September 20

Herbal Decongestant: Instant Fire Cider


Autumn is a great time of year to start a batch of traditional fire cider,  pungent and spicy blend of apple cider vinegar and immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory herbs. It makes a great herbal decongestant and general tonic. But, what if you are congested right now and can’t wait two weeks? Try this recipe for “instant” fire cider.

Currently, there’s a controversy over the trademarking of the name “fire cider” by a company who did not create either the remedy or the name, and is now shutting out herbalists on Etsy and elsewhere from selling their traditional fire cider creations.  Click here to read more about the issue and the challenge to the trademark.

While this is a shame, I do make a version of this traditional remedy (now labeled, “Fyre Cider”). However, if you need it right now, I would still have to ship it to you. That takes time.

A very similar remedy can be made at home, right now, with very inexpensive ingredients. You probably already have some, if not all, ingredients in your kitchen. It’s filled with decongesting, anti-inflammatory, and immune boosting ingredients. I’m not as big of a fan of “hot & spicy” as others, but I can’t deny the effectiveness of this combination.

Here’s the recipe (makes 8 oz):


  • 1/3 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice or the juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Pinch of cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 cup of raw honey (Buy locally, or you can buy it here.)


  • Add lemon juice, vinegar, and spices to your jar
  • Add honey to bring up to 8 ounces
  • all ingredients in a small jar (like a mason jar or hex jar)
  • Shake well to mix
  • Store in the refrigerator
Traditional Fire Cider | | Herbal Decongestant
A jar of traditional fire cider steeping.

It can last several weeks in the refrigerator, but you will likely use it all up over the duration of your cold. Shake before each use, as the ground spices settle. I have used some that had been in the fridge for a month, and it was still fine.

If you can’t find raw apple cider vinegar at your grocery store, you can buy it here.  Fresh lemons are best, but this shelf stable lemon juice is a great pantry/food storage item. Each expiration date on the ones I have ordered have all been just shy of a year from when I’ve received my order.

When I’m severely congested, I take 1 teaspoon every 15 minutes for an hour Then I switch to every 30 minutes, then once an hour. The heat from the cayenne opens the sinuses, and reduces sinus inflammation. Ginger is also a wonderful anti-inflammatory. The lemon juice provides lots of Vitamin C. I’m not sure if there is an illness that turmeric doesn’t help in some way. The black pepper is here as a synergist. And both honey and apple cider vinegar are well known for their healing properties (plus they taste really good together).  I continue this until I go to sleep.

The last time I was under the weather, I made this video to show how easy it is to make this remedy. Enjoy!

If you liked this recipe, there are a whole lot more recipes just like this in my new book, Prepper’s Natural Medicine, now available for pre-order on Amazon. Official release date is April 14, 2015. Reserve your copy now!

Prepper's Natural Medicine | Cat Ellis |


apple cider vinegar, black pepper, cayenne, DIY decongestant, Fire Cider, Ginger, lemon, Quick Fire Cider, Raw Honey, turmeric

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  1. How long before you need it should you make a batch? I mean, can you whip up a jar of fire cider right when you have a cold, or should it “steep” for a while before you need it?

    1. The recipe for the “Instant” version is ready the moment it’s all mixed, as shown in the video. For the traditional fire cider, it takes about 2 weeks. Then you would strain it, add the lemon juice and honey, and it will keep a several months in a cool dark place. I will do a post on that version soon. I just need to pick up some horseradish, which is part of the traditional recipe (not in my instant version).

    1. Thanks Tash,
      Let me know how this turns out for you! The only things this leaves out from the traditional recipe are the garlic and horseradish. I’m not convinced that powdered or granulated garlic will provide the same immune stimulant benefits as fresh garlic. The other is horseradish. I have never seen powdered horseradish, so I just googled it and found it on Amazon. I want to try it out. One of the reviews said they bought it specifically to make fire cider, and it was hotter than the fresh.

    1. Hi Debbie,
      No, those are large slices of ginger root. I had a very odd shaped ginger rhizome that had lots of large, round portions. After peeling and chopping all day, I kind of got lazy, and left a few large sections just sliced up. But, I can see how you’d think they were apples. I will do a post on traditional fire cider and show what my jars typically look like.

    1. Oh dear no. Just from a safety standpoint, please do not use this with any child under a year due to the inclusion of honey. However, I have a hard time imagining any young child tolerating the very strong flavors included in this remedy. There are other, more gentle herbal decongestants more appropriate for very young children. I will have to do a post on that. However, for the time being, you may wish to try something like peppermint, either in a tea, or made into a syrup with maple syrup. Honey, however, is not for any child under one year due to the potential botulism risk.

  2. just curious — i’m on day 8 of a whole30 program, so i can’t have any honey or sweetener of any kind. do you think this would be acceptable without? i’ve seen some recipes that call for onions and garlic too, so i’m wondering what your take on that is/would be. thanks for the recipe!

    1. I’m not familiar with whole30. I’m assuming it’s some form of sugar detox diet. The traditional recipe does call for onions and garlic, but it also takes about 4 weeks to make. This is something I threw together when I didn’t have any of the traditional recipe already on hand because I was sick at the moment, and didn’t have 4 weeks to wait. 🙂 However, if you wanted to avoid the honey, you could just mix it up without the honey. It will have more bite, but it would still help reduce sinus inflammation and congestion.

  3. Thanks for sharing about this! I currently have the flu (not officially diagnosed, but my 4 year old has it, and I feel like I did last time I had it). I usually try to avoid medicine if at all possible. And this stuff has worked like a charm for me! Thanks so much!

  4. this is exactly what I have been looking for!!!! plus, I ordered some powdered horseradish root, just in case I found where someone had made some “instant” fire cider, and you did, I’m so thrilled. so I will have all the ingredients to make it and add the lemon juice and possibly orange juice. I have been taking a little every day, and with all the good stuff in it, my whole body feels better!!!! so I wanted to know that I could easily make it instantly and it be just as good that which steeps for weeks. I’m a happy camper. thanks!!

  5. I was very excited to find this recipe. I have a chronic cough and fire cider helps to curb it. I was looking for a simpler and more cost effective option and your recipe was exactly what I needed. The first time I made it exactly per your recipe. The second time, I decided to try it with the addition of garlic and horseradish, since that is what is in the store bought version of fire cider that I have tried. I added a smashed garlic clove and put a teaspoon of horseradish (from a jar), then let that sit in the fridge for several days and strained it into a jar. Really love it with and without the garlic and horseradish. Thanks so much for this recipe.

  6. I can’t use the peppers, but will add onion, garlic and horseradish to my mix. Powders. Maybe fresh onion. Maybe we can avoid what’s going around.

  7. I made 5-6 jars of firetonic last May and have not yet strained them. Do you think they are still good or do you think they are spoiled? Do you know if it’s possible to have botulism occur even in the acidity of the vinegar after this length of time? Does the vinegar become less acidic? I have had them in a dark cabinet and did not boil the jars or any other canning methods.

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