Very few activities have the health and therapeutic benefits of the wood-burning outdoor steam sauna. Regular sauna use reduces inflammation and stress and helps with heart function. You may be aware of these benefits, but still have questions about how a steam sauna works. You may wonder what makes a steam sauna different from a steam shower or an infrared sauna. You might even have questions about what your sauna needs to produce heat and how the process goes. Here’s how a wood-burning outdoor steam sauna works.
WHAT IS A STEAM SAUNA?
While you might be more familiar with the phrase “traditional sauna,” a steam sauna works the same way. Here are a few facts:
The Steam Sauna VS The Steam Shower
These sauna rooms, which are small or medium in size, have outside structures made from wood.
Inside, a source of heat warms rocks. Water is then applied to those rocks to produce steam, or loyly.
Now, traditional saunas use either a wood-burning heater or electric heater.
The steam sauna reaches between 175 to 194 degrees Fahrenheit during sessions.
THE STEAM SAUNA VS THE STEAM SHOWER
On the contrary, a steam shower is not the same as a steam sauna. Here are the ways that they are the same, as well as how they differ:
Both steam saunas and steam showers produce heat and humidity.
The moisture in both structures will reach temperatures between 108 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
Both structures can handle extra humidity.
Steam showers use tile and glass instead of wood.
You can use a steam shower along with the shower that is already in your bathroom.
A steam sauna needs its own room or building.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF OUTDOOR STEAM SAUNAS
Nice visual addition to your yard
Uses a circular design to keep heat flow even
Walls are 1 ½ inch thick
Insulation is not needed
Smaller heating area, but still has enough room for guests
One example of a pod sauna that is charming, durable, and efficient is the Dundalk Leisure Craft Clear Cedar Pod Sauna. You can enjoy its classic appeal in standard form, or add your own windows, porch, or change room for extra flair.
Modern design and eco-friendly
2-tier benches with featured rounded corners
Features 2 huge bronze-tempered windows for lots of natural light flow
Dundalk Leisure Craft provides a great example with their Luna Outdoor Sauna. Try adding a front porch with two benches for your own custom cool-down area.
Trendy, modern design
Features a unique hexagonal shape
Triple-layer roof / no insulation needed
Bronze-tempered full height glass in the door
Features a Clear Red Cedar bottom step and upper-level bench
The Outdoor Kota Sauna by Dundalk Leisure Craft is a fine example, not to mention a timeless beauty as well.
Unique design that resembles a small house
Comes in sizes 8’x6’. 8’x7’ and 8’x8’
Features full-tempered glass door
The Eagles Nest Outdoor Sauna by Dundalk LeisureCraft combines a classy, polished appearance with practicality.
DIY (DO IT YOURSELF)
If you are brave enough to take on the task and have enough time on your hands, you can build your own sauna yourself.
You can start from scratch and gather all materials that you will need.
Keep in mind you will be responsible for electrical wiring and plumbing as well.
Be sure that your yard has enough space. This will help you decide what style and size you want for your sauna.
Also, be sure that you have the correct foundation before you begin.
You can also use a building that is already in your yard. This will help you save space and will be a little less stressful than taking on the whole project on your own. A few examples are:
An old garage
Storage shed no longer in use
A log cabin
Each family is different, so be sure to choose the sauna size that works best for you and your needs. If you live alone or plan to be alone for your sessions, a 1-person traditional sauna will work for you. If you plan to enjoy your session along with a spouse, loved one, or close friend, a 2-person barrel sauna might better suit your needs.
On the other hand, if you are more of a social butterfly, you might want to opt for a bigger option. For example, say you, your spouse, and two children (if they are old enough) plan to bond as a family with sauna time. A 4-person sauna would be a better pick. If you plan on entertaining multiple guests with relaxation tactics, a 6-person outdoor sauna is best for you.
HOW DOES A WOOD-BURNING OUTDOOR STEAM SAUNA WORK?
Of course, both saunas provide key health benefits. They both work wonders for weight loss, blood pressure, and even your overall mood. The difference between the two is the way that they operate. Here’s how they differ:
Uses a heater, sauna rocks, and water to produce steam
Focuses heat and energy on the body directly versus the entire room
To produce heat, first, your steam sauna needs a sauna heater. You have the option of either a wood-burning heater or an electric heater. While both provide a comforting experience, they operate differently and come with their own set of advantages. Here is some information on both:
You need to keep firewood on hand. Try to use wood that you have easy access to.
