Recently a polite young man approached an online group I am a part of with a simple question. What is better for massage: Hot Stones or Mineral Stones? I about fell out of my computer chair because to me there is only one real answer. Basalt Stones. I was and remain shocked that such a question was part of an ongoing massage discussion because I was not aware that there was more than one answer to the question, as I have been doing Hot Stone massage since 1998. I want to go on record in stating that I highly doubt that there is more than one kind of stone suited for this task despite a handful of commentators who suggested otherwise. Mineral stones such as jade may heat up but they are not igneous rock, which would allow it to conduct heat in such a way that you don’t burn either yourself or the client. Only igneous rock conducts heat properly, hence to me Basalt is the only answer that is not unprofessional or a crude attempt to separate someone from their money in the name of the latest spiritual fad about the ‘energy’ properties of a particular kind of semi precious gemstone. Such gemstone work usually is the result of syncretism which I have suggested is a prevalent issue facing the Spa and Massage communities in my article, Spas, Spa Evidence and Interdisciplinarity.
I didn’t handle the young man’s question well. I walked away from the conversation and had to go Tweet to the Twitterverse about it in frustration before succumbing to my foolish desire to eliminate misinformation. Fortunately for me, another polite and professional soul stepped in and accomplished what I was too shocked to do and gave a brief description of Basalt stones and how to care for them. The thread generated a few more comments, and again, someone had to pipe up full of indignation about how Basalt is a mineral and therefore it was ok to use other stones. I will state for the record one more time, that IN MY OPINION BASALT stones are the only PROFESSIONAL way to go as they are the only stones that are scientifically said to conduct heat properly. BASALT stones are the reason Hot Stone massage is a success. It’s the reason, that knock off companies have started producing everything from fake conair kits for stone massage and why massage warehouse offers massage shells for the same purpose. The suggestion that the energy of other stones is better than basalt is solipsistic reasoning predicated on what are most likely fallacies of logic more common in energy workers who have no real training to speak of beyond a weekend course and who promote this kind of syncretism across the massage and spa industries. I don’t do energy work, not because I can’t pick up on energy, but because I know better and believe that there should be a secular space reserved for non mystical belief in Spa culture. I don’t want to run wild with my thoughts on how syncretic I think energy work is, because I am a spiritual person who knows syncretism has a place in most cultures. But I do feel that by promoting mineral stones, the massage and spa industries do themselves and our cultural fabric a severe disservice. I feel strongly enough about this issue to be taking a class for my Interdisciplinary degree titled Philosophical Borderlands of Science and Religion, so that I am able to take my own medicine rather than just preach about it from a street corner.
In my previous article on Spas, spa evidence and interdisciplinarity, I spoke of my experience in learning Hot Stone massage from a woman who was trained by the founder of LaStone therapy. I don’t believe I am alone in having been told that the founder of LaStone contacted my former coworker and our spa to state that she was going to have the Native Americans who trained her send the Great Spirit after my coworker for debasing a Native American tradition and not giving them credit for the therapy. The same boss whom I worked for at the time, is a connection of mine thru LinkedIn and if anyone wanted to ask her about it, I bet she will remember what I am talking about. This is another example of syncretism in the work place and real issue for tribal peoples as well. We in the Massage and Spa worlds need to be very cautious in how we spiritualize things. We are not in the business of selling metaphysical philosophies, we are in the business of selling experiences. There is a difference, however slight that difference may be to some, that our joint massage and spa communities are facing that I believe is going unaddressed.
There are some great places to buy sets of Basalt stones for HotStone work online. You can purchase a set of stones and extras of various sizes and shapes at any of the following retailers.