Comprehensive guide to hot stones massage

For many massage therapist as we dive further into our careers we are constantly looking for the next modality to add to our portfolios. Hot stones massage is a wonderful addition to any massage therapy business as it can increase revenue, take pressure off our hands, as well as bring in new clients who we otherwise may not have had access to. For just a small investment, hot stones could help take your massage business to the next level!

What is hot stones massage?


Hot stones massage therapy techniques date back as far as 2,000 years being most popular in China. Stones were also used for healing work in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Egypt and India. Hot stones have been used throughout history for many healing properties. Hot stones can be used to relax organs which is what the Chinese practiced 2,000 years ago and still do to this day.

Hot stones benefits

  1. Relax organs
  2. Break up fascia and trigger points
  3. Open chakras
  4. Promote full body relaxation
  5. Break up scar tissue
  6. Move lymph fluid
  7. Help remove toxins

Hot stones should be warm to the touch and can be directly placed on the clients skin or you can use a hand towel placing the stones on on the towel apposed to directly on the skin. Hot stones should be heated to approximately 127- 130 degrees Fahrenheit, anything under 127 degree will make the stones lukewarm and anything over will be to hot to safely apply to a clients skin.  While working with hot stones you can use a variety of modalities, stones can be left on the skin in one place for several minutes or the stones can be used for;

  1. Gliding
  2. Trigger point therapy
  3. Deep tissue massage
  4. Let your imagination be your guide

What types of stones are best for hot stone massage?

Basalt stones are best suited for heated stones massage and Marble is best suited for cold stones massage. Basalt stones, being volcanic in nature are the best choice when it comes to hot stones massage as they are able to hold heat longer then any other rock. Basalt stones can be found all around the world but South America has become the largest producers of Basalt stones specific for hot stones massage.

Hot stones can increase your bottom line

When trying to keep your massage business on the competitive edge, it’s important to offer a wide variety of modalities. It is also important as a massage therapist that you keep trying and learning new things to prevent burn out. Not only are hot stones a great way to keep your attention in the treatment room, hot stones can also increase your revenue with just a small investment.

I have worked in several spas and wellness centers that offered hot stones massage and its a great way to fill your schedule without taxing your body any further then a normal day on the job would. In fact, hot stones massage is so user friendly that the additions of the stones takes some of the strain off your hands.

You can use hot stones to work deeper into the muscles without using your thumbs or elbows, I love using hot stones to help relax deep trigger points on a broad scale. Adding hot stones to your massage not only takes some pressure off you’re over worked thumbs but hot stones add a level of elegance to the session as well.

This elegance comes with a cost, I personally require in my massage business that a hot stone session needs to be 90 minutes to a 2 hour session. Applying the stones is a process and you need to not feel rushed during a session because it will take away from the treatment so when booking a hot stone session I explain it just like that.

For my business I charge $130 for a 90 minute session and $170 for a 2 hour hot stone session. When I set my prices I was worried I was charging to much but I learned in my first year of owning my own massage business is that if you are a good massage therapist, clients will pay for a GOOD MASSAGE!

I love doing hot stone massage, it’s easy on my hands, I’m always cold so I love the heat especially in the winter months and it fills out my schedule and increase my earning per hour.

Another possible income stream with hot stones is by adding body wraps mixed with hot stones. It all depends on your skill level and I would defiantly recommend you get proper training before adding body wraps to your treatment sessions but there is a lot of money to be made with high quality body wraps mixed with hot stones!

What you need to get started:

To be able to offer hot stones massage in your business is pretty simple, if you are starting out from scratch I would recommend the hot stone starter kit by Massage Naturals. It’s the most economical way to go, this hot stone kit will give you everything you need to get started including a bottle of massage oil and a how to DVD.