Controlling the temperature may be difficult until you have a feel for the process of heating your sauna.
Heat guards come included for your safety.
You have to have a licensed electrician install electrical wiring.
It comes with controls, which makes it easier for you to find the temperature that you desire.
They come with wall enclosures, reducing your risk of inhaling smoke.
Your sauna heater needs certain special stones to produce heat. These rocks are as sauna stones. If your first idea involves gathering your own stones, unless you know exactly what to look for, you should avoid this method. Sauna stones:
Are appropriate for both electric and wood-burning heaters
Allow easy stacking so that rocks do not fall during your session
Made with good air circulation in mind
Allow maximum vaporization each time you apply water
WOOD FOR YOUR SAUNA HEATER
If you have a wood-burning heater, you also need wood to produce heat. The fire from the wood is responsible for heating your sauna stones. While you can use any kind of wood that you want, here are a few facts to keep in mind as you choose what type is best for you:
Softwoods are cheaper and usually easier to access. They are good for building and starting your fire. A few examples of softwoods are:
Hardwoods are the more expensive option, but they provide a long, slow burn. They are the better option for producing a long-lasting fire. A few examples of softwoods are:
You can either browse the selection at your local hardwood store or gather your own wood for fuel. Keep the following in mind:
If you use your own wood, be sure to clean and season it. Seasoning your wood lets it rest for a couple months while it dries out.
Save yourself the headache and stay away from greenwood. Freshly-cut wood from your forest will not burn properly. You need wood that has a moisture content of less than 20% for effective burning.
Check the wood and make sure that it is sap-free. Burning wood that has sap can let off harmful fumes or release liquid that can burn you.
Stained or painted wood can also release toxic fumes when burned. Be sure to avoid it as well.
Wood that has the same consistent color throughout and no broken knots is the best for withstanding drastic temperature changes.
By now, you probably understand two things - that your sauna requires a heat source to produce steam and that steam makes your body sweat. This is correct, but there is a step-by-step process that happens each time you step into the realm of relaxation. Here’s what happens when you use your sauna:
Before you begin, be sure to remove contact lenses or jewelry. Your lenses may dry out and jewelry can cause burning.
Assemble your sauna stones on the top of your heater.
Start the process of warming your heater. If your sauna heater is electric, simply turn it on. If you have a wood-burning heater, you have to build a fire.
Start your session by applying water to hot sauna stones. (The heater itself becomes cooler, but causes hot air to rise.)
At the beginning of your sauna session, your sauna needs some time to warm up. This process can take around 30 minutes.
Note: A wood-burning heater will take longer to heat your sauna than an electric heater.
The area that is closest to the stove will be the hottest area. The heat will rise, so be sure to fan the air for circulation so that the cooler air is not left at the bottom of the sauna.
6. As the steam flows, your body begins to sweat. This is your body’s natural way of cooling.
For maximum results, lay flat on the sauna bench. This will help your whole body heat evenly.
Fresh steam rises to the roof of your sauna, then makes its way to the far corners of the room. For the best results, remain close to the corners if possible.
7. If certain areas of your body become hotter than others, use extra towels on your skin to reduce the amount of heat absorption.
8. Be sure to only use your sauna for as long as your body will allow. Staying inside for too long might result in dehydration or other adverse health effects.
Beginners: It is important that you get an understanding of your body’s limits early on. Try starting with only 5 to 10-minute sessions.
Post Workout Session: Be sure to wait for a minimum of 10 minutes before starting your sauna session after a workout.
Maximum Session Time: Do not use your sauna for longer than 20 minutes.
9. After your session, take the time to allow your body to cool down properly. You can either wait a few minutes and take a cold shower or opt for a dip in your pool.
Cooling your body too quickly causes circulatory stress, so be mindful.
The outdoor steam sauna works by using bursts of steam during your sauna session. While the infrared sauna focuses heat directly on the body, the steam sauna warms the entire room. To make heat, your sauna needs either an electric or wood-burning heater, sauna stones, and wood for fuel.
Your session begins when you apply water to hot sauna rocks. Steam begins to rise and flow, causing your body to sweat. Remember to enjoy your sauna for no more than twenty minutes. Rest assured, your steam sauna will work efficiently and provide the ultimate relaxation experience with every enjoyable session.
While you can build your own outdoor steam sauna, consider the use of a pre-built outdoor sauna for a building project made easy.