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Sauna information

We have compiled here a summary of Sauna facts. We encourage you to read and find out why Sauna bathing is loved by so many, why it is now becoming popular, and why you should experience it.

Thank you for reading and thank you for coming to Saunastore. If you have any suggestions or corrections, please send a message through our Ask or Comment- box, or give us a call. contact us pages or call us. We are constantly looking for feedback and improvements to this summary and appreciate your input.



It is a commonly known fact that sauna bathing improves blood circulation, increases metabolism, removes impurities through the skin, and reduces muscle aches. Saunas are known to reduce stress because of the calm nature of bathing. When taken together with family or friends, a sauna provides quality time to enjoy each other's company. After a workout your muscles will relax and recuperate faster with the heat of the sauna.

Never go into a sauna if you are ill, especially with fever. However, when a stuffy nose persists, the steam and heat may help to clear it out. A little eucalyptus aroma in the steam water will sooth irritated sinuses and ease coughing.

Sauna should not be used for weight loss purposes. However, increased blood circulation and perspiration burn calories equal to light jogging.


Where is it that you could go to get away, without going anywhere? In a sauna of course! Make it a habit, twice a week take a sauna in the evening before turning in. You will have no trouble falling asleep.

Sauna is about baring yourself, forgetting everything, cleansing your mind and soul, taking your “face” off and just being you. Sauna is, and should be, primitive. The Authentic Sauna does not need recessed TV’s, radio’s, even color lights or steam machines. The original sauna is a very quiet place, and a heater with plenty of hot rocks to throw water on. In the quietness you can feel the heat, hear the various hissing sounds of water on the heater, and sense your perspiration.


Saunas are considered luxury items that hold their value well. Typically, when selling your property you can expect to get back double the amount you paid for your sauna.

In terms of status, many people compare the sauna to an exotic sport, for example to sailing. Not many do it, it’s considered a bit exotic and elitist, and is certainly not cheap. So if one gets invited to a sailing outing, it’s certain to draw some envy. Sauna has a similar effect on people, although it certainly is not expensive, running costs are minimal, and basically anyone can enjoy it. So invite your friends and neighbors over for a sauna, and get the status boost you deserve.

Did you know that if you claim that you purchased your sauna for medical reasons, such as back ache relief, you can deduct the full amount of your purchase, including installation costs, from your personal income tax as medical expenses! (check your tax code)


You can enjoy your sauna for pennies. Lets make a simple calculation. Say you have a 5'x7' sauna with a 6.0 KW heater. Lets also assume you have a typical electricity charge of $0.22/KWH. The heater heats up at full capacity for the first hour. That's 6.0KWH x $0.22 = $1,32 for the first hour! If you choose to have the heater on for an additional hour, the heater merely maintains the temperature in the sauna, and might spend about 3.0KWH of energy. That's 3.0KWH x $0.22/KWH= 66¢ for the second hour! Your total cost for two hours of sauna bathing is $1,32 + 66¢= $1,98. So you see the operating costs won't kill you even if you live in a high electricity cost area!


The sauna as we know it today originated in Finland, a country in the northern part of Europe.

The Finnish sauna was invented about two thousand years ago. The sauna is thought to have originated from pits dug into a slope. Over time the sauna evolved into a log cabin with a fireplace and high benches. A similar sweat pit was widely known across the northern hemisphere, by the American Indians, and across the wide Russia. There may have been various ritual purposes for the sauna, but likely it was mostly a place and a means of cleaning oneself in the freezing climates. The word Sauna comes from the Finnish language, and there is evidence of saunas in Finland from over 2000 years ago. The tradition of sauna bathing is definitely embedded deepest in the DNA of the Finnish people.

Finns farmed and lived in very primitive conditions until the end of 19th century, and the sauna was the cleanest and most bacteria free room on a farm. Thus sauna had many uses, such as a place were babies were given birth, corpses were washed, shamans and other doctors tried to cure illnesses. The mystique and sauna tradition has lived through the centuries, and is very strong today.

An age old rule of conduct in sauna in Finland is that one must behave like if he was in a church. This well describes the unique seriousness by which the Finns relate to their saunas, and still continue this tradition over the generations. There are many sites in the net where sauna history is well covered, but we like Mihael Cankar’s site and there are great descriptions of heaters at The Finnish Sauna Society, and also certainly the Wikipedia has a good summary.

We at Saunastore take pride in making the sauna tradition available to you, no matter where you are.



