What is a Sauna?
A true sauna is a wood-lined room with a dry heat source (wood burning stove, gas, or electric
elements in a metal body) with rocks on top of or around the elements or heat box. Humidity can
be kept to a minimum or raised considerably when water is poured on the rocks.
Cedar, when installed properly, will reflect heat "softly", even at high temperatures
of 60°C to 100°C in the Sauna. The hot, dry air promotes heavy perspiration that has a cooling
effect on the skin.
The "heating up" of the body is in the second stage, followed by deliberate cooling down.
The lungs are quickly cooled in fresh air, the skin particularly by cold water, sometimes by snow.
Thus, the Sauna is a contrast bath: Heating up in the hot-dry air in the Sauna Room and cooling
down with fresh air and cold water. Due to the stimulating effect on the body, the refreshing stage
of cooling down is no less important than the relaxing and soothing heat.
The single sequence of heating/sweating and the deliberate cooling down are often called "one
Sauna course". It should be repeated at least once. People who are used to the Sauna often
have three Sauna courses, which, if enjoyed in peace, may take 45 minutes to 1 hour.
How is a Sauna different from other baths?
A Sauna must have a special, insulated room built of softwood; a heater which is capable of heating
the room to about 180°F or 90°C, and stones that get hot enough to produce a good steam
when water is poured over them. Anything else is not a Sauna. In fact, Finnish studies suggest that
the ideal temperature to enjoy a sauna is 176°F.
Are there baths similar to the Sauna?
The only type of bath that resembles the sauna as far as health benefits and usage is the steam
bath. Steam is 100% humidity while a Sauna is relatively dry, at about 20-25% average humidity (when
water is used). Also, a steam bath operates at a lower temperature than a sauna bath, approximately
No baths are quite the same as the Sauna as far as their nature and effects are concerned. Nevertheless,
some people try to abuse the name "Sauna". They try to share in the good reputation of
the Sauna without offering anything that would correspond to it.