Homemade Decongestant Chest Rub – Compare to Vicks®

The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.
It is not a substitute for your doctor's care plan or advice.

DIY Chest Rub Recipe! Ditch the Vicks® and make this instead! No added chemical nasties, it's cheaper, and can be customized with your favorite essential oils for sinuses!

Homemade Vapor Rub / DIY Chest Rub

I never even thought of making my own decongestant homemade chest rub.

In fact, I had completely forgotten that there even was a product like that.

Until I needed it.

Necessity is the mother of invention, right?

In this case, yes.  And though I didn't really invent this, I finally cobbled together information from the internet and made my own.

About two weeks ago, at bedtime, my youngest son's nose was completely stuffed up.  It's allergy season here so a bit of sniffling is to be expected, but not the total clogging that he was experiencing.  And he was pretty miserable.  There is nothing harder for a mom than when her child is suffering and you don't know how to help him.

We tried our saline nasal rinse and blowing, but neither worked well at all.

Then I remembered an email I had gotten from a reader, mentioning that she had a recipe for Vicks Rub.

So I reread her email and the web and I was once again off and running to “Make Your Own Land” :-).

If you have the ingredients on hand, this is a breeze.   And it has much cleaner ingredients than the commercial brand.

Now some people might not think that it is a big deal, but there is reason to be concerned about what you put on your skin.

Toxins in Skin Care

1.  Think about how pharmaceutical companies are producing drug patches these days.  You put the patch on and the drug seeps into your skin.

2.  Then there is the whole paraben/breast cancer issue.  Parabens (used in lots of personal care products) haven been found in breast cancer tissue.

The jury is still out on how the parabens got in there.  And I know that there are different sizes of molecules so that some things may pass through the skin while others won't.

Then, I looked at the ingredients in Vicks and thought,  “who wants to put turpentine oil on a child's skin anyway?”  Yes, there is turpentine oil in Vicks — Ugh!) (UPDATE 1/1/13: I was just informed by a reader that turpentine oil is approved for use in decongestant rubs.  However, I will say that there is a warning on one of the resources that I checked, stating that:

There isn’t enough information to know whether turpentine oil can be safely inhaled by children or put on their skin. It’s best to avoid any use of turpentine oil in children.

UPDATE 4/16: Wake Forest has published a warning about the ingredients in Vicks:

“The ingredients in Vicks can be irritants, causing the body to produce more mucus to protect the airway,” said Bruce K. Rubin, M.D., lead author of the study and a professor in the department of pediatrics at Brenner Children’s Hospital, part of Wake Forest Baptist. “Infants and young children have airways that are much narrower than those of adults, so any increase in mucus or inflammation can narrow them more severely.   (Source)

There is also petrolatum in Vicks and I try to avoid that whenever I can as it is a derivative of petroleum.)

So, I whipped up a batch, rubbed some on my son's chest and even dabbed some on his PJ's directly under his nose.  Another good tip is to place some on the sick person's pillow.

It worked immediately and about ten minutes later, he was asleep :-).

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DIY Chest Rub Recipe! Ditch the Vicks® and make this instead! No added chemical nasties, it's cheaper, and can be customized with your favorite essential oils for sinuses!

This is a great option for a container off of Amazon.  Nice color, nice compact size, and travels well.

Important note:  Do not apply undiluted essential oils directly to the skin, or injest them, unless otherwise directed by the manufacturer. Here is a post on How to Use Essential Oils for more information.

I hope this works for you!

DIY Chest Rub Recipe! Ditch the Vicks® and make this instead! No added chemical nasties and much cheaper!











If you enjoy frugal, healthy options to over the counter products, check out my Recipes page where you can find a lot more “Make Your Own” options including:

Interested in more about Essential Oils?

Do you have a favorite natural remedy that you would care to share?

Or leave a comment with something that you would like a natural remedy for.  I'm game for a challenge!

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  1. Sara Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing the homemade chest rub recipe. It worked well for me and my mother.