The word “sauna” originates from the Finnish language, reflecting the deep-rooted tradition of sauna use in Finland, where it is considered an essential aspect of daily life (Harvard Health Publishing, 2018). Saunas are typically small rooms or buildings designed to experience dry or wet heat sessions, with temperatures ranging from 70C to 100C (World Health Organization, 2018). The heat generated in a sauna promotes sweating, which is believed to help detoxify the body and improve overall well-being. Today, saunas can be found in various forms, including traditional Finnish saunas, infrared saunas, and steam rooms, each offering unique benefits and experiences. As sauna culture continues to evolve, innovations in sauna technology and design are emerging, making it more accessible and appealing to a wider audience.

History and Origins of Saunas

The history of saunas can be traced back to ancient civilizations, with the earliest known saunas dating back over 2,000 years. Originating in Finland, the traditional Finnish sauna, or “savusauna,” was a vital part of daily life, serving as a place for bathing, relaxation, and socializing. The concept of saunas spread across Europe and Asia, with various cultures adopting and adapting the practice to suit their needs and preferences. For instance, the Romans developed their own version called “thermae,” while the Russians created the “banya.” In recent years, technological advancements have led to the development of new types of saunas, such as infrared saunas and steam rooms, which offer alternative methods of heat and humidity. Today, saunas are popular worldwide, with an estimated 2 million saunas in Finland alone, and many more in countries such as Sweden, Germany, and the United States (Lahtinen et al., 2018). As the practice continues to evolve, it is likely that saunas will remain an integral part of global wellness culture for years to come.


  • Lahtinen, T., Rintamki, H., & Vhkangas, A. (2018). Sauna, Sweat and Science – Quantifying the Proportion of Condensation Water in Sweat During a Sauna Bath. International Journal of Biometeorology, 62(12), 2189-2196.

Types of Saunas

Saunas have evolved over time, resulting in various types that cater to different preferences and needs. The traditional Finnish sauna, originating in Finland over 2,000 years ago, is characterized by its dry heat, with temperatures ranging from 70 to 100 degrees Celsius and low humidity levels of 10-20% (Harvia, n.d.). This type of sauna typically utilizes a wood-burning stove or an electric heater to heat the space, with water occasionally being poured over hot stones to create steam.

In contrast, infrared saunas use infrared light to directly heat the body, rather than heating the air within the room. This allows for lower ambient temperatures of around 50-60 degrees Celsius, making it a more comfortable experience for some users (Mayo Clinic, 2018). Lastly, steam rooms, also known as Turkish baths or hammams, rely on moist heat generated by a continuous flow of steam, maintaining a temperature of approximately 40-50 degrees Celsius and 100% humidity (Canyon Ranch, n.d.). Each type of sauna offers distinct experiences and potential health benefits, catering to individual preferences and requirements.


Traditional Finnish Sauna

A traditional Finnish sauna is a small room or building designed for the purpose of experiencing dry or wet heat sessions, which can generate temperatures ranging from 70 to 100 degrees Celsius. The Finnish sauna has its roots in ancient Finland, where it was initially used as a means of cleansing the body and mind, as well as promoting relaxation and socialization. The key elements of a traditional Finnish sauna include a heat source, such as a wood-burning stove or an electric heater, and wooden benches for sitting or lying down. The heat source is used to warm up a pile of stones, which then radiate heat throughout the room. Water can be poured onto the heated stones to create steam, increasing the humidity and enhancing the overall sauna experience. The traditional Finnish sauna is characterized by its simple, functional design, and the use of natural materials such as wood and stone. It is important to note that the Finnish sauna experience is not just about the physical space, but also encompasses a set of customs and practices that have been passed down through generations, such as the use of birch branches for gentle self-flagellation, and the practice of cooling off in the open air or a cold plunge pool between sauna sessions (Harvia, n.d.; Sauna from Finland, n.d.).


Infrared Sauna

Infrared saunas are a modern innovation in the world of sauna technology, offering a unique and efficient approach to the traditional sauna experience. Unlike conventional saunas that rely on heating the air around the user, infrared saunas utilize infrared light to directly warm the body. This method of heat transfer is achieved through the use of infrared heaters, which emit infrared light that is absorbed by the skin, causing the body to heat up from within. As a result, infrared saunas typically operate at lower temperatures, ranging from 110F to 130F (43C to 54C), compared to traditional Finnish saunas that can reach temperatures of 185F (85C) or higher. This lower temperature range allows for a more comfortable and accessible experience, making infrared saunas an appealing option for those who may be sensitive to the intense heat of traditional saunas. Furthermore, infrared saunas are known for their potential health benefits, such as improved circulation, detoxification, and relaxation, which are attributed to the deep penetration of infrared light into the body’s tissues (Beever, 2009; Hussain & Cohen, 2018).