Smoke sauna was the original form of the sauna, with a fire heating a constructed heap of rocks inside the sauna building, and the smoke exiting from a vent placed near the ceiling of the room. Smokesaunas are still being built and actively used, mainly at the summer houses by the tens of thousands of lakes in Finland and at well equipped country hotels for visitors. Many consider the smoke sauna still to have the best possible sauna bathing experience. A reason for this is definitely the raw simplicity and originality of the fire without chimney and the carbon and tar scent from the soot and the blackened surfaces, but it is also from the very large amount of rocks heated. The sauna room is actually ventilated very well as the smoke is aired before bathing, thus cooling the sauna. The resulting sensation is of relatively low heat, soft steam, plenty of breathing air, and unique scent of soot, combined with mystical perception of the blackness. And yes, the smoke saunas do burn down frequently, but you can get an insurance for that.


A wood burning heater with a chimney evolved in the late 19th century and made the sauna much easier, safer and faster to heat up, compared to a smoke sauna where the heating was done by a ”sauna master” who had long experience and knowledge of the specific sauna in order not to burn it down. A metal casing would cover the stones capturing the smoke from the fire below the stones and directing it through a pipe to the outside. The heating itself took a few hours but the sauna session could begin right after the fire had died out completely. The design did not allow throwing water on the rocks while the fire was burning. By 1940's most of the saunas in Finland were of this type.

In the 1930's a new type of sauna heater was invented. The new type had a chimney but the fire was isolated from the rocks. It allowed the sauna to be constantly heated while splashing water on the rocks. This allowed the sauna session to begin only after about an hour of heating. This type of a sauna heater is the most popular heater found today in saunas in the Finnish countryside. The steam let out by the wood burning heater is much smoother than an electric sauna heater and the heating process has nearly evolved into a ritual. The scent of the burning wood and the crackling of the fire while enjoying the sauna is unparallel to any sauna experience.

The electrical sauna heater was invented in Finland in the 1930’s, and was a major invention to globalize the sauna culture. The heating rods would directly heat the rocks. This helps keep the sauna clean and avoid the laborious heating effort. The electric sauna heater has now conquered the Finnish sauna society and the world! Saunas with an electric heater can be found in hotels, swimming clubs and in apartment buildings all over the world.


Most Finns today have a cabin or cottage available to them for summer vacation and weekend use, and no such place is complete without a proper sauna by the waterside. Nearly always constructed from logs, the sauna can be a very small one with only one sauna room, up to a larger cabin that can include the sauna, a washing room, a dressing room and a room with a fireplace and some cooking and temporary sleeping arrangements, thus doubling as a guesthouse. The heater is typically a wood burning model with a chimney, and also the water for the washing is heated with wood in a cauldron. Modern conveniences are reaching further nowadays, and as there is electricity brought even to the sauna, there is more often a pump for well water, heated and lead directly to a shower. Also now wood burning heaters become doubled with electrical ones, due to their further convenience.


Finland industrialized fairly late, people moved to the cities gradually, and brought the sauna culture there with them. 70-100 years ago there was running water only in center-of-the-town buildings, and most workers and other towns people lived on the outskirts in communals or row house type of dwellings. There was the toilet and the sauna buildings in the back of the backyard, and when the sauna was heated, on every Saturday, that was basically a weekly national sauna celebration day to wash off the weeks sweat. The sauna was wood heated, and was located separately from the living quarters due to fire hazard.


In those down-town buildings there was a common sauna also, but located in the basement. The sauna time was divided so that first went all the women together, and after them was the mens turn, each reserved time was typically two hours. As the sauna was heaten only once per week, this special day was called ”the sauna evening” which has today evolved to mean a night out with your friends or company coworkers, certainly firstly involving going to a sauna together but then also drinking and eating. Although such womens and mens common sauna times are still in use in some apartment buildings, such practice is more common today in camping sites, sports events, yacht clubs etc, when there is only one sauna.

However more common today is that there is a reservation list for the sauna, and the sauna is heated up every night. Each family has a specified slot, for example on Tuesday from 6 pm to 7.30 pm, and the next family will come in at 7.30 so they need to be out by then. Although sometimes men would like to go to sauna among themselves to have an opportunity to talk ”men’s talk”, it’s more convenient for families to go all together, and is also in line with tradition at the country side and at summer cabins.