This advanced hot stone kit has everything you need to get started and them some. With 71 stones in assorted sizes this is more then enough stones to give the perfect full body hot stones massage, other items included in this hot stone kit:

Included in this Advanced Kit:

  • 18 Quart Spa Pro Stone Heater
  • Introductory DVD & Manual
  • Hot Stone Heater Accessory Kit
  • Biotone Replenishing Light Oil – 8 oz

71 Piece Stone Set Configuration:

8 – Small Working Stone (Size 2.0″-2.5″)
12 – Medium Working Stone (Size 2.5″-3.0″)
12 – Large Back / Thigh Stone (Size 3.0″-3.5″)
8 – Facial Stone (Size 1.5″-2.0″)
8 – Toe Stone
6 – Finger Stone
8 – Spinal Layout Stone (Size 2.0″-2.5″)
2 – Palm / Glutal Stone (Size 3.25″-3.75″)
2 – Foot Stone (Size 3.75″-4.5″)
1 – Sacral / Belly Stone (Size 4.5″-5.0″)
1 – Pillow / Neck Stone (Size 3.0″-4.0″)

This is the deluxe set and you might be thinking you would never use that many hot stones in a single session, that’s what I though as well which is why I originally purchased a 40 piece hot stone kit and it worked fine until I really started stepping up my hot stones game. I’m telling you, once you get started with the stones and see all the fun advanced massage techniques you can do with them you will want the bigger set.

I would have saved money in the long run if I would have just bought the bigger set in the beginning, you live and learn. One thing to note, this set includes a stone warmer that is an 18-quart container so this will take up more space then the holder of the smaller set which is an 8 quart warmer. So if you have limited counter space in your treatment room you will either need to purchase the smaller set or invest in a cart.

I now use a cart since my treatment room has limited space so I am able to cart my hot stone kit in when I need it and easily take it to the sink for cleaning. I find this to be the best and easiest way to keep my treatment room clutter free.

If you prefer a smaller set

If you are buying a hot stone kit just for yourself and you have limited space then a smaller set might be the right fit for you. The 40 piece set is what I have and then I have added to it over the years. So this is a great starting point if you are just starting out with hot stones.

Then down the line you can add to your collection as I have when money allows. The 40 piece hot stone starter kits by TIR Massage Stone comes with:

  1. 8 quart stone warmer
  2. 40 assorted sizes of basalt stones
  3. Thermometer
  4. Fish net (for the toe stones)
  5. slotted spoon
  6. Small net bag to store the small stones together
  7. Instructional DVD

You can add more stones as you get to know you skill set with the hot stones. It is my experience that you will eventually want more larger stones then the kit provides. Large stones are used for broad areas like the shoulder, low back, and gluts.

When I added to my set I purchased the  4 pack of the XX large stones by DevLon Northwest . These are amazing stones, I use them along both sides of the spine, I use them on the gluts, and low back. These stones are a great addition to build up your hot stone collection.

Misc hot stone massage supplies

If you purchase the hot stone kit it will come with everything you need but you will want to invest in some massage oil if you do not already use it. Massage oil is not my preference but when I do hot stones massage or cupping massage I use oil. Oil gives you the consistent glide you need to continue your work undisturbed. For the most part you can get away with any professional grade massage oil. I keep it simple and cheap so I like to use anything by Bon Vital, currently I am using the Rice Bran Oil 

You can’t go wrong with Bon Vital so anything by this brand should work for you just fine and it’s cheap!

Next you will want hand towels, as a massage therapist you likely will have towels already but if you don’t you will want a few for your hot stones sessions. If I intend to leave several stones on for several minutes I might use a towel for a barrier, it just depends on the client and their skin type.

I also always put one towel on the bottom of my warmer as the stones like to clank together and the towel really helps to decrease the unwanted sounds.

Lastly, for organizational purposes I like using plastic container to place my used stone in when I am through with them. I also add a towel to the bottom of these to prevent sounds from the stones hitting each other, I keep two under my cart. If you don’t have the space for the containers you can place a towel on your counter that way you can easily pick everything up after your session.

How to clean hot stones:

Cleaning is simple, just mix 1 TSP of bleach with one cup of water let the stones soak for a few moments while you flip your massage table, then you will need a small scrubber to clean each stone individually. This is why you need to block 30 minutes after your session for proper cleaning. Once you have cleaned each stone individually, let them air dry and dump the water from the stone warmer and wipe it out. After the stones are dry, place them back in the warmer and put the lid on so they are ready to go for the next session, then you’re done!

