Sauna Guide, Sauna Health

Essential Oils For Sauna Aromatherapy

Essential oils can be extremely pleasant and improve the sauna experience while providing additional sauna health benefits.

Traditional Finnish saunas naturally give off pine tar, or ‘Terva’ for many years after the sauna is built.  Pine tar has been shown to be antipruritic, anti‐inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal, and can be used as an essential oil though it gives off a smokey aroma.

Introducing other essential oils is a great way to add some additional enjoyment and possible health benefits to your sessions.

But here’s the thing, not all essential oils are natural or meant to be used in the sauna.  Some include chemicals or additives that actually leave residue on the sauna rocks and can actually damage your sauna heater, benches, or walls!  The heating elements on electric sauna heaters may be the first to show damage.  Hidden under rocks, you won’t know it until it fails.

These chemicals and additives aren’t only bad for your sauna, but they are also not fun, and potentially toxic to breathe in.

Some essential oils are not toxic but are not meant to be in heated spaces and can create problems or unpleasant odors inside a sauna.  Everyone responds differently to essential odors so be mindful of your fellow bathers.  What’s pleasant to you might be chasing someone out of the sauna, they may even be allergic.  Private sauna sessions are recommended for avid essential oil experimenters.

So always ask and be mindful before using essential oils in the sauna, and always start with small doses.

We recommend a starter pack for experimenting with what works best for you, everyone is different!  You can find something like this on Amazon:

How to use essential oils in the sauna

Oils should never be put directly on sauna rocks, but diluted in water first.  Certain essential oils may be highly flammable, use at your own risk.

One favorite trick in northern climates is to put a few drops of essential oils on a snowball and let it do its thing.

About Aromatherapy

The term aromatherapy originally came to use in 1937 upon discovery that lavender essential oil had some medicinal properties to relieve burn victims. Most ancient cultures like Chinese, Egyptian, and Greek culture made use of the practice for various purposes.

Nowadays, the practice entails the use of aromatic plant extracts for homeopathic remedies such as preventing depression, reducing pain, improving cardiac health and lowers blood pressure, reducing stress, promoting better sleep and soothing sore muscles.

Spending time in a traditional or infrared sauna is one of the most essential life experiences according those who make a habit of it, but adding essential oils to your sauna practice can take it to the next level.

Why Use Essential Oils For Sauna?

Sauna essential oils are vital components, they give an exceptional fragrance, and at the same time, significantly improve the sterility of your sauna. These unique liquids are specially manufactured to serve many purposes. The most notable uses of essential oils are their use to kill bacteria and clearing of lungs. They also make the smell of your sauna awesome. For an exceptional bathing experience in a sauna, these essential oils are must-have items.

Types of Essential Oils for Sauna Aromatherapy

Balsam Fir Needle Oil

This is an extremely fitting scent that will make you feel surrounded by wilderness, even in a basement sauna.  Traditionally it has been used for empowering, and balance.  It’s often described as a woodsy, invigorating scent.  If you like the fresh Christmas tree smell, the Balsam Fir essential oil is a good place to start.

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The smell of eucalyptus is often associated with saunas, as they’ve been used together for centuries.

This unique oil is a great refreshing element and eases the mental exhaustion of an individual among many other health benefits in the sauna. Eucalyptus has a distinctive pleasant smell that works as a deodorant and aids in killing bacteria and germs in the air.

Eucalyptus is a go-to for many when they are sick.  Diffusing eucalyptus in your sauna will significantly help in clearing respiratory complications. Eucalyptus oil has some microbial and germicidal properties that help in faster healing of wounds and at the same time providing some soothing effect.

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If you are looking for some fantastic moments during your sauna sessions, then make sure you diffuse some cinnamon oil. The unique warmth and spice of this essential oil will not only cause a unique sensational treat for the taste buds but will also energize and refresh the whole body. Cinnamon oil is an excellent antidote for soothing sore muscles but can also be used as a natural decongestant, especially if you are ailing from a cold. The oil is also known to be a fantastic element in reducing inflammation, boosting mood, improving metabolism and promoting blood circulation.


essential oils and birch in sauna

Birch broom inside of a steam room

Birch has a minty smell that is sensational to the user in a sauna. It is one of the most commonly used scents in the traditional Finnish saunas. Essential oils from birch have a variety of health benefits that include; body detoxification, bacterial and fungal prevention, skin condition treatment, improved circulation, pain reduction and skin toning. These essential oils contain some elements such as methyl salicylate that are necessary for curing eczema and ringworms. The antiseptic properties of this essential oil are amazing, they do not only clean the body, but also clean the sauna excellently.

