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Estonian mobile sauna build with the “best leil ever”

Saunatimes catches up with Mihkel and Triin, Estonians now in Perth, Austrialia. An Estonian mobile sauna build with careful design, planning, and pandemic building. Mihkel created a mobile sauna with really great leil, löyly (loosely translated: steam). Let’s welcome Mihkel:

What compelled you to undertake your own Estonian mobile sauna build?

This type of authentic wellness has been part of my life for as long as I remember. Although I grew up in Estonia with saunas being an important part of our culture, I had no idea why are our neighbours (Finns) are that mental about the löyly, which we call LEIL in Estonian.
My life brought me to Western Australia, and I found out it actually can be a challenge to find a decent public sauna (by Nordic standards) e.g. where you’d be able to at least toss some hot water onto the hot rocks to get the air moving. Down the road, one day Google searching about boosting one’s immune system, I came across an interview on tremendous health benefits from regular use of a proper sauna. This led me to Dr. Laukkanen’s study and Dr. Rhonda Patricks’ research. It all made sense and I knew my own search for a real sauna here is done. Since couple of other things lined up right, I decided to build the sauna myself.
planning out the sauna build
Journey of 1,000 kilometers: planning out the sauna build

How did you find saunatimes and give us a few examples where the DIY ebook helped you out with your Estonian mobile sauna build

Once I discovered the world of podcasts, I thought that there has to be some serious podcasts on the sauna topic, too. Thank you, Glenn! The ebook is packed with good advice. One of the best I liked was the idea of a candle window – what an ingenious simple thing. Also, my sauna has a fair size window on the eye level and after sunset having the candle on it allows you to see outside yet adds some privacy with reflection of the glare on the glass blocking the view from outside into the hot room.

sauna stove with innovative water basin

What were the biggest 1-2 challenges for your sauna build?

Thanks to the help from my friends, my support team and youtube, these few challenges turned into lessons and developed new skills and knowledge. I totally enjoyed at least 95% of it.

Tell us something specific about your Estonian mobile sauna build that makes you especially proud

My partner Triin, who is also from Estonia, told me it is the best LEIL she had ever experienced. That is the highest reward I personally could have hoped for.

the water basin atop the sauna stove

Any regrets or do overs?

None. Do it once – do it right! Take your time and think it through. Do overs can be quite expensive. Even the daunting amount of time spent on planning was totally worth it.

door treatment for sauna

If you bring a mobile sauna anywhere in the world, where would you like to go and sauna?

I am going to take my sauna to nature either to the ocean or other spots with water nearby for possible plunge to get most of the authentic wellness which actually is an absolute bliss even in the warm climate as it is in WA during summer.

Your podcast (which I binge listened from the beginning) sparked the idea, your ebook nudged me to right direction and I’m happy to say that my “pandemic time project” got sort of ready (never ending, right!?) yesterday. I am really pleased with the results. And, please accept the title of  “The Godfather of my Sauna” and consider being welcome anytime to my sauna for the future. Again, thank You for sharing your beautiful wisdom! 

Hüva Leili!

Once again – thank you Glenn for sharing your beautiful wisdom!

With best regards,
Mihkel Juursalu

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mihkel has just recently started an Instagram page. Updates are on the way and we can be reached via Instagram @nordesauna. Always open for interesting projects!

outside the mobile sauna, Perth Australia
Mihkel and Trinn outside their new hand built mobile sauna

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10 thoughts on “Estonian mobile sauna build with the “best leil ever””

  1. Hi Glenn,

    My spouse Brenda recently purchased your book as a Xmas gift for me (sauna at the cabin). Everything appears to be great but I am having a bit of trouble accessing the information (I do not own Microsoft Word).

    Have you considered self-publishing on Amazon? I recognize that you give up a bit of your profit but: 1) you might increase sales by expanding the universe of potential buyers; and 2) i) Kindle e-books are easy to access; ii) reflect the form in which many, many people now read, and iii) allow easy access to your advice while at the lumber yard, the build site or on the go.

    Just a thought!

