Sauna Information and Tips
What are the health benefits of frequent sauna use?
First of all, a few widely mistaken beliefs should be cleared up: people do lose weight through sauna use, but do not become slim as a sole result of this. The weight loss that occurs duing sauna use is as a result of toxins and bodily fluids getting sweat out. During a sauna session, the skin warms up by around 2 - 4oC. The sensation of heat is relatively strong, and your body fights this by producing sweat. Evaporation cools the skin down, but the temperature inside the body increases at a steady pace. Those with blood pressure or heart problems should consult their doctor before embarking on frequent sauna use. It is well-known that saunas can be highly beneficial for general well-being, with athletes curing their muscle injuries through frequent use - not to mention that it is also said to be the best hangover cure! Other benefits include: physical and spiritual relaxation, improvement in sport performance, and improved circulation.
How often should I visit the sauna?
Most sauna frequenters visit once or twice a week, with the circulation improvement from one session lasting up to a week. If this is repeated on a weekly basis, this means you can increase your tolerance to colds and flu. During a sauna session, you should repeat the "sweating/cooling off" process 2-3 times - with beginners recommended to start at twice, looking to move up to three times.
How is the sauna heated?
The generation of heat generally comes from an electrically powered oven which is filled with sauna stones. The exchange of air occurs through convection, which takes place through the fresh air supply below the oven; therefore raising the levels of oxygen. The heating coils warm up the stones and the surrounding area. Sauna stones must comply with high standards; they should have high heat conductivity and be of a high density, and should not be susceptible to cracking. Olivine and periodotite stones are mainly used. In the sauna, heated air rises upwards towards the ceiling - which should be preheated for at least 45 minutes to an hour, to allow for the benches and walls to heat up for optimum use.
What is coloured light stimulation?
Coloured light stimulation is often used in gentle steam baths such as organic and herbal saunas. Colours and lights influence the human organism and support biological functions. The following four spectral colours are said to produce balancing effects:
- Blue calms the organism
- Red excites and increases physical well-being
- Yellow strengthens nerves and makes them more alert
- Green is regenerative, refreshing and calming
What are the typical attributes of a herbal sauna?
The temperature of a herbal sauna is generally between 40 and 45oC, with the humidity ranging between 60 and 65%. In a herbal sauna, a basin is usually attached above the oven, which contains fresh herbs in a water bath. Essences are slowly released from the herbs, and the pleasant fragrance fills the room, allowing the user to feel calm.
What are the typical attributes of a warm air sauna?
The damp hot air bath has a special fresh air supply, which ensures that no drops of mist are produced. The temperature generally lies between 40 and 55oC, with the humidity being 10 - 20%.
What are the typical attributes of a finnish sauna?
The finnish sauna is seen as the 'standard', 'traditional' sauna, which can be found in most spa facilities. The temperature is generally between 80 and 95 degrees, and can either be a dry or infusion sauna. For example, if birch essence is exclusively used for the infusion, the sauna is called a 'birch sauna', but the basis of the sauna will always be the Finnish sauna.
Your First Visit To The Sauna
Allow yourself at least three hours for your first visit to the sauna. A sports bag is the best thing to use to carry your sauna equipment. You should carry:
- A sauna towel (should absorb sweat well and be around 2m in length)
- One to two hand towels for drying off after showering
- A bath towel
- Shower sandles
- Toiletries such as shampoo/shower gel etc
- Body lotion for post-sauna application
It is probably best to pack some swimwear in case there is a swimming pool which can only be used if you are wearing swimwear, or you may prefer to wear swimwear when you are not in the sauna. Don't forget to pack a comb and even a hairdryer, if your facilities do not supply them. A pair of thick socks, especially during winter time, are comfortable for your resting period. If you have enough time, you may wish to take a book for your resting periods. A water bottle or vessel is incredibly important, as you must replenish the water you sweat out.
What should I eat before a sauna session?
You should not have a heavy meal before having a sauna, only a light snack. Your body is already working hard enough in the sauna and should not be additionally burdened with digestion. If you do not wish to sit on your own in the sweat room, or want disgruntled looks from other guests, avoid eating lots of garlic prior to your visit - the smell spreads significantly with sweat.
