Mentholated Cold Care Chest Rub Cream

Learn how to make an effective, non-greasy, and natural cold care chest rub cream featuring essential oils and menthol.

A bowl of cold care chest rub

It’s peak cold and flu season around here, and I’ve been sharing jars of this natural vapor rub cream with loved ones.

I originally created the recipe especially for my Handmade Lotions & Creams Course, but since it’s been so effective this winter, I wanted to share it here on my website today too!

(Don’t have the time or ingredients to make a natural chest rub? You can find some great looking options by searching “natural chest rub” on Etsy.)


a row of lotion photos

Do you want to learn more about making natural lotions and creams for you and your family?

Confused about preservatives and emulsifiers options?

If so, my Handmade Lotions & Creams course was made just for you!

{Click HERE, or on the photo above, to learn more.}


You can download and print out the mentholated chest rub recipe PDF from the course’s recipe ebook, by clicking HERE, or on the thumbnail below.

thumbnail of mentholated cold care chest rub cream recipe


This creamy rub is a non-greasy and more natural take on the classic petroleum-based chest rub many turn to when colds and coughs strike.

My version is fairly mild, since I tend to be conservative with essential oils, so if you’d like it to have a stronger scent, try increasing the menthol crystals to 4 grams (2% of the recipe). Please note that this cream was not designed for children, and take care not to rub it in your eyes.

Ingredients are listed by weight. You’ll need a scale to make this recipe.


Oil Phase:

Water Phase:

  • 124 g (4.37 oz) distilled water (62%)

Cool Down Phase:

Other preservative options:
(1.) Arborcide OC (4%): use 8 g total; no change to water
(2.) Optiphen Plus (1%): use 2 g total; increase water to 130 g

Yield & pH: This recipe makes about 7 ounces of lotion. The pH (before preservatives) is 6.5.


Directions to Make

Combine sunflower oil, mango (or shea) butter, and emulsifying wax NF in a heatproof jar. (Don’t add the menthol crystals yet.)

Add the water in a second heatproof jar, and cover lightly with a lid.

Place both jars in a saucepan with a few inches of water.

Heat to 158 to 176° F (70 to 80° C), or until the wax is melted, about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir the menthol crystals into the hot oil mixture. (Be aware there may be momentary strong fumes.)

Pour the water phase into the oil phase.

Mix with a fork for several minutes as the mixture starts cooling.

Add the preservative and essential oils. Stir frequently as the cream cools.

If desired, set the jar in a bowl of ice water and stir frequently to cool/thicken faster, though it still may take up to 24 hours to reach final thickness.


If you enjoyed reading about making your own natural vapor rub cream, let’s keep in touch!

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Jan Berry is a writer, herbalist, soapmaker, and bestselling author of The Big Book of Homemade Products, Simple & Natural Soapmaking, and Easy Homemade Melt & Pour Soaps. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her family and a menagerie of animals, where she enjoys brainstorming creative things to make with the flowers and weeds that grow around her.

  • Alicia says:

    Hi, I’ve been following your blog for years and you continue to blow me away with your recipes. I always find inspiration to create my own products. Thank you for sharing.

  • Janet 2019.01.26 says:

    I made this mentholated cold care chest rub a few weeks ago and absolutely fell in love with it. I since have made a bigger batch and have shared it with family and friends. I have used it on my sore throat, and swollen glands and for MANY other minor ailments. It is something that I will definitely always have on hand. I cannot sing enough praises for it.

  • dura greenfield says:

    love you offer insight on the rub, it helps a lot. thank you

  • Vicki says:

    Another great recipe!
    Would it be safe for children using only 1%menthol crystals and no essential oils?

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