Why Japanese Saunas Use Himalayan Salt

Why Japanese Saunas Use Himalayan Salt

Japanese Sauna: A Unique Skin Care Experience

There's nothing quite like getting out of your own bubble and routine to experience other places and ways of living. There are so many unique cultural aspects and wellness experiences where ever you go, especially when your comparing the different bathing cultures across the globe. For one member of our Sauna House team, a journey abroad led him to the gorgeous onsens and bustling sentos of Japan. It was quite the trip, but there is one thing that stood out in particular. The curious case of the salt bucket in the sauna.

Located outside of Sapporo, in the Northern Island of Hokkaido, was a quaint onsen doing things a little differently than we do at Sauna House. We consider our saunas friendly, social spaces, but here, they kicked it up a notch. As a newcomer entered the sauna, the last person who had arrived would grab a handful of salt from a bucket and gently rub it on their new sauna buddy's back. This simple act was not just about camaraderie or tradition; it had a deeper wellness implication.

Salt works as a fantastic natural exfoliant, especially in combination with sauna. The heat from the sauna opens up the pores allowing the scrub to reach deeper into the skin. Salt also has natural antiseptic properties that cleanse the skin of impurities and bacteria. This helps your skin maintain balanced oil production, keeping your complexion clean and clear.

But the connection between salt and saunas is more than skin deep. You've probably noticed that recently, another form of salt has been making a big splash in the wellness world - Himalayan salt.

The Himalayan Salt Sauna Trend

I'm sure you've seen pictures of those glowing pink walls, formed from chunks of Himalayan salt, inside saunas and other wellness spaces. Is this just for aesthetics, or is there something more to it? In our opinion, it's a little of both.

Salt attracts water molecules from the surrounding environment, and when the salt is heated, that water evaporates. As water evaporates from the salt, it is believed to release negative ions into the air. The claim is that these negatively charged ions purify the air by attracting and neutralizing pollutants, allergens, and other particlees. The hope is that by improving air quality, you reduce stress and promote better sleep. Some sauna enthusiasts also believe that when Himalayan salt is heated in a sauna, it can release minerals like potassium and magnesium. Breathing in this mineral-infused air may potentially offer added health benefits, similar to the concept of halotherapy or salt therapy.

While scientific evidence on this remains limited, it sure is nice to look at, and for that we say go for it. And if one day we find that Himalayan salt sauna walls simply creates a vibe, that's enough [1].

The Benefits of Salt Post-Sauna

A sauna salt scrub is fun, but salt continues to work wonders for the skin post-sauna too. A salt scrub after your sauna session can help exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells and encouraging the growth of new, healthy cells. This leaves your skin feeling soft and refreshed. Not all salts are the same though! The minerals present in sea salt and Himalayan salt, such as magnesium and potassium, can nourish the skin and promote overall skin health in ways that others simply can't. What we're saying is, it's not the best idea to grab a box of course kosher salt and go to town. 


So try enhancing you bath time or post-sauna routine with a quick scrub. You could even try our very own "Naked Ocean Mineral Bath Soak" if you'd like! Bathing rituals are important. They are simple ways of rejuvenate the body and mind, and we want to help you make them special!

At the end of the day, the unassuming act of a salt scrub at a Japanese onsen reveals the beautiful interplay of tradition, wellness, and science. Whether it's the communal ritual of a salt scrub or the admiration of a Himalayan salt sauna, the integration of salt into the sauna experience can offer a refreshing twist to your health routine.

Citing our sources:

  1. Melissa Young, MD. (May 2022) Do Salt Rooms Really Offer Health Benefits? Research is limited on whether halotherapy delivers on its claims. Cleveland Clinic.
November 30, 2023
By: Sauna House