Disclaimer: it really is not my fault if you burn yourself in sauna, if your sauna heater does not like water or if whatever happens in your sauna or outside of your sauna. Consider this page more like a place to read stories.
In the U.S., Finnish saunas are often referred to as dry saunas. That term could not be more misleading. Finnish saunas are not dry at all. Well, before someone “Karen’s out”, let’s clarify that the dry sauna by definition probably means that steam is not actively generated like in the Turkish “saunas” or more precisely Turkish steam rooms.
Now, Finnish saunas are wet or at minimum moist in two very different ways: steam is generated frequently and some people end up drinking a beer or two and maybe a tiny bit of Sauna-Jallu while relaxing in a hot room.
Sauna room temperature
I’ve seen many discussions in different online forums about ideal sauna room temperature. Some are firm believers that the room must be 195F (90C) or even hotter. My experience is that the room temperature actually matters very little. I usually go to my sauna when it’s at 140-155F (60-70C). But I bet I have also been in a tent sauna in winter and it was probably 40C max if that. It was still a great sauna.
The temperature doesn’t matter because you are supposed to get hot in a sauna by letting the steam hit your body nice and gentle. This magic is called löyly and it all boils down to getting the sauna rocks smoking hot. It literally boils down to that.
The Art of Generating Perfect Löyly
Generating steam in a sauna should not be very difficult at all. Simply pour water on a hot stove. Now, some people may be a bit anxious of doing that especially if they have electric heaters. While water and electricity aren’t the best buddies, keep in mind that the electric sauna stoves are based on the idea of heating up resistors (heat elements) that touch the rocks and heat the stones. Granted, these resistors seem to be metallic so you would think that you get an electric shock when you touch them, but no my friend, that is not really how they work. I can explain all this later in another blog post though. Anyway, sauna stoves can handle water.
While there are not completely f***ed up ways to generate löyly, common mistakes include the so called Finnish swim hall throwing technique where you throw water from 10 feet from the stove and hardly ever hit the rocks. Even if you do, the water will just quickly bounce off from the rocks and no proper steam is generated.
The secret is to very slowly pour water on the rocks and let the water dive deep in the stove. That generates a slowly approaching gentle steam. As for the water, use warm water if you can and never salty sea water or anything crazy. This pouring thing goes easier if you invest in pro bucket and a laddle that looks a bit like a coffee mug (see below).
If you want, you can add some scents like tar to your water.
Thanks for reading. Now watch this video and I will explain the very same stuff again. Repetitio mater studiorum est.