Sauna FAQ

Sauna FAQ

What is a Sauna?

A “sauna” (a Finnish word meaning “bath”), is a chamber that heats occupants for the purpose of relaxation, “de-stressing”, and detoxifying through increased circulation and perspiration.

A sauna is not to be confused with a “steam bath” which uses a steam generator to inject steam into the chamber. It is run cooler and at near 100% humidity.

Traditional saunas have deep pockets of special rocks that are heated by electric heating coils or by
wood-fired furnaces. The rocks serve to provide a consistent source of heat inside the chamber and to
generate small amounts of steam to humidify the air. As water is sprinkled on the hot rocks, humidity is increased to about 30% to aid in perspiration.

Difference between Wet Sauna and Dry Sauna
Finnish-style saunas are often confused with “wet” saunas because of the water that is sprinkled on the rocks to make steam and increase humidity, however, the amount of water used is not enough to make
steam that hangs in the air, as in the case of the traditional ‘Turkish Steam Bath’. It dissipates very quickly and serves to aid in the transferrance of heat and to increases humidity to about 30% to aid in perspiration.

Sauna vs. FIR Therapy
“Sauna” refers to Finnish-style dry sauna that uses heated rocks to radiate heat into the sauna room, and small amounts of water on the rocks to increase humidity, whereas FIR (Far Infra-Red) therapy uses
electric emitters to radiate the “bather’s” back with FIR electromagnetic radiation which, while effective at causing perspiration, tends to have hot spots, cannot be used in Canadian outdoors, and cannot be used in the therapeutic vaporization essential oils and inhalants.

The bottom line difference between the two types of treatment is in how heat is created. In FIR treatment, IR panels radiate energy to cause the skin and underlying tissues to heat up, whereas traditional saunas envelope the bathers with hot air as well as IR radiation, heating of the body is by convection and by FIR being emitted from the rocks and the entire chamber as it heats up.

For a sauna to work properly invigorating, relaxing, relieving pain, improving circulation, and detoxifying, one needs to be prepared to spend enough time for the sauna to work its magic. Be prepared to set aside from one to two hours for all sauna-related activities.

There are many varied ways to take a sauna. No one way is absolutely the ‘correct’ way. Here are some suggestions we hope will be helpful:

How to Take a Sauna

  1. Pre-heat your sauna to the desired temperature. The preferred temperature for perspiration is
    between 80-95°C. Higher temperatures may actually inhibit perspiration. The amount of time needed to heat a sauna to the desired temperature should be 20-30 minutes. Pregnant women and small children should keep the temperature below 70°C.
  2. While it’s warming up, take a nice hot shower to open up your skin’s pores, and to keep your
    sauna cleaner, longer.
  3. Take two large terrycloth towels into the sauna with you; one to rub your skin with to help you to
    perspire, and the other to fold and sit on to reduce the amount of perspiration going onto the
  4. Enter the pre-heated sauna. Relax and allow your body to perspire in the soft dry heat. Do not
    throw water on the rocks during the first part of the session. The appropriate amount of time for a
    sauna session is suggested to be between 15 and 20 minutes at the most.
  5. Cool off with a cold shower.
  6. Re-enter the sauna and sprinkle water on the rocks. This will increase humidity to about 30% to
    assist in perspiration. About one cup of water every five minutes should be enough. Too much
    water will just cool off the rocks and you’ll get less steam. Using hot water will keep from cooling
    off the rocks as much, enabling you to make more steam with less water. It will also prolong the life
    of the rocks, as using cold water will cause more cracking over time.
  7. After your sauna session, cool off with a cold shower, or by taking a dip in a lake or pool. Repeat this sauna/cool-off process as often as desired.
  8. It is important to hydrate during your sauna session and even to have a light snack.

Like bathing in a hot tub, excessive temperatures or exposure times can be harmful to a person’s health.

People with poor health should consult their physicians before using the sauna.




