What Is Camphor? 7 Surprising Benefits & Uses of Camphor Oil

Beneficial Camphor oil in bottles

Natural From The Camphor Tree

Camphor oil has long been used in herbalism and folk medicine. Traditionally derived from the wood of camphor trees, camphor oil helps relieve pain and inflammation, skin irritation and itching,  spots and blackheads, and respiratory congestion. Camphor can also be burned to refresh your home, and it’s great at keeping moths away too.


Camphor (cinnamomum camphora) is a terpene (organic compound). It’s extracted from the camphor tree and steam-distilled to create camphor oil. However, many modern camphor products contain synthetic camphor oil derived from turpentine oil.

Camphor has a breathtakingly strong, woody aroma. It can be found in all sorts of medicinal and herbal remedies, from decongestants to muscle rubs. Camphor oil is readily absorbed by the skin, making it an invaluable topical solution to your aches and pains.


Camphor has antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s believed to stimulate nerve endings which produces a pain-relieving effect, aiding the treatment of allergic skin inflammatory responses.

When it comes to easing nasal congestion, well, just take a whiff, and you’ll understand how that works! Folk medicine claims that camphor oil can cleanse the aura and banish bad vibes.

Camphor leaves, green and dried with bottle of camphor oil

A WORD OF CAUTION - Avoid Camphor Poisoning

Overall, camphor is safe to use – in small doses. Just remember…

  • Never apply camphor essential oils to damaged or broken skin, as this will exacerbate skin irritation.

  • Camphor ingestion is a big no-no, too, as camphor toxicity is a thing (yikes).

  • Never use undiluted camphor essential oil on bare nakedness, as this will probably cause irritation and skin redness. It may irritate your neighbours too if you forget to close the curtains.

  • Avoid contact with eyes, nostrils and mouth because yuck and potential death.

  • Always do a skin patch test before using camphorated oil or any camphor products, and remember, never on broken skin.

  • Children under the age of 2 years should not use camphor products at all as they are susceptible to camphor hepatotoxicity.


Below are 7 ways you can benefit from using camphor, whether as an essential oil, topical cream, soap or block.


A traditional remedy, applying camphor is said to relieve mild-to-moderate pain and inflammation. It can be found in many topical creams and ointments, often combined with menthol or eucalyptus oil, to create a super-tingly warming/cooling effect. 

Arthritis sufferers and those with stiff, aching muscles may benefit from the anti-inflammatory effects of slathering on some camphor cream.


Not only does camphor cleanse away dirt, but it also helps prevent the spread of bacteria and promotes healing. It soothes itchy, irritated skin and is particularly good for relieving mosquito bite reactions. 

Camphor's antifungal virtues make it also beneficial for treating toenail fungus. Apparently,  Vicks Vaporub, which contains camphor, menthol and eucalyptus oil,  can be used to great effect against toe-nail fungal infections.

Remember, though, it is important not to use it on broken or injured skin. In liquid form, camphor can be absorbed by the body and quickly reach toxic levels.

The easiest and safest way to benefit from camphor is with a natural camphor oil soap. Well, essential oil is a messy business, and who has time to let lotion sink in?

A bottle of Camphor oil on crushed camphor blockin


Thanks to its antiseptic and antibacterial action, camphor can help stop acne in its gunky tracks. Camphor oil prevents dirt, bacteria and excess oil from building up and causing spots and blackheads to appear. Next time you feel a planet-sized pimple forming, reach for the camphor soap.


This one’s still being debated, but if you’re looking more bulldog than baby-faced, it may give you hope. Camphor is thought to have anti-ageing action, as it increases collagen and elastin production. Could be worth a shot if Cleopatra-style donkey milk baths aren’t your thing.

“What is Purity?? The smell of camphor”

Rebeka Saha

#5. CLEAR YOUR SINUSES AND CHEST With Camphor Ointment

Camphor is found in certain decongestant ointments and vapor rubs; sniff it, and you’ll see why! Inhaling camphor cretaes a kind of cold sensation which helps clear your nose and chest when you’re feeling bunged up.

Steam inhalation is possible too, bit don't use more than 1 tablespoon of camphor solution per litre of water.

Other camphor products are available, like blocks, which can be placed under your pillow to relieve night-time nasal resistance or used as a chest rub for relief during the day. After all, breathing is kind of important.


Camphor is widely used in Hindu religious ceremonies and traditional Chinese medicine. Burning camphor is said to rid your home of negative energy while inviting health and prosperity. 

Revelling in all those positive vibes sounds nice, right? But please don’t try to set fire to your soap; you need a special camphor block for burning. 

Also, never heat camphor-containing products, especially in a microwave, as they could explode and cause severe burns.

Burning a Camphor block in a Hindu Ritual


The potent aroma of camphor makes it a great bug-repellent. It keeps buzzy, bitey mosquitos away, and it’s also the thing that gives mothballs their distinctive smell. 

With camphor in your wardrobe, hungry moths will be deterred from chowing down on your fancy knitwear.

Please Note: All of the above is to be taken as a guide, and you should always consult the advice of a healthcare provider.


Have you ever tried any camphor-containing products? Did they work? If you haven’t tried it, would you consider camphor soap, cream or essential oil? We’d love your thoughts on this pungent stuff!


Camphor is a unisex fragrance and suitable for most skin types, so you'll have no qualms about sharing this soap with your significant other. 

Hey, knock yourselves out and save the planet by sharing the bath too! We promise not to gossip about you. 

  • Free of Palm Oil, Preservatives, Colour, EDTA, Silicon, Parabens
  • Made from 100% natural ingredients
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Zero-waste and plastic-free
  • Scented with Camphor Essential Oil

1 comment

  • Christine

    That all sounds very interesting. I would definitely give it a try

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