Saunas are ideal for winding down after an intense workout or a long day, but is there anything you can do to increase the relaxation?
Sauna aromatherapy gives numerous benefits including relaxation, improved sleep, mood boosts, and even improved breathing through the activation of the limbic system and hypothalamus. All you need to get started is a diffuser and some high-quality essential oil. Peppermint, birch, lavender, and chamomile are good choices, depending on your goal.
Keep reading to learn all about sauna aromatherapy, including potential benefits and the best scent choices for your mood.
What is sauna aromatherapy?
If you’re a sauna enthusiast, chances are you’re always looking for new ways to improve your sauna experience and gain more benefits from your sessions. Aromatherapy is a great way to do just that!
Sauna aromatherapy, like all aromatherapy, works by activating smell receptors in your nose, proceeding to send messages to your brain via your nervous system. The oils then activate areas of your brain like your limbic system and hypothalamus, thus causing the benefits of aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is an ancient practice that utilizes the benefits of essential oils such as enhancing moods, antiseptic properties, and inducing better sleep.
Modern science is just now catching up to this ancient wisdom and starting to study the effects of aromatherapy.
Sauna aromatherapy kits are a great way to get going on your aromatherapy adventure, or you can use a more simple approach like pouring diluted essential oils on your rocks or putting a few drops on a damp cloth.
Can you use essential oils in the sauna?
Essential oils can greatly enhance your sauna experience.
You can use essential oils to get the benefits of aromatherapy while in the sauna. Different essential oils have different benefits. For example, lavender has been proven to have a relaxing effect while citrus scents are believed to boost your mood.
One way to use essential oils in the sauna is to put them on your skin before entering the sauna. Most people put them on their wrists and neck.
Another way is to pour diluted essential oils on the sauna rocks or put a few drops on a damp cloth.
You can also use diffusers and sauna aromatherapy kits.
Can you put essential oils on sauna rocks?
So all you need to do is put essential oils on your sauna rocks, right? Wrong!
Putting essential oils on sauna rocks will release the essential oils into the sauna, but undiluted essential oils should never be poured onto sauna rocks. A chemical reaction will take place that can burn you and your sauna. Dilute the essential oils in water before putting them on your sauna rocks to get the benefits of aromatherapy in your sauna.
You can just pour the diluted oil on your sauna rocks the way you’d pour water on them. It raises the humidity in the sauna, which increases how hot the sauna feels without raising its temperature. It also releases the scents of the essential oils into the air.
Only drizzle the diluted mixture on the rocks at a little bit of time. Otherwise, you can burn yourself or create too much steam.
Potential benefits of sauna aromatherapy
There are many potential benefits of using aromatherapy in the sauna.
Sauna aromatherapy is the use of essential oils in the sauna to reap benefits such as relaxation, better sleep, clearing of the respiratory tract, mood boosts, and more! Some people consider aromatherapy a pseudoscience, but there are many studies to back up these benefits.
Let’s dive into some of these aforementioned benefits:
- Relaxation – Aromatherapy calms you down by increasing theta and alpha wave activity.
- Better sleep – Using essential oils induces better sleep by decreasing alpha activity and increasing delta activity in the brain.
- Clearing the respiratory tract – The use of essential oils relaxes the muscles of the windpipe, opening up your respiratory tract.
- Mood boosts – The smell of essential oils makes you more content.
How to use aromatherapy in the sauna
There are many different ways to use aromatherapy in the sauna.
To use aromatherapy in the sauna, you can dab the oil on a wet cloth, use a diffuser specifically designed for saunas, use a sauna aromatherapy kit, or pour diluted essential oils on your sauna rocks.
Dabbing oil on a wet cloth works the best in a steam room because the steam is what causes the oil to be diffused into the air.
Typically traditional dry saunas use diffusers and aromatherapy kits.
You can pour diluted essential oils on any sauna with sauna rocks. These may include traditional Finnish saunas, dry saunas, wet saunas, and electric saunas.
Sauna aromatherapy kits
Sauna aromatherapy kits make it easy to enjoy aromatherapy in the sauna.
Sauna aromatherapy kits come complete with an essential oil – typically eucalyptus – a diffuser holder, and a glass diffuser specifically designed for saunas.
If you want to buy the whole package in one go, a sauna aromatherapy kit will help you get started on your sauna aromatherapy adventure.
Essential oil diffusers for the sauna
You might be wondering if normal essential oil diffusers work in saunas. Well, there are some pretty ingenious ideas out there!
A unique form of essential oil diffuser for the sauna is a soapstone that you add a few drops of oils to. When placed among the stones, it will release the scent of the essential oils. Typical essential oil diffusers shouldn’t be used in saunas because they aren’t built to withstand the heat.
This is a classic Finnish style of essential oil diffuser for the sauna. Sauna aromatherapy kits, as previously discussed, are other ways to diffuse the oil in a sauna. Typical essential oil diffusers won’t do the trick.
Best essential oils for the sauna
While all essential oils have their benefits, some are more commonly used in the sauna than others.
Here are the seven best essential oils for sauna aromatherapy:
- Tea tree
Peppermint essential oil
Peppermint will wake you right up, creating an invigorating sauna experience.
Using peppermint essential oil in the sauna may help relieve tension headaches and soothe upset stomachs. Peppermint essential oil is also a proven antiseptic.
Peppermint is a wonderfully sentimental scent for most people and it is bound to put you at ease in the sauna.
Birch essential oil
Birch oil is an old favorite among Finnish saunas.
Birch oil has naturally astringent properties that can tighten pores as well as soothe inflammation, redness, or sore muscles. It also helps detoxify the sauna itself.
Enjoy your sauna the way the Fins do!
However, birch oil can irritate rosacea, so void it if that’s a potential problem.
Lavender essential oil
Lavender essential oil is one of the most popular essential oils both in and out of the sauna.
Using lavender essential oil will relax you in the sauna, probably more than any other essential oil. It also promotes deeper sleep.
For an added touch, dab a little bit of lavender oil on your wrists and neck post-sauna to maintain your feeling of calm.
Eucalyptus essential oil
People swear by eucalyptus. Fanatics even hang the leaves in their showers to release the oils in the steam. So what does it do in a sauna?
Eucalyptus is a highly refreshing essential oil to use in the sauna. It is known to treat sore muscles, soothe respiratory problems, and improve dry skin. It will also help keep your sauna clean because of its antimicrobial properties.
Eucalyptus is a very particular smell, but don’t give up on it if you don’t like it at first! You may just need to get accustomed to it.
Tea tree essential oil
Tea tree oil is one of the most healing essential oils.
Tea tree oil has incredible antifungal and antibacterial properties that are perfect for the sauna. It can also minimize inflammation and speed up healing, which are both benefits of the sauna that will be enhanced with tea tree oil.
Double down on your sauna benefits by using tea tree oil!
Citrus essential oil
Citrus essential oils will leave you feeling refreshed and ready for your day.
Citrus essential oils can help with stress-induced nausea. They are also incredibly invigorating.
These essential oils can cause skin irritation, so they’re usually diffused instead of applied directly to the skin.
Chamomile essential oil
Chamomile has a sweet, pleasant smell- but the benefits don’t stop there.
Chamomile essential oil in the sauna can help with depression, anxiety, and insomnia. It can also boost immunity and reduce inflammation.
Chamomile has been used since ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome – and for good reason!