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For those of you who sauna

What temperature is best?

Svensksmith
post 10.Dec.2012, 12:56 AM
Post #1
Joined: 28.Jul.2011

I built an outdoor sauna, or bastu if you will, in my backyard. Basically it is an 8' X 8' (2.4 meters X 2.4 meters) insulated shack with a woodburning stove in it. If you decide to build one make sure and pipe in an air intake so the fire won't consume all the oxygen. A non-airtight door helps as well. Also, if you like to throw water on it to produce steam, as I do, make sure and use a steel stove as opposed to cast iron which can crack. I have a shallow steel pan filled with Baraboo Quartzite rock that doesn't explode when in contact with the super hot water. I also fitted a heavy-duty screen over the pan just in case.

But I digress. My actual question is, for those of you who enjoy a good sauna, what temperature do you find to be most desirable? I got mine up to about 195 F (90.5 C)tonight. I thought it quite nice but my wife pitched a fit. Too hot she said. I've heard Russian saunas typically run about 220 F (104.4 C). Not sure about a Finish sauna. Any experts out there care to weigh in?
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Migga
post 10.Dec.2012, 02:09 AM
Post #2
Joined: 26.Jul.2011

I`d say that a normal temperature is around 90-100C whilst more hardend saunas and finnish ones is set around 100-110C (230F). Some crank it up to 150C but only enjoy it for a few minutes before rushing out. The thing to remember is how long you want sit and the humidity. You want it to be as dry as possible, if the humidity is high then the heat will feel more on your body.
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Bender B Rodriquez
post 10.Dec.2012, 03:35 AM
Post #3
Joined: 25.Mar.2006

QUOTE (Svensksmith @ 10.Dec.2012, 01:56 AM) *
I built an outdoor sauna, or bastu if you will, in my backyard. Basically it is an 8' X 8' (2.4 meters X 2.4 meters) insulated shack with a woodburning stove in it. If ... (show full quote)

Just be careful with both the air intake and the exhaust when using a wood burner in such a small space. You don't want to risk carbon monoxide poisoning.
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Johno
post 10.Dec.2012, 10:04 AM
Post #4
Joined: 23.Jul.2008

The first sauna I got taken to showed 135 on the thermometer, and was so hot that you couldnt breathe without wetting your hand and breathing through your fingers. But that was extreme. And the whole point is to sit in the dry heat for a while and then throw water on the stones from time to time to get that wave of humid heat over you. From my experience, around 100 is normal. 90 is for old folks and children. Anything below that wont be a proper sauna experience.
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Snood
post 10.Dec.2012, 11:37 AM
Post #5
Location: Gothenburg
Joined: 20.Sep.2011

It also depends on how long you want to spend in the sauna at any one time. When I go to my samboäs parentäs sauna it is not for a long time and it's 90+ but when I get together with friends and we spend hours in the sauna with many beers we have the temperature a little lower to be able to last it out.
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Pursuivant
post 10.Dec.2012, 02:09 PM
Post #6
Joined: 12.Aug.2008

The whole "idea" of the rafters is that heat rises upwards, and new air comes in, in a wood-burning sauna the chimney takes care of the draft out, so you want to have the air intake low on the floor by the stove, or even have a pipe come to it... or have a drafty door... sometimes you even have a drafty floor in really old traditional ones... in electric ones as there is no natural draft, you need to have the air intake higher up, but again by the stove makes the air circulate... exhaust is more difficult to plan in an electric one, as you usually build one inside a stone house and the flues aren't necessarily ready for hot and moist air.

In any case, 90-120 depending on "how good it feels"... its not the temperature itself but a combination of humidity and how well the rocks retain heat, how big your stove is, and are you burning wood while bathing. Also if your water evaporates instantaneously or if you get a mellowed out heat.

Worst being in a sauna is one that has no ventilation working and you sit up in a wet fart.
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Hisingen
post 10.Dec.2012, 03:01 PM
Post #7
Location: Västra Götaland
Joined: 5.Jul.2012

On numerous visits to Finland, home of the sauna, in the forest cottage of my old friend over there, we always had many sessions in the sauna. It was wood-fired with "prima ved" as was his expression for well dried, first class birchwood logs. It depends much upon your own feelings regarding temperature. Einar would never let the thermometer go much above 85°C, as he put several scoops of water onto the stove raising the humidity quite considerably, and bringing on that healthy, cleansing perspiration. To ensure a soot-free atmosphere, he used to open the stove, hold a bunch of leafy birch twigs over the opening and then throw water onto the fire. The resulting steam would clear the soot, which fastened on the wet leaves, and bring out that most wonderful and lasting birch aroma that is so much a part of a sauna.
Dry saunas are often hotter, since it is the humidity that mostly affects the reaction of your body to the heat, and the surge of super-steam can be too much if the thermometer reads very high. Since the temperature is often in excess of 100° (boiling point of water) that should tell you enough.
There are no rules about the heat. It is your own personal value that counts. My poor late mother took her first sauna over in Finland, and had the shock of her life, opening the window to breath, and saying that it was "too b****y hot" for her. That was at around 85°!! One of the very few times I heard her swear in her lifetime.
If you lady feels it is too hot, then be a gentleman and don't get it that high. A sauna is for enjoyment, not torture. One of the aims it to obtain a 'full' heat, that is satisfactory for ALL concerned, and a heat that will not disperse too quickly when applying the water several times.
I sorely miss taking saunas of latter years, but unfortunately the old ticker says 'Not for me'.
As you may well know, there are sauna competitions in Finland, and a competitor expired as a result! One of the very main reasons for not setting the thermostat too high.
Hot, but only comfortably hot, or you could come out feet first and cooked.
Saunas are for pleasure, and you never feel so clean and relaxed as after one.

