inspiration on your blog, love it!

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  7. I had read you’re not supposed to use Eucalyptus Oil on kids…

    • rachelnanette on said:

      You would never use it directly on their skin. However I use it diluted with children. So does Vicks ;)

      • Eucalyptus smithii is best to use with children as its thought to be more mild. Eucalyptus is a mucus membrane irritant and children are more likely to accidentally get the oil (even undiluted) in their nose or eyes. But if precautions are taken to keep that from happening its one of the best oils for the respiratory tract and as an expectorant. Great post, I love herbal vapors and use them one my two little ones as well :-)

  8. This sounds wonderful! I do have a silly question. Since I have never done this before, is it safe to use food grade oil and have it sit in a jar? Would Jojoba Oil work just as well?

    • rachelnanette on said:

      If you are in a warm place, you could keep it in the fridge if you are worried about it spoiling. I keep mine in a cool, dry cupboard and it has lasted for two years. Jojoba would be a fine carrier oil – I find its a lot more expensive than olive oil, but if you have it on hand give it a try let me know how it turns out!

    • Stephanie Harjo on said:

      Most oils will degrade with excessive heat, some more so that others, but jojoba oils is very stable as it is actually a liquid wax. It is usually used at a 10% dilution with other carriers to keep them from going rancid and can be used in place of Vitamin E in a recipe. For germs the best way to protect your oils/lotions/etc is to keep from contaminating them as much as possible. Use lotion pumps and other dispensers as well as clean wood sticks (like smaller versions of a tongue depresser not sure what to call them) to get your products out of the container. If you do use your fingers make sure they are clean. I have used a Boo Boo salve for my children now for months with no contamination issues. Any water in a product makes them more susceptible to becoming contaminated. Oils are pretty resistant to it. Hope that helps!

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  11. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I can’t wait to make this vapor rub for my kids :) I have included this in my weekly roundup of useful blogs at Thanks again for the great idea!

  12. How do you make the lip balm?

    • rachelnanette on said:

      Did you download the First Aid guide, Sue? I have a whole section on lip balms in there. I guess I’d better blog them soon!

  13. Lindsey on said:

    I love this idea! But how long is it’s shelf life because how much I made at one time would depend on that

    • rachelnanette on said:

      If you’re concerned about the shelf life, it might help to keep it in the fridge. I’ve kept mine in a cool dark cupboard for a year with no problem, though.

  14. Susan on said:

    Hi there,

    We just shared your recipe on


  15. I have been living on the cheap for years. Our family of four great kids and the two adults survived well and healthy. Keep doing what you are doing, teach the survival skills they will need to know as they go through life, based on the natural beautiful world in which we live. They will be well rounded strong adults.

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