How should I prepare for a sauna session?
Leave all items you don't need for your sauna, in the changing rooms available in your facilities. Make sure you take your sauna bag with you when you enter the spa. Make sure you take off all of your jewellery prior to entering the sauna, lest it get too hot and burn the skin. If you really must wear a piece of jewellery, you ought to make sure you are wearing it from the beginning of the session - so that you don't put it on midway through and it not be acclimatised to your skin, burning you. There is always a convenient place for you to leave your glasses in whilst you are using the sauna facilities. If you do require your glasses in the session, be aware that vision will be considerably impaired due to the imminent steaming up of the glasses in the heat. Contact lenses won't be damaged, but they can be uncomfortable if they start to rub, or burn. Keep the lenses moist by ensuring you close your eyes often, or even close your eyes once you are comfortably seated in the sauna.
Before entering the sauna, you should take a thorough shower. Cleaning yourself thoroughly is important for sweating as it gets rid of any existing film on the skin - such as makeup or skin products. Clean and dry skin sweats more effectively. After you shower, dry yourself off well - as drops of water will stop you from sweating as profusely. Please avoid putting on perfume prior to getting in the sauna, as it will be uncomfortable for other users - the heat will cause it to evaporate very quickly, creating a strong cloud of perfume.
After showering, take time to check out the sauna facilities, inside as well as outside the sauna. In some facilities, you will also be given a guided tour and individual areas will be explained to you. If that's not the case, or if you have questions of your own, then seek out someone who is accustomed to sauna use. Other guests are generally very friendly and should be happy to share their personal tips with you.
What will happen during my first sauna?
You will enter the sauna cabin with your specially assigned sauna towel. You will find benches at varying heights: the higher the bench, the warmer you will be. Be sure to set down your sauna towel before you sit, or lie down. If in doubt, have a look around you and see how other guests are using the sauna. The main rule of saunas is: no sweat on the wood. Don't feel you have to stay in the sauna for the full duration of the hour glass (they generally run for 15 minutes) - the hour glass serves as a guide, but if you feel you would like to leave after 6 or 7 minutes, you will still receive benefits from the sauna. At the beginning of your session, it is recommended that you lie back on your towel and allow for all parts of your body to get evenly spread heat. When your head becomes hot, it could be uncomfortably compared to the sensation of heat on the rest of your body. The feeling of having 'sweated enough', and now being ready for a "good cool down", does not necessarily happen at the same time. In general, this is the case after 8-12 minutes. Don't exceed 15 minutes of continuous use.
How do you enjoy a fusion sauna?
In order to enjoy your first infusion, ask the person in charge of doing it how long it will last before they do it: it may be too strenuous for beginners to experience an intense special fusion of between 12 - 15 minutes. If you cannot bear the infusion any longer, please leave the sauna straight away - do not allow yourself to get too faint or dizzy feeling. There may be guests who complain that the door is supposed to remain closed during an infusion, but your health is the most important aspect. Don't overestimate how much you can handle of the sauna, and be sure to pace yourself - you can always build up tolerance over time.
What happens during the infusion?
For many guests, the infusion is THE sauna experience, a good infusion can, above all, also considerably contribute to a feeling of well-being. As a rule, the infusion is carried out with water. Recently, however, people have been using crushed ice more and more often. The water or ice is poured onto the hot stones very carefully, with a ladle. This temporarily increases the steam and humidity in the sauna. The quality of the infusion naturally depends on the sauna, just as it depends on the sauna attendant who carries out the infusion. A good infusion will be properly commemorated and can last up to a quarter of an hour. The mostly happens in three phases, with a lot of time in between and, above all: with the correct technique. This is something which people say has to be learnt, as it changes the distribution of heat in the sauna, this is what provides the guests with actual enjoyment.
What are the additions to infusion saunas?
