Suffering from a cough, sore throat, stuffy nose or clogged sinuses? Promote healing with a homemade rub for colds and flu that you can apply to your chest and feet! My homemade salve recipe uses only natural ingredients and essential oils and is a great way to ease the symptoms of a cold or flu. This homemade balm for colds and flu helps to clear nasal congestion and to relief from respiratory problems. In this post I talk about how to make a DIY rub for colds and flu, the materials and ingredients you need. I also go over the right dosage of essential oils for adults and children and how to use and store the salve.
Benefits of homemade cold and flu balm
Colds and flu can occur throughout the year but are more common during the winter months. They are caused by viruses, and the main symptoms include sneezing, a sore throat and a blocked or runny nose. The benefits of making your own cold and flu balm are that the recipe is made with all-natural ingredients. Many commercially produced slaves or rubs contain petroleum jelly, which can’t be absorbed the skin as good as plant-based carrier oils. Another benefit is that you can customise the rub and choose essentials according to your specific needs. It’s important to realise that this salve helps to ease some of the symptoms but doesn’t cure a cold or flu and that you should always seek the advice and treatment by a doctor or health professional.
What ingredients and materials do I need to make a balm for colds and flu at home?
Aside from essential oils, which I touch upon in a second, the rub is a mixture of a carrier oil, wax, and a vegetable butter. Here’s the breakdown of the ingredients:
- The main component of the rub is plant-based carrier oil. The carrier oil helps to absorb the essentials oils into the tissue where they get to work. You can use almost any carrier oil at your disposal. Since the primary goal is to make a natural remedy for the cold or flu and not to treat a specific skin condition, you don’t have to break the bank and use an expensive carrier oil. I often use olive or sunflower seed oil as I have them always in my pantry. Avocado or safflower oil are also great options. Herbal-infused oils can further enhance the healing abilities of the rub. In this case, reduce the amounts of essential oils or omit them altogether.
- Wax regulates the consistency of the balm and makes it spreadable. You can prepare the rub either with beeswax or carnauba wax if you want to make a vegan product. Beeswax has a relatively low melting point of 62 to 64°C (144 to 147°F) and shouldn’t be heated above 85 °C (185 °F). Carnauba wax, on the other hand, has a higher melting point of 82–86°C (180–187°F) and the melting process will take a little longer. I don’t recommend using an expensive wax (e.g. rose or jasmine wax) in this recipe.
- Adding a bit of vegetable butter, such as shea butter or cocoa butter, is optional. The rub will be good to use without. But the butter acts as an additional emulsifying agent and is going to give you a more homogenous and creamier texture. The butter also moisturises the skin, which is always a plus in my book.
Note that the consistency of the rub can vary depending on the ingredients that you use. You may to slightly adjust the amounts of oil or wax if the slave is too soft (-> more wax) or too thick (-> more carrier oil.)
What essentials oils can I use for my homemade cold and flu rub?
The rub gets its healing properties from essential oils that are added in the last step. Essential oils are very potent and you should never use more than 20 drops per 100 ml (3.4 oz) carrier oil. The following quantities are safe for babies, children, and adults:
- Babies: 1-2 drops
- Children: 5-8 drops
- Adults: 12-16 drops
The following essential oils ease the symptoms of the cold and flu. I recommend adding no more than 3 different EOs to your balm.
