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Homemade Decongestant Chest Balm

10.25.13 Homemade Decongestant Chest Balm

Whose mom (or dad) didn't slather them with Vicks Vapo Rub when they were sick as a kid? Or send it humming out of the humidifier in a mist? That ritual was so ingrained for so many of us, that we're likely to reflexively do the same when our kids are stuffed up and sick.

While we do so with the best of intentions, it may be time to re-think this traditional treatment. 

Vick's Vapo Rub is made with petrolatum. Yup, this means it's a derivative of petroleum (which gives Vicks ointment it's gloppy crude oil feel). Worse, petrolatum is an endocrine disruptor and a probable carcinogen. PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are the common contaminants found in petrolatum. And even more, healthy skin needs to take in oxygen but instead, this chemical has the ability to suffocate the skin. 

So, why not make your own soothing chest balm and bask in the comfort this natural remedy will give your family when congested? It really takes about 10 minutes to whip up a batch - and you'll be able to have this at moments notice.

Here's what you'll need (buy the complete kit here!):

Coconut Oil: We prefer Dr. Bronner's certified organic coconut oil. It's unrefined, virgin and fair trade. This pure oil is untouched by heat or chemical treatment before, during or after pressing so left in its raw state, every living enzyme and nutrient is left intact to nourish the body. Read here for more about the benefits of coconut oil. 

Beeswax: We love the feel of beeswax in a natural chest rub. This works to condition the skin and provide a smooth application, helping to seal in the benefits of this warming and congestion relieving mixture. Choose 100% beeswax (not a beeswax/paraffin mixture).

Essential Oils: For a cooling, congestion clearing balm, using a combination of these 3 oils (eucalyptus, peppermint and rosemary) is very effective.

Eucalyptus essential oil has many therapeutic properties including analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antiviral, decongestant and expectorant, among others.

Peppermint essential oil is also a staple essential oil and offers many therapeutic properties as well. Menthol, an organic compound provides an effective and cooling relief from many respiratory problems including nasal congestion, sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis and even the common cold.  The many properties include local anesthetic (helps to alleviate discomfort), antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory to name a few.

Rosemary essential oil has a warm and penetrating aroma. It both soothes and refreshes aching and tired muscles and acts as a natural pain reliever without any dopey feeling side effects. 

Storing Chest Balm: It's no secret that we are huge supporters of glass, wood, clay and stainless steel as materials to contain stuff. For this particular recipe, the small 79 ml Weck canning jars work perfectly for this amount of balm. Or, if you make a slight bit extra, you'll have some to gift away. Good to use for up to a year.

Even if you don't have a cold running through your home, this natural remedy is good to have on hand. Use for soothing chests or on the bottom of feet. Be careful with younger kids: dilute with more coconut oil and less amounts of essential oils.

Recipe for homemade chest balm: 

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tsp of beeswax (either in bead/pastille form or grated from a block)
  • 20 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
  • 15 drops of rosemary essential oil
1) Melt the beeswax and coconut oil in a double boiler of sorts. I used a small glass measuring cup (with a handy spout) inside a saucepot filled with about an inch of water. Make sure you melt this combination completely. 

2) Turn off the heat. Add in the drops of essential oils and stir well so the ingredients are well mixed. Pour into small containers and let set. 

Note: Alter the number of drops of essential oils to your preference (my daughter is not a fan of peppermint in anything so I substitute 5 drops of lavender essential oil in place of the mint). Or add ingredients like shea butter or vitamin e oil, if desired. Also, this balm can be made with just coconut oil and essential oils but the beeswax makes it particularly smooth to apply and nice on the skin.

What natural remedies do you like to make?

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