Additions to the infusion are essential oils or aromas which are identical to nature. The guest will smell and feel the difference between the various types. Often the essences/oils are changed hourly: in many saunas you can also find information boards informing you when and where which essence/oil will be used. It is helpful when the sauna attendant explains which aroma is being used and what its effects are before the infusion. Some of the various oils and aromas which are used in the infusion include: eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, connifer oil, citrus fruits (orange/lemon/mandarin), and herbs (lavender/balm/cammomile). Increasingly, other fruit aromas such as apple, cherry, plum and strawberry are being used. Each guest will certainly find their favourite aroma from this variety of possibilities.
What is a honey infusion?
After the normal infusion (with or without additional aromas/oils) and the first warming up phase, honey is passed around, which sauna guests rub into their skin. This is very purifying for the skin.
What is a salt scrub?
This can be done in the sauna as well as in the steam bath. The are various varieties, but basically you rub mineral salt into your whole body after the heating up phase (avoid eyes, genitals and wounds!). In some saunas, you rub the salt into your skin inside the sauna room, in others - guests do this outside the room. Folllowing this, more water is poured onto the stones. This results is noticeably smoother skin, as the outer skin cells are scrubbed away, to reveal fresh, invigorated skin beneath.
What are some alternatives to infusion?
The are numerous further alternatives, which are often specific to individual saunas, for example - some saunas during the infusion, fruit is offered - such as oranges, lemons or slices of apple. Often, there is also ice-cream to cool down the body post-sauna. It is also pleasant to have a glass of fresh fruit juice after using a sauna. These may be small gestures, but really add to the enjoyment of a guest's visit at a spa - and encourage them to visit again.
How do I cool off effectively?
After the sauna, begins the cooling down period in fresh air, outside of the room. Your lungs need oxygen. But don't stay outside for too long, as then it will take more willpower to submerge in the cold shower. The effect of cooling down: this also depends on your personal preference, as with nearly everything you do with your sauna experience. Whilst one person may swear that after your sauna, you should go out into fresh air, another may insist you cool yourself down with water before exposing yourself to such a drastically different climate. You should cool the areas farthest from the heart first: feet, legs, hands, arms and lastly, your torso. Try to find out which type of cooling down suits you best.
What is a Kneipp hose?
This often takes a lot of willpower to use, but it is extremely refreshing. It is recommended that you hose yourself (moving the hose at all times) on the right hand side of your body, beginning with your foot then moving towards your heart in circular motions as described above. It is important to cool down sufficiently after your last session in the sauna in order to avoid sweating in your own clothes afterwards.
What are the benefits of using a foot bath?
Foot baths are used for the stablisation of the biological cycle. Warm the feet 3- 5 minutes in the only ankle high warm water, until a pleasant heat-feeling appears in the whole body.
What are the relaxation benefits of sauna use?
Having a sauna and relaxing go hand in hand for many guests. Sauna facilities provide a relaxation room, as this is considered to be very important. There are often designated relaxation rooms found in various areas of the sauna facilities, which are partly fitted comfortable couches, sometimes with or without blankets. There are meditation rooms, rooms with heated couches and much more. A period of rest after your sauna sessions is important: see what possibilities are available to you and use them to relax. After each session in the sauna, allow yourself half an hour's rest, until you have found your own rhythm. Use what's available to you inside the facilities: the diving pool, the alternating footbaths, the steam baths and much more.
What're the benefits of fluids after sauna use?
You will lose a lot of fluid having a sauna session. There are various theories, one of which is that you should not drink anything during your sauna, otherwise you will sweat out mineral water. Another theory is that you should drink a lot so that your body will be optimally pruified. As with many things, the truth can be found somewhere in between the two theories. If you feel thirsty, drink to what feels right for you. Mineral water is the most nutrtious option, but anything in a large enough quantity (at least one litre), should be sufficient.
What sauna events exist?
In some spas, events are offered over and above the normal programme. Examples include Midnight saunas, Sauna breakfasts, Finnish night and BBQs.
Sauna Bathing Guidelines:
Always seek medical advice befre visiting a sauna, if you are:
- A pregnant woman
- Suffering from a heart disease, high or low blood pressure
- Using any form of medication, prescribed or otherwise, especially anticoagulants, antihistamines, vasoconstrictors, vasodilators, stimulants, narcotics or tranquillisers.