  1. It is a good idea to wash off the sauna rocks before using them. They will be coated with a thick layer of rock dust from processing and handling. If you don’t wash it off it will end up making a mess when water gets sprinkled on the rocks.
  2. When your sauna is set up and working you should “break-in” the sauna before using it for the first time. Turn it on its highest setting and keep it like that for about 1 hour with the sauna door open. This is recommended by the heater manufacturer to burn off any oils and impurities from manufacturing processes. It also “cures” the woodwork. After about ¾ hour, slowly pour about one litre of water on the rocks. It should all turn to steam and not come out of the bottom of the heater. If it does, you’re pouring too fast.
  3. It is considered good sauna etiquette that guests take a shower with soap and sit on a double-layer of terrycloth towels to prevent perspiration from getting onto the benches and walls where the oils will accumulate over time.
  4. After each use, leave the door fully open for the wood to dry out. Duck boards can be lifted up to air out if necessary.
  5. Under normal conditions, a slight wash of the floor and benches several times a year will maintain its cleanliness. The cedar benches can be washed with a mild solution of liquid cleaner and water to
    remove any buildup and perspiration stains from the wood. Never use ammonia or harsh cleaners as
    they can turn the wood gray.
  6. Good care should be taken of the wooden bucket and ladle. They should be stored upside down to
    promote drying.
  7. The igneous rocks may need to be replaced in 6 to 10 years, depending on severity and frequency of
    use. In many cases, the rocks could last up to 15 years.
  8. Do NOT use commercial wood sealers from local lumberyards or hardware stores. These are not
    designed to withstand the sauna temperatures or humidity!
  9. Contact your local dealer or Dundalk LeisureCraft Inc. directly if you have further questions or concerns regarding your product.

Available Sauna Options?
Rocks. 25lbs of special peridotite sauna rocks are included with each heater. This kind of rock is high in magnesium and iron. They can stand high temperatures and they hold the heat very long time. With proper care they could last 15 years or more.

Wooden Sauna bucket with polymer lining and wooden ladle.

120v marine-grade weather-proof light.

Wooden plaque sauna wall thermometer.

Windows in different sizes and locations.

Western Red Cedar: Benches, Floor, Door (with tempered plate-glass window), Sliding Vent, Head Rests

handle, towel rack.


3’x6’ to ’x8’ depending on how many people and how tall for the ideal home sauna

Why Cedar?
Cedar is the perfect wood for building Saunas.  The top 5 reasons include:

  • Cedar does not become hot to the touch
  • Cedar resists mold and fungus
  • Cedar does not absorb moisture
  • Cedar has an enjoyable scent
  • Cedar is light and strong

What about insulation?
Dundalk Leisurecraft saunas are made from clear-grade western red cedar or knotty red cedar, depending on your preference. Both of these woods have properties that make them a natural choice for sauna construction; not the least of these is their ability to insulate. The 1½” thick tongue-and-groove planks have billions of built-in air pockets that do a great job of keeping the heat in and of handling the hot humid conditions.

Should I treat/stain the sauna?
Outdoor saunas are subject to fading from sunlight. This effect can be diminished by the use of semi-transparent protectants that can be found at most hardware or paint stores. Do not apply anything inside your sauna.

Site preparation
You can prepare the site for your sauna any way you want as long as it is stable and will drain fully. Concrete slabs can be used but they are expensive and special care is need to ensure they will drain properly. Saunas can be built on decks as well. The same rules apply. The deck must be stable and have good drainage.

The most basic way to ensure stability and good drainage is to use crushed limestone gravel. Do not use round gravel as it is prone to shifting and settling problems. Simply remove loose dirt and vegetation, and put down a pile of crushed limestone gravel where the footings need to be. Tamp and level off. Sauna cradles (in the case of barrel saunas) or Sauna Floors (in the case of cabin saunas) can be laid directly on top of the tamped and levelled crushed gravel. Patio stones can be used on top of the gravel if desired.

For indoor saunas, any floor that won’t be damaged by heat and humidity. Don’t place a sauna on carpeted floors, engineered floors, or fine hardwood. Ceramic tile, concrete, or linoleum tile or sheet flooring are all acceptable kinds of flooring for indoor saunas.

What electrical service is required?
This depends on the heater and lighting used. Electric sauna heaters are almost always 220v ac. The service is either 30 amps (AWG 10 wire) for heaters up to 5 KW, or 40 amps (AWG 8 wire) for heaters between 5 KW and 7.5 KW, and 50 amps (AWG 8 wire) for 7.5 KW up to 9 KW (our largest available heater).

120vac is required for the lamps that come with our saunas. 15 amps and AWG 12 wire should be fine for them.

Can you custom build a sauna?

In some cases we can customize your sauna, barrel saunas are only available in 6’ or 7’ diameter, however to can modify the length of your barrel sauna if requested. Indoor Cabin or Log Style saunas can be to specific sizes. There will be extra costs for these custom saunas.

Does the sauna need a floor drain?
A floor drain is not necessary in a indoor sauna. While some may argue that a floor drain is useful for cleanup, it is not really necessary to use so much water during cleanup that a driain is required. A damp sponge with a diluted mild detergent

If, on the other hand, you were thinking that you might need a drain because of the amount of water you like to pour on the rocks, it’s up to you, but be warned that this amount of water not only cools off your rocks to give you less steam, but it will shorten the life of your rocks, your heater, and ultimately void the heater warranty.

