"Saunas are a wonderful tool to unwind and to boost our health," you've probably read this on every website you click, and it is true. They can indeed improve our health. But how can we get the most out of our sauna? Where are the manuals telling us how warm our saunas should be or what we should be wearing? Should you get an indoor sauna or an outdoor sauna? You reached the right place if you've asked yourself any of these questions before!
This guide will explain the most common questions our customers have and, hopefully, some of yours as well.
Indoor or an outdoor sauna, which one is right for you?
Choosing a home sauna is like choosing home decorations; there is no "right" or "wrong." Your final decision will ultimately depend on your budget, preferences, and space available. They both have their pros, cons, and differences. So let's dig into some of them.
What are their differences?
Indoor: Indoor saunas are an excellent option for people with an unused room or extra space at home. You can install your home sauna in a bathroom, a basement, or a garage; basically, any additional space works!
A benefit of indoor saunas is that they have easy access to electricity and water. Also, you don't have to wait for the weather to be in your favor. Sometimes weather can be unforgiving, and having to walk out from the comfort of your home can be complicated or even dangerous.
Outdoor: If indoor space is something you lack or you want to enjoy nature and breath fresh air in between sessions, then an outdoor sauna is the right option.
You can place an outdoor sauna almost anywhere within your property. Many people put their saunas in scenic spots such as rivers, lakes, or forests, as just walking to their sauna and breathing fresh air can be relaxing on itself.
Choose the right heater | cost of running
The heater brings the sauna to life; hence choosing the right one is such an important decision. There are three types of sauna heaters: gas, electric, and wood-burning. They all do the same job, so what makes them different?
Gas heater: Propane is the cheapest fuel option if you plan on having long sauna sessions. Gas heaters take 30-60 minutes to heat a room to temperature and can be fired with natural gas or liquid propane. (depending on the size of the room/heater).
- Cost: The average cost of running a 40k BTU heater is $0.58 (USD) per hour; that makes it $9.28 a month and $111.36 a year (assuming you are using your sauna four times a week.)
Electric heater: Electric heaters are an excellent option for people that want to flick a switch and hop in their saunas. This type of traditional heater is considered the most practical by many users. Electric heaters can take 20 to 45 minutes to heat a room to temperature.
- Cost: The average cost of running a 4.5 kW heater is $0.93 (USD) per hour, $14.88 a month, and $178.56 a year (assuming you are using your sauna four times a week.)
Wood-burning stove: This type of heater offers the most natural experience, according to highly experienced users. Wood-burning stoves are mainly used in areas where electricity is difficult to access or simply not available. This type of heater can take between 30 to 60 minutes to heat a room to temperature.
- Cost: This type of heater and its cost depends on where you will install it. Buying a cord of softwood can cost around $300, and hardwood can run up to $600 or more. Now, this heater will be the cheapest option for you if you have a forest nearby and bringing wood home is an everyday thing.
Are home saunas hard to maintain?
Unlike hot tubs or swimming pools, saunas require very little maintenance. Saunas can be left alone, and cleaning the floor and benches after a session with water and a clean cloth does most of the work. In addition, sauna heaters have few moving parts; hence they rarely fail.
Please consider the following to maximize the life of your sauna:
• Wash your feet before a sauna session.
It is recommended to bathe barefoot and with clean feet to reduce the amount of dirt you bring into your sauna.
• Keep towels in handy.
The oils and sweat from your body can stain the wood on your sauna in the long run. This is why having towels in handy to clean your sweat can elongate the life of your sauna.
• Vent after sessions to avoid mold or mildew.
Dampness or inadequate ventilation typically results in mold or mildew growth on wood surfaces.
What should you wear in a sauna?
Knowing what to wear in a sauna is just as important as knowing its benefits. Finns believe that wearing a towel around your waist is the only way to get the ultimate experience. It's enough to protect both your privacy and the bench from your sweat and the spread of bacteria.
Something comfortable made of cotton is the best thing you can wear in a sauna. A classic oversized t-shirt, a loose-fitting cotton towel, and shorts are always suitable for the sauna. They allow your skin to breathe freely; this helps you enjoy a sauna session to its full potential.
No matter what you decide to wear, make sure it's clean. Remember that wearing clothes does not mean you should not take a towel into the sauna. On the contrary, if you do not need the towel as a cover, you must put it on the bench and sit on it. This way, you will protect yourself from bacteria and, at the same time, keep the seat clean.
But what about swimsuits?
Even though a swimsuit might sound like a practical solution, it could be dangerous to your health. Like any other garment made of PVC fabric, it obstructs the breathing of your skin. Not to mention the possibility of toxic chemicals and fumes swimsuits can release at high temperatures. Furthermore, swimsuits with dangling decorative pieces (jewelry and metal pieces) can burn your skin when they get hot.
What's the best temperature for a sauna?
Saunas and their temperatures will vary depending on what type you own and the type of heater you use. For example, traditional sauna rooms can reach the highest overall temperature (160 to 194 °F,) whereas infrared saunas run at lower temperatures (100 to 150 °F). In addition, steam rooms and portable saunas are also a thing, and they both have different recommended temperatures, as you can see on the chart below.
Ultimately, your body is the best indicator of how hot your sauna should be! Always pay attention to how your body feels. If you feel the room is too hot and feel like it's burning your skin, try lowering the temperature. If you feel like you're not getting the desired amount of sweat, it's time to pump that temperature up or pour more water onto your heater rocks to raise the humidity. Remember, this should be a relaxing experience, and it must feel perfect for YOU.
How long should you stay in a sauna?
The recommended time for new or inexperienced sauna users is 5 minutes per session and 10 - 20 minutes for more experienced users (a session is the amount of uninterrupted time you stay in the room). Furthermore, most experienced users claim they've achieved the best results when splitting their sessions. For example, if their goal is to stay 25 minutes inside the sauna, they will do five 5-minute sessions and take a 1'30 rest in between.
So what happens when you stay in for too long?
Contrary to popular belief, higher temperatures do not correlate with more health benefits. You've initiated the healing process as long as your body begins to sweat. If you stay in a sauna too long, particularly a hot-air sauna, you risk severe dehydration and symptoms of heat-stroke like dizziness and headaches. Remember that you are getting in a sauna to relax and boost your health, not toast yourself and burn your skin.
How often should I use my sauna?
Sauna bathing should be practiced 4 to 7 times a week. This is according to a study conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine. The study showed that people who used their saunas following that pattern reduced "the risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD), fatal coronary heart disease (CHD), fatal cardiovascular disease (CVD), and all-cause mortality."
Of course, this does not mean you should be bathing every day or multiple times a day. Like everything, sauna bathing should be practiced cautiously and with moderation. Respect your body and its limits.
The sauna experience is different for everyone. Not everyone will enjoy the same temperature or humidity as you, but that does not mean what you like is wrong. That is what makes them so exciting! Experiment with the tools we've provided, and let us know how it goes in the comment section below!