How to Sauna!

Guide to the Finnish Sauna:

Like many Finns, I sauna a few times per week.  Depending on the day of the Sauna, the experience is quite different, even if the sauna is the same one.  In my case, the little heat box is located at the back of the house, next to the shower & laundry room, with a rock-loaded stove heated by electricity.

In previous years, I’ve enjoyed an outdoor wood burning sauna in a standalone building made from logs.  Even on the coldest days, I’ve enjoyed walking through the candlelit snowy ground to reach the old shack, where I stripped down and bathed like a trooper in the hot, hot heat of up to 100 degrees C.  Madness, you might think?  Lets try not to knock it before you’ve tried it 🙂

First thing to know is when and why to sauna:


1. On a Friday or Saturday night.  Traditionally, groups of friends or family light the sauna, crack open a cold drink (beer or lemon gin drink anyone…?) and spend up to many hours going in and out of the sauna, spending in between in the open air, swimming or rolling in the snow (it’s true, this happens a bit, but not so much).  Pop just a drop of beer in the water ladle along with plenty of water and douse the stones for a great smell of fresh baking bread…Ideal for Gluten-Free dieters! This is usually a more social time, even among families.  Children join their parents in the sauna, normally until around puberty when men/boys and women/girls take separate sauna sessions.  Light the outdoor fire and enjoy the atmosphere!

2.  Mid-week.  The mid-week sauna (Tuesday-Thursday, or Monday if you’ve had a high 0_sauna_ plugi_755stress day!) is great for enforcing some relaxation and semi-meditation into your week.  It s a great place to do some thinking, be quiet and leave the distractions of work and daily grind elsewhere.  Whether you accompany with a beverage or not is up to you.  Sparkling water and juice makes a nice well behaved option.  The sauna ritual is an important part of Finnish culture, considered a place to clean your body and mind.  You can feel this during a mid-week sauna.  Spritz some watered down Juniper, eucalyptus or spruce scent lightly in the air for ultimate aroma therapy.

lemon3.  Hazy morning Sauna.  Had a tough week, or stayed out a bit too late in the night?  Feeling hazy and tired?  Sauna in the morning is surprisingly refreshing.  It wakes and calms at the same time, leaving you invigorated for the new day.  Stick to water or juice for this option!  Lemon spritz or a citrus oil mixed with water in a stone burner in the sauna works really nicely & makes a great way to wake up!

4.  The Post-labour Sauna.  And I don’t mean giving birth, although in years gone by, women would give birth in the sauna, as it may have been the cleanest and warmest place in the house, pre-central heating.  What I mean here is Manual labour – Done a full day in the garden, hiking, digging, building or seasong-small-saunaanything that makes you fingernails grubby?  Instead of jumping directly in the shower, a sauna is a great way to clean up every grubby pore.

These are my ways to sauna – Have you tried a sauna?

I have some of my best ideas in the sauna, even though some Finn’s frown upon heavy thinking in the sauna.   A little like meditation, the sauna space is meant to be clear of work or home related stresses.  I find the lack of distraction very focusing, but you’ll have to try yourself to see how and when is the best way for you.

More on saunas to follow, you might like to know more about our Finnish Experiences:


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About Kontiki Finland

Sarah - Mainly-English-Speaking-Canadian-British-Finn, UAE born. Travel, animals, children, nature, city & food enthusiast. & Tomas - Finnish born world traveller, with a love of fishing, food and fire :) LinkedIn - Sarah Coombes Google+ - Sarah KontikiFinland
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4 Responses to How to Sauna!

  1. Håkan says:

    Here are a couple of sauna video guides for lighting a wood heated sauna (the best type of sauna by far):
    – chop some wood:
    – light the fire under the stove:
    – enjoy according to suggestions in this post!


  2. Saunas are great, and thankfully gaining ground in North America. Although many people can still only experience a sauna in a public forum such as a gym or spa, your ideas above would be another great reason to install a home sauna.

    • Absolutely!

      Did you know that almost every single home in Finland has at least one Sauna? some people have 2! An indoor electric Sauna and an outdoor wood burning kind.

      It is not so much of a luxury, as a lifestyle though – here in Finland.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Kontiki Finland Team

  3. Thanks for sharing your sauna experience!
    There are various ways to enjoy sauna in different countries. While it’s gaining popularity in various cultures, nothing beats the Finnish way!
    Traditional Finnish sauna is always the best, and I understand why it’s been a long tradition.

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