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Is your sauna stove benefitting from intermittent fasting?

light steam graphic

We’ve all been there: “should I toss on another log?”

Is there enough fuel in the firebox?  Is the sauna hot enough?  Those of us who have taken a lot of saunas often stand in front of our saunas and hesitate before throwing in a log, just to throw in a log.  We have learned that:

Our sauna stoves don’t need perpetual stoking.  Once the heat chamber is “up to temp,” we can damper down our stoves, idling at a spot of efficient burn rate.  (gasification).  No excess wood: only enough to get the firebox hot and give us enough fuel for our complete sauna session.

This is like our bodies: we perform best not too full, and not too hungry.

For our sauna stoves, this means burning well and hungry for wood.  Before adding a log, we pull the coals forward because our stoves burn efficiently from front to back.

So, as we stand next to our sauna stove and ask “should I toss on another log?”  We think again.  Usually, we can get great heat for that last sauna round just by pulling our coals forward.  Once burning well, we let our stoves benefit from intermittent fasting.

BONUS:  Pulling the coals forward for that last sauna round gives us an even, resonating heat.  This is the heat that gets to our bones.  This is good heat.

not a bad final round: It’s not as hot and there’s lots of steam.
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11 thoughts on “Is your sauna stove benefitting from intermittent fasting?”

  1. For those of us that cut, split, stack our own firewood, we love doing it, but if we can take an awesome sauna with, say, 4 sticks of firewood instead of 5, well, all the better!

  2. The heat given off from hot coals is more intense and resonating than the heat given off from white flame from a fresh stick of firewood. The hot coals in the fire box are already ignited, and require little oxygen. Pull these coals forward and “click, click, click” goes the stove.

    This is the antithesis of “toaster oven” heat.

  3. “This is the antithesis of “toaster oven” heat.”

    Love it, always the purist keeping us honest, great stuff as always Glenn.

    As a “toaster oven” aficionado I have to say this sounds like an awful lot of work in order to relax though …

    Our floor-standing toaster oven (Harvia Virta Combi) has 110 lbs. of stones (2-3x that of a wall unit) that I would argue is the key to getting good even heat out of an electric unit, no stoking, poking, or coal reshuffling required. Great loyly too as all those rocks provide massive bursts of steam. Since it has it’s own internal water tank/heating element, one simply varies the humidity on the control panel between sessions. Not very traditional but awfully convenient.

    Not to bag on the purists as I appreciate the traditional way of doing things. But after working hard all day its really is nice to simply set the temp on a keypad and come back half an hour later ready to go.

    As to the light bulb closets, or God-forbid the light bulb body tents, we stand united!

  4. Löyly toward the end of the burn when coals are glowing is the best. Steam becomes more gentle, not harsh as can be while the fire is raging. I too have noticed that temp can decline for a time when a fresh log is thrown on glowing coals.

  5. Jeff: Great insight on the Harvia. Agreed on the volume of stones being key. And interested to experience the internal water tank feature sometime. Please keep up the electro – flag waving. I appreciate your insight. I have referred many to your contributing articles on saunatimes.

  6. Hey guys, stop playing and get serious : ) Go for Kastee®, pat.pend.

    To get humidity on your desired level. Electronically controlled and sustained – just on the square.

  7. Good insight here on the art of ‘stove-tending’ with respect to the sessionary considerations of the fire output timeframe.

  8. Glenn,

    I built a sauna in the backyard this past summer(following many ideas from your e-book which was a great resource!!!) and purchased a Kuuma Wood-Burning Stove. I can say that I have been VERY pleased as my wife and I are in there at minimum 4 days a week and sometimes 5 when time allows. According to Darryl Lampa he discourages running it wide open to heat it up for too long as it can damage the stove. I generally start it wide open with ash pan open too for 5 minutes or until I get a raging fire and then I’ll close the pan and drop air intake to about 1/4 open while I go and work out. We like to get out there around the 1 1/2 hour mark(sometimes longer) and it’s generally 160’s-170’s or higher(if I used too much wood). Any suggestions on heating the room up quicker without keeping things open too long on days I don’t go workout?

  9. Glenn, not only do we have the same first name, but we have lots in common with regards to our sauna habits and lifestyle.

    Regarding heating up the room quicker, yes, I do have a few tips for you:
    1) upside down fire. Never thought this could be something, but it is very much right side thinking.
    2) ash pan open. Exactly as you say. Yes, it is in breach of the Daryl Lamppa “safety first” doctrine, but only 5 mins. or so is fine because we are out there watching over things (and splitting wood or tidying up getting ready for sauna action).
    3) damper/air intake. Try leaving it open/up all the way for 30 minutes or so. Then, the hot room should be about 150f. ish. After that, pull the coals forward, toss a ‘yule log’ in and damper it down to half way, and you’ll hear the tick tick of things really heating up, as the counter-intuitiveness of less air into the fire box actually keeps more heat within the stove.

    I’ve been working my Kuumas hard since 1996 and 2003 and my only concern, after all these years, is who will get my Kuumas after I leave this earth, as these stoves aren’t showing any signs of stopping. Bonus, check my interview with Daryl Lamppa, if you haven’t yet!

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