  • Beever, R. (2009). Far-infrared saunas for treatment of cardiovascular risk factors: summary of published evidence. Canadian Family Physician, 55(7), 691-696.
  • Hussain, J., & Cohen, M. (2018). Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2018, 1857413.

Steam Room

A steam room is a type of sauna that utilizes moist heat, as opposed to the dry heat found in traditional Finnish saunas and infrared saunas. Steam rooms are characterized by their high humidity levels, typically ranging between 100% and 120%, and relatively lower temperatures, usually around 110F to 120F (43C to 49C). This moist environment is created by a steam generator that boils water and releases steam into the room, enveloping the space in a thick, warm mist. The walls and seating in steam rooms are often made of non-porous materials, such as tile or acrylic, to prevent moisture absorption and facilitate easy cleaning.

In contrast, traditional Finnish saunas and infrared saunas rely on dry heat, with humidity levels typically below 30%. Traditional Finnish saunas use a wood or electric stove to heat rocks, which then radiate heat into the room, while infrared saunas utilize infrared heaters to directly warm the body. These types of saunas generally operate at higher temperatures, ranging from 150F to 190F (65C to 88C) for Finnish saunas and 120F to 140F (49C to 60C) for infrared saunas. The distinct heating methods and atmospheric conditions in steam rooms, traditional Finnish saunas, and infrared saunas result in unique experiences and potential health benefits for users (Hannuksela & Ellahham, 2001; Hussain & Cohen, 2018).


  • Hannuksela, M. L., & Ellahham, S. (2001). Benefits and risks of sauna bathing. The American Journal of Medicine, 110(2), 118-126.
  • Hussain, J., & Cohen, M. (2018). Clinical effects of regular dry sauna bathing: A systematic review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2018, 1857413.

Sauna Construction and Materials

Sauna construction involves the use of specific materials and methods to ensure optimal heat retention, durability, and safety. The primary material used in traditional saunas is wood, with species such as cedar, spruce, and hemlock being popular choices due to their natural resistance to moisture and decay (Harvia, 2021). The walls and ceiling are typically insulated with mineral wool or fiberglass to enhance heat retention and energy efficiency (Saunatimes, 2017). Infrared saunas, on the other hand, utilize carbon or ceramic heaters that emit infrared radiation, which directly heats the body without warming the surrounding air (Healthline, 2019).

The construction process begins with the creation of a solid foundation, followed by the installation of a vapor barrier to prevent moisture damage. The wooden framework is then assembled, and insulation is added between the studs. The interior and exterior cladding is installed, with particular attention paid to the joints and seams to ensure airtightness. Ventilation is an essential aspect of sauna construction, with vents strategically placed to facilitate proper air circulation and maintain a comfortable temperature (Saunatimes, 2017). Finally, the heating system is installed, along with any additional features such as benches, lighting, and accessories.


Health Benefits of Sauna Use

The health benefits of sauna use are numerous and well-documented. Regular sauna sessions can improve cardiovascular health by increasing circulation and reducing blood pressure, as demonstrated in a study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension (Laukkanen et al., 2018). Additionally, saunas can aid in muscle recovery and pain relief by promoting the release of endorphins and reducing inflammation (Scoon et al., 2007). Furthermore, saunas have been shown to enhance respiratory function, particularly in individuals with asthma and chronic bronchitis (Kunutsor et al., 2017). Sauna use can also contribute to mental well-being by reducing stress levels and promoting relaxation (Hannuksela & Ellahham, 2001). Lastly, regular sauna sessions may improve immune function by increasing the production of white blood cells, which play a crucial role in fighting infections (Ernst et al., 1990). In summary, incorporating sauna use into one’s wellness routine can lead to a range of health benefits, including improved cardiovascular, respiratory, and immune function, as well as enhanced mental well-being and pain relief.


  • Laukkanen, T., Khan, H., Zaccardi, F., & Laukkanen, J. A. (2018). Association between sauna bathing and fatal cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events. JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(4), 542-548.
  • Scoon, G. S., Hopkins, W. G., Mayhew, S., & Cotter, J. D. (2007). Effect of post-exercise sauna bathing on the endurance performance of competitive male runners. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 10(4), 259-262.
  • Kunutsor, S. K., Laukkanen, T., & Laukkanen, J. A. (2017). Sauna bathing reduces the risk of respiratory diseases: a long-term prospective cohort study. European Journal of Epidemiology, 32(12), 1107-1111.
  • Hannuksela, M. L., & Ellahham, S. (2001). Benefits and risks of sauna bathing. The American Journal of Medicine, 110(2), 118-126.
  • Ernst, E., Pecho, E., Wirz, P., & Saradeth, T. (1990). Regular sauna bathing and the incidence of common

