Saunas offer a variety of benefits to your body on their own but there are a few things you can do to further improve things during your stay in the hot room. Using aromatherapy and essential oils to your advantage is one of the best additions to any sauna experience. Essential oils have been used for healing purposes for thousands of years but have gained an additional bit of popularity in the last few decades. This is why I wanted to create this guide about some of the best sauna essential oils that will help you relieve pain, reduce chronic stress levels, and improve sleep quality.
Before we dive deeper into the oils and products I want to recommend, I want to point out that you should always dilute these oils before using them in a sauna, as they often are quite potent and can cause unwanted reactions if not diluted properly. Some of my favorite ones are Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Melaleuca (Tea Tree) but you can always do various combinations and choose products that have all sorts of mixes between the different kinds. In the guide section, we will go through most of the essential oil types and how they’re used in a sauna.
Essential Oils Buyer’s Guide
Looking for the right kind of essential oils might be hard at first, especially if you are new to this. This is why I decided to list most of the common ones and give you the best product recommendation for each kind. On top of that, these oils usually need an oil cup or an oil holder for your sauna to put in. That’s why we will also go through a few accessories that will make the aromatherapy an easier experience without ruining the look of your sauna. Now, let’s dive right into this!
Top Essential Oils To Look For
Here is a list of 10 of the most famous and common essential oils used in saunas:
- Tree oils
- Citrus oils
- Tea Tree (melaleuca)
Now, let’s see the various benefits and features of each of them as well as the best product on the market for each kind…
If you are in a traditional sauna people use essential oils from trees more than other oils out there. Some of those are Douglas, balance, Siberian, or birch essential oils, each of which offers a wide array of health benefits such as fungal and bacterial prevention, reduced inflammation and pain, improved blood circulation in the capillaries, better skin health, and others. The pronounced antibacterial properties also help keep your sauna clean, which is important for people that want to maintain a healthy environment on the inside.
The birch, in particular, is a very popular choice and is one of the favorite oils even for people using infrared saunas. It has a minty fragrance and also helps relieve pain and various aches. This essential oil also has a potent detox effect on your body.
These are the reasons why I chose the Artizen Birch Essential Oil which comes in a large 1oz bottle and is one of the best price-to-value products on the market right now. It contains one of the highest quality birch oils out there and is good for quite some time, especially considering the lifetime warranty it comes with. The bottle is also UV-protected which helps against sunlight and degradation.
The citrus essential oil family is quite large and contains oils such as wild orange, tangerine, mandarin, bergamot, lime, and lemon. They are all strong-scented and quite popular, thus can be found easily. The major effects citrus essential oils have is refreshing and mind-awakening. They are perfect for a morning sauna and on top of being very stimulating for your senses, they also have anti-inflammatory properties and are excellent for people struggling with depressive episodes. Same as with any other type of stimulant, you should try avoiding these essential oils if you are going to bed soon, as they will prevent you to fall into your deeper sleep stages.
The set I’ve chosen to be most fitting for your sauna use is the Benatu Citrus Essential Oils Set (Amazon). It contains lemon, mandarin, and bergamot in three separate 10ml (0.34oz) bottles. You can either mix those in your diffuser or pour them into your sauna water bucket or oils holder to create an energetic environment inside the hot room. The scents here are quite fruity but are also natural-smelling and are also good for body oil application.
Cinnamon essential oils have a similar effect to the citrus ones. Cinnamon is not only delicious, but it also has a lively and spicy scent which picks you up and soothes sore muscles and joints. If you have a cold and a stuffy nose, you will love the effect of cinnamon essential oils, as they are a natural decongestant. They also improve and promote proper blood circulation through the capillaries and improve your body’s metabolism.
One of my favorite cinnamon oils is the Healing Solutions Organic Cinnamon Cassia Essential oil. With recent years, cassia cinnamon has been gaining more and more popularity thanks to its strong scent and beneficial properties. This particular oil is USDA approved and is therapeutic grade. It is perfect for almost any essential oil applications. Healing Solutions is also known for producing a variety of other oils so I might mention them a time or two again, as they are one of the most trusted companies in the USA. This cinnamon oil comes in 4 bottle sizes – 0.33oz, 1oz, 2oz, and 4oz.