- Unwell in any way
- Always close the door after you.
- Never use the sauna under the influence of drugs, alcohol or after eating a large meal.
- Do not touch the sauna heater or light fittings.
- Contrary to popular belief, copious amounts of water poured onto the heater does not increase the temperature. An infrequent ladle of water will provide a sudden burst of high humidity, which does feel hotter. Excess water cools the sauna and damages the heater, spoiling the experience for everyone.
- Never use water from spa or pool.
- Do not place any objects on, or adjacent to the heater.
- Do not throw water onto the temperature sensor.
- Do not obstruct air vents.
- Do not make sauna bathing an endurance test.
- Stay in the sauna for as long as you feel comfortable, take a shower, relax and cool down. Return to the sauna as often as you wish.
- If using a spa, always shower before using the facilities.
- Enjoy yourself!
What are the typical attributes of a gentle steam bath?
The temperature of a gentle steam bath is generally between 40 and 52oC, with the humidity ranging between 40 and 62%. Gentle steam baths are also known as bio-saunas, most often when they are used in conjuction with coloured lights.
How do I go about descaling my steam generator?
Commerical steam generators must be descaled on a monthly basis or more frequently, in extreme circumstances.
It is recommended that 'Citric Acid Descaler' limescale remover is used. If using a proprietary brand of descalant, follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Commerical steam generators are supplied with a plugged drain outlet to the bottom of the generator, which in such use, is fitted with an automatic autoclean drain down valve system ensuring regular draining. This valve may be connected to a suitable waste but it may be preferred to drain into an open container so that the evidence of scale build up can be monitored. Please note: the auto clean system is a flushing unit and not a substitute for descaling. Do not allow for any water or descalant to touch the electrical connections or the printed circuit board in the top of the generator.
- Descaling should be carried out when the generator is cool.
- Ensure the generator is switched off and isolate the power supply to the generator and auto clean.
- Pour 250g of the citric acid powder into the tank through the opening for the prove, using a funnel to avoid spilling.
- The generator should now run for approximately one hour.
- CAUTION: The contents of the generator may be of a dangerously high temperature - should the auto clean drain into the steam room, ensure the steam room is not being used.
- If the generator is not fitted with an auto clean, the contents can be drained by removing the drain plug at the base of the tank and emptying into a bucket. Caution should be taken as the contents of the generator may be of a dangerously high temperature.
- Descaling should be carried out at more regular intervals, should signs of excessive scale build-up become apparent, as a result of inspection of the water level probe. If there are signs of contamination to the water in the tank, other than scale build-up, then inspect the water supply and consult your local water authority.
How do I go about cleaning my steam room?
Please check the steam room regularly once a week for possible damage and repair it immediately. For example, missing grout lines must be filled straight away, upon recognition. In commerical facilities, steam rooms should be professionally serviced every 6 months. When cleaning public steam rooms, the following regulations are to be observed:
Cleaning the floor:
Clean the floor and seats daily. Special care must be taken around the steam outlet and drain. The floor must be scrubbed, if required. Caution: high pressure cleaners, or a water hose, may cause damage to grout and tiles.
Sitting and reclining areas:
The sitting and reclining areas can be cleaned regularly with specialist disinfectants. Caution: Disinfectants are extremely caustic, therefore the applicable safety regulations must be observed! Toxic residual products are not left with hydrogen peroxide, when it comes into contact with organic material, it decomposes into oxygen and water.
The steam room walls and ceiling must be cleaned once or twice a week, more often when the steam room is used very intensively, cleaning should be done with specialist disinfectants. Caution: Disinfectants are extremely caustic, therefore the applicable safety regulations must be observed! Toxic residual products are not left with hydrogen peroxide, when it comes into contact with organic material, it decomposes into oxygen and water.
Door handles, hinges and latches:
Re-tighten screw connections regularly, lubricate and adjust when required.
Your steam room can be a breeding ground for bacteria. If you keep up with the care of your sauna, you can reap the health benefits for a long time, without any unnecessary damage coming to your equipment. We wish you and your guests many hours of enjoyment and relaxation in your steam room.