- cajeput: expectorant, sedative, antiseptic, antimicrobial
- chamomile: relieves mucus congestion and sinus swelling, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic
- white camphor: decongestant and mucolytic, anti-inflammatory, sedative | use only a small dosage, not for children
- eucalyptus: relieve congestion and cough, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, immune-stimulatory
- lavender: promotes restful sleep, calming, anti-inflammatory | great for kids
- manuka: good to treat bronchial infections, bronchitis, coughs, influenza
- marjoram: analgesic, bactericidal, antiviral, relieves cramps
- myrtle: clears congestion, relief from coughing, prevents infections | great for kids
- peppermint: expectorant, reduces fevers, antiviral
- rosemary: pain-relieving, promotes respiratory healing and congestion relieve, fights infections,
- sage: soothes a sore throat, antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory | great for kids
- spruce: alleviates respiratory ailments, clears mucus and congestion, antibacterial, anti-infectious,
- thyme linalool: antiviral, decongestant, boosts energy | great for kids
- wintergreen: relieves pain and respiratory congestion, relaxing, prevents infections
Tips on how to make a DIY cold and flu rub
Preparing the cold and flu rub is a pretty straightforward process: set up a water bath and warm the oil, wax, and butter until all ingredients are melted. It’s important to work on a low flame to avoid burning or overheating the ingredients. Let the salve base cool for a few minutes before stirring in the essential oils. Essential oils evaporate fairly quickly and therefore shouldn’t be exposed to heat. After you have combined all ingredients, the salve mixture has to set, which will take at least an hour. You can speed up the cooling process by putting the slave in the fridge. Occasionally stir the rub while cooling. The product is ready to use once the salve looks opaque and has a soft, spreadable texture.
More ways to fight colds and flu
Here are a few more recipes and DIYs you can try to fight off nasty cold and flu viruses naturally. My sister Cyna has a lovely recipe for sage honey lemon drops that taste delicious and are perfect for soothing a sore throat. Rebecca from Soap Deli News put together a useful collection of essential oil blends to breath easy again and shares her practical suggestions to deal with colds and flu in this article. Taking a steaming bath in the tub is another great way to relax and heal. Cari from Everything Pretty has an easy bath salt recipe for colds and flu on her blog, which you can prepare in advance and have at hand when you’re feeling sick.
Know more tips and tricks to treat the cold or flu naturally? Share them in the comment section!
Homemade Rub for Colds and Flu
The recipe makes 120 ml (4 oz) salve. Fill the rub in jars or pots that have been sterilised. If you’re preparing this slave for your family, I recommend dividing the slave base between two jars. Add 5 to 8 drops for adults, and 3 to 4 drops for children.
Ingredients for the flu and cold rub
- 100 ml carrier oil (e.g. olive oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil, or safflower oil)
- 20 g wax (e.g. carnauba wax or beeswax)
- 8 g vegetable butter (e.g. shea, cocoa)
- 10 – 16 drops essential oil(s) (see tips above)
- 120 ml (4 oz) glass jars or mason jars with lids, sterilised
- printable labels (download below)
- a wide skillet or a wide, low-rimmed pot
- a heatproof container or mixing bowl
- wooden cooking spoon or rubber spatula
1) Set up a water bath
Fill a wide skillet or pot with 3 cm (1 in) water and place on a burner. Bring the water to a mild simmer.
2) Melt the ingredients
Place the carrier oil, wax, and vegetable butter into a heatproof container or mixing bowl. Melt in the water bath while stirring constantly.
3) Do a setting test
Drop a small amount of the slave base on a cold plate. Leave to cool for a moment, then check back to see if the consistency is spreadable.
4) Adjust the consistency
Depending on your preferences, add more oil or wax. If you like the texture of the salve skip this step.
5) Add the essential oils
Allow the base to cool for 5 minutes. Then add the essential oils of your choice and give the mixture a good stir. Let the salve cool to room temperature and stir occasionally.
6) Package the salve
Once cooled, transfer the balm into a jar or container. Apply a label and make a note with the date of manufacturing.
How to use the DIY cold and flu rub
The cold and flu rub is for topical use only. Rub the salve on your chest, back of the neck, and/or feet and gently massage into your skin in slow, circular motions. A little goes a long way is certainly true for this slave. Apply only a small amount and allow a moment for the salve to absorb into the skin and tissue. If you use the balm on your kids, let them lie down and massage the slave gently into their chest and feet. This little massage will be very relaxing for your kid and a good bonding moment.
Shelf life and storage
The slave can be kept for a year at room temperature in a dark place away from sunlight and heat. Make sure that the jar or storage container has been properly sterilised. I also recommend using a teaspoon or small spatula to take out the rub.
Print the labels on A4 or letter size cardstock or photo paper and cut out along the grey outline. If packaging the scrub in mason jars, place the metal disk on the jar. Then put the printable label on top and screw the metal band tightly on.
Free Printable Balm Label
Click on the button to download your free printable label to store and gift the cold and flu balm.
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