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Water in the sauna: rocks and body

light steam graphic

How and when do you use water in the sauna?

  • Throw some water on the rocks: if you want to feel that wave of steam, called loyly.
  • Throw some water on yourself: if you feel the urge.

It is that simple.

For a more detailed analysis of water on the rocks, I found this page insightful.  It speaks about the process and benefits in more detail.   His links are not all current, but he gets extra points for cramming infrared saunas, and figuring out how to get the two dots on the “o” in Loyly.

  • cold water on the sauna rocks: more Loyly, but the rocks cool more.
  • warm water on the sauna rocks: less Loyly, but the rocks stay hotter.

What I think I love most about saunas is that there are no official rules, if it feels good do it!  having said this, here is my indulged formula for taking a sauna and water on the rocks:

Note to the reader:

I never mean to preach when it comes to taking saunas.  I hope the reader recognizes that the instructions below are merely advice, as if someone would like to know how a non Finn who has taken over 3,000 saunas enjoys it.

Round 1:

Stay dry for most of the first round, go sit in the sauna and just revel in the heat.  After 15 mins or so, splash a generous amount of water (3-5 oz.) on the sauna rocks.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh… and ride out that wave of humid heat. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh…. When the sweat starts flowing and it feels right,  usually 20 mins. or so, leave the sauna and:


  • if in winter: dunk a small bucket of water (1 liter) on your head.
  • if the hose is running: shower off (outdoor hose shower).
  • if at the lake: go jump in the lake.

That’s round one.  Your body is free of sweat and you can revel in the feeling of cool wet fresh water on your skin.  No need to towel off, let the water on your skin turn to steam and dry naturally.  Grab a beverage and chill out for a while, no rush.. just when you’re cooled off completely:

Round 2:

As soon as enter the sauna, try tossing some water on the rocks (5 oz).  The rocks have had a while to get really hot, as the stove has been humming along during your break in round one.  “psssssssssssssssssssssss” goes the water, Loyly (hot steam generated from throwing water on sauna rocks) hits you right away and kick starts the sweat.  Now your pores open up and as you chill out mentally and warm up physically, you notice that your skin may start to itch, as you shed away dirt and dead skin like some reptilian reptile, and damn it feels nice to sweat it all out.  2nd round is often the round when I’ll lather up and shave, the only time I usually ever use any product sold at Walgreens in a sauna.  When you’ve had enough of this (15-20 mins.), maybe dribbling another shot of water on the rocks (3-4 oz), do what you did at the end of round one.  rinse off, jump in the lake, only towel off if you feel the need.  Then sit down outside and chill out.

Round 3:

You’re starting to get the idea.  Maybe you had a beer while sitting in the changing room, maybe you listened to a song or two, or maybe you hung out on the dock for a bit and watched the sun going down.  But now you’re in the sauna for round 3.  No real rules here, throw some water on the rocks (4 oz.), or just heat up for awhile.  Third round is often my favorite, I just love how all my pores have opened up, cleansed and fresh.   I love how my muscles are stretched: elongated and relaxed.   I love how my mind is settled: mellow and positively pensive.  I’ll sit in the sauna, hit some more water on the rocks (3-5 oz) and ride out a nice round three.  After round three, and a shower or jump in the lake or water douse is the first time I’ll have used my towel, hanging warm and dry in the sauna.

Extra Rounds:

Sometimes, after round three, i’ll be tempted to hit another round.  If there’s plenty of heat emanating from the wood stove, and the sauna has eaten up a bulk of the humidity from round three, i’ll just hit it again.  Maybe it’s a great tune, maybe it’s a great sauna party, maybe it just feels like the right thing to do as the night blends into a euphoric session of pure enjoyment and relaxation.  Whatever the motivation, there’s no harm with 4 sauna rounds.  Often this is when I’ll try to “beat the sauna stove” as more water is introduced.  The sauna is mature, and still radiates heat, but the humidity level is at it’s highest.  The loyly is still there when you drip water on the rocks, but the sauna has given up fighting back.  You don’t have to overindulge the quantity of water on the rocks, but gently spray or pour a bit on the rocks so it all evaporates (3-6 oz.).  Great level of heat and humidity, taking your sauna experience to a very tropical level: wonderful whether it is a cold dry winter night or a long summer evening.

Some people ask me, “how can you spend 3 or 4 hours taking a sauna?”  Well, I hope the above can help answer.

Water in the sauna: if it feels good, just do it!

Don’t let OSHA regulations or health club rules hold you back.  Any sauna that is truly a Finnish sauna has a water bucket and encourages Loyly: steam generated from water being tossed on sauna rocks.  As Eric Clapton once tried to say: “Loyly, you got me on my knees.”

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9 thoughts on “Water in the sauna: rocks and body”

  1. at the gym sauna a recurrent problem, as it is shared and people coming in and out constantly its hard to keep the temperature high and most people like to throw water in the rocks as soon as they walk in making the sauna constantly wet and lukewarm… any suggestions?

  2. Myron: You’re back at it. Do you really want to know or are you just looking to just copy paste content for your own (non organic) website?

  3. Can someone explain this?

    “cold water on the sauna rocks: more Loyly”
    “warm water on the sauna rocks: less Loyly”

    If Loyly is steam, then it makes no sense.

  4. I got a question. Do these get to 80% humidity and how much water needs to be splashed? I am really looking for a high humidity one to heal and help my allergies and sinuses and it feels so much better for my body. I don’t like the dry ones much. HELP?!

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