CategoriesMedicinal Using Herbs

Herbal (Essential Oil) Rub for Congestion & Coughs

“Vick’s Vaporub” is a well known cough, cold and congestion remedy that was introduced as far back as 1905 and still trusted today to help relieve symptoms of colds and flu.


This homemade version is quick and easy to make and can be adjusted to suit your likes and needs by changing the essential oils added to your base salve. I also like that it has herb infused oils as the base, or plant butters rather than petroleum products. 


1.       1/2 cup oil (I used Calendula infused olive and avocado oil)

2.       30g beeswax (grated or pelleted dissolves quicker)

3.       Essential oils

·         10 drops rosemary,

·         20-25 drops eucalyptus,

·         20-25 drops peppermint

Other oils that could be used – thyme, sweet orange, lemon, cedarwood, juniper berry, lavender, pine, tea tree. Or if you know the product Olbas, you can simply add the total number of drops as Olbas oil as your essential oil ingredients.

You can even make this without essential oils, but adding the actual herbs to the calendula infused oil.


1.    Heat the jar of oil in a double boiler (or place your jar on a lid at the bottom of a water filled pot, so that the bottle of oil does not touch the bottom of the pot)
2.    When hot, add beeswax pellets and let them melt into the oil completely. Mix well
3.    Take the oil and beeswax from the heat and let cool slightly before adding essential oils.
4.    Add essential oils and swirl to mix through.
5.    Decant into jars or bottles
6.    When solidified, seal and keep in medicine cabinet.

How to use: 

Rub the blend onto your chest, or put a bit on a tissue or cloth to inhale, some people add a bit to a steaming bowl of water as a steam inhalation too). I guess you could even diffuse it with an essential oil diffuser (tea candle type). And my mom was fond of rubbing it on my feet when I suffered a cold or chesty cough when I was little.

The oils are warming, so you’ll experience a heating sensation – always test first on a bit of skin before using a lot on delicate areas like the chest or under the nose. 

Safety for kids

The oil blend above is for adults and children over 12 years of age only. Some essential oils are not recommended for young kids. If you are making a vapor rub specifically for children, substitute with child-safe essential oils like lavender, thyme, sweet marjoram, cedarwood, pine, sweet orange, or lemon – check with a registered aromatherapist.

Calendula Oil How To

I always have some calendula oil on the go, because of Calendula’s skin healing ands soothing properties, it forms the basis of many of my herbal balms and salves. 


To make a cold infused calendula oil (maceration), pack dried calendula flowers into a wide-necked jar and pour enough oil (olive, almond, apricot kernel, avocado, coconut – your choice) over your herbs to submerge them, shaking gently to release air bubbles, and leave to infuse for at least 2 weeks, but best after four or more.


You can speed up this process by making a heated or warm infusion, by putting your jar of oil and flowers in a slow cooker filled with water and leaving it on the low setting for a few hours, the longer, the better.


I prefer using dried herb especially when I’m making a long cold maceration to minimize the risk of mold creeping in and spoiling my batch of oil. However, you can use wet or semi-dried herbs (wilted) as well, especially if you do a quick warm maceration.  


Once infused you can strain out the herb and keep the oil for future use.


  1. Thank you for this post Minette, really empowering for people to make their own chest rub. I have made a double infused calendula olive oil which is a rich gold colour and which I use on my face. I just love the idea of putting such healing oil on my skin. I will also turn it into a face cream.

    1. Oh, how wonderful! I can just see that rich golden colour in my mind’s eye!

  2. Can’t wait to make this

    1. If you don’t have the essential oils, my neighbour dearest, you can come by my place for a few drops 😉

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