Home Saunas

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Featured Home Sauna Resource: East Coast Saunas

What are Finnish Saunas?

When people talk about Finnish saunas, they are usually referring to the type of saunas that have been popular in Finland for thousands of years. Over there, saunas are like cars or televisions, everybody has one; they are not considered a luxury item, rather they are a way of life.

To give you an idea of just how popular they are, there are over 2 million saunas in a country with just 5 million people, with an average of one for every household. They can be found in homes, office buildings, hospitals and even prisons, as they are seen as a necessary part of life, something that even prisoners should not be without.

Due to the popularity of Finnish sauna bathing, many cultures around the world have adopted some features of Finland's tradition when putting their own saunas together. Although not all of the elements are practical in today's home settings, many people try as best they can to duplicate the feel of age-old Finnish saunas.

How do the Finnish do it? They start with a shower first, then step into a home or lakeside sauna set between 80 and 100 degrees celsius. Wood is burned creating smoke that warms the stones on the sauna stove. (Electric stoves replaved wood burning stoves in the 1930s and 40s) Water is thrown on the hot stones to create steam, which makes the environment feel hotter.

One feature of Finnish sauna bathing that you won't find anywhere else is the tradition of using leafy boughs of birch to gently beat yourself, which supposedly loosens up the muscles in your body. Although I'm sure this works, I doubt many people try it out.

After anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours (which seems a tad excessive), or whenever one decides it is time to take a break from the heat, it is time to step out and dive into a lake or pool to cool off for a bit. If it is winter, the Finnish might roll around in the snow to relieve themselves from the heat.

This is followed up with a drink or two outside the Finnish saunas. Then the process starts all over again, with two more rounds in and out of the sauna.

It is difficult to fathom spending that many hours bathing in a sauna, yet for the Finnish, it is part of a complete day. People talk for hours on end with family and friends. Business is conducted inside the Finnish sauna. They are meeting places for companies and gathering places for families for special occasions. Just like we go to the movies, BBQs and baseball games, the Finns go to saunas...it is simply a way of life.

Although it might be difficult to create a traditional Finnish steam sauna environment in your own home (you probably wouldn't feel comfortable sitting unclothed with your family), you can incorporate elements of the Finnish sauna in your own home with a custom or pre-built model from a top manufacturer such as LuxSauna or Paradise. These companies are leaders in the industry and can help you decide which model is right for your home.

Fortunately, you don't have to go all the way to Finland (although it would be nice) or even a local spa to reap the many benefits of sauna steam bathing; now you can purchase your very own home sauna and just pretend you are there!


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