The business of public saunas has virtually dissappeared, only a few remain. Public saunas were popular until the 1960’s, as in many cases they were the only location for ordinary towns people, workers and servants, to take care of their hygiene. Certainly not all people in cities had access to a private sauna, and many backyard saunas had dissappeared due to tighter fire regulations and needs for lots for new building construction. Public saunas were relatively inexpensive and thus commonly used by the lower classes of the society. There may have been a wash lady to scrub bathers backs, but never any sexual implication or prostitution as happened to such public establishments in other countries, as the sauna has always been taken with great seriousness. Middle classes may have rented the whole sauna for their family bathing, but upper classes in Finland meant families of Swedish origin, and they preferred traditional bathing over sauna, having such facilities available to them. Going to sauna would imply deep cleaning of the skin, which in turn would mean that one had worked hard and dirty. The upper classes would not want to give that impression. Class differences have much reduced today.

Today public saunas still have the open-house hours, but they also offer private reservations for those sauna evenings of company teams, sports teams, bachelor parties, birthday parties, etc. Businesses may reserve a sauna also for their foreign visitors, who typically don’t see all the nuances in the tradition. Public saunas today are mostly at public swimming pools, men’s and women’s separate, where the remnants of this tradition continue. Public saunas are great equalizers, as you may be sitting naked next to a corporate executive or a grounds keeper without knowing. Discussion topics in such saunas are typically very neutral, avoiding revealing one’s background unless it’s all people you know.

Kotiharjun sauna -a real public sauna, a rarity still existing.

Rajaportin sauna a traditional sauna in Tampere


Sauna culture in Finland has been kept alive, if not actually saved, by development in housing so that virtually every flat, apartment, rowhouse or house, no matter how small, is designed and built to have its own sauna. This change was gradual and prevalent from the 1990’s onwards. Most apartment flats from before that time typically do not have a sauna. The sauna bathing quality however did take a step back, as the heaters for these relatively small 2-3 person saunas was quite small with a limited capacity of rocks that store the heat. Thus the surface temperature of the rocks is much higher than in large wood burning heaters, and thus the water poured on the rocks nearly explodes and very quickly stings the bathers. The temperature typically is at the same level, around 80 degrees Celsius, but due to the heater being so agressive, less water was used and thus the air was actually very dry. A significant factor is the supply of fresh air. In wood heated saunas, the stove actually sucks in a hefty amount of air from the sauna for the combustion, to be exited throught he chimney. Replacement air enters from specific vents or from under the door etc. However in electrically heated saunas this natural circulation and ventilation of air is lacking, and thus a forced ventilation system is needed. In apartment flats the building ventilation machines might not be turned on at all times, or their effectiveness is limited.

Today in modern apartments all this has developed significantly. Designers calculate carefully the capacity of air to be ventilated, the heaters have become larger and house more stones, and also people prefer to bathe in a lower temperature, perhaps 70 degrees Celsius, thus making the sauna air more moist and closer to the original. For many people having their own sauna is a great convenience. Sauna bathing is separating from the need to clense onself, to enjoying its sensation and health benefits. Taking a sauna after a jog or other exercise, after coming home from work, or having some friends over, is a normal everyday way of life.


Sauna being such an old tradition, very much unchanged from generation to the next, and with the reverence that the Finns feel toward it, a pre-constructed indoor sauna rooms have taken their time to find their acceptance among the Finns. However these saunas are a fabulous development to bring the sauna to more people. Such a sauna can be very small in size, fitting only one person at a time, but therefore can be placed into the corner of any bathroom or to replace a bathtub. The small size of the sauna obviously creates concern among the purists, but we have described above that the key to enjoyable sauna bathing is the air ventilation, and heater size in relation to the sauna. Development of the sauna has progressed to consider these. Sauna has become widely respected all over the world for its real or perceived health benefits. Thus all respectable health clubs, physical training locations, hotels and other vacation spots need to have a sauna to meet the level of prestige expected, certainly in a larger size than the bathroom saunas in Finland. Many wealthy private people want a sauna in their home, and more and more health concious are acquiring one. A pre-built sauna is the most straight forward way of aquiring a true sauna, as this technology has made the sauna into a product that can be shipped anywhere.


Organizations such as the Finnish Army, the Red Cross and the Scouts use tent saunas. Such a sauna can be transported easily as it typically weighs only some tens of kilograms, can be erected quickly, and typically has a wood burning heater.



Nordic Spruce (Picea abies) is a light colored wood growing in abundance in the northern hemisphere. Yes, all spruce have knots, and they are part of the character. It is and for a long time has been the most popular wood material for saunas. It has a fresh scent and a pleasant light color, and it is a fairly soft wood and thus pleasant to the touch in sauna. The quality of the wood used in saunas is the highest A-grade, which means also that the knots are very few on the wood. This wood is harvested from the commercially grown forests in Finland where the forestry is tightly regulated and controlled. Nordic Spruce has been classified by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as being at the ”least concern” level.