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With citrus, there is some variety in the essential oils. The essential oil will be in several scents. Orange and lemon scents are the most popular. Having a sauna session incorporated with some citrus tastes is a great way to start your day. The oil is a popular antidepressant and an incredible energy booster to your body. On top of the many health benefits that citrus oils have, they have some cleansing and anti-inflammatory properties. An important thing to know is, you should not use these types of oils before going to bed as effects will leave you awake instead of making you fall asleep


Having frankincense in your sauna is the best step you can make especially if you are ailing from a cold or other ailments. This kind of oil is popular for enhancing immune systems of the users. Use of this oil has been proved to reduce the effects of chemotherapy and at the same time fights some types of cancers in humans. Another spectacular property of this oil helps in improving digestion, balancing hormones and prevents signs of aging.


This oil tops the list among the most popular essential oils. Unlike lavender oil that has a cooling effect on the body, peppermint oil has stimulating properties that boost energy in the body.  You may notice your face become tingly with Peppermint in the sauna.

On top of the many benefits that the oil has, it is still an amazing stomach remedy due to the antispasmodic properties that it contains. Nausea is another ailment that is quickly done away with when you diffuse peppermint in your next sauna session.


This lavender oil is the most popular aromatherapy oil and you will find it nearly in all saunas. The oil is famous for its incredible soothing properties and it is the best relaxer after a busy day.  There is research showing lavender sauna sessions reduce stress.

Lavender oil has some fantastic scent that aids in calming down headaches and help in enhancing a cool night. Other healing properties of lavender oil include wound and burn treatment, enhanced brain function, anti-aging antioxidants and diabetes protection. Performing lavender aromatherapy in the sauna creates you a moment of your life, making lavender oil the best essential oil for the sauna.


This can be a great addition to your chemotherapy sessions. Sandalwood is an excellent element for memory boot and mental clarity. Sandalwood oil is a great anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and anti-aging element and at the same time contains some properties that help in lowering blood pressure upon applying on the skin. Sandalwood oil is the most exceptional alternative for sauna meditation.


This is the perfect remedy for the people who suffer from regular headaches or cases of congestion. Pine oil has some wonderful scent that creates a fantastic forest environment in your sauna. By diffusing pine oil in your sauna sessions, you will create a unique and spectacular experience that will bring a natural effect. Pine oil is famous for relieving joint pains, loosening phlegm in the lungs and serves as a natural decongestant. Apart from the many benefits of pine oil mentioned above, it has natural properties that help in treating acne and boosting your mood. It is essential to note that pine oil should not be used before going to bet as it is mostly used to increase focus and energy. This means that you will end up spending more hours awake!

Tea Tree

This is one of the best-known essential oils for fighting infections and at the same time a great booster of the immune system. For any aromatherapy, this is a must-have essential oil. Tea tree oil has some unique antiseptic properties that are superb in fighting respiratory issues and other respiratory complications like flu. Many skin conditions can also be treated using the tea tree oil and they include dandruff, athlete’s foot and many other skin conditions. When using this oil, make sure that it does not come into contact with your eyes or nose because of its healing strength that may cause you trouble.

Tea That Will Increase Sweating

Here’s a bonus concoction from our friends at Heatwave Mobile Sauna in Belgium for increasing your sweating during sauna sessions:

1 teaspoon of linden flower
2 teaspoons of wild raspberry leaves
1 teaspoon of chamomile
1 teaspoon of peppermint

Pour 1 liter of hot water on top of 3 tablespoons of tea and let it sit in for 15-20 minutes. Use during and after sauna session

The Takeaway

The choice of sauna essential oils purely relies on the users’ preference. However, it might take you some time and more tries before realizing your perfect blend. In the end, you will realize that essential oils are an excellent investment that is worth your time and resources. If carefully chosen Traditional and Infrared sauna essential oils can improve your experience. They have an amazing smell and induce you with a wonderful relaxing feeling you will always love.