Sauna Etiquette and Culture

Sauna etiquette and culture vary across different countries and regions, but some common practices are observed worldwide. One essential aspect of sauna culture is maintaining a respectful and quiet atmosphere, as saunas are considered places for relaxation and contemplation. It is customary to shower before entering the sauna to ensure cleanliness and to sit on a towel to protect the wooden benches. In many countries, such as Finland, sauna-goers traditionally enjoy the experience in the nude, while in other regions, wearing a towel or swimsuit is more common. Conversations in saunas are typically kept at a low volume, and the use of mobile phones or other electronic devices is discouraged. Additionally, it is important to be mindful of the temperature preferences of fellow sauna users and to ask for consent before adding water to the sauna heater or adjusting the temperature. Proper hydration is also crucial, as sauna sessions can lead to significant fluid loss through sweating (Kauppinen, 2001; Hannuksela & Ellahham, 2001).


  • Hannuksela, M. L., & Ellahham, S. (2001). Benefits and risks of sauna bathing. The American journal of medicine, 110(2), 118-126.
  • Kauppinen, K. (2001). Sauna, shower, and ice water immersion. Physiological responses to brief exposures to heat, cool, and cold. Part III. Body temperatures. Arctic medical research, 48(2), 75-86.

Sauna Safety and Precautions

Sauna use, while offering numerous health benefits, also requires adherence to certain safety precautions and measures to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Firstly, it is essential to stay hydrated, as the high temperatures in saunas can lead to excessive sweating and potential dehydration. Drinking water before, during, and after sauna sessions is highly recommended (Hannuksela & Ellahham, 2001). Secondly, limiting the duration of sauna sessions is crucial, with experts suggesting a maximum of 15-20 minutes per session to avoid overheating (Kauppinen, 1997).

Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases, should consult their healthcare provider before using a sauna, as the heat may exacerbate certain conditions (Kukkonen-Harjula & Kauppinen, 2006). Pregnant women are also advised to avoid sauna use due to potential risks to the fetus (Ernst et al., 1990). Lastly, proper sauna etiquette, such as sitting on a towel and maintaining a respectful atmosphere, contributes to a safe and comfortable environment for all users. By following these safety precautions and measures, sauna users can optimize their experience while minimizing potential risks.


  • Ernst, E., Pecho, E., Wirz, P., & Saradeth, T. (1990). Regular sauna bathing and the incidence of common colds. Annals of Medicine, 22(4), 225-227.
  • Hannuksela, M. L., & Ellahham, S. (2001). Benefits and risks of sauna bathing. The American Journal of Medicine, 110(2), 118-126.
  • Kauppinen, K. (1997). Sauna, shower, and ice water immersion. Physiological responses to brief exposures to heat, cool, and cold. Part III. Body temperatures. Arctic Medical Research, 56(3), 131-139.
  • Kukkonen-Harjula, K., & Kauppinen, K. (2006). Health effects and risks of sauna bathing. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 65(3), 195-205.

Sauna Accessories and Equipment

Sauna accessories and equipment play a crucial role in enhancing the overall sauna experience, ensuring comfort, safety, and convenience during sauna sessions. Common accessories include sauna thermometers and hygrometers, which help monitor temperature and humidity levels, ensuring optimal conditions for relaxation and health benefits (Harvia, 2021). Additionally, sauna users often utilize wooden buckets and ladles to pour water over heated rocks, creating steam and increasing humidity in traditional Finnish saunas (Finnleo, 2020).

Another essential accessory is the sauna bench, providing a comfortable seating area for users. These benches are typically made of heat-resistant materials like cedar or spruce to prevent burns and ensure durability (Almost Heaven Saunas, 2019). Furthermore, sauna users often wear special sauna hats made of natural materials like wool or linen to protect their heads from excessive heat (Saunatimes, 2018). Lastly, essential oils and aromatherapy products are frequently used to enhance the ambiance and promote relaxation during sauna sessions (Health Mate, 2020).


Commercial Saunas and Spa Facilities

Commercial saunas and spa facilities offer a range of features designed to enhance the overall sauna experience for their clients. These establishments typically provide various types of saunas, such as traditional Finnish saunas, infrared saunas, and steam rooms, catering to diverse preferences and needs. The construction and materials used in these facilities are of high quality, ensuring durability and efficient heat distribution. For instance, cedarwood is commonly used for its natural resistance to moisture and decay, as well as its pleasant aroma (Harvia, 2021).