The amount of water put on the rocks should only be enough to create a bit of steam to increase the humidity to about 30% to aid perspiration, not enough to pour down onto the electric heating elements and onto your floor. If it comes out the bottom, it’s too much!

Outdoor Barrel Saunas come with a pre-drilled hole in the bottom stave to get rid of any water getting inside the sauna and for easy clean up of your barrel sauna.

Wood-burning heat vs. Electric heat Obviously, if electrical service is not available, you’ll have to look to an alternative heating source. Our wood-fired heaters will heat the largest of saunas in the coldest weather. If 220vac electrical service is available, it’s nice press a button or turn a knob to get your sauna going.

How long will it take to heat up?
Since the efficiency of heating is directly associated with construction and ventilation. Since we’re discussing Dundalk LeisureCraft saunas, we’ll just say, as a rule of thumb, it should take about 20 minutes to warm up to 80°. It will take longer the colder the surrounding air is and the higher the wind in the case of outdoor saunas.

There is a debate over where this topic should be included in this section, or under construction,

Health Benefits?
Most people who have spent time inside a sauna know that relaxing in a sauna feels wonderful. What many people don’t know, though, is that saunas also have many benefits for your health. There are many sauna health benefits that you can enjoy from a sauna, including:

* Stress reduction, one of the sauna health benefits you can expect from frequent use of a sauna is a
dramatic reduction of tension, stress, and tiredness. Many people feel more energized and more relaxed after a soothing sauna session.

* Relaxation of muscles. Sitting in a sauna soothes and relaxes tired, tense, and knotted muscles. .

* Improvement of the circulation system.

* Helps you lose weight. Among the many sauna health benefits you can enjoy from your sauna, one of the most exciting benefits is the weight loss a sauna can give you. Best of all, this weight loss and exercise is achieved with no stress on the muscles or body.

* Releases the natural chemicals (endorphins) in your body that erase pain, helping you to combat pain, even arthritis pain. Endorphins are the body’s all-natural feel good chemical, and their release provides a truly wonderful after-sauna feeling of well-being.

* Reduction of toxins and gentle boosting of the immune system. Many people who use a sauna say that
one of the sauna health benefits they enjoy is fewer colds and illnesses.

* boosting of the immune system

* Provides a general well-being. After a sauna, you will feel great and soothed, you will feel ready to face whatever life throws your way.



Heat relieves pain by expanding blood vessels and increasing circulation. Better circulation allows more oxygen to reach injured areas of the body and helps reduce pain and speed up the healing process.

Perspiring is part of the complex thermoregulatory process of the body that increases the heart rate, cardiac output, and metabolic rate. The process requires a large amount of energy and reduces excess moisture, salt and subcutaneous fat. Fat becomes water-soluble and the body sweats out fats and toxins.

During a 10-20 minute sauna session, your heart rate increases by 50-75%. This provides the same metabolic result as physical exercise. The increased cardiac load is the equivalent to a brisk walk. There is a nominal effect on blood pressure because the heat also causes blood vessels in skin to expand to accommodate increased blood flow.

* The Journal of the American Medical Association(JAMA) (August 7, 1981) reported what is common
knowledge today: Many people who run do so to place a demand on their cardiovascular system as well as to build muscle. What isn’t well known is that it also reported the “regular use of a sauna may impart a similar stress on the cardiovascular system, and its regular use may be as effective as a means of cardiovascular conditioning and burning of calories as regular exercise.”

Toxins such as sodium, alcohol, nicotine, cholesterol and carcinogenic heavy metals (cadmium, lead, zinc, nickel) accumulate in the body during modern daily life. The body eliminates most toxins naturally by sweating.

Heat therapy stimulates the sweat glands that cleanse and detoxify the skin. The heat simply speeds upthe body’s natural process.

Most illnesses are accompanied by a fever. During a fever, the body heats up to eliminate viruses and attack foreign agents. Often misunderstood, this rise in temperature is a natural stage of the immune system’s healing process and is one of the best ways to rid the body of chemicals and unwelcome visitors. The immune system weakens the hold of viruses and bacterial growth. Saunas induce an “artificial fever” by heating up the body but without the pains of an illness. Subsequently, the body wards off invading organisms much more easily because the immune system is activated consistently by the “artificial fever”.

Heat therapy loosens the muscles and relaxes the body.Many massage therapists use heat to provide more
thorough and effective treatment.

Heat improves circulation, expels dirt & chemicals and removes dead cells on the surface of the skin. This leads to a more soft and clear complexion.