It can be said that the outdoor sauna got its present form during the Iron Age when saunas began to be made from wooden structures, and had heaters and benches. The first outdoor saunas were smoke saunas, but nowadays one can acquire a sauna to their home yard even in the middle of urban environment. Get inspired about the Finnish outdoor sauna experience!

Cover photo: Harvia Solide Compact

Hirsityö Heikkilä

Creating an outdoor sauna experience — what to take into consideration?

Building sauna in the middle of nature and close to the water takes one back to the roots of the sauna culture, but building a sauna or acquiring a turnkey one to your home yard in the city is also possible. There are many different options to choose from, depending what kind of design, materials, and size you are looking for. Take a look at the outdoor saunas here.

There are few things you should consider when starting to build and create an authentic Finnish outdoor sauna experience:

  • Do you need a building permit from your local authority?
  • Should you choose an electric heater or wood-burning sauna stove (depends on where you live and what kind of regulations apply)?
  • Is there a firm ground to place the sauna on to?
  • Is there enough visual barriers to ensure private and pleasant sauna experience?
  • What kind of view you want to see from the sauna window?
  • Which compass point you want your sauna face to?
  • Do you want to combine the sauna with a terrace or a hot tub? Does the sauna need an outdoor shower?
  • Will you undress inside the house or do you want to have a dressing room in the sauna building?
  • What kinds of elements do you need to have in addition to the sauna before, during, and after sauna bathing (cosmetics, food, textiles, scents, accessories…)?

Photo: Hirsityö Heikkilä

Ripavi Pond Sauna

Before outdoor sauna bathing

The outdoor sauna experience starts with preparing the sauna. You light up the fire in the wood-burning stove or turn on the electric heater (e.g. remotely when leaving the gym). Next you fill the water bucket, perhaps add some scents, place the bench covers on the benches and perhaps light up a few candles outside the sauna on the sauna path. Take a look at the view from the sauna window—is the view pleasant or are there objects or trash that don’t make you feel relaxing and comfortable? Can you add relaxing elements to the view, such as candles, lights, plants or vision barrels?

Leaving technology behind at this point helps to descend to the sauna mood. When the sauna starts to be heated enough for your taste, undress and wrap yourself in a soft towel or bathrobe and put on a pair of slippers. Drink at least two glasses of water. You might want to prepare some drinks and snacks to take with you to the sauna. Eat lightly before and during the sauna, but indulge yourself with dinner afterwards.

Wash off dirt, make-up and styling products before entering the sauna. Take your time when walking to the sauna. Hang the towel outside and enter the warmth of sauna.

Photo: Ripavi provides floatable saunas

Kelorakennus Puustinen

During outdoor sauna bathing

Sit down or lay on the benches. Throw some water on the heater and enjoy the soft additional heat and possibly subtle scent of Finnish nature. Focus on your senses. Stretch out or do some sauna yoga if your body needs it. Use soapstone to massage your muscles. You might want to do some beauty treatments, such as peat facials or hair masks. Enjoy the calming view from the window.

When you feel hot enough, step out of the sauna. Sit down on a terrace, have a cool drink and enjoy some snacks. Go for a swim if possible. If you have a hot tub or a cool plunge, take a shower and enter the pools. Children love to run through a garden sprinkler to cool-off. Hot-cold-alternation is recommended and leaves you with an invigorating feeling.

When you start to feel a bit chilly, go back to the warmth.

Photo: Kelorakennus Puustinen builds outdoor saunas from kelowood

Hetki sauna

After outdoor sauna bathing

When you are done, leave the sauna, wash yourself in a shower, and wrap up in the soft towel or bathrobe. Sit down and enjoy the clean and relaxed feeling. Put on moisturizing products or pamper yourself with a foot bath with wild herbs.

Cook something on a barbecue or an open fire or indulge the dishes you prepared before sauna. Serve the food and beverages with beautiful tableware. Food and drinks taste especially great after sauna.

Turn off the sauna, put the bench covers to dry and empty the water bucket. Ensure that the sauna gets to dry out completely. Blow out the candles and continue the day or prepare for a good night sleep.

Photo: Hetki Sauna

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