Sauna’s are a big part of my Estonian culture, but haven’t experienced the wide appeal in North America, being limited mostly to hotels, swimming pools, and health clubs.
What’s a Sauna?
A sauna is a wood-clad room, with temperatures in the 80 C – 110 C (176F-230F) range. Air temperatures that could boil water can be endured and even enjoyed because humidity is very low.
Saunas are first and foremost a place of relaxation. A cathartic experience that has many health benefits.
The soft heat and humidity soothes and relaxes tired muscles, relieves stress, and promotes a wonderful after Sauna feeling of satisfaction akin to a runners-high and overall improved sense of well-being.
The high heat and the low humidity create an environment which promotes over-all perspiration and the deep cleansing of pores, your skin’s natural cleaning method. Sweat naturally expels impurities and toxins from the body’s largest organ, your skin.
Aside from relaxation and skin benefits, other benefits include:
- Helps many get a more restful sleep,
- Provides temporary relief for arthritic pain,
There are negative effects as well: High heat triggers various physiological changes, anyone with health conditions should consult a medical professional before use. Disclosure: I’m not a medical professional.
The Sauna Experience
- Sauna patrons sit or lie on wooden benches.
- Water is poured over the hot Sauna stones to produce steam, which cools down the stones, but adds heat into the air via advection, making the sauna warmer.
- Baltic and Scandinavian regions have a tradition of using short bundles of birch branches to tap against their bodies to stimulate the skin.
- When you’ve worked up a sweat, or feel ready, exit the Sauna and cool down by taking a shower, jumping into a lake/pool, or during winter: run outdoors and roll in snow.
- Rest for a while in the cooling room or area, then re-enter the Sauna and repeat the process.
- Finish with a final shower. Then, relax with your favourite beverage and enjoy that wonderful after-Sauna feeling.
A sauna can be built virtually anywhere. Popular locations include: basement, bathroom, backyard, or cottage/cabin/chalet. Have a look at a Finnish Sauna we built last summer in Muskoka, Ontario.
Sauna design possibilities are endless. We’ve gathered some inspiration for that next project: a sauna that your Canadian friends will want to use.