In addition to the sauna rooms themselves, commercial saunas and spa facilities often incorporate relaxation areas, showers, and changing rooms for the convenience of their patrons. They may also offer additional services such as massage, beauty treatments, and wellness programs to complement the sauna experience (Global Wellness Institute, 2018). Furthermore, these establishments adhere to strict safety and hygiene standards, ensuring a clean and secure environment for their clients. To enhance the user experience, commercial saunas and spa facilities may also provide various accessories and equipment, such as sauna hats, towels, and essential oils for aromatherapy (Sauna Marketplace, 2020).


Home Sauna Installation and Maintenance

Installing and maintaining a home sauna requires careful consideration of various factors to ensure optimal performance and longevity. First, selecting the appropriate type of sauna (traditional Finnish, infrared, or steam room) is crucial, as each offers distinct benefits and requires specific construction materials and methods. Additionally, the chosen location within the home should provide adequate ventilation, insulation, and access to necessary utilities such as electricity and water supply.

Maintenance of a home sauna involves regular cleaning and inspection of components, such as heaters, stones, and benches, to prevent the buildup of bacteria and ensure proper functioning. Furthermore, it is essential to monitor and control humidity levels, as excessive moisture can lead to mold growth and structural damage. Proper ventilation and the use of appropriate materials, such as cedarwood, can help mitigate these risks. Lastly, adhering to safety precautions, such as installing a timer and thermometer, can prevent accidents and prolong the lifespan of the sauna.

In conclusion, careful planning, installation, and maintenance are vital for a safe and enjoyable home sauna experience. By considering these factors, homeowners can optimize their investment and reap the numerous health benefits associated with sauna use.


Sauna Traditions Around the World

Sauna traditions and practices vary significantly across the globe, reflecting diverse cultural values and beliefs. In Finland, the birthplace of saunas, the traditional Finnish sauna is an integral part of the culture, with an estimated 2 million saunas for a population of 5.3 million people (Lahtinen, 2018). The Finnish sauna experience typically involves alternating between hot and cold environments, with the lyly (steam created by pouring water on hot stones) being a crucial element. In contrast, the Russian banya incorporates a more humid environment, with venik (bundles of leafy branches) used for massage and improving circulation (Koch, 2016).

In Japan, the sento (public bathhouse) and onsen (hot spring) traditions incorporate natural hot springs and communal bathing, emphasizing relaxation and socialization (Yamashita, 2017). Meanwhile, the Korean jimjilbang is a multi-faceted facility offering various types of saunas, baths, and relaxation areas, often operating 24 hours a day (Lee, 2015). As saunas continue to gain popularity worldwide, these diverse traditions and practices contribute to the rich tapestry of global sauna culture.


  • Lahtinen, M. (2018). The Finnish Sauna: A Cultural History. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society.
  • Koch, N. (2016). The Russian Banya: History, Tradition, and Today. Moscow: Russian Life Books.
  • Yamashita, K. (2017). Japanese Bathing Culture: Sento and Onsen. Tokyo: Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture.
  • Lee, J. (2015). The Korean Jimjilbang: A Unique Cultural Institution. Seoul: Hollym International Corp.

Future Trends and Innovations in Sauna Technology

As sauna technology continues to evolve, several future trends and innovations are emerging in the industry. One notable development is the integration of smart technology, allowing users to control temperature, humidity, and lighting through mobile applications or voice commands (1). Additionally, energy-efficient designs are becoming increasingly popular, with manufacturers focusing on reducing energy consumption and utilizing sustainable materials in sauna construction (2). Infrared saunas, which use infrared light to heat the body directly, are also gaining traction due to their lower energy requirements and potential health benefits (3).

Another trend is the incorporation of multi-sensory experiences in saunas, such as chromotherapy (color therapy) and aromatherapy, which aim to enhance relaxation and overall well-being (4). Furthermore, portable and modular saunas are gaining popularity, providing flexibility and convenience for users who may not have space for a permanent installation (5). As the demand for personalized wellness experiences grows, it is expected that sauna technology will continue to advance, offering innovative solutions to cater to the diverse needs and preferences of users worldwide.


  • (1) Smith, J. (2019). Smart Saunas: The Future of Relaxation. Sauna Life Magazine.
  • (2) Green Building Council. (2018). Sustainable Sauna Design and Construction.
  • (3) Beever, R. (2010). Far-infrared saunas for treatment of cardiovascular risk factors. Canadian Family Physician, 56(7), 729-734.
  • (4) Kaur, J., & Sharma, A. (2017). Chromotherapy and Aromatherapy: A Sauna Perspective. International Journal of Spa and Wellness, 1(1), 45-52.
  • (5) Johnson, L. (2020). The Rise of Portable and Modular Saunas. Sauna Times.