Reading material:

If you are new to hot stones then I would recommend reading up and possibly signing up for a hot stone course. There is of course YouTube videos but you just need to make sure you are confident in this new technique before offering the enhancement to paying clients. You also want to practice to make sure you master the temperature of your stones, to cold and the client won’t be happy, to hot and you could burn someone.

I would start with The Hot Stone and Gem Massage by: Dagmar Fleck

This book integrates two long-used types of stone-enhanced therapy. The authors offer clear explanations of the chakras, the meridians, and the stones themselves. Hot Stone and Gem Massage will encourage practitioners and individuals to work with both the physical stones and the spiritual qualities they express, making possible the next step of realizing that a deeply beneficial relationship is possible between ourselves and the mineral realm.

This book provides step-by-step, fully illustrated instructions for treatments for each area of the body. The authors then include details on the specific healing powers of 54 gemstones and crystals, showing how to further enhance the benefits of hot stone massage with gemstone chakra treatment. For instance, in facial massage, working with amethyst can alleviate headaches and help heal skin blemishes. They also describe the therapeutic benefits of several base and essential oils and recommend specific combinations for hot stone massage. The power of the stones, the warmth of the treatment, and the massage itself unite in this holistic therapy to provide deep relaxation and calm that recharges the body and soul.


I hope you found this article helpful as you start integrating hot stones massage into your office and spas. Hot stones are a great way to increase your revenue steam without costing much to get started. Not only are hot stones a great way to increase your bottom line, they also save your precious hands and thumbs.

Hot stones are both therapeutic for the client as well as the massage therapist, if you start using hot stones in your massage business you to will see the amazing power that hot stones have. I love that I offer so many different kinds of modalities in my office, it gives me variety and keeps me thinking. I love that I can make more money per session without killing my body in the process.

If you found this article helpful you may also like 21 marketing strategies for your massage business

or perhaps 17 things I wish I new sooner about my massage therapy career

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.








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After 13 years of massage therapy I have learned so much about the body and I want to share that knowledge with you. I will highlight a variety of products that are ideal for all types of bodies for personal use. I hope my insight will help you better understand your pain so you can take back your life and start living again!

20 thoughts on “Comprehensive guide to hot stones massage

  1. Hello Kelly,

    Really good topic, however you need to be registered with good standing and practice, as yourself. What I did like though, that you provide the required information to anyone that is interested, by state, by level of desired performance. And also with some starting tools. Good advices for someone looking to expand his knowledge and even opening a practice. Myself I am only an amateur masseur, and I ma using it only when my back or my spouse back require some ointment: RubA535, menthol based creams or something to get rid of the pain.

    Now I know where to go if I want to expand my interest.

    Good Luck in all your endeavours.



    1. Hi Adrian, if you are a licensed massage therapist in the US you can practice hot stone massage freely but yes definitely you should take the appropriate continuing educations before practicing. Thanks for the comment and if I can be of any further assistance let me know.

  2. I’ve always been a bit nervous to try using hot stones. I’m not much a fan of putting scorching hot objects on my skin for obvious reasons. But the benefits of this type of massage clearly outweighs my inept fear of them.  If I did get into using them, could I use them everyday? Or would my skin need a break from the heat?

    1. Oh good question! One; don’t put scorching hot things on your body, that’s just not smart. Hot stones should be 127-130 degrees that at first contact will feel pretty toasty but your skin should respond just fine. Hot stones massage is not intended for everyday use. Just like other modalities you should give your body and skin a breather in between sessions. This is not an exact science but if you were my client I would say to be on the safe side wait 4-5 days.  

  3. Hello Kelly,

    thank you for sharing this interesting about massage career. To tell you the truth these kind of stones used in hot massage are new to me because i used to get free massage using oil only.

    I like getting massage and i want to experience this kind of massage with hot stones but i have a question, Are the stones hot or it is expression used to attract people to use them? just curiosity

    Thank you

  4. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m used to doing cupping, but I can see how hot stones would have quite some advantages to cupping, i.e. no open flame, no red marks all over a clients back etc. 

