Sauna Aromatherapy: Traditional Sauna Explained

Sauna Aromatherapy: Traditional Sauna Explained

Sauna Aromatherapy: Traditional Sauna Explained

The traditional sauna, a cornerstone of many cultures, is a place of relaxation, rejuvenation and healing. Its warm embrace has been cherished for centuries, providing a sanctuary from the harshness of the outside world. In this glossary entry, we delve deep into the heart of the traditional sauna, exploring its origins, its benefits, and the unique role of aromatherapy within this sacred space.

As we embark on this journey, we invite you to immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of the sauna tradition. Let the heat envelop you, let the aromas transport you, and let the wisdom of the ancients guide you towards a deeper understanding of this timeless practice.

The Origins of the Traditional Sauna

The traditional sauna, or 'savusauna' as it is known in Finland, traces its roots back over 2000 years. Originally, these saunas were simple pits dug into a slope in the ground, used as dwellings in winter. The sauna evolved over time, becoming a separate building with a fireplace where stones were heated to a high temperature. Water was thrown over the hot stones to produce steam, which increased the feeling of warmth.

The sauna was not just a place for bathing. In Finland, it was a sacred space, used for rituals and ceremonies, from birth to death. It was a place of healing, where herbs and plants were used to treat various ailments. This deep connection between the sauna and nature continues to this day, with many traditional saunas incorporating natural elements into their design and practices.

The Role of Fire in the Traditional Sauna

In the traditional sauna, fire plays a central role. It is the source of the sauna's heat, but it also symbolizes purification and transformation. The act of lighting the fire is a ritual in itself, a moment of preparation and anticipation. The fire is tended carefully, with respect and reverence, reflecting the sacredness of the sauna experience.

The heat from the fire warms the sauna stones, which are carefully chosen for their ability to retain heat. When water is thrown onto these hot stones, it turns into steam, filling the sauna with a warm, moist heat. This heat is gentle yet penetrating, reaching deep into the muscles and joints, promoting relaxation and easing tension.

The Use of Wood in the Traditional Sauna

Wood is another important element in the traditional sauna. From the structure of the sauna itself to the benches where bathers sit, wood is a constant presence. It provides a natural, organic feel to the sauna, connecting bathers to the natural world. The type of wood used can also influence the sauna experience, with different woods imparting different aromas when heated.

For example, cedarwood is often used for its pleasant aroma and natural resistance to moisture. Aspen, on the other hand, is chosen for its ability to remain cool to the touch, even in high temperatures. These subtle nuances add depth and complexity to the sauna experience, making each visit unique.

The Benefits of the Traditional Sauna

The traditional sauna offers a wealth of benefits, both physical and mental. The heat of the sauna promotes sweating, which helps to cleanse the skin and flush toxins from the body. It can also improve circulation, boost the immune system, and aid in muscle recovery. On a mental level, the sauna can help to reduce stress, improve mood, and promote a sense of well-being.

But perhaps the most profound benefit of the sauna is the sense of connection it fosters. In the warmth of the sauna, barriers melt away, encouraging open conversation and shared experiences. It is a place where people can connect with themselves, with others, and with nature. This sense of connection, of belonging, is at the heart of the sauna tradition.

Physical Benefits of the Traditional Sauna

The heat of the traditional sauna has numerous physical benefits. It can help to relax muscles, soothe aches and pains, and improve flexibility. The heat also increases heart rate and improves circulation, similar to the effects of moderate exercise. This can help to lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and boost overall fitness levels.

Sweating in the sauna can also help to cleanse the skin, removing impurities and promoting a healthy glow. It can also aid in weight loss, as the body uses energy to cool itself down, burning calories in the process. Furthermore, regular sauna use can boost the immune system, helping to ward off colds and other illnesses.

Mental Benefits of the Traditional Sauna

On a mental level, the traditional sauna can be a sanctuary, a place to escape from the stresses of daily life. The heat and steam create a sense of calm and relaxation, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. Many people find that they sleep better after a sauna, as the heat helps to promote a deeper, more restful sleep.

But the sauna is not just a place for relaxation. It can also be a place for reflection and introspection. The simple act of sitting in the heat, with no distractions, can encourage a sense of mindfulness, helping to clear the mind and promote a sense of peace and tranquility. This mental clarity can carry over into daily life, improving focus and concentration.

The Role of Aromatherapy in the Traditional Sauna

Aromatherapy, the use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes, plays a unique role in the traditional sauna. The heat and steam of the sauna can enhance the effects of the oils, creating a deeply sensory experience. Whether used for relaxation, invigoration, or healing, aromatherapy can add a new dimension to the sauna experience.

The choice of essential oils can vary depending on the desired effect. Lavender, for example, is known for its calming properties, making it a popular choice for relaxation. Eucalyptus, on the other hand, is invigorating and can help to clear the airways, making it ideal for use in the sauna. Whatever the choice, the use of aromatherapy in the sauna can help to create a personalized, sensory experience.

Choosing Essential Oils for the Sauna

When choosing essential oils for the sauna, it's important to consider both the desired effect and the quality of the oils. Not all essential oils are created equal, and it's important to choose oils that are pure, natural, and free from synthetic additives. This ensures that the oils are safe to use and that they provide the maximum therapeutic benefit.

It's also important to consider the aroma of the oils. The heat and steam of the sauna can intensify the aroma of the oils, so it's important to choose oils that you find pleasant and comforting. Some people prefer fresh, invigorating scents like eucalyptus or peppermint, while others prefer calming, soothing scents like lavender or chamomile. The choice is personal, and part of the joy of aromatherapy is discovering which scents resonate with you.

Using Essential Oils in the Sauna

Once you've chosen your essential oils, there are several ways to use them in the sauna. One of the simplest methods is to add a few drops of oil to a bowl of water, then throw the water onto the hot sauna stones. This creates a burst of aromatic steam, filling the sauna with the scent of the oils. Be sure to start with just a few drops, as the aroma can be quite strong. You can always add more if needed.

Another method is to apply the oils directly to the body. This can be done by diluting the oils in a carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba oil, then applying the mixture to the skin. The heat of the sauna will help to absorb the oils into the skin, providing a direct therapeutic benefit. However, it's important to test the oils on a small area of skin first, to ensure that they don't cause irritation.


The traditional sauna is more than just a place to sweat. It's a sanctuary, a place of healing, and a place of connection. It's a tradition that has stood the test of time, providing comfort and solace to generations of sauna-goers. Whether you're a seasoned sauna veteran or a curious newcomer, the traditional sauna has something to offer everyone.

From the warmth of the fire to the scent of the essential oils, every element of the sauna experience is designed to engage the senses and promote a sense of well-being. So step into the warmth, breathe in the aromas, and let the traditional sauna transport you to a place of relaxation and rejuvenation. The journey is yours to discover.

Back to blog