Until recently, lavender and peppermint held the crown for the most famous essential oil. Nowadays, however, eucalyptus is slowly crawling its way up to that number 1 spot and for a good reason. This oil is one of the best out there for mental relaxation and meditation. Among its other health benefits, it is also an excellent deodorizer which is vital for a sauna that is used on a regular basis. It has antimicrobial properties as well as great respiratory benefits that open up your airways and relax your lungs’ mucosa. If you have any open cuts around your body, the eucalyptus oil will also help them heal faster and keep any microorganisms away from the wound site.
Currently, one of the best eucalyptus oils is the Cliganic USDA Organic Eucalyptus Essential Oil which is one of the purest options on the market that is also highly certified from different agencies. On top of that, it smells terrific and has an excellent price for its size. The bottles are 0.33 fl oz each and are UV protected. Furthermore, you can return the item if you don’t like it. This oil is also verified by the non-GMO project which is a deal sealer for most people.
We cannot mention essential oils without going through lavender’s healing properties and some of the best products that offer them in a bottled form. Using this oil has a variety of benefits such as a potent calming effect which is perfect after a stressful day at your job. When dispersed in the air, lavender oils also help soothe migraines and promote good sleep quality. It is also a strong antioxidant and has anti-ageing properties.
There are even more good reason lavender is still one of the best selling essential oils. First of all, it is offered in a vast majority of products and the price is usually really good. Second of all, the overall quality of the lavender essential oils is also pretty high across all products. That abundance of options, however, can cause some confusion when you’re trying to buy one. Generally, as a rule of thumb, almost all lavender oils on the market are good and you can hardly make a bad choice, especially if you cross-shop between the trending most well-received ones on Amazon.
My recommendation for a product that you can’t go wrong with is the Lavender Essential Oil by Orchid and Temple. It has superb quality and comes with a travel roll-on which you can use on the go. There are no sodium or sulfates here, as with some other oils, meaning it is truly geared towards healthy usage. It can be used in a diffuser, in your sauna, as a shampoo, during massages, or even in skin treatment when mixed with a carrier oil of your choice.
Opposing the Lavender’s calming and soothing effect is the Peppermint with its stimulating and energy-boosting nature. If you love taking a morning sauna or generally enjoy waking up with healthy aromatherapy in your living room, peppermint is the way to go. Apart from being highly stimulating, peppermint also helps with stomach aches and nausea. Furthermore, if you’re having a bad muscle ache from the previous day, the frosty effect peppermint has on your skin is going to help you feel better and will relieve most of the soreness.
A good choice for this oil is the Majestic Pure Peppermint Essential Oil which comes in a large 4 fl oz bottle full with therapeutic-grade oil. There are no additives here as well as no diluters or fillers as you can find on some other peppermint oils. If you want to use this oil to something other than aromatherapy, though, make sure you dilute it with a carrier oil, especially if you are going to use it in your sauna. Otherwise, the scent will be too strong and you might overdo the effects. The bottle comes with a glass dropper which allows you high accuracy of the dosage you want to mix.
Tea Tree (melaleuca)
Tea tree or Melaleuca is the essential oil of choice for many people and it is perhaps the best choice if you’re browsing for oils that help you tackle viral or bacterial infections. Tea tree oil also gives you a good immune boost. The way it supplements any aromatherapy session is the reason why most people use it in combination with various other essential oil kinds. It has antiseptic properties and is also used by a lot of people when they just aren’t feeling well. If you’re having flu-associated respiratory issues, this oil should be right up there in the mix with other ones like eucalyptus. When used outside your sauna or diffuser, tea tree essential oil is also good for people suffering from dandruff and other types of skin issues. Still, this oil is rather potent, so make sure you always dilute it and avoid direct contact with your face.
