Finnish Sauna History
The sauna originated in Finland, a country in the northern part of Europe. The Finnish sauna was invented about two thousand years ago. The sauna is thought to have originated from pits dug into a slope. Over time the sauna evolved into a log cabin with a fireplace and high benches. Up until the end of 19th century, it was common practice to give birth in a sauna. Sauna was often the cleansiest place in the house. Spiritual healers and shamans used the sauna to give blood letting and spiritual treatments to cure the ill. Since then, the sauna has further evolved into an integral part of the house. Sauna is still considered a sacred place guarded by the sauna elf. The sauna elf will punish those who act inappropriately in a sauna.
Separate sauna house’s
Sauna cabins are documented as early as 12th century. Once the separate sauna houses became popular, they were primarily smoke saunas. There would not be a chimney leading the smoke out, rather only a hole in the roof. The smoke was an integral part of the heating process. Before a Sauna session was to begin the smoke would be ventilated out of the Sauna. The smoke not only brought a very aromatic and pleasant scent but also the soot kept the sauna sterile from bacteria. Until the late 19th century the smoke sauna was the only sauna to be found. But the smoke sauna had its disadvantages. For instance, the heating took quite some time as well as cleaning the soot proved troublesome. These saunas would also frequently burn. Today smoke saunas are scarce but can still be found in rural areas and in high quality hotels to be enjoyed by lucky travelers.
A sauna with chimney
In the late 19th century another type of sauna began to evolve, a sauna with a chimney. A metal casing would cover the stones capturing the smoke from the fire below the stones and directing it through a pipe to the outside. The heating itself took a few hours but the sauna session could begin right after the fire had died out completely. By 1940’s most of the saunas in Finland were of this type.
Woodburning sauna heaters
In the 1930’s a new type of sauna heater was invented. The new type had a chimney but the fire was isolated from the rocks. It allowed the sauna to be constantly heated while splashing water on the rocks. This allowed the sauna session to begin only after about 30 minutes of heating. This type of a sauna heater is the most popular heater found today in saunas in the Finnish countryside. The steam let out by the woodburning heater is much smoother than an electric sauna heater and the heating process has nearly evolved into a ritual. The scent of the burning wood and the crackling of the fire while enjoying the sauna is unparallel to any sauna experience.
Electrical sauna heater
The electrical sauna heater was a major invention in the sauna culture. The heating rods would directly heat the rocks. This helps keep the sauna clean and avoid the laborious heating effort. The electric sauna heater has now conquered the finnish sauna society and has started conquering the world !! The saunas with an electric heater can be found in hotels, swimming clubs and in apartment buildings in urban areas.
Today you can find about 1.5 million saunas in a land of only 5 million Finns. The Finns have long ago noticed the health effects of sauna and slowly but surely the rest of the world is learning about the benefits of sauna. Enjoy a properly heated sauna once and learn for yourself. Browse around and discover the saunas we have to offer for the ultimate sauna experience.