Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor and nothing in this article should be taken as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor before using any of the herbs and/or remedies mentioned in this article.
Preppers know the best items to have after a major disaster are those that serve multiple purposes. You can’t sacrifice the space or money on one hit wonders. The best supplies are those that can be used in a number of different ways. If you can get a versatile item without spending a lot of money, you’re really doing good.
One item many people might not think of as being a survival tool is Vicks VapoRub. Yes, the stinky stuff your parents rubbed on your chest when you had a cold. It’s been around for decades. In that time, people have figured out many new ways to use it other than as it was intended.
Check out these surprising uses for Vicks VapoRub.
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Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. Imagine getting a cold or flu when there are no hospitals or doctors to visit. The vapor rub is going to make you and your family feel better and hopefully get the sleep they need to heal.
Rub it on the chest at night to help open up the airways and limit coughing. Putting the vapor rub on the feet and wearing socks is another trick passed down through the decades.
Treat Dry Skin
A little Vicks over irritated skin can provide a protective barrier. You don’t want chapped skin in a survival situation. Chapped skin can lead to breaks in your skin, which opens a person up to infection.
The burning and itching caused by eczema can be treated with Vicks. Depending on the severity, some people with eczema might fight it to be a little painful, but it will help in the long run.
Treat Cuts and Scrapes
Vicks has eucalyptus oil in it, which is a known antibacterial. It might sting a little, but it’s going to help keep a break in the skin clean and bacteria free. Rub a thin layer of Vicks over the cut a couple times a day until healed.
Ticks are dangerous little creatures. They latch on and can be difficult to remove. Rubbing Vicks around the area where a tick has latched on is said to encourage the tick to pull up stakes and move on. The vapor from the camphor in the rub is overwhelming to the tick.
Just like ticks, mosquitoes and other bugs want nothing to do with the camphor in the vapor rub. Avoiding bug bites is critical. If you are sleeping outdoors or doing more work outdoors, you are more susceptible to bug bites that can cause a variety of illnesses.
You don’t need to cover your entire body in it. Putting a little on the backs of your ears, neck and a few places on your arms will be enough to scare the bugs away.
Treat Sore Muscles
Vicks can also be used as a muscle rub. The same qualities of things like Ben-Gay are in Vicks. Imagine chopping wood or carrying water all day. You’re going to be sore. Rubbing Vicks on your sore joints and knees can help ease some of the muscle aches.
Kill Foot Fungus
Your feet are crucial in a post-SHTF scenario. Toenail fungus is a real issue. You cannot afford a fungal infection. Rubbing Vicks on the bad toenail will kill off the fungus and save your feet from bigger problems.
Treat Dry Feet
Another foot issue you might find yourself dealing with is dry, cracked feet. Rubbing the vapor rub over your cracked feet will help them heal and keep them healthy for the many hours you will have to spend on your feet to stay alive.
Headaches are a part of life, especially tension headaches. Survival is going to be stressful, and tension headaches are going to be common, but can you afford to use your ibuprofen for a little pain relief?
Another option is to rub a little Vicks on your temples and forehead. It helps relieve tension and relax the muscles that cause the headache.
Treat Dry Scalp
An itchy, dry scalp isn’t exactly life threatening, but it’s a stressor you don’t need. Imagine trying to thread a needle or start a fire with a bow drill and your scalp is itching like crazy. Dry scalp and dandruff can be alleviated by rubbing some vapor rub on your scalp before bed.
Treat Dry Skin
As with your feet and scalp, rubbing some Vicks on your hands can help heal the dry, cracked skin that is sure to happen after a long day of working with your hands.
Earaches are brutal. Putting some Vicks on a cotton ball and putting it inside your ear can ease the pain. The antibacterial qualities are going to help as well.
A squeaky door has nothing to do with your physical health, but imagine needing to use complete silence to move about in order to avoid detection. A little vapor rub on a squeaky hinge can kill the noise.
Neuropathy is a problem for a lot of people. The painful tingling in the fingers and toes can be alleviated with vapor rub. It’s not a cure but it can help alleviate the discomfort.
Bruises aren’t necessarily life-threatening, but the tender areas can make daily chores more difficult. Rubbing Vicks on bruises is known to help calm the swelling and inflammation associated with a bruise.
A sunburn is going to be a common issue when you’re spending hours outside. You never realize how bad it is until you lie down. Rubbing some vapor rub over the tender areas can get rid of the burning sensation. The cool camphor will provide your skin with some needed relief.
Warts are not dangerous, but if you’ve got one on your finger and it’s in the way, it’s going to cause problems. Having it ripped off by accident is painful and will leave you with an open wound.
Vicks can take care of that pesky wart for you. It might take a couple of weeks, but applying Vicks on the wart twice a day will help the thing disappear.
Mask Bad Smells
Imagine no sanitation services and no running water. The smell is going to be brutal. If you need to clean out an area that doesn’t smell so rosy, putting a little Vicks under the nose can make it tolerable. You’ll smell the Vicks and not the stench.
Prevent Pets from Peeing Indoors
If your pets are a part of your survival plan, you might discover their bathroom habits change. They might be too afraid to go outside, or maybe it won’t be safe. You can keep a dog from squatting or hiking a leg in an area you would prefer they not urinate by putting Vicks on the area.
Leave an open bottle near the space to deter the animal from thinking it would make a good place to pee. This can happen if your surroundings have changed or new bedding has been brought out. Save yourself the hassle and stress by preventing the accidents from happening.
Treat Chapped Lips
Chapped lips are no joke. Dehydration and exposure to the elements can lead to chapped lips. A thin layer of Vicks can help heal your lips and give them the moisture they are in desperate need of.
Hemorrhoids can make a person’s life hell. A little vapor rub on the offending hemorrhoids can help stop the itching. The vapor rub does burn a little. The relief will be worth it, but some people might find it too much to tolerate.
Treat a Mosquito Bite
If you have mosquito bites, applying a little Vicks can stop the itching. Itching leads to breaks in the skin.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that you may not see much today, but in a post-SHTF world when sanitation is down and people are forced to share small spaces, it could be an issue. Rubbing Vicks on the affected area will kill the fungus and heal the ringworm.
Treat Minor Burns
Minor burns from starting a fire or learning how to cook over an open flame can be treated with Vicks. Run cold water over the burn and then apply some vapor rub.
Keep Horses Calm
Horses might be your only mode of transportation in a survival situation. If things are bad, really bad, there are going to be smells. Horses are sensitive to odors and might have a hard time concentrating if they are subjected to hundreds of new smells.
Just like with humans, you can put a little Vicks under the horse’s nostrils to keep them focused on the task at hand. It’s a trick jockeys use and is very effective.
Vicks isn’t just for colds and chest congestion. While it certainly handles those two things very well, it can make your life easier and healthier with the above-mentioned uses.
It’s cheap and will store for decades. Yes, there is an expiration date and some of the qualities of the rub may lessen, but it does not become dangerous.
Vicks will say not to use it in these ways, but human experience says otherwise. Load up on it, put it in a cool, dark place to store, and you’ll have a valuable survival tool.
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Carbolated Vaseline works just as well for most of those conditions where there is no need for the smell to accomplish a specific task where it’s needed. It also works when you need to hide your scent of Vapo Rub for stealth reasons
Good & informative article. I never imagined Vicks was good for dissuading ticks and treating ringworm.
The petroleum base is flammable and can be used as a fire starter.
Thanks…great list of uses!
David Ellicott says
Great article. Just adding that my mother used it on bee stings after pulling out the stinger. It worked well.
Excellent article! I thought all it was good for was stuffy noses. Thanks for the enlightenment!