Sauna Q&A / Jan Seepter

The ABC of a good sauna

04 May 2022

A good sauna is an enjoyable place where rational design and magic become one. It would be easy to talk about the technical side of building a good sauna, but as strange as it might sound, we assure you that the mystical side of the sauna is equally essential. The combination of the two will define your future sauna experiences. To be more precise – we cannot emphasize enough that you must trust your gut feeling when building your own to every last detail.

Below you will find some things to look out for in a ’good’ sauna design. 

The basics - the sauna heater must match the dimensions of the sauna room. The heater manufacturers provide the recommended dimensions of the heater compartment in the product description, but it is important to pay attention to a few critical details. Better and more powerful sauna steam comes off from large rocks, and the more, the better. So small stoves with powerful electric stoves, which seem to heat relatively large spaces quickly, are not very practical, as the steam they provide is usually fierce and short-lived. A small stove must be able to gather plenty of heat because of fewer stones and pouring water over them will cool down them quickly. Therefore, the heater should be at least a minimum capacity, as suggested by the manufacturer's specification and with plenty of large stones to ensure a greater accumulation and radiation of heat from the rocks.

Should you opt for a pricier wood-burning stove, it can add some natural charm to the sauna. It starts with heating and pre-tuning your awaited sauna session. A parallel with the ancestral world, everything experienced in the sauna was like a call for contact with the unseen world. Plus an aesthetic: a log fire, the smell and sound of burning and crackling wood ... and something else. Something else looms in the far corners of our consciousness. It is activated similarly, like long expeditions into the unknown, the wilderness, the rapids, sailing the endless waterways or going foraging, fishing or hunting, almost like a distant memory of those times when we depended on and lived off seamlessly of nature and its gifts.

For a satisfying sauna experience, good ventilation is a must. The oxygen-rich air during a long sauna session, together with the heat, warrants a good rest and relaxation. Ideally, regulating air circulation naturally would be the best way. This can be done by installing openings for the inlet and outlet of fresh air, depending on the location of the heater. However, if that is not an option, installing a ventilation system is necessary. A window in the sauna room is a big bonus because it provides a quick and most efficient solution to the need for air exchange.

You're in luck if your sauna room can accommodate space in both length and width to lie freely on. Only sitting down in a sauna, your head will inevitably get hotter than the rest of your body, especially compared to the soles of your feet. By contrast, lying down vertically in the sauna allows you to relax properly in the even spread heat. 

Now a bit about safety - positioning the seating area and the heater must comply with fire safety requirements. Also, the air circulation rules must be observed so that the hot air from the heater is circulated as evenly as possible throughout the sauna. The best designs whilst designing the sauna are avoiding corners and making it as curved, convex, and oval as possible.

Whilst we talk forever about how to heat the sauna, it’s essential to consider where and how to cool down! Based on the body's natural defences, the healing and relaxing effects of a sauna we are all after are particularly powerful when there is an opportunity to cool down properly. Water plays a vital role – float weightlessly and let it carry you. If there is a natural or artificial body of water or a swimming pool nearby suitable for this purpose, you’re in luck. However, in the absence of one, the best solutions are those where you can at least be able to dip yourself knee-deep in water. Indoor pools, barrels, buckets, or even inflatable pools in the garden can do the trick – we let you be creative here!