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Aaron's rustic smoke sauna

A savusauna enthusiast lets out all the smoke from his smoke sauna, and feels great describing the process

Guest post series continues.  Welcome Aaron, from Finland.

Hi Aaron.  So Approximately how many smoke saunas (savusaunas) have you taken in your life?

Roughly 50 to 75 times.  And conventional saunas  3-5 times a week

The conventional saunas: how many wood burning vs electric?

Mostly electric -3-5 times a week

In your experience, how you describe the functional difference (feel) of a smoke sauna to a wood burning sauna?

Smoke sauna is softer, better smell.

If you blindfolded a sauna enthusiast, maybe yourself, and led into two saunas side by side, one a smoke sauna and the other a kick ass wood fired sauna, could you tell the difference?  How would you describe the differences?

Wood fired has sharper heat, hear the fire crackle. Smoke sauna is more smoother, less sounds, “smoky smell” you can last longer in a smoke sauna.

three thickness of smoke sauna log available. 2.5inch- 5.5inch about.

You mentioned to me that your smoke sauna takes 4-5 hours to get up to temp. I take it that you are repeatedly adding wood.  if you had to guess, how many pieces of firewood for a savusauna sauna session? 

Approximately 2-6 ft2  -Larger the stove more stones, longer heating period, longer sauna time. 

Smoke sauna blueprints

Please describe for us your savusauna process, from the lighting, heating, venting, all the way to the sauna bathing itself.

  1. Start fire.
  2. Add wood.
  3. When its hot enough, let fire die down. take out excess ashes.
  4. Wait 15-30 min. throw water on rocks to rinse them.
  5. Sweep/clean benches.
  6. Get water buckets and butt towels.
  7. If dark light candles.
  8. Sit down, enjoy and throw water on rocks.
  9. Take little break, drink coke.
  10. Wash up.
  11. Dry up.

Tell us a little about the rocks, the venting, your stove, or is a better term your fire pit inside the sauna room?

A savusauna should have good sauna rocks, all don’t do. bad smell etc. My floor has cracks to let in abundant air. Stove is just a 50 gal barrel. filled with rocks, small firebox, few bricks on side, heavy duty metal bars to hold up rocks.
Smoke sauna and vihta (birch branch wisk).

A decent wood fired sauna stove doesn’t emit much, if any, smoke once the heat chamber is up to temp.  Does a savusauna emit smoke the entire time?

In my sauna the smoke always rises, emits. its the beauty of it all.

What considerations would you advise for anybody looking to build their own smoke sauna ? 

Buy it from Finland. Find instruction on the net. smoke saunas are usually made of heavier/thicker material.  My smoke sauna was made from the logs of an older smoke sauna that was made from the logs of an very old house.

It is small and very “rustic” looking.

Aaron’s rustic smoke sauna

The hot /steam room is about 6x6ft. (seats about 4 ) dressing/washing room about the same. It has a very simple 50 gal metal barrel with a small brick stove inside, filled with rocks.  Smoke goes out the door and and a small hole in the back wall.

It takes about 4-6 hrs to heat it up, depending on outside temperature and how long you it hot/how many people/rounds.  We built it some 15 years ago. more use in the summer time , maybe once a week.  Now in the winter time more rare.  Actually we got our indoor electric sauna rebuilt so, we have been using that almost daily.  A good friend of mine built a smoke sauna about 20 years ago. In the first years he heated it up almost every day.

One local log house company manufactures log houses /saunas. they have real nice models that can be used as smoke saunas.

Savusauna 3d design

In my sincere opinion the world would be a much better place if everyone could take a smoke sauna at least once a week!  By the way the latest UN report on happiness puts Finland at number one!

A real wood burning Finnish sauna is great. but a real smoke sauna is an experience second to none.

The regular smoke sauna has no chimney so the smoke slowly seeps through the rocks and goes out.

Smoke from the smoke sauna

Ancient Finnish Alchemy

The discovery of Löyly
Over a thousand years ago…
The Finns found the perfect fusion of the Classic Elements; Earth, Water, Air and Fire!  (Fission is the splitting of the Uranium or Plutonium atom to create nuclear energy, but it is expensive and dangerous?)

The Finns built their smoke sauna to produce the magical fusion.  They discovered that by creating a (Fire) by burning wood in a stove with rocks (Earth) in a log building with appropriate ventilation (Air) and pouring (Water) over the rocks creates a source of energy and power that relaxes and refreshes the weary body and soul.
Throwing water on the rocks heated with dry wood from the Finnish forest produces “Löyly” (something vaguely similar to steam…)

Generation after generation, never a break.  Currently that act is carried out by 99% of the Finns every week, at least once, throwing water on the rocks.

There are a little over 5 million Finns Over 2 million saunas.  First the chimneyless sauna, aka smoke sauna, the original then the wood burning “traditional” sauna.  Now there are electric and special types of saunas (they don’t actually produce the “original quality“ Löyly

There must be a reason for taking a sauna so often.  Ask any Finn, they will tell you, it relaxes you, relieves stress.  You can forget the problems of the day… Can this be one of the reasons why Finland won the UN’s World Happiness Country award?

Now you can own a part of Finnish history, health and culture, and you too can be happy,
refreshed!  A smoke sauna, the original, is coming to America! To your backyard!  Ask your local authorities about sauna building regulations!

Aaron smiling ear to ear,, getting ready for savusauna session.

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4 Comments on This Post

  1. I find savusauna interesting on many levels. One of which is that many consider smoke to be dirty. Thanks to centuries of savusauna, Finns are surely wired differently.

    Part of the savusauna process, as mentioned above, is to let the fire die down and vent the smoky air out of the sauna, but even after wiping down the benches and such, isn’t there smoke residue all around?

    Is smoke our friend, and do I need rewiring, or just an attitude adjustment?

  2. Smoke is a good friend. People love smoked fish etc. Some even smoke! 🙂
    Some cover the benches with newspaper and then remove them and burn them next time around.
    The walls are black of smoke but you don’t have to touch the walls. 🙂
    After the room has been aired out, the air is clean, fresh and relaxing.

    There are several sauna stove manufactures that make a hybrid stove! The smoke goes through the rocks and then up a chimney. Lots of rocks. Keeps the heat for a longer time.
    no smoke in the room unless you want to get the original feel.

  3. #9. “Take little break, drink coke”.??
    Why coke? Beer or water is better.
    Coke is not part of sauna culture.

  4. Yes, we drink Coke anyway.
    Some Finns drink beer, sometimes too much.
    Water is the best.
    Old Finnish saying “vesi vanhin voitehista”
    Water – the oldest of medicines.

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