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Does aromatherapy enhance the sauna experience?

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Pettis pools and hot tubs report that “essential oils that are extracted from flowers, leaves, bark, wood, seeds, roots and peel are known to enhance moods and promote health.

They are absorbed into the bloodstream and metabolized within the body, producing many benefits beyond just a “nice smell.””

Four specifically are mentioned:

  1. Patchouli and lemon essential oils soothe after a workout
  2. Lavender oil helps stress and tension fade
  3. Eucalyptus and peppermint oils perk up your mind for a clearer focus
  4. Chamomile oil helps you relax and drift off to sleep

Line extension or legit?  You choose. One could say that if it smells good, do it.

Many old school sauna enthusiasts scoff at scents as they feel that clear fresh water produces the best loyly.  Some are partial to a little beer tossed on sauna rocks.  This practice may bring forth more of a positive mental sauna party association vs any actual aromatherapy benefit.  Then there is the Vihta tradition, where spring birch branch cuttings are soaked in a bucket of water.  The water turns to a light birch aroma tea.  When this water is tossed on sauna rocks, it gives off a loyly aroma as a fresh reminder of spring, cabins, water lapping on the shore, and a new season.


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7 thoughts on “Does aromatherapy enhance the sauna experience?”

  1. Thanks for the Vihta info. We sometimes eat an orange and squeeze the rind toward the stove. Nice citrus smell.

  2. Nice sauna blog with loads of useful information
    We use Birch tree oil for soothing aroma and eucalyptus for muscle pains
    It reallty helps when your getting on in years and the body seems to be rusting

  3. Does anyone have experience with whether the essential oil smells dissipate after a while, or whether one has to pick a scent and live with it permanently? I’m partial to eucalyptus, but am curious to try out some of the more adventurous blends that I’ve seen, like birch tar and “smoke sauna.” But if I don’t like the smoke sauna smelling experience, will it be too late? Will it be infused into my sauna walls forever more?! 🙂

  4. I can answer this from experience: the smell dissipates after awhile. But anytime we ever introduce essences or oils within my saunas, we do so sparingly, and we always follow a dose of scented water on the rocks with a dose of straight water on the rocks.

    This “cleans the pallet” and keeps it fresh, so to speak.

    PS.. you may like “pine tea water.” We cut a couple small cedar or balsam limbs and let them soak in a jug of warm water on the upper bench for awhile and we use this water on the rocks to create loyly: free range organic no cost essential loyly water, sustainably harvested with zero carbon footprint.

  5. I’m hooked on “sweet birch” essential oil now. A 2-3 drops per bucket. In general I like eucalyptus, but on hot rocks it seems to change the scent in a negative way. Smoke sauna and birch tar oils didn’t do it for me either.
    When we take down the Christmas tree, I’ll try soaking a couple of branches for the free range organic experience. 🙂

  6. Well, the Christmas tree water gave a wonderful aroma, but also some bad side effects. The initial scent burst when tossed on the rocks was a real Christmas tree scent. After that, there was a bit of a caramelized/burnt sugar smell, likely from some sap components dissolved in the water. That wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t pure Christmas tree essence.
    The real downside for me was that the sauna session that day left me feeling completely drained the rest of the day and part of the rest. I have allergies to some types of trees (can’t remember which types, from a test run decades ago), and I’m convinced that I was experiencing an allergic reaction. It was very similar to how I can sometimes feel on very high-pollen days. Not itchy eyes or runny nose, but just drained of energy. Anyhow, although I really liked the aroma component, I’m going to have to stay away from the Christmas tree branch idea next year, or make it much, much more dilute.

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