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Saunas Guide/Benefits/FAQ/History

“Saunas 101”

For over one thousand years, human cultures in more than one region of the world have incorporated something the Finnish call “Sauna”. Sauna is a Finnish word which best translates into English as “Bath”; though it’s every day meaning in Finnish implies a specific type of bath – one in which a person could escape the cold winter air, or the oppressive heat/humidity of the summer.

The earliest known Saunas were huts or lean-to’s which were dug into the side of a hill/mountain, a large berm, or something similarly convenient. The goal was to create an enclosed space in which one could trap heat. Early Saunas – in Finnish savusauna (“smoke sauna”) were universally wood-burning, and would often take much of the day to become fully prepared and reach a desirable temperature.

The desire for the Sauna sprang from a need to relax, cleanse the mind – much of the ancient world clearly understood that a heavy sweat would, generally speaking, offer a permeating sense of relaxation and cleanse the body of impurities. Throughout history, different cultures have had different tastes in their Sauna rituals, and this, with the aid of advancing technology, brought divergence to what eventually became the Sauna tradition, popularized primarily by the Finnish.

What most of the Western World understands to be a Sauna is often referred to as a “Dry Sauna” – a wood-lined room with (in the modern day) an electric heater that transfers heat to the air in the room by way of igneous rocks, and reaches a maximum of 195ºF (200ºF+ in Eastern Europe) This heating method was found early on in the history of Sauna to produce a “soft” heat, the rocks diffusing the raw energy of either a wood-burning stove or an electric heating element.

The igneous rocks also allowed the popular tradition of raising humidity in the Sauna by pouring water on the rocks to generate steam; the higher the humidity, the “hotter” the heat in the room feels. A lower-temperature room can rapidly accelerate the sweating process by adding moisture to the air, amplifying the effect of the convection process.

Eventually the desire for pure steam was rediscovered – the ancient world, beginning with the Romans and their invention of plumbing – had long enjoyed the pleasure of the Steam Bath. While a Sauna will often see humidity levels as high as 40% or more, the tastes of many will demand more steam. The Steam Bath of the ancient world eventually led to many flavors of the experience – though the predominant form is enjoyed by much of the modern world as the Steam Room/Steam Bath – an electric boiler generates thick steam typically around 140-150ºF. Though the Steam Room is very different from the Sauna, it accomplishes the same goal in another way – your body naturally produces sweat, cleansing itself with its natural process of evacuating toxins and heavy metals from the bloodstream.

While Sauna and Steam have typically dominated the landscape, recently the Infrared Therapy Room has become an important part of the industry. While not actually a Sauna by definition, the Infrared Room or “Infrared Sauna” is generally referred to as a Sauna in the United States and often abroad as well. The Infrared Sauna is dry, offering no steam or moisture – it achieves the same end result as the traditional Sauna or Steam Bath, in that it raises your body’s core temperature to help the body release sweat naturally.

In the Infrared room, heat is generated and focused using Infrared Technology, penetrating the body. An Infrared Sauna rarely exceeds 140ºF because the far-Infrared technology raises the temperature from the inside out, where a traditional Sauna will do the same thing with convection of the air around you. Infrared Saunas can offer a level of affordability and ease of use/maintenance that is not found in a traditional Sauna, as the Infrared Room will invariably remain free of the levels of moisture a Sauna or Steam Bath will see in their life cycles.

Sauna and Steam have historically been known to help offer measurable health benefits – with the rise in skin temperature to around 104ºF, the body rises to around 100.4ºF internally. This increase causes the body to sweat and raises the heart rate to around 30% above normal resting rate. As the human body’s pulse rises, circulation quickens throughout the body, sending oxygen-rich blood to nourish aching muscles and tired minds. The heightened levels of perspiration help to flush toxins from the body while simultaneously cleansing the skin’s pores.

Over time, and with continued use, Sauna and Steam have been known to help ease the pain of aching joints, muscles, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, sports injuries, improve complexion, and increase flexibility. In addition to physical benefits, Sauna and Steam are widely used around the world to help reduce stress hormones in the body and to encourage a state of mental relaxation.

Though Sauna and Steam have proven to be safe and effective means of relaxation and rejuvenation, it is important to bear in mind that certain precautions must be taken. Individuals with high blood pressure, heart disease, or pregnant women, should always consult their physician prior to use of Sauna or Steam. Additionally, any individual taking medication should consult their physician prior to use.

All Sauna and Steam users should abide by basic guidelines to get the most out of their relaxation experience:

  • - Limit your Sauna/Steam session to 15-20 minutes
  • - Follow all manufacturer warnings and instructions
  • - Avoid drinking alcohol or using medication which impair perspiration
  • - If you begin feeling faint or unwell, exit immediately
  • - Avoid taking a Sauna/Steam session if you have a fever or are otherwise feeling ill
  • - Remove any metal jewelry prior to your session, as it may become overly hot to the touch
  • - Keep yourself well hydrated prior to your Sauna or Steam session

And if you’re looking for something portable, Saunas are also available in simple, modular format for portable use wherever and whenever you need to relax – you don’t need to hire a contractor or even a handyman to relax in the soft warmth of a Sauna.

No matter what your budget, a Sauna, Steam Bath or Infrared Room is within your reach – Saunas.com offers a complete range of Sauna, Steam and Infrared products available on the market today. Saunas, Steam Rooms and Infrared Saunas can be fit into nearly any available space in your home or facility, whether it’s an unused closet space, or a shower you’d like to convert to steam. Our dedicated team of customer service representatives are experts in this industry; we can help you create a solution to match whatever your needs might be. We’ve been in this business since 1997, so we’ve sold thousands of saunas of various shapes and sizes. We’re available now to provide a solution for you.

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