Homemade Saunas

The joys of a weekly family or individual sauna have been long enjoyed in Scandinavia. Finland, the historical home of saunas, has approximately 2 million saunas for it’s 5.2 million people.

It can be a rewarding project to create a sauna of your own, and certainly can be more cost-effective than purchasing a pre-made sauna. There are several varieties of saunas, both traditional hot-rock saunas and the newer far infrared technology saunas that can be constructed on a temporary or permanent basis for your home sauna experience.

Temporary Saunas

There are at least two varieties of temporary saunas available for those who want to create their own in-home sauna experience. First, the old steam-bathroom model works well for impromptu saunas that require little or no preparation. Simply run the hot water in your tub or shower as hot as you can get it and close the shower curtain. Don’t turn on the bathroom fan, close the door and block the bottom of the door opening with a towel. Wait five to 10 minutes and your steam room will be ready.

For a more involved temporary sauna, you can purchase a pair of infrared heaters and a heat lamp and set them up in your bathroom. You let the room warm, again protecting against escaping air. The infrared heaters have the benefit of creating a dry sauna experience, much like at a spa or health club. These will help detoxify your system if you spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting in between the heaters on a towel, on the floor after the room is warmed.

Permanent Fixtures

Of course, some people want to go the more involved route and build a sauna either outdoors near their home or in the basement, laundry room or other enclosed area that’s not being used. There are a number of designs you can find, either for a single person sauna or for a family-size model. You also have three basic options for how to construct the sauna: build the entire sauna from scratch; purchase sauna kits, which have the parts constructed and you assemble them; or buy a prefabricated sauna and install it in your location.

When you build a homemade sauna, you’ll need to plan the location, size and heating elements first. Constructing a cedar wood sauna is an accessible project for those with minimum carpentry skills, but it may be best to hire an electrician to make sure the outlets and circuitry fit your sauna heating requirements.

The easiest choice for heating any these home-built saunas is electricity—either in an electric stove for a traditional style sauna, or by an electric infrared heater for the far infrared sauna. Some outdoors saunas use a wood burning stove, which can either be purchased or built homemade. Usually these are reserved for countryside locations with plenty of available firewood.