Clove Bud Oil Expectorant

Dried clove buds

By Cat, June 2, 2018 (Image, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Expectorants help us get rid of respiratory debris from the action of our immune system against seasonal allergies, colds and flu viruses, etc.; they aid in clearance of mucus from the airways, lungs, bronchi, and trachea that may cause coughing or other difficulty.

They work by signaling the body to increase the amount or hydration of secretions, resulting in more, yet clearer, secretions and as a byproduct lubricating the irritated respiratory tract. (1)

There are many OTC (over the counter) and prescription expectorants, but in my experience, homemade expectorants and cough syrups work better and don’t have bad side effects.

Clove-Bud Oil Expectorant

Most expectorants are taken orally, but clove bud oil can also be rubbed on the skin, or inhaled in steam. You can use clove bud essential oil, or make your own.

(NOTE: I intended to adapt a recipe from Mercola (2); it uses fresh clove buds (not dried), but I cannot find any sources of the fresh buds, short of growing my own. I sent message to Dr. Mercola asking if I can use dried clove buds (and how much to use), or for a source of the fresh buds, via the comment section of his Mucus Color post (2). 

In the mean time, I’ve created my own recipe based on Wiki How (3) and Livestrong (4) recipes. The latter toasts the cloves which makes it easier to extract the oil.

There are risks to using clove bud oil (4):

  • Never apply clove oil to broken skin and do not take large amounts of clove oil.
  • Avoid if pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • Side effects of ingesting too much clove oil include mouth pain, vomiting, sore throat, difficulty breathing, kidney failure, and liver damage.
  • Children should not take clove oil via the mouth as it can cause severe side effects like seizures and liver damage.
  • Do not use within 2 weeks of any planned surgery.
  • Do not use if you are taking any anticoagulant drugs or medications that slow blood clotting; e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, clopidogrel, diclofenac, or dalteparin.

Ingredients & Equipment

  • ½ Tbsp (1½ tsp) dried clove buds (or more/less for desired flavor; see “Tips” below)
  • 1 cup of Organic extra-virgin or virgin olive oil
  • Tips:
    • ½ Tbsp of cloves per cup of oil produces a moderately flavored oil.
    • You can go as high as 1 Tbsp of cloves per cup of oil for a strongly flavored oil.
    • You can substitute Organic coconut oil or Organic quality cold-pressed sunflower or safflower oil if you don’t want an olive taste in the clove oil.
  • Equipment
  • Glass jar/bottle with cap, lid, or stopper (for infusion & storage of the clove oil), or 2 of these (one for infusing and one for storage). Dark colored glass jar/bottle is best. If using a clear jar, place it in a dark paper sack for storage. For using the oil, choose a dark jar with an eye-dropper lid for easy application.
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Funnel
  • Colander
  • Paper towels or clean cotton dish towels
  • Sieve with strainer (cheesecloth or coffee filter)


  1. Sterilize equipment: Wash the bottle(s) and cap(s) you’ll use for infusing and storing the clove oil, along with a mortar, pestle and funnel. Rinse well with filtered water, then fill bottle with water.
  2. Place lid/cap, mortar, pestle and funnel in pot and cover the items in the pot with a few inches of filtered water. Add filled bottle. Bring water to a boil, then keep at a slow-boil for 10 minutes. Carefully remove items from the water and invert them on a paper towel.
  3. Toast cloves in saute pan over medium heat. This mobilizes their volatile oils and makes them easier to extract.
  4. Rinse toasted cloves in a colander under cool water and spread them out on paper towels to dry.
  5. If the mortar is not totally dry, dry it with clean cloth or paper towel.
  6. Crack cloves: Transfer the cloves to the mortar while it’s still warm from sterilization.
  7. Lightly tap the cloves with the pestle to crack them. Pour the cracked cloves in the sterilized bottle, followed by the olive oil, using the funnel if needed.The oil should fill to about 1″ above the cracked cloves.
  8. Infuse: Tighten the cap on the bottle to seal it; shake 3 – 4 times so the cloves are well combined.  Store bottle in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight, to infuse the oil. Let it infuse for a week days, shaking the bottle every couple of days. After the week, taste the oil:
    • If you want a stronger flavor, let it infuse for a few more weeks (and continue to shake it every couple days).
  9. Strain (optional): When the flavor is where you want it, strain the oil through a sieve lined with cheesecloth (to remove the buds) and into an airtight sterilized serving bottle or container.
    • NOTE: if you don’t strain out the cloves, you can use them over again for another 1 – 2 batches by filling the jar up again each time with olive oil and letting them infuse for 2 weeks before using the oil.
  10. Store the clove oil in the refrigerator and use within 1 month.
  11. How to use (options):
    • Expectorant:
    • Use two drops of clove bud oil in steam inhalation to loosen and expel mucus
    • Add two drops of clove bud oil to your decongesting ointment or gel and rub onto your chest, back and throat
    • Place two drops of clove bud oil into a cup of warm water and use as a mouth rinse or gargle
    • Oral health, pain reliever:
    • Before using the oil, rinse your mouth well with salted water.
    • Apply directly to your gums with a cotton ball to help manage any pain due to dental work, including tooth extraction called “dry socket”.
    • Apply to your mouth with a cotton ball as a temporary solution for tooth pain and throat inflammation
    • Caution: repeated applications of clove oil to your mouth or gums can sometimes cause damage to your gums, skin, and mucous membranes.



  1. Wikipedia:
  2. Mercola:
  3. Wiki How:
  4. Livestrong:

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