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Wet noodle syndrome: what it is and how to “just say no”

light steam graphic

The wet noodle syndrome can happen on the sauna bench. After throwing water on the rocks, and steam passes, and then: “uh oh!”, you don’t feel hot anymore. Instead, your skin feels clammy and wet. Further, no heat is penetrating into your body.

In this moment, we are not in a good place. We throw more water, but the stove can’t take it. Steam sputters. The steam is warm sticky wet with no decent heat behind it, to take its place.

Wet Noodle Syndrome has no place in our saunas.

Wet Noodle Syndrome is no bueno. Not just because it feels “unfulfilling,” but because we can easily catch a cold from this microclimate. I have caught chills and then a cold one too many times because of Wet Noodle Syndrome Not from my cabin or backyard sauna, where I have complete control of the action, but while experiencing sauna in the public domain, needing a spring jacket while on the bench, then recoiling, trying to warm my body as wind blows with wet hair and a parking lot conversation going too long.

5 main causes for Wet Noodle Syndrome:

  1. A poor effort keeping the fire rocking in the sauna stove. (bad or wet wood, stoking stove neglect, etc.).
  2. A lame sauna stove (a little engine that can’t).
  3. Too many bodies coming and going into and out of the sauna. (messing with the microclimate).
  4. Somebody opening the hot room door and talking stupid with the door open, letting out the heat.
  5. Too big of a hot room.

5 cures for the 5 main causes

  1. Keep extra logs in the hot room. Toss them in.
  2. Use a kick ass sauna stove.
  3. Limit the number bodies vs profit or party maximization.
  4. Issue a yellow card for open door chatter.
  5. Consider de-massing your hot room. More here.

Ways to know if your microclimate is subject to Wet Noodle Syndrome

  1. Condensation on the windows in the hot room*.
  2. You feel a chill on the bench
  3. You are dripping with what you think is sweat, but upon further review: it is mainly just moisture condensing on your skin.

* “If the windows steam up, it ain’t hot enough” – Jeff Pyzyk, thermal soul brother.

I have found my way down the dark road of Wet Noodle Syndrome. Even though I know my sauna stove well, and have taken thousands of saunas, it has happened to me. In addition to always having a few logs in the hot room, I am always in stumbling distance to kindling, like a Bob Marley fan is to his stash of mostly legal libation.

Sometimes we need this higher level of consciousness and CPR to ward off Wet Noodle Syndrome.

condensation on window glass
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