Summer saunas mean Hippopotamus style hanging out. And here’s A guest post from Miller, reviewing matters on a summer day in his backyard sauna. Check out Miller’s start to Finnish sauna build experience HERE.
When mowing the lawn or performing any other arduous task in the baking summer sun, a few rounds in the sauna may be the furthest thing from your mind…but sometimes it’s just what the body needs. Don’t think of the sauna as just another winter tool, one that is put away each year with the hat and gloves. The benefits of the sauna can be enjoyed year round. Here are some thoughts on sauna in the summer for those that have not yet indulged:· Don’t skimp on between-round cool downs. In the winter, a small dousing of water and a few minutes standing in the crisp, winter air is often all that is necessary to adequately cool the body in preparation for the next round. Not so in the summer. Your body can’t radiate away excess heat in the summer nearly as fast as it can in the winter. You’ll need a couple buckets of cold water to cool off, maybe more. Water from a hose or outdoor shower works even better. Of course, a dip in a cool lake is king but this is a luxury not all of us can take advantage of. And don’t be shy about getting wet multiple times during the cool down. I often douse myself with water, relax for a couple minutes, repeat the dousing, relax for a couple minutes, etc. Without a decent cool down, your next round will inevitably be cut short, as five minutes in you wonder why the heck you’re sweating so much.· Allow adequate time for airing out. Just like your body can’t get rid of heat quickly in the summer, neither can the sauna. You’ll need to keep the doors open a bit longer afterward to properly air it out.· Bugs, bugs, bugs! With the return of warm weather, so too return our little flying friends. The cool down routine needs some modification from the winter. The simplest technique I’ve found is to move around a little bit. It doesn’t take much, just a slow stroll. A screened porch or mosquito tent work but can sometimes feel stuffy. Sometimes the changing room is the only relief. Resist the temptation to put on bugspray. The harsh chemicals kill the mellow vibe and you’ll just sweat it off in the sauna anyway. Even ‘all-natural’ insect repellents will sweat off in the hot room. Also need to keep the changing room door closed, to keep the critters out between rounds.· Saunas and sunburns do not mix. For all the soothing and healing properties of the sauna, a sunburn is one ailment where its powers are quite limited. Your skin is injured and needs time to heal. Hot, dry heat is not what it needs. Reach for the aloe instead.· Late sun = late nights. If you prefer to sauna when it is dark out, you’ll find yourself waiting until later in the evening. One of the ‘curses’ of longer days but the best approach is to embrace it. If your sauna has an exterior window that faces west, maybe it is the perfect setup for a sunset sauna. Or maybe enough light comes in that the light bulb can stay off, reducing your electric bill.· Electric heaters don’t like summer storms. While storm-related power outages can occur in the winter, they are often much more frequent in the summer. A thunderstorm sauna session can be a wonderful thing but be prepared to have it cut short in the event a lighting strike takes out a transformer. Of course, those with wood burning saunas are all but immune to this phenomenon…· Electric thermostat and/or temperature probes may need repositioning. For electric heaters with ‘low’ temperature probes (i.e. not near the ceiling), it may be necessary to lower the elevation of the probe, especially if the fresh air intake is near the heater/temperature probe. Or the thermostat may need to be turned up. Failure to do so may result in lower hot room temps in the summer than in the winter. But how can this be?! Here’s how it works: When air is drawn in from the changing room through the fresh air intake, it is drawn up and around the heater, sort of like a chimney (the same effect exists for wood-burning heaters). The temperature probe on electric heaters is used to turn heating elements on and off, depending on the temp of the air near the probe. In summertime, the air drawn in is warmer than in the winter. This ‘tricks’ the temperature probe into thinking the hot room is warmer than it actually is. This results in heating elements staying on a shorter amount of time, limiting the temp in the room. So without adjusting the thermostat between winter and summer, the summer sauna will be cooler than the winter sauna. Sort of backwards, huh! The thermostat needs to be turned up. If it is already at the max setting in the winter, it is not possible to turn it up anymore so the solution is to lower the elevation of the temp probe. This results in the probe seeing cooler air, running the elements longer and thus making the room hotter. If you lower the element, be sure to return it to the original position come winter. Otherwise, the sauna will run too hot in the winter!
Obviously, different areas of the world experience different summer climates. The above thoughts are geared toward the Upper Midwest US but many of the concepts are applicable just about anywhere. So how about you, readers? Tips/tricks for enjoying summer sauna?