A stone is a stone is a stone, right? Not so with massage stones. The type of stones you use in your stone therapy practice makes a difference. Because of the different compositions of each type of stone, some retain heat or cold longer than others.
What type of massage stones are best for hot stone massage?
Basalt is the most recommended type of volcanic stone to use in hot stone therapy because of its non-porous, smooth texture combined with its high heat-retaining qualities. The high silica and iron content of volcanic rock allows it to hold heat longer than other types of stones. How effectively each stone retains heat depends on its size and the quality of its mineral content. Larger basalt stones can retain heat for up to 45 minutes. Another benefit of using basalt stones is that their high ferruginous components are believed to improve blood flow and relax the muscles.
Some therapists use river rocks for massage instead of basalt. While river rocks may heat up faster than basalt, they also lose their heat faster and their temperature can be somewhat unpredictable. As a result, the stones need to be replaced by hot stones from the heater more often than with basalt stones. Because of their characteristics, river rocks are better suited for short massage sessions and supplementary use (such as a 15 minute add-on at the end of a Swedish massage).
The biggest downside of using hot massage stones other than basalt is that you will need to switch the stones more often, which means more trips to the hot stone heater and more stones required for each treatment.
What type of massage stones are best for cold stone massage?
Basalt stones can be used for cold stone massage as well as hot; however, marble stones are preferred because they stay cold for longer. Since marble is not naturally shaped and smoothed by the forces of nature, as basalt is, marble stones are more expensive because of the extra labor involved in preparing them for massage use.