    Best regards,
    James Anderson (fellow Minnesotan)

  2. Hi James:

    Thank you for this feedback! As a fellow DIY enthusiast, you may relate to the DIY nature of self publishing via DIY methods, but you’re absolutely spot on with self-publishing through Amazon. We are working on exactly this.

    For now, please note that within the folder, the entire book is accessible via a pdf file called “complete book as pdf.” It prints on 45 ish pages, text only. I understand that this may be a step backwards for you, as a Kindle user, but it is a way to get the content off of a screen and in physical form.

    Thanks again, James. Great of you to offer this advice, as a friendly, helpful Minnesotan!

  3. Hi Glenn.

    I love the website and podcast. Your e-book has been invaluable in getting me prepped for my build. I break ground in June of this year. I purchased your book in 2019, so it didn’t include a 3D .skp file. Is it possible for you to share that with me? It’ll help me to work out my window placement.

    Keep up the great work!

  4. Hi Mike,

    Warmed to know that my ebook and other shenanigans have been helpful for you with your authentic sauna build.

    I’m emailing you separately with access to the 3D file.

    Window placement: as mentioned in the book, be thinking about the cardboard cut out method. Gets us thinking closer to actual vs. virtual. (as some things look better in real life than on paper).

  5. I’m interested in buying or building a sauna that will get to temperatures of 170-200. Any suggestions on brand names?

  6. Hi Glenn,

    First, thank you so much for making this page, it is the best sauna encyclopedia I found. I have a range of questions so apologies for throwing them all at once. Me and my friends are building a mobile sauna, on a small 2.4 X 1.5 m trailer. We want to have wood burning stove which is located just to the right of the door (to have an L-shaped bench inside).
    1. As the stove is just next to the door, would you make one of the windows open-able as a safety exit?
    2. As this is a mobile sauna, would you put an insulation under the sauna floor or no need?
    3. We want to have a slightly arched roof. Do you think making wooden arches to support the roof is ok, or you would make it metal/steel? The rest of the skeleton will be wooden
    4. What do you think about stoves loaded from outside?
    5. Looking at the wall cross section: we want to have outside cladding, air gap, moisture stopping membrane, plywood, insulation and the inside cladding. Would you also put a membrane between the inside cladding and the insulation so have two membranes or no need? Or maybe no membrane at all?
    6. Most of your designs have very few windows. Do you think windows in sauna are not necessary as you loose a lot of heat?

    Thanx a lot for sharing all these information

    Magda

  7. Hi Magda:

    1. stove location in mobile. I’ve been a stubborn mule to orientate the design such that the stove sits over the axle. We use the Kuuma, 375 lbs. plus a ton of rock, so balancing the trailer is critical. Further, the stove over the axle means less bouncing.

    2. I think blowing in under the frame of a mobile is a good move. My opinion.

    3. Slightly arched roof. I like it! and if you can use metal rafters/studs vs wood, all the better. We have to be very sensitive to weight, and put the weight into things that count (eg. #1 above).

    4. Generally speaking, i’m a fan of inside feed. Especially with efficient burning stoves like the Kuuma. One is not trudging wood in and out too often, and 100% of the heat produced by the stove is used to heat the sauna. Further, an outside feed is tricky as the stove is integrating with the wall and bouncing down the road may stress the wall. Ie, stove integration may be a challenge.

    5. No two membranes. We never want to have two vapor barriers (trapping of moisture). From inside out, the default way to roll is cedar, air gap or no, foil, walls/insulation, exterior cladding.

    6. I like windows. I like transom windows as they offer sight lines and Nature in the hot room, and also provide privacy for sauna in the public domain.

    Hope this helps!

  8. Hi Glenn,

    I devoured your e-book a few months back. I bought a horse trailer today that is destined to become a sauna and so will have to poke my nose back through it, there are a lot “firsts” in my future. I was wondering if you had any thoughts about sheep wool or hemp insulation. They are supposedly a better choice from an environmental point of view and seem to be pretty popular amongst the van-living and tiny house crowds. Wonder if you’ve had any experience/thoughts.

    Grateful for all your hard work.

  9. Hi Marty,

    Thanks for the warmth, and kind words.

    Regarding sheep wool or hemp insulation, well, if you saw our refrigerator you’d know that we are kindred spirits