Using Essential Oils to Maximize Your Sauna Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy, or essential oil therapy, is a specialized kind of treatment that uses naturally occurring plant extracts in order to improve overall health and wellness of the body and the mind. 

Although the term ‘essential oil’ was coined around the last century or so, this type of homeopathic healing has been around for thousands of years and continues to increase in popularity due to its numerous effects and benefits.

You may have heard of essential oils before, and maybe you have used them, either on your body, in a diffuser, or in a sauna, but do you know what they really are?

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are concentrated liquids containing different compounds, or phytochemicals, which are derived from plants. A compound is a whole, made up of two or more parts. These oils are essenced by the plant itself.

Essential oils have been around for millennia. 

There is evidence that dates back to around 20,000 B.C.E., where there were cave paintings in France that suggested that plants were used for medicinal purposes in general. Whether oils were extracted from these plants for the purposes of oil is unknown, but it can be speculated that it might be the case.

When moving forward a few years to the era of the Ancient Egyptians in 4500 BC, a 2017 study explains that:

“they used to make a mixture of different sources of herbal preparations such as aniseed, cedar, onion, myrrh, and grapes in perfume or medicine” 

This study goes on to explain further:

“On the other hand, the use of aromatic oils was first recorded in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine between 3000 and 2000 BC [7]. In particular, the recorded history about China and India listed more than 700 substances including cinnamon, ginger, myrrh, and sandalwood as being effective for healing.”

There were even historical records of Ancient Greeks using essential oils, around 500 and 400 BC.

While using essential oils is nothing new, they have definitely risen in popularity in modern culture within the last century.

There is a vast selection of oils available on the market but many of the spices and plants that were used to concoct these oils centuries ago are still popular today.

How To Use Essential Oils?

You can enjoy the benefits of essential oils in a few different ways, and they include:

  • Aromatically, via a diffuser, or use in a sauna.
  • Topically, where you apply the essential oil onto the skin
  • Internally, where you can ingest them. 

There is a difference between essential oils that you can inject versus oils that are only suited for aromatics and using topically. It’s important to understand this distinction because ingestion of an oil that’s not made to be, can result in internal problems.

It’s also important to not confuse essential oils with fragrance oils, which are synthetic, made with artificial scents instead of naturally made. 

Fragrance oils, although some may have natural ingredients added to them, are designed only for the purpose of smelling good. They are devoid of health benefits and should not be a substitute for essential oils.

How to Use Essential Oils for Sauna Aromatherapy?

Essential oils have proven themselves to be a great addition in promoting an environment of greater health and wellbeing due to their homeopathic medicinal properties.

Incorporating essential oils in your sauna sessions is a great way to enhance your aromatherapy experience and enjoy the benefits that each oil offers.

You simply need to add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to a small container or an aromatherapy cup. The aroma of the oil will quickly fill the heated room for you to enjoy. 

Be mindful not to add too much, as it may be overbearing. Also, if the oil is too strong for you, it may need to be diluted.

The Best Essential Oils for Sauna Aromatherapy

There are many essential oils out there on the market, and each of them have their own beneficial properties.

For instance, when looking at Eucalyptus essential oil, this oil promotes a feeling of relaxation. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Peppermint, which promotes an energetic feeling. 

It all depends on what kind of property you’re looking to experience.

Here are some of the best oils to use for your sauna aromatherapy.

  • Eucalyptus Essential Oil – This is one of the most popular essential oils on the market today due to it’s recognizable, enjoyable smell and laundry list of benefits. You’ll enjoy a feeling of rejuvenation, improved energy, and can also help with mental fatigue. Some of the other benefits of this oil include helping with respiratory issues, having antimicrobial effects against bacteria, and can loosen mucus in your chest, for those that have a cough. 