The Nordic Pine (Pinus silvestris) is a light colored and attractive looking wood. The resin of pine gives it the special very original mild scent that is perhaps a bit sweeter than spruce. We use only knotless pine material. Over time the wood will turn to a richer yellow colour and the wood texture becomes more pronounced. Pine is considered extremely robust due to the Nordic climate in Finland, and the wood is harder but also has an attractive smooth surface. Pine is grown in great extents in the commercially grown forests in Finland. Pine is a great wood for Sauna use, and it is commonly used in log houses, furniture and other construction. It has been classified by the IUCN similarly as the spruce.


The Black Alder (Alnus glutinosa) is a true luxury wood. It has an uniform texture with a reddish color giving it a high quality rich look. Within the last decade it has become the standard sauna material for exclusive sauna establishments, upscale hotels and luxurious home saunas. The color is much more stable and uniform than Red Cedar. The scent is enjoyable and sweet, not in a strong way, and not stuffy like in some wood types growing in warmer climates. Black Alder is noted for its ability to withstand decay under moist conditions, again making it ideal for Sauna use. Found in abundance in Europe it was used prominently in Venice and Amsterdam as foundation pylons for buildings due to its durability. Black Alder is found prominently and does not endanger the natural forests of the world. Alder offers a contemporary touch to the age old Sauna tradition.


Favoured for its very even and very white quality, aspen is a soft wood and for that quality very suited to the sauna. The characteristics actually resemble to a white sofa; it’s good looking as new, but may show its age quite soon. The white soft wood is susceptible to coloration from dirt, and also from mildew. If you can manage these shortcomings, aspen is an excellent material for sauna. It has virtually no scent, and is found in great abundance all over the northern hemisphere.


New technologies are emerging to greatly enhance many good qualities. Aspen is a great example. As heat treated, its color is light brown, it gives a faintly smoky scent, but retains all the good qualities of untreated aspen. Therefore it has become very popular as the bench material of choice. Also black alder and pine are available as heat treated, but are used to a lesser extent.


The North American Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) is a sturdy but flexible wood. It has a reddish color to it although the color varies with each piece. This produces a true play with colors that looks attractive. The wood is often cited for its strong scent and under the Sauna heat this scent is only amplified. Often considered a luxury wood due to its scent, lavish looks and many uses. There is even some evidence to suggest that the larvae of moths are repelled by the oils in the wood that cause the strong scent. The wood is commonly used because its ability to resist decay, moisture and wear.

Found throughout North America and used for a variety of uses. From bench posts to decking shingles and siding this wood is commonly found in many outdoor construction. Especially in the Pacific Northwest, this wood is widespread. In the IUCN scale of endangered species this wood is rated as being at the lowest risk. Therefore using this wood for commercial purposes will not affect its status in nature nor harm its existence.


Sauna bathing should always be enjoyable, fulfilling and refreshing. The sauna bathing procedure is very simple with only five steps to follow. These steps are only suggestions, you are free to create your own.

Please consult your physician to determine if Sauna bathing is not suitable to you.

Step 1.
Take a quick shower before entering sauna. The shower will refreshen you, your sauna benches will keep clean, thus being easier to maintain and more hygienic for you.

Step 2.
Enjoy the sauna heat for about 7-15 minutes, depending on how you feel. Throw some water on the rocks and enjoy the massaging steam.

Step 3.
Take a shower, rinse off the perspiration.

Step 4.
Sit and Relax. Enjoy the after sauna feeling. Drink liquids, alcohol is not recommended. Rehydrate yourself, just remember not to drink too excessively. If you feel you are ready for another session, go back and repeat.

Step 5.

After the Sauna sessions, let the sauna dry and then ventilate. Remember to switch off the sauna heater and to drain the sauna bucket. The wooden ladles may to crack if left in the water for excessive periods. If you sat on towels inside the sauna, remove them from the benches.

Individual use may vary, but we recommend that you clean your Sauna once a month. Wash the floor and check that there are no unwanted stains on the benches. After time, the benches may stain but this should be fairly easy to fix, just take some sand paper and lightly sand the benches until the original desired look is achieved. Under no circumstances should you paint or lacquer the benches or the interior Sauna walls as the high heat may create toxic vapors.

Saunastore LLC • FL, USA • Tel. 00 1 203 734 6677 • sales (at) •