    This might a silly question, but are the stones actual stones? I’m asking because the first image makes it look like hard plastic. Or are there different options and if so which ones would be better? 

    1. oh boy I should change the opening image, the stones are Basalt stones which come from volcanoes. This is a great point and I will add some images of my own stones for a better reference.  If you offer cupping already then hot stone massage would be something awesome for you to look into. Hot stones is a modality that I think every massage therapist should offer. It makes our jobs so much easier and clients love it. I hope you give it a try soon and just to reiterate the stones are defiantly real basalt stones. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  5. thank you for all the information home comprehensive guide to hot stone massage.

    This article was so detailed and I really like it because I don’t have to go out looking for all the materials you present them right there to me. To where I can just go ahead and purchase them and move on with feeling great and having saved myself a whole lot of money.

    Thank you again for this informative article.

    1. your welcome for sure, I have 14 years of experience in the massage industry and I hope that I can help the next generation of MT’s forward their careers and save time and money

  6. Hi I have suffered with lower back pain and discomfort for well over ten years would a hot stone massage help with this. I was also wondering if I was to get a hot stone massage kit would I be able to apply the stones to myself or would I need someone to massage me. I have done a beginner massage course before so I have a little amount of experience.

    If this won’t help me do you have any other recommendation’s?

    Thanks Emma

    1. Hi, if your low back is the problem area then it would be better to have someone else apply the stones. Hot stones can defiantly help loosen the fascia of your low back and make it easier for a professional massage therapist to work. Hot stones sooth and comfort the body making it easier to relax the area faster then simply massaging the area, You should give it a try and let me know about your experience  

  7. I liked your post and it is very helpful, not only for the ones in the business of massages, also for others like me avid to know about new things for us. I have seen in the gym a coach using this days before with a client.

    I thought they were to be placed in certain places to stimulate specific points. But they are for massages, then you move them through the body, amazing. When you use them for promote relaxing, have you ever had any client that get sleep?

    Your recommendation for the beginners is great. You describe what is included in every kit and which kit is the best for each case. I think it must be better with the oil you recommended.

    Thank you for let us know about hot stones massage 🙂

    1. It sounds like the trainer was probably doing spot treatments, which will focus on one or two areas at a time. Both spot treatments and what I was describing are great approaches for hot stones massage. It really just depends on the clients needs 🙂

  8. Hi Kelly,

    Great article and heaps of information. I am not a masseuse and have only had neck and back massages and  have acupuncture treatments.

    The neck and back massages I’ve had were really a special treat, but acupuncture treatments were my attempt at a new wellness regime I tried! 

    What hot stone treatments can be performed by yourself, if any.


    1. Sorry but hot stone massage is best left to a professional. I say that because you need to make sure the stones are the right temp so they do not burn anyone (defiantly important) but hot stones are tricky to get them into the right position if you are moving around, so my recommendation is to find a licensed massage therapist and trust in the professionals to get the job done. 

  9. Kelly, just reading this article nearly made all my tensions melt away!  Ahhh, it sounds incredible.  I had always intended to book a hot stone massage and sadly, never did.  It is my understanding that hot stone massages are absolutely perfect for sufferers of Fibromyalgia, is that true?  Fibromyalgia causes such complex pain, but a massage done correctly can be a saving grace. 

    Your article was very helpful, great ideas and well thought out.  Thank you for sharing such valuable information!

    1. My best friend has Fibro and it’s not fun, I have done hot stone massage on here and that really helped her nerves relax. Hot stone is a great way to easy and sooth muscles, joints, and the nervous system

  10. Thank you to shaken my experience approximately rub. Im used to perform cupping, but I can see how hot stones would have quite some advantages to cupping, i.e. no right of entry blaze, no red marks all on summit of a clients auspices etc.

    Let me ask you a ask, are the stones actually a authenticated stones? Im asking because the first image makes it see as soon as hard plastic. Or are there rotate options and if thus which ones would be augmented?

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