10.29.2013

homemade vapor rub...without the bad stuff

My uncle is a physician and my number one go-to for medical advice (or first-time mom freak-outs, you choose). One of the earliest pieces of advice I remember him teaching me was to always say no to the Vicks Vapor Rub. It has a lot of harmful ingredients -- including petroleum and turpentine oil (yuck!) -- that don't really belong rubbed into anyone's skin. Not to mention the cooling sensation from the menthol simply tricks your body into thinking you can breathe better -- it doesn't actually make you breathe better. On the contrary, recent studies have shown that that it's ingredients can actually serve as irritants to trigger more mucus and congestion in small children, which can cause severe upper respiratory problems. And, well, we've got enough upper respiratory problems to last us ten lifetimes over around here.

We've been experiencing some chilly (for us) temperatures here in South Florida and this gorgeous, chilly breeze has been one heck of an invitation to spend a lot more time outside. But with the thrill of not feeling like your flesh is melting clear off comes some stuffiness and breathing issues for Ethan. With each sad little cough, I'm remembering why I was so grateful for last year's cold front to just go away already. I wanted something to actually help keep his airways clear without having to load up on medications or potentially harmful body rubs so I scoured the internet and made my own version of vapor rub. Without any of that yucky stuff -- always a plus.

First, you need jars. I always have some sterilized baby food jars on hand for various craft projects so that came in handy. Make sure you have a jar with a lid that seals on tightly and properly. As for the ingredients, you need:

1/4c olive oil
4 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons shredded or chopped up beeswax (Whole Foods had 100% beeswax unscented taper candles for $6 -- this was the budget-friendly equivalent of buying pre-chopped or shredded beeswax pellets. It was pretty easy to just grate up in a few seconds with a hand grater!)
15 drops peppermint essential oil
35 drops eucalyptus essential oil
15 drops rosemary essential oil
5 drops lavender essential oil

I used each of these oils for a reason. Eucalyptus has antiviral properties and decongestant. Peppermint oil helps to open nasal passages. For adults, you could use more peppermint than I did, but since this was primarily for Ethan, I used a little less. (Some people recommend against use of peppermint oil on infants so always consult your doctor first!) Rosemary is also an antiseptic that is recommended for kids two and over helps to open nasal passages. I also threw in a little lavender because it's an antihistamine and also for it's relaxing properties (when he can't breathe, Ethan has even more trouble sleeping than usual!).

Experiment with your own ratio of wax to oil. I kept mine pretty diluted with oil since it was primarily for Ethan, but you could always lessen the amount of oil used. Ours still hardened nicely but was still just mushy enough to rub in easily without caking on and driving Ethan nuts.

Anyway, to make, combine your oils and beeswax in a glass.

Bring water in a small saucepan to boil and then remove from heat and place glass inside. After about 8-10 minutes and some stirring, the wax will melt and the oils will combine.

Add in your essential oils and stir. Immediately pour into glass jars and seal lids tightly.

After about 30 or so minutes, your vapor rub will set.

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