DIY Herbal Honey Cough Drops

The flu season is upon us, and coughs are a-plenty.  People seek relief from cold and flu symptoms in various ways, including pharmaceuticals, and medicated candy such as Halls.  Halls, owned by Cadbury, is a leading supplier of cough candies.  Aside from the fact that they suppress coughs, they contain an unacceptable amount of chemicals.

Active  Ingredient: Menthol 9.4 mg Inactive  ingredients: acesulfame potassium, aspartame, beta carotene, FD&C blue no.  1, flavors, isomalt, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, soy lecithin, water (

In one example, Halls peppermint variety, the only active ingredient is menthol.  The inactive ingredients are used for flavour, color and texture.  How many of them do you recognize?  How many of them do you recognize as ingredients you try to avoid in general?  None of the inactive ingredients are going to boost your immune system at a time when you need it the most.

Herbal honey cough drops are easy to make, use all natural ingredients, soothe your throat and cough, and give a natural boost to your body when it is fighting a virus.

Peppermint Oil:
Peppermint oil contains a large amount of naturally occurring menthol.  Menthol is used, among many other things, as an antipruritic to reduce itching, as a topical analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains, in decongestants for chest and sinuses, and to produce a cooling sensation.  These work together to soothe an itchy, sore throat and calm a cough.  Caution: menthol, in very large doses, can be lethal.  Peppermint oil can contain up to 55% menthol so it is important, as with any essential oil, to use only very small amounts of it.

When choosing a peppermint oil, make sure you choose a therapeutic grade oil from a company you trust.  Most essential oils are not therapeutic grade, are meant for aromatherapy and may contain ingredients you don’t want to consume.  Read the notes at the bottom to find a high-quality, therapeutic grade essential oil.

Unpasteurized honey has antibacterial and antiviral properties, although some of these properties may be lost with the high heat needed to candy the honey.  Honey has been used over the years to soothe coughs, heal wounds and prevent bacterial infections.


Ginger is a natural immune booster and is used to help with congestion. It also contains antiviral properties and is a great natural cold and flu fighter.


Cold and Flu teas: check the label of your tea to discover the benefits the herbs provide.


  • Thick-bottomed pot
  • Silicone candy molds, parchment paper and/or greased cookie sheet
  • Candy or deep fry thermometer (must reach 300F)
  • Metal whisk


  • 1/2 c. raw honey
  • 3 inches peeled, organic ginger root
  • 15 drops therapeutic grade peppermint essential oil (essential oil droppers are not standardized. Use common sense.)  Make sure your essential oil is therapeutic grade (food grade).  Not all essential oils are created equally.
  • Optional: herbal Cold and Flu-type teas: Echinacea and Roots Tea by Mountain Rose Herbs or Traditional Medicinals teas
  • powdered sugar for dipping in afterwards


  1. Boil ginger root and tea in a pot with 2 cups of water.  Reduce “tea” to about 1/4 cup by simmering, on low.  Strain liquid.
  2. Heat honey and tea mixture in a thick-bottomed pot over medium heat.  It will try and boil over, so adjust temperature to keep if from boiling over.    Keep a thermometer in the pot to observe the temperature.  Stir constantly.
  3. Once the temperature passes 225F your water has entirely boiled out, and the honey mixture will rise in temperature rapidly.  Stir continuously to prevent scorching.  Continue to stir until temperature rises over 300F.  This is the temperature needed to “candy” the honey, and make it hard. Remove from heat.
  4. Wait a few minutes for the candy to start to cool (but not start to harden).  Add therapeutic grade peppermint oil.  It may smoke a little as the impurities burn off.  Stir rapidly.
  5. Pour immediately into candy molds or onto parchment paper that has been coated with powdered sugar or onto a greased cookie sheet.  Allow to cool completely.
  6. Once cooled, dust each candy with powdered sugar.  Wrap with parchment paper and store in a sealed container for up to a month. If you aren’t going to use them immediately, store in a sealed container in the freezer.


  1. Whole New Mom demonstrates how to make powdered sugar from organic sugar to avoid GMO icing sugar.
  2. Most essential oils are NOT therapeutic grade and are meant to be used for fragrance instead of consumption.  Make sure the essential oil you are using is therapeutic grade.  Mountain Rose Herbs essential oils are high quality, organic and therapeutic-grade.
  3. Peppermint essential oil contains approximately 50% menthol.  Menthol, though naturally occurring, is toxic in large quantities.  Use common sense!!
  4. When adding the essential oil, don’t breathe in the steam.  It is a very strong menthol at first and may irritate your sinuses.
  5. Honey naturally absorbs moisture from the air.  Keep candies in an air-tight container to prevent them from “melting” and sticking together.
  6. Caution: Do not use when pregnant or on children under 2.  (based on warnings for peppermint and raw honey.)

This post has been shared on Homestead Barn Hop #95, Homestead Abundance Link-up #6Waste Not, Want Not Wednesday, Simple Living Wednesday, Wildcrafting Wednesday #72, Thank Your Body Thursday, Get Real Frugal Friday #3 and Fat Tuesday, January 22nd.



