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First a thermometer, then a hygrometer, soon there will be a third measuring instrument for saunas

Pretty much every sauna has a thermometer.

Many sauna aficionados also have a hygrometer in their saunas. This instrument measures humidity levels, which run from a dry 5% upwards North of 20-30% when we blast some water on the rocks, which creates steam, which is a critical component to a sauna (otherwise it is not a sauna).

“Sauna pros” in Finland, US, and other countries where people are nuts for sauna, can feel a third critically important element to good sauna:

Lämpömassa

If a good sauna had a Lämpömassa meter, the gauge would go up, as the heat goes up. And the gauge would stay up throughout many situations including when:

  • water is tossed on the rocks
  • many bodies settle onto the sauna bench
  • some yahoo keeps the door open for an extended time

A sauna with good Lämpömassa is a differentiator.

How do we know our saunas have good Lämpömassa without a measuring instrument?

We feel it. Can you feel it?

What makes for good Lämpömassa in our saunas?

  • A worthy heat source that produces a shit ton of BTUs.
  • A well proportioned mass of stones atop the sauna stove
  • A good mass of conductive material surrounding the sauna stove
  • Dense walls, either log or well insulated with foil vapor barrier and thicker wood paneling the better.

Why is Lämpömassa so important?

A good sauna provides dense heat. Dense heat heats the entire body. This is when the magic happens. Light bulbs and toaster ovens do NOT create dense heat. This is not temperature and it is not humidity. A Lämpömassa meter will tell you so.

Until we have a Lämpömassa meter, our best gauge is more sauna and more consciousness, and more “ahhhhh” that feels great. More about it here because Heat is not heat.

Celebrating Lämpömassa between sauna rounds, thanks to dense heat (that heats our entire bodies).

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8 thoughts on “First a thermometer, then a hygrometer, soon there will be a third measuring instrument for saunas”

  1. Totally unrelated to the blog post, but I have a question about your eBook. Does it cover interesting information for someone planning on building an indoor, toaster style sauna (electric heater) ? You focus a lot on wood burning saunas in the free content, I was wondering if anything pertains to electric saunas in the book.

    Thank you!

  2. Hi Julien:

    The fundamentals of building a sauna are the same, whether it’s wood fired or electric stove. The book includes critical experiential stuff like properly insulating and vapor barrier-ing, details on bench building, some solid floor ideas/solutions, etc.

    I think you’ll dig the book. If not, let me know.

  3. Glenn- I just finished by sauna build. I bought your book and just want to say thank you. there were 100 different things I read in your book that helped me so much. The sauna is very powerful. I love your wild west approach to building. I’m a perfectionist and your ideas helped me get unstuck several times. You were a huge help you have no idea. Here is a photo https://www.reddit.com/r/woodworking/comments/et06v8/just_finished_a_sauna_in_washington_state_burnt/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x

  4. Fabulous, Nathan… The Wild West approach came about as lots of folks in the trades can get pretty haughty about things, when really, it need not be that way. So glad you advanced and that saunatimes helped you with your sauna build.

  5. “A well proportioned mass of stones atop the sauna stove”

    Speaking of which, is there a page on sauna stones? Like, what to use, how much & where to source?

  6. Hi Brian: Yes, there is some good information about sauna stones, please use the search bar… “stones” and “rocks”.. and i’m actually geeking out with a geologist right now and hope to publish more soon (mineral components vis a via heat conductivity, etc.).

  7. Hi Glenn, I heard you on a blog with Mika last night you talking (and Complaining) about how there is a surge in Saunas in America right now and that many do not follow the “Finnish” way to Sauna. Can you enlighten me to see If I do it “the Finnish Way”. My story is that I lived in Austin and a gay friend of my lady partner was always trying to get me to go take a Steam at the Univ. Of Texass. I just figured he wanted to get me naked, I never went..well until. I moved to the Seattle in ’86 and then to one of the San Juan Islands( Washington, not Puerto Rico) in ’90 to recover from Hepatitis for cheap living THEN (not anymore unfortunately for the young hippies and those who don’t live ‘typical”). That first winter on the Island After the Long Dance for Winter Solstice, many of us went a guys place to Sauna. What the hell, a lot of ladies were going. It took about zero minutes to realize that it had zero to do about sex, but Oh those beautiful singing voices. Ends up He had open Saunas every Sunday and Wednesdays. I became regular. A few times I almost fell asleep on the 10 mile drive home and decided I needed o build one at my rental home. Now you might not know, but even being at 48-30 Latitude, the Western
    side of Washington (West of Cascade Mtn range.) is very temperate weather with temps typically 40’ish to mid 30’s for lows in Winter, plus I am Maritime which keeps things warmer in general in winter, cooler in summer. I put no insulation or Foil Wrap in my build. I never even heard of Sauna Foil until a few months ago.
    So Now to the question—-Am I doing Proper SAUNAING ACCORDING TO FINNS—
    I crank the stove up with Basalt rocks on side and top gathered from a river that runs off Mt Baker, a Volcano. I stoke it a few times in the next hour or Hour and a half. I am not a fancy guy and I have no Thermometer. I know when it is time to get in when the water is HOTTT in my water tub. If I’m Celebrating a life that has gone over the Rainbow Bridge, I often let the water boil first. So I go in and after I begin to sweat for a bit, I throw on water. , stay in for 15 or so minutes (no clock or sand timer), go out to the deck and chill for a bit….unfortunately no cold water to dunk in, just collected rain water over the head. I do 4 or 5 rounds of this. Does this qualify as doing it the Finnish way? Until the Plaque, I have had an open Sauna on Monday nights for at least the past 25 years. I hope it returns to be so again, I miss my buddys/buddets.
    I have recently joined a few Sauna pages on Face Crack and find it a bit interesting How some Finns think they are the only ones with strong History. of–hot stove with rocks and water poured over— I have often gone to a neighbors who is an Alaska Native. He calls his a Steam, but We do it just like I do at mine. I am now building one at MY HOUSE….YAY. My old one I moved from the rental to a friends house next to my next rental since the rental owner didn’t want it at his house. When I bought property my friend said I could leave my Sauna at her property where it was. Yay Deborah, and she doesn’t even use it. I am super stoked to be able to have one 150 feet out the door thoufg I must say. Takes me 20 to 25 minutes drive to get to Deborah’s.
    Anyway, when I heard the podcast I wondered what made a Finnish Sauna Finnish besides the word. As an Oh Yeah, I did once go to UT with my friend to do a steam. I knew it was all about health rather than sex by then. I should have joined him years before. I must say I didn’t enjoy it much. It was all tile, very steamy, and almost zero oxygen…not my bag. Sorry to say my Sauna Buddy/ best friend whose Sauna I went in after the Long Dance passed away 2 years ago. At his memorial, when I d spoke of our love of Sauna, I realized I had done over a thousand Saunas with him. Someone later questioned me about it and I laid it out and then they agreed I was right. When you’ve been naked with someone, man or woman, for a thousand times you get to know them pretty well. I miss him greatly and hope you have someone you hold as dear to your heart. Now if only I could get my wife to join me. She says I run it too hot for her, but this one I will have a lower pull out bench plus she can easily just return to the house when she is ready to be done. Sorry I have babbled so much, good coffee and too much time on my hands it seems—-Good Day–Texas Bob

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