One of the top products on today’s market for Tea Tree oil is the Handcraft Blends Tea Tree Essential Oil. It is a premium product with therapeutic-grade quality coming from a company that is among the top 3 currently in the USA for manufacturing and distributing essential oils. In other words, you can trust the name and the quality coming out of this brand. The oils from Handcraft Blends are also third-party tested and FDA approved which is a rarity, especially with the vast number of new brands now popping left and right. The bottle is also quite large which doesn’t seem to be really reflected on the price. In other words, its a steal. There is also a glass dropper that is pretty accurate and doesn’t drip unnecessarily when used.
Apart from its use in traditional medicine, Rosemary is also a very potent essential oil which is extracted from the leaves of the plant. This same plant is also used for culinary purposes, making it one of the most diverse plants on earth, usage-wise. Essential oils from rosemary are highly stimulative and have pleasant effects on our nervous system, specifically the brain. They are good for treating migraines, depression, and other headaches with different sources. However, it is one of the more expensive essential oils out there, especially if you want to go for the high-end brands with premium quality.
One of these brands is Gya labs and their Rosemary Essential oils is one of their best-selling products which is well-received and praised by a lot of users. Despite its somewhat steep price tag, this oil is rich on its rosemary fragrance and has a calm yet fresh effect when used with a diffuser or in a sauna mixed with carrier oils. It can also be used as a topical to relieve muscle aches and other pains. It also promotes hair growth and good sleep quality.
Sandalwood is a rare, yet interesting essential oil. As people start experimenting with scents and types of oils more and more, they also start finding out about some more unknown oils such as this one. Sandalwood is a good addition to any aromatherapy mix thanks to its earthy and neutral nature. It is is a mental stimulant and improves one’s memory clarity. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and helps with stomach pains and nausea. Sandalwood essential oils also help people manage their blood pressure and have known anti-ageing benefits.
Usually the rarer an essential oil, the more expensive it is. That is the case with the Diffuse Essential Oils Sandalwood Essential Oil. It is more expensive (per oz) than other similar oils in the 0.33 fl oz bottles. There are also 1 fl oz and 2 fl oz bottles which bring the price down a bit. Still, this oil is perfect for defusers and sauna usage, especially when mixed well with a carrier oil. It comes in a UV-resistant amber bottle with a euro-style dropper for accurate drop measurements.
Lastly, I wanted to mention another type of essential oil that is recently gaining traction. Well, there are a lot of oils that are gaining popularity but I promised to focus on the main ones for this guide. Frankincense is quite unique in its nature since it is one of the few essential oils derived from a Boswellia tree resin. It has been used for hundreds, if not thousands, of years for different therapeutic reasons but people have been using it as an essential oil more and more due to its sweet and woody fragrance which calms you down and soothes most flu-related symptoms. It is also a known immune-booster so using it before the beginning of the Fall’s flu season is a great idea!
Coming yet again from the company Handcraft Blends, I chose their Handcraft Frankincense Essential Oil since it brings all the pros from this company combined with the benefits of a 100% pure therapeutic-grade frankincense oil. Granted, it is a little expensive but the 4 oz bottle should be good for quite some time after you buy it. If you want to mix this oil, it mixes really well with geranium, lemon, rose, rosemary, and sandalwood!
While most oils are sold individually, there are also oil sets which contain most of the ones that I already listed. Apart from the obvious advantage, these are usually in smaller bottles and cost quite a bit more. Either way, let’s check a few examples of good essential oil sets…
Essential Oils Sets
Essential oil sets are becoming more and more popular, especially since the price is generally becoming more affordable. These sets allow you to create mixes of your own according to the scents and effects you want to experience during your aromatherapy. There are two sets that I want to personally recommend which are quite rich on the oils variety in them and are also a great bang for the buck.
Natrogix Nirvana Essential Oils
This set is one of the best deals on the market currently thanks to its 18 different therapeutic grade essential oils and its relatively low price. It contains some of the most popular oils including Tea Tree, Frankincense, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Sweet orange, Moroccan Rosemary, Lemon, Lemongrass, Turmeric Oil, Ylang Ylang, Tangerine, Basil, Cedarwood, Spearmint, Copaiba Balsam, Bergamot, and Cinnamon Leaf.
