Cool Vibes Vapor Rub – An Essential Oil Vapor Rub for Coughs, Congestion, & Stuffy Noses

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One of my least favorite feelings, when I am sick, is that feeling of not being able to breathe. It overwhelms me and makes it very difficult to sleep at night. When I first started learning about aromatherapy, the first essential oils that I purchased, were lavender and eucalyptus. My first chest cold came right after that, and I was so grateful to have had those essential oils on hand. I mixed  the lavender and eucalyptus with some coconut oil and applied it to my chest, back, and feet. It worked so well, I couldn't believe it could be so easy to help with congestion. After that moment I was hooked on essential oils and natural health. I really love being able to make whatever my family needs when they need it! It is so empowering!

Why should I make it myself?

The most commonly used commercial vapor rub on the market contains some  ingredients that are toxic. With ingredients such as turpentine (which is toxic to young children in as little as 3 tsp.) and petrolatum (a product of crude oil that coats the skin like plastic wrap and in turn blocks the skin's natural function of releasing toxins from the body), I would rather make my own vapor rub and know what I am putting on my skin. Plus, the upside is you do end up saving a good deal of money making it yourself, compared to the price you pay for the truly good brands!

Essential oils that help for a cough, congestion, and stuffy noses

The most common congestion blend usually always combines eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, and rosemary. While those are definitely part of my go-to blend, there are also quite a few other essential oils out there that help for a cough, congestion, and stuffy noses during the cold and flu season! I am a big fan of the woodsy scents for chest congestion, but there are many more essential oils that would make a great addition to your chest rub (It is important to do your research on the essential oils that you choose to include in your chest rub! It is very important that you use essential oils with great care and be sure to read my post Introduction to Essential Oil Safety) :

  • Basil – A natural expectorant, basil essential oil works great with helping chest congestion, lung, and respiratory issues. Naturally antiseptic, antibacterial, and a decongestant, a little bit goes a long way with basil essential oil. It is so potent, only a few drops are needed when using this essential oil.
  • Chamomile – A natural antihistamine and anti-convulsant, chamomile essential oil can also help to calm the mind so that you can get a good night's sleep!
  • Cinnamon leaf – Naturally an antiviral and antiseptic essential oil, cinnamon leaf is also a great decongestant. It's warming properties help to increase circulation, helping to speed up the healing process.
  • Citronella – Citronella is a well known antibacterial and antiseptic essential oil for repelling bugs, but it's also a great essential oil for opening up the airways and helping to clear chest congestion.
  • Clove – A natural expectorant, clove is a great antiseptic essential oil that is always on hand in my house. Use clove essential oil sparingly as it's a very potent essential oil and can cause irritation if not diluted properly.
  • Cypress – I love the woodsy essential oils when I am sick. Cypress is a natural antiseptic expectorant and really does a great job of helping to open up the airways for easier breathing.
  • Eucalyptus – All versions of eucalyptus, including lemon eucalyptus, are fabulous for chest congestion, coughs, and stuffy noses. It should be avoided around children under 10 years of age, but for everyone else, it is definitely a must have antiseptic essential oil for congestion.
  • Fir needle – A natural cough suppressant and expectorant, fir needle is one of the woodsy essential oils that I love to replace eucalyptus with when making my child-friendly congestion blend!
  • Frankincense – A natural antiseptic expectorant, frankincense has a long history with the cold and flu season and is always in my children's anti-germ blend.
  • Juniper Berry – Another woodsy scent that is highly antiseptic and works great for a cough or congestion.
  • Lavender – One of the gentlest essential oils that pretty much goes in every recipe I make, lavender is highly antiseptic and antibacterial. As a member of the mint family, lavender does a great job of opening up the airways while also helping to calm you down for a good night's rest
  • Lemon – Highly antiseptic and antibacterial, citrus essential oils have properties that help to break up mucus easing congestion. I tend to use sweet orange essential oil instead of lemon because it's not as harsh.
  • Lime – Highly antiseptic and antibacterial, citrus essential oils have properties that help to break up mucus easing congestion.
  • Sweet Marjoram – Highly antiseptic and antiviral, sweet marjoram is a great expectorant that helps open up the airways and relaxes the body for a good night's rest.
  • Peppermint – One of the mints that contain more menthol content than the others, peppermint is naturally antibacterial and a natural expectorant. Use sparingly because peppermint essential oil can be very potent and cause irritation if not diluted properly.
  • Pine – Naturally antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiviral, pine essential oil is a fabulous decongestant and expectorant. Use sparingly because pine can be very potent and can cause irritation if not diluted properly
  • Ravensara – Not to be confused with “Ravintsara” essential oil (which is toxic), Ravensara essential oil is a well known antiviral and anti-infectious agent used during the cold and flu season. Ravensara is great for chest congestion, bronchitis, and even sinusitis. Use sparingly because ravensara can be very potent and can cause irritation if not diluted properly.
  • Rosemary – Highly antiseptic, rosemary is another mint family member that is great at helping to open up the airways and eases congestion.
  • Spearmint – Much gentler than peppermint, spearmint is still a great herb at opening up the airways. A natural expectorant, spearmint essential oil is great in place of peppermint for young ones!
  • Sweet Orange – Highly antiseptic and antibacterial, citrus essential oils have properties that help to break up mucus easing congestion.Sweet orange is my go-to citrus essential oil because of its tasty smell and its gentleness.
  • Tea tree – Tea tree essential oil is a highly antiseptic and antibacterial essential oil that is well known for its expectorant use with coughs, congestion, and the cold and flu season in general.
  • Thyme – Highly antiseptic and antiviral, thyme is a natural expectorant and used throughout the ages for chest congestion and coughs. When using the essential oil, use it sparingly because thyme can be very potent and can cause irritation if not diluted properly.

Cool Vibes Vapor Rub

You can easily make this recipe with only the essential oils and coconut oil. In the winter time, unrefined coconut oil will harden if the temperature drops below 76 degrees, so if you do not have any beeswax on hand, do not fear! Simply melt coconut oil, add the essential oils and allow to cool. This recipe makes 8 oz. of salve. You can pour this into four 2 oz. tins or one 8 oz. mason jar, for storage. I like to make this recipe with both olive oil and coconut oil because it utilizes the natural healing benefits of both while also making the final consistency smoother. If you only have one on hand, you can replace either of the oils with the carrier oil that you have on hand.



  1. In a double boiler, combine coconut oil and beeswax and melt ingredients.
  2. Remove from heat and add essential oils and vitamin e (if using). Pour into containers to cool. Store in a cool dark place when not in use.

TO USE: Dab a small amount onto your fingers and apply to your chest, back, and feet to help open up airways and ease breathing. An old school remedy to help you sleep is to rub a generous amount of vapor rub on your feet and cover them with socks, before bed. This will help you sleep soundly through the night when you have a cough and congestion. Even my pediatrician has told me to do this with the kiddo for a peaceful night's sleep (just make sure to use the Cool Vibes Vapor Rub Jr. version on the kids!) You can also use a small scoop of this in a cup of hot water to make a steam inhalant. Use as often as needed. A little bit goes a LONG way!


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