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Finnish saunas, also known as a dry sauna, provide a range of major health benefits, including skin care, muscle relaxation and detoxification.

What is a Finnish sauna?

A Finnish sauna is a type of sauna that harnesses the power of dry heat. Unlike steam rooms, also known as wet saunas, moisture and steam are kept at low levels in a Finnish sauna. In fact, the humidity is typically kept around 5-20% and the temperature is set around 80-100ºC.
This is what sets the Finnish sauna apart from other baths and saunas like the:

  • Tropical bath: temperatures average 50-75ºC with an ambient humidity of roughly 20-40%.
  • Biosauna: it has an average temperature of about 50-60 ºC and a humidity level of about 45-65%.
  • Russian sauna: temperatures are a bit higher, ranging between 60-90ºC, with humidity levels around 60-70%.
  • Steam bath: here, temperatures usually reach 40-50ºC, although the humidity beats the rest and is set at 100%.
Origins of the Finnish saunas

The Finnish sauna originated in Northern Europe, specifically in Finland, Sweden and Russia. It was originally designed to help combat the region’s low winter temperatures, which are particularly frigid.

However, over time, it ended up becoming a relaxing, therapeutic ritual for both the body and the mind as well as a place to socialize, securing a special place in Finnish culture.

How does a Finnish sauna work?

The Finnish sauna, like our ESSENTIA models, have two basic elements: the structure and the heater.

  • Structure: This type of sauna is made of wood. The spacious interior room is equipped with benches lining the sides at different heights. The entire interior is finished in wood and the heater used to heat the sauna is usually in the center. The floor is constructed of solid treated wood. The floor grill is made from thermo magnolia or thermo aspen wood.
  • Heater: The heater raises the temperature in the sauna to a warm 80-100ºC. There are several heater options on the market. In general, the most popular heaters for Finnish saunas are electric: they warm up the stones that radiate the heat inside the sauna. These stones are the traditional way to heat this type of sauna.

To that end, one of the most important features that determine the quality of any Finnish sauna are the material used. Using high-quality materials like oak, which helps to retain the sauna’s heat and can easily be subjected to high temperatures, is highly recommended.

Other materials, such as stainless steel and glass, can also be incorporated into a Finnish sauna, with transparent panels that make it possible for users to see outside. This is a design that enhances a sense of well-being while creating a visually open space.

In this type of Finnish sauna, the front panel is made from 8-mm-thick transparent tempered glass with a wooden frame. A stainless-steel door handle and hinges are also a good idea; the door should have an automatic hydraulic closing system, highly recommended to prevent heat loss.

In short, the Finnish sauna today represents a wellness space that can be adapted and customized to individual taste and needs, just like our ESSENTIA models.

Some of these customizable elements include:

  • Lighting: Lighting is essential when it comes to creating atmospheres. The options for a Finnish sauna are endless: you can opt for exposed or recessed lighting, direct or indirect light, white or colored light, and a long etc.
  • Benches: The benches are a fundamental part of the Finnish sauna. You can choose both the type of wood you want for the benches and how thick you want that wood to be. Magnolia wood’s low heat conductivity helps create a comfortable sauna interior with benches that are easier to sit on. Wooden benches with low thermal conductivity in thermo magnolia or thermo aspen have a load-bearing capacity of up to 200 kg/m.
  • Heaters: Heaters are fundamental when it comes to determining the style and ambiance of a sauna interior. Different types of heaters are available, as well as exposed or hidden heaters. Harvia Virta is a strong, practical and simplistically stylish electric heater for those who want a traditional sauna experience.
  • Aroma dispensers: Aroma dispensers help round out the Finnish sauna experience. A wide range of fragrances are available that can be tailored to different users and moments.
    Speakers: Speakers are an accessory that further enhance the sauna experience. Thanks to speaker models such as Sauna Speakers, a piped music system can be installed inside the Finnish sauna.
  • Control panel: The control unit is a touch control panel that seamlessly blends into the sauna, providing a modern and easy-to-use interface. The Harvia Xenio is a control panel that adapts to all saunas and enhances the user experience.
  • Ventilation system: It can change the air up to five times an hour. The wooden panels are designed with the tongue and groove system to deliver perfect sealing with temperature resistance up to 150ºC. Installing mineral wool and aluminum foil also helps keep the sauna at the right temperature while insulating against humidity.

All this helps to make the Finnish sauna experience an oasis of peace and well-being, a space where users can recharge their batteries and purify body and mind.

How to use Finnish saunas: traditional tips

The first step before even getting into the sauna is to rinse off in the bath or shower. Don’t forget that saunas are used for therapeutic, not hygienic, purposes. Which is why the inside of the sauna must be kept clean.

Bring a towel: users place a folded towel on the bench before sitting down. This serves a dual purpose. The benches are hot, and sitting directly on them can be uncomfortable and even burn the user without the towel. On the other hand, it keeps the sauna clean for other users, since no one sits directly on the same surface if everyone uses a towel.

That said, even though some people prefer using the Finnish sauna with wet skin, it’s better to dry off before you go in. This promotes sweating and the consequent elimination of toxins.
Users stay in the sauna for an average of 15 minutes. However, the time varies from person to person: some can only handle 5 to 10 minutes of the dry heat, others 25 (which should be the maximum time spent in the sauna).

It’s a good idea to cool down after leaving the Finnish sauna. Users can either take a dip in cold water, cool down in an ice room, or slip under an ice fountain provided by the spa or wellness center. Whatever the choice, it’s best to go slowly, starting with the feet and gradually moving upwards. Users can then go back inside the sauna and repeat the entire process again up to a maximum of two times.

Benefits of the Finnish or dry sauna

Beyond its cultural and social aspect, the Finnish sauna is a tool that has important benefits for physical and mental health.

  • Detoxification: One of the main benefits of a Finnish or dry sauna is that it eliminates toxins, something the body does naturally when it sweats. The high temperatures of the Finnish sauna trigger a deep sweat, which eliminates a large amount of toxins to help purify the body
  • Skin care: High temps and sweating do more than just detoxify: they also help remove dead skin cells. This also helps with cellular renewal and skin care.
  • Improved immune function: By accelerating the body’s detoxification processes, a dry sauna helps boost several of the body’s systems, including the immune system.
  • Improved breathing: The high temperatures inside a Finnish sauna help to reduce congestion. The dry air opens the airways for easier clearing of any congestion in the respiratory tract.
  • Muscle relaxation: The high temperatures inside the sauna combined with the cold-water baths afterwards help to relax muscles. This is true for anyone who uses a sauna, but it is particularly useful after a workout or training session.
  • Prevent fluid retention: Sweating does more than just eliminate toxins: it also helps the body get rid of excess liquid. This helps the body run more efficiently and can aid in weight loss.
  • Reduces stress: Last but not least, another benefit of Finnish saunas that shouldn’t be overlooked is that they help to significantly reduce stress. The combined effects of both the detoxification and muscle relaxation as well as the dry sauna ritual itself help users de-stress.
Some precautions

Although the Finnish sauna is a great way to deliver major health benefits, there are a number of precautions to keep in mind to ensure responsible use.

  • Drink water or herbal tea after using the Finnish sauna to compensate for fluid loss.
  • An average of around 15 minutes per session is recommended.
  • We recommend limiting use to two full Finnish sauna sessions per week.
  • People with heart conductions should consult their doctor before using the sauna.

With these precautions in mind, the Finnish sauna can become a powerful tool for health and well-being, a treatment that clearly has a full range of benefits and contributes significantly to users’ physical and mental health.



Finnish saunas: how they work and their health benefits

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