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  1. great recipe :)

  2. Visiting from Homestead Blog Hop. I’m excited to try your homemade drops — we go through quite a few of these over the course of the winter, and I have a hard time convincing teenagers to have a cup of herbal tea instead.

  3. Visiting from Fat Tuesday. I have to say that I love the idea of making my own cough drops. It seems like my family has had coughs all winter! We’ve been going through a ton of Ricola cough drops…those things are not cheap, especially compared to the cheap store brand cough drops. I will have to give this recipe a try, I much prefer to make my own natural/healthy stuff whenever possible. I’d love to invite you to come by and share this blog post on my blog hop, Get Real Frugal Friday!

  4. Great recipe! I like that you used candy molds as it seems a lot easier and cuter for the kiddos :)

  5. Wow, this is awesome. I cannot wait to make these. :)

  6. LOVE, love, Love this post! Thank you for sharing it on Wildcrafting Wednesday! :)

    Only two comments that I would make. First, after heating the honey to 300*, it’s no longer “raw” so I don’t think a pregnant woman would need to worry. :) And second, regarding grades of essential oil: food grade essential oils are not necessarily therapeutic grade essential oils. There is a difference between the two. However, if an oil is therapeutic grade it is safe to ingest (in this recipe) but typically ingesting essential oils is not necessary because the molecular structure of the essential oil allows it to penetrate the skin and enter the cell walls to start nourishing and healing from the inside out. Also, (I guess that’s 3 comments) you don’t mention whether your using Mentha piperita or Mentha arvensis essential oil. Both have similar properties, but arvensis smells more like a candy cane and has a higher menthol content than piperita so it’s slightly more potent therapeutically. Piperita is the more common one used however. :)

    Awesome post and I’m so glad you caution against store-bought powdered sugar. :) Thanks again! :)

  7. Oh my gosh this is awesome! And I have all these things kicking around. I’m tempted to make some just to have them around “in case.”

    Thanks so much for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday! Also, just a reminder that I’m giving away a copy of Primal Cuisine, a new Paleo cookbook with all gluten free recipes, so stop by to enter if you haven’t already :)

  8. Thanks for sharing this recipe on Homestead Abundance last week. Awesome recipe. I’m definitely going to do this. Where do you get your silicone Candy molds from?

    This post is one of the two featured posts on this week’s homestead abundance link up. I’ll be sharing it on my Facebook page this afternoon, too. Thanks for linking up to Homestead Abundance.

  9. Congratulations! You’re one of the Featured Bloggers on this week’s Wildcrafting Wednesday blog hop! :)

  10. Thanks for sharing this…what a great alternative to store-bought! I do have one question…if we heat the honey to this temp it is no longer going to be raw or have live enzymes, will it? Thanks!

  11. Is there a point to the powdered sugar coating, or could that be left off?

    • It helps keep them from sticking together.

      • Ok thanks. What about the honey, if it’s being heated to 300 and that makes it no longer raw, is it ok to use a bottled “pure honey” from a local farmers market? I’m not sure of the differences. I know some “raw” honey is almost crystal-like in texture, what i’m talking about is just the normal pourable consistency.

  12. Rhonda Gennaria says:

    I have a question… what can you use if you have someone that is allergic to honey? agave syrup? that is my go-to for a substitute when cooking. but is there something else that would be better therapeutically? thanks for you time!

    • I don’t know how other syrups “candy” and if they do so at the same temperature. I would try maple syrup over agave, but you could try the agave. It might burn at that high of a temperature. Would love to hear your results!

  13. Larry Sturgill says:

    when you heat the raw honey you kill the enzymes in it and it is no longer has the beneficial properties of raw honey.

  14. Brian Little Hawk says:

    Just a couple questions hopefully someone can answer. What is the yield out of this recipe? I’d like to make these before fall sets in soon. My smallest candy molds that would be around the size of a cough drop have no measurements on them, but it only makes 30 drops. I’m assuming that you would need to set all of the mixture at one time. And I guess the other thought I had was about whether the powdered sugar is enough to keep them from sticking or if wrappers are really necessary. All of the wrappers I find are huge. Normally the candies I make are chocolates, not hard candy, so any pointers would be great!

  15. LOL! Great recipe… Knowing my kids and honey, they’ll be asking for these for dessert!

  16. JasonYanic Berkey says:

    Knowing my kids and honey, they’ll be asking for these for dessert!

  17. This is great! Thank you

  18. Can you freeze these ? Great recipe

  19. Recipe looks awesome, can’t wait to try. Therapeutic isn’t the highest grade oil in the U.S. now, it’s clinical-grade. Here’s where you can find out more about clinical-grade oils.


  21. This is awesome thank you it will save my family a lot of money as its so expensive to buy cough drops/ lollies and my kids eat them like they are going out of fashion at least I can make up a good batch size and will be great for my parents as well

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