How to Warm Up Oil for Massage

massage oil with text overlay how to warm up oil for massage

One way to make a home massage feel like a spa treatment is to use an oil.  Most spas heat the oil to make it more soothing, and it’s easy for you to do the same at home.

Let me explain how to warm up oil for massage.

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What is the Benefit of Using Oil for Massage?

The main reason you want to use oils is to lubricate the skin and reduce friction during the massage. It allows hands to smoothly glide on the skin’s surface.  Without oil, it can feel like the skin is being pulled. This is a more effective way to massage than using cold massage lotions or warm baby oil.

It’s important to use oils for certain types of massage like deep tissue.  Other techniques like Indian Head massage, it’s optional, but recommended. A massage oil heater can be a great way to heat your oil – and there are different methods listed below.

Related: Massage Tips & Techniques for Beginners

When you use oils for massage, you can add essential oils to the carrier oil and turn the experience into an aromatherapy massage.  Additional benefits will vary depending on the specific essential oil used in the massage.

Note: Lotions can also be used in place of oils if you prefer.

Related: The Best Essential Oils for Back Pain

What Type of Oil Should You Use for Massage?

When it comes to choosing the type of oil for your massage, the options are endless.   You can use your favorite carrier oils alone or combine with a few drops of essential oils.

Some of the most popular carrier oils are:

  • Sweet Almond Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  •  Jojoba Oil

If you don’t want to make the massage oil yourself, you can always just buy it.  Check out some options here or have a looks at the Walgreens massage warming oil aisle.

Why Should You Warm Your Massage Oil?

Warm massage oil feels better on the skin than if it is at room temperature.  The heat helps muscles relax and the oil penetrate the skin.  The oil will help you skin stay hydrated and can also improve skin health. An electric massage oil warmer is one of the many ways to warm your therapeutic massage oil.

5 Ways to Warm Massage Oil

Unfortunately, when warming massage oil, it’s not as simple as just putting the oil in the microwave.  Heating oils in the microwave is inefficient and potentially dangerous. (1)

Let’s take a look at a few different methods you can use to warm massage oils safely.

#1 Use a Massage Oil Warmer

With a massage oil warmer, all you do is plug in the device, put in the oil, and then wait a few minutes.  It warms the massage oil to just above body temperature and will keep it warm.

It is easy to use a massage oil warmer.  If you like to use multiple oils, you can even get one with multiple containers.   There are also different designs (some with even imported materials) so that it will fit in with the rest of your decor.

It’s important to make sure you unplug the warmer once you are finished using it and give it a good clean.  Then it will be ready when you need it the next time.

Browse some great massage oil warmer options here.

#2 Use Candles

With candles and the proper set up you can create your own massage oil warmer.  All you need is a tealight candle and a container that can be set up so the oil is warmed by the candle. This method uses a massage oil warmer bowl and candle to heat your oil.

The candle does add a bit of atmosphere and you could even use a scented one if you wanted.  Just do not leave this oil warmer unattended and be sure to clean it after each use.  It will be a cheaper option than the massage oil warmer mentioned above.

If you don’t already have a setup that will work, you can buy one here.

Alternatively, you could buy a candle made of massage oil like this one.  As it burns (at a lower temperature than other candles), the candle melts and you can use the warm oil for your massage.

#3 Use Boiling Water

boiling water in a pot

There are a two ways that you can use boiling water to warm massage oil.  Both are not difficult, but the one issue you will have is that the massage oil will cool off over time.  For a short massage, that’s fine, but if you need the oil to stay warm it might be best to try another option.

Related: Essential Oil Foot Soak Recipe


If you have your massage oil in a small container that will fit inside a coffee mug with a bit of room to spare, you can try this method.

Step 1: Fill the mug about 3/4 full with boiling water.

Step 2: Submerge the small bottle of oil in the water in the mug.  Just be sure that the small bottle is sealed tightly.

Step 3: Wait 5-10 minutes.

Step 4: Carefully remove the bottle of oil from the water and check the temperature.  If it is not warm enough put it back in the water for a bit longer.  If it is too hot, let it cool.

Double Boiler

A double boiler is a contraption made up of two pans (or bowl) that fit together.  The bottom pan contains water that is heated to a boil.  The heat from the boiling water warms the contents of the top pan.

Since you don’t need that much oil for a massage, it may be a bit much to use a double boiler.  Also keep in mind, that once you take the double boiler off the heat, the massage oil will start to cool.

#4 Use Warming Ingredients

If you are making the massage oil at home, there are a few ingredients that you can add that will give the oil a warming sensation:

Chili Seeds

Chili warms the body, helping to soothe tired and sore muscles and improve circulation.  You will need to infuse the carrier oil with the chili seeds.  Be very careful when handling the seeds –  don’t touch your face and do wash your hands immediately

Certain Essential Oils

Some essential oils have warming properties, so if you add them to the carrier oil it will heat things up.  You can try:

  • Black pepper
  • Cardamon
  • Ginger
  • Marjoram
  • Rosemary

#5 Use Your Hands

If you don’t have the supplies we mentioned, don’t worry all is not lost.  You can take a little bit of the lotion and warm it in your hands using a bit of friction.  It’s nothing fancy but rubbing your hand together for 10-15 seconds will help warm both your hands and the massage oil.

Keeping the Oil Warm

Depending on the method you used to warm the massage oil, it may or may not maintain the heat.  If it’s not kept warm the oil can cool off during the 30 minutes to an hour a body massage lasts.

Read Next: Should You Eat Before a Massage? and How to Do Your Own Reflexology Foot Massage at Home

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Jeanette Lynn