  • Lavender Essential Oil – Lavender has a sweet, floral smell and has been widely used as a homeopathic remedy to help relieve stress and anxiety due to it’s calming and relaxing properties. There are also evidence to suggest that Lavender, according to Medical News Today:

“is believed to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to heal minor burns and bug bites.”

When looking for a way to relax at the end of a long and stressful day, or you just need some help with calming the nerves, adding some Lavender essential oil to your sauna session is the way to go.


  • Frankincense Essential Oil – Frankincense is widely considered the ‘king of oils’, because of its long standing use throughout history. There’s a sweet, woody smell with subtle notes of lemon which helps to promote a calming and relaxing effect. While research on its biological activities in human skin cells is scarce, this oil is suggested to support a healthy immune system, improve the look of the skin, and assist with digestive function.


  • Grapefruit Essential Oil – This citrusy oil promotes a calming environment, by assisting with mood balancing, anxiety relief, and even weight loss. Although there is more research that needs to be conducted on Grapefruit essential oil, one available study indicates that:


The fragrance of grapefruit EO (essential oil) causes activation of the sympathetic nerve activity innervating the WAT, which facilitates lipolysis, then results in a suppression of body weight gain.”

Another study also mentions:

“ Grapefruit EO (essential oil) promotes body cleansing and removal of toxins and excess fluids.” 


  • Cinnamon Essential Oil – Cinnamon is one of the most popular essential oils for not just promoting a cozy and comfortable environment, but for its anti-inflammatory properties and other amazing benefits. Cinnamon is well known to improve cognitive abilities, boosting the immune system, helping to relieve achy joints and muscles and enhancing bacteria resistance. In looking at combining Cinnamon with antibiotics, one recent study concluded that:


“the combinations between cinnamon EO and some classical antibiotics had synergistic and additive interactions against multidrug-resistant bacteria. These combinations can be used as an alternative therapeutic application, which could decrease the minimum effective dose of the drugs, thus reducing their possible adverse effects and the costs of treatment.”

Adding a few drops of cinnamon essential oil to your sauna session can improve your health and wellness in more ways than one.


  • Tea Tree Essential Oil Tea Tree is another popular essential oil because of its numerous health benefits and refreshing feel on your skin. It’s also used in many over the counter products at your local store due to its versatility. Tea Tree oil is jam packed with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antifungal properties, including athlete’s foot and nail fungus. 


According to a 2006 study, it goes on to conclude that:

“A wealth of in vitro data now supports the long-held beliefs that TTO has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.”

  • Lemon Essential Oil – Lemon is one of the most classic of essential oils. This citrusy oil combines a great smell of freshness and cleanliness with many benefits including skin healing, enhancing the immune system, improving overall energy and clarity, and much more. 

One study, when researching the effects of lemon essential oil, amongst other oils, showcases that:

“The present results suggest that some forms of colloid or micelle suspension of whole essential oils may assist in antimicrobial fight, especially those that contain high amounts of terpenes and terpenoids (such as oregano, thyme or lemon oil) which are active against many bacterial species, including highly resistant and adaptable ones such as MRSA or Pseudomonas spp.

Lemon essential oil is a popular choice when looking to improve health, wellness, and anti-inflammatory properties.

When looking to use essential oils in your sauna sessions, you can also use a combination of different oils to create different scents and experience. Some popular combinations of oils include:

Calming: Lavender & Bergamot, Orange & Frankincense, Marjoram & Chamomile

Energy: Peppermint & Orange, Cinnamon & Lemon, Orange & Peppermint

Improving Focus: Cinnamon & French Basil, Juniper Berry & Wild Orange, Lime & Eucalyptus

There is no wrong way to combine these oils together. It all comes down to what kind of outcome you want. Go ahead and experiment with your favorites and create your own!

Final Takeaways

It’s well known that regular sauna use has many numerous benefits on the mind and on the body. The incorporation of essential oils to regular sauna sessions can help to enhance the experience, depending on what the specific and individual needs of the sauna user are. 

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