smile.gif
smile.gif
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Pursuivant
post 10.Dec.2012, 03:56 PM
Post #8
Joined: 12.Aug.2008

The answer to the question is "whatever feels best". As the temperatures between saunas (nevermind the gages usually being a bit iffy) and even the time of year totally effects the experience. Just looking at the thermometer is silly... in every sauna I've had, be it wood burning or electric, the temperature zone of "comfort" has been different in each one. You just need to figure them out, then remove the temperatures and write your own plaque... "too cold"... "just right" and "make the missus run out" wink.gif
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Svensksmith
post 10.Dec.2012, 04:05 PM
Post #9
Joined: 28.Jul.2011

Well, I'm definitely a subscriber to the notion that "a happy wife equals a happy life" theory. I'll tone it down for the next sauna and keep her in there a little longer.

There's nothing better on a winter's day than a hot sauna followed by a cold beer.
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Hisingen
post 10.Dec.2012, 04:26 PM
Post #10
Location: Västra Götaland
Joined: 5.Jul.2012

Or three ! ! !

You might like to know that the Finns also have a sausage that they grill on the sauna, Sauna Makkara, which goes down very nicely as an accompaniment to the cold beer.

But you also need your birch twigs, kept in a bucket of water to keep them fresh, for that extra boost to the circulation, and to give just that birch aroma to the sauna. It used to hang about the cottage in Finland for days afterwards, and Oh boy . . . . Very hard to explain, but what a pleasure and enjoyment it was. At least 50% of the enjoyment.
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Johno
post 10.Dec.2012, 04:37 PM
Post #11
Joined: 23.Jul.2008

QUOTE
As you may well know, there are sauna competitions in Finland, and a competitor expired as a result!

If you look that up the temperature was "only" 110 degrees, but they were throwing water on the stones at regular intervals. That was the killer, literally. Forget the boiling point of water as being that critical. Dry heat you can tolerate, wet heat blasts you, and its only ok in there because a sauna is wood lined and the wood absorbs the steam pretty quickly, dropping the humidity again.

I checked my 135 above, and I think it was 133 actually, even the Finns said that was really really hot. It was high summer with a lake outside to plunge into. But I just googled it on google.fi, and 140 and even 145 has been tolerated, admittedly by macho-men. Saunas have been sold with thermostats where you can choose between 70 and 130. But ok, 90 is fine.
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Hisingen
post 10.Dec.2012, 04:58 PM
Post #12
Location: Västra Götaland
Joined: 5.Jul.2012

Johno, I went on mainly about the fact that it is what feels right for you. Whatever the thermometer says, if it feels too high or too low for you - then that is what matters most. People can boast about their thermometer settings, but the body can only take so much, and the heart takes even less in the long run. At my place of work umpteen years ago we took a sauna every Thursday, and in order to sit on the bench a handful of water applied to the tail-end prior was essential to avoid fried rump. That was a dry sauna, and the initial temp was about the 100°. Not really comfortable. Old Einar's sauna temperature matched his requirements, and mine too. But not my Mum's.
Don't get hung up on the number of degrees. but on what suits best, and mark your thermometer as other's have suggested. Sort of Hot, Too Hot, Just Right,, Right for the wife etc. It will also proved a topic of conversation in the sauna. That, after all, is where many decisions are taken in Finland. Where you build the sauna first, and then your house.

Good luck with the next sauna session ! ! ! ! biggrin.gif
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Johno
post 10.Dec.2012, 05:27 PM
Post #13
Joined: 23.Jul.2008

Nah, I only was trying to get folks past this "the body cant stand over 100 degrees" thought, its not true. But thermometers on walls do not necessarily show the actual air temperature when its changing, as you imply. The water thrown on the stones part needs experiencing to get the idea. As you say enjoy what suits you. This is not an issue that gets me hot under the collar, though truthfully I have never actually worn clothes in a sauna tongue.gif
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jostein
post 10.Dec.2012, 05:32 PM
Post #14
Joined: 22.Mar.2011

The point of the sauna is to sweat and to get so heated up that jumping into icecold water feels fantastic. For me, 75-85 degrees gets the job done. I do like lots of water on the heater thought.
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Pursuivant
post 11.Dec.2012, 03:34 PM
Post #15
Joined: 12.Aug.2008

Well, now you can resort to rolling in the snow. Its actually quite invigorating when you have fresh powder snow to have a bit of a "sprinkling" wink.gif

Dry sauna isn't a problem, its the steam. That sauna competition where the Russian who died had cheated and used some grease, so he could withstand the heat. His skin boiled off as did the Finnish guy's. He had even burns in his lungs. He was in trauma unit for several months. Not the brightest of ideas for a competition, but basically thats what Finnish men do in a sauna.

What comes to the whisks, Estonians use one made out of juniper. Sounds peculiar, but is actually more pleasant than a dried-up birch one. Nothing "beats" a fresh birch one though wink.gif
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