With the set, you also get a free book with 200 custom essential oil recipes which allow you to create the perfect mixes for your sauna session or aromatherapy. The bottles are of high quality and have precise droppers which don’t drip excessively. The tint of the glass bottles protects the oils from UV ray degradation. Even further, everything about the Natrogix Nirvana set is made in FDA-approved factories based in the USA. the oils are also GC/MS certified and have no GMOs, herbicides, pesticides, or any other types of additives.
Still, some of the oils in this set can have a rather chemical scent but that is due to their highly concentrated chemical compounds, derived from the plants. Scents of alcohol, ketones, or aldehydes are normal since those substances are found in the plants themselves.
Lagunamoon Premium Essential Oils Set
The Lagunamoon Premium Essential Oils Set is yet another highly versatile set of oils which is slightly more expensive than the Nirvana set but offers 2 more 0.34oz bottles. it is good to use for vaporizing, diffusion, inhalation, massage, cleaning, oil burners, saunas or spas, perfumes, or even home care.
As I pointed out, the LagunaMoon set has 2 more bottles. However, the scents and essential oil types are quite different. Here, you get an assortment of Peppermint, Sandalwood, Chamomile, Orange, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Tea Tree, Lemongrass, Vetiver, Jasmine, Cedar, Bergamot, Cinnamon, Frankincense, Grapefruit, Geranium, Lemon, Rosemary, Rose, and Vanilla.
All these oils allow you to create the perfect blend to work on any aspect of your well being. An added bonus is the box which is super sturdy and easy to carry around (also good looking and gift-worthy!).
Additional Essential Oil Accessories
Even though you can theoretically try to mix your essential oils with the water in the sauna bucket, this isn’t the most effective way to do it, as water isn’t particularly good for mixing oil-based substances. This is why you need things like carrier oils to do that, but more on that later. The issue you will be cade with after having everything prepared is where to pour it and where to keep it away from the direct heat of the sauna stones (or infrared heaters). This is why there are accessories such as oil cups and holders which are designed with essential oil aromatherapy in mind. Here are my top picks…
Cornucopia Sauna Aromatherapy Oil Cup
This set oil cup set consists of a wooden block which can be attached to your sauna’s wall, an extended metal arm, and a metal hanging cup which is attached with a metal chain to the arm. You also get installation instructions and screws with the set that make installing this an easy and fast process.
The arm of the cup is swinging and can be turned to place the cut directly over the sauna stones of the infrared heater. The hanging cup is also quite easy to move around, making spreading the essential oil scents easier. The cup is also quite large in its capacity so you can put a handful of essential oils in it, mixed with their carrier oils. The total volume is 1 pint of liquid. Apart from oils, you can also use it for water if you want to add some humidity to your sauna. This type of oil cups are also very handy if you want to use them for a floating or regular candles.
Royal Saunas Essential Oil Holder & Frame
The Royal Saunas Essential Oil Holder is a different type of solution to adding essential oils to your sauna. It has a few advantages and a few obvious disadvantages. The major disadvantage is that you cannot move it around your sauna, like the previous oil cup. It is also far smaller in its total volume.
Still, the stainless steel cup is good for mixing essential oils and, if placed properly, it can fill the air in your sauna with your favorite fragrance. The wooden part is made out of hemlock wood which is extremely durable and long-lasting, especially in high-temperature conditions. The holder and the frame come with two screws which are used to attach it to your sauna’s wooden panels. The installation is pretty straight-forward and future-proof. The stainless steel cup is also removable so you can easily take it out and clean it when needed.
While this holder doesn’t offer much in terms of features and functionality, this all reflects on its price and is, therefore, the cheapest of the bunch here and is a perfect gift for a sauna aficionado.
Radiant Saunas SA5056 Sauna Aromatherapy Kit
Last (and maybe least) is the Radiant Saunas aromatherapy kit. While it is unique in its design, it certainly is customer’s least favorite option due to a few reasons. One of the worst features here is the small volume of the cup. Sometimes you want to mix more than a few essential oils with their carrier oil and this small cup just doesn’t allow you to do that thanks to its tiny size. Furthermore, this product is rather expensive and the build quality isn’t as premium as the price tag.
However, it is not all bad when it comes to this holder. Its removable cup and portable design make up for some of the negative things here. The fact that you can quickly remove it and place it anywhere in your sauna is good enough for most people that look for portability rather than a permanent solution. What this also means is that you can take the kit with you if you’re going to a spa and use it there with your own essential oils. Just make sure you ask the staff if it’s alright to do so first. The holder also comes with a 1/2oz eucalyptus essential oil bottle.
Essential Oil Benefits
There are a number of benefits that the oils bring to your sauna experience. Apart from their usual individual properties, which I listed above, all essential oils have a few common features that define their sauna benefits. Those are:
- Sterility of the sauna – The antimicrobial properties of these oils allows the air in the sauna to be cleaned from microorganisms. This also applies to all the inside surfaces of the sauna, as well as your body’s airways, allowing for a healthy and sterile environment for you to relax in.
- Adds calming fragrances to your sauna – Each essential oil brings its own nuances when it comes to the aromatherapy they create
- Help cure various conditions – Essential oils have been known to help treat depression, headaches, migraines, sleep deprivation, stress, and sore muscles. They are also particularly good for clearing out the lungs of different toxins and small air pollutants.
- Give you an immune system boost – Most essential oils are known to work well for preventing catching the flu during its most active seasons.
As a whole, nothing can create such a calm and healthy sauna environment for your weekly meditation session. The relaxing effect of your favorite blend is something that you will eagerly wait in-between your spa days. Still, make sure you don’t go into the sauna very often, as that can pose certain risks and even health issues.
How to use essential oils in your sauna
Using these oils in your sauna is a pretty straight-forward process. Most of the products which are good for sauna usage are oil-based and will, therefore, need to be diluted beforehand. Dilution is often done with carrier oils (since water isn’t exactly the best dilution agent here). These carrier oils can be sweet almond, coconut, or even jojoba oils. They will add additional scents to the diluted liquid but will also tone down the potency of the initial essential oil.
Some of the main reasons essential oils need to be diluted are because they can pose a fire hazard if poured directly over the hot stones. They are also quite strong in their nature and you risk overexposure if you use essential oils alone without any dilutant. That same overexposure can lead to skin irritation, allergic reactions or hypersensitivity of your skin. That same principle applies to using essential oils in your bath. Putting a few drops into the water is, more or less, the same as applying them directly onto your skin.
If you are really set on mixing your oils with water, there are things called solubilizers which allow the oils and water to mix well. Some of those are the products – Natrasorb bath, Solubol, or liquid castile soap. Solubol is an excellent natural dispersant that allows water to mix well with essential oils.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can essential oils be used in an infrared sauna?
Essential oils are one of the best ways to boost your infrared’s sauna experience. They are safe to use and often go hand-in-hand with infrared sauna sessions since these saunas are even safer than traditional ones. Still, make sure you have the proper accessories to dilute and pour the essential oils mix and have it with you inside the sauna. I suggest a holder or a sauna cup. If you have a bucket with water, you can even put a few drops in it, although water doesn’t really mix well with these oils.
What are essential oils?
In their essence (no pun intended), essential oils are a type of oil that is obtained by techniques such as cold pressing. They evaporate quickly upon contact with air and are extracted from various plants that have known therapeutic properties. Then, they are either used in aromatherapies or applied directly onto one’s skin.
Can you use coconut oil in the sauna?
From all the oils out there, coconut oil isn’t the most ideal choice. If you insist on having it, you can apply it to your body or hair before you enter the sauna.
Finding the best sauna essential oils might be challenging at first but once you get to know all the oil types and all the top products, it will eventually be easier to choose. With time, you will also start experimenting with blends and see what works the best for your physical and mental state during those sauna sessions. This is why it is always wise to invest in an essential oil set which has all the major fragrances and will be good enough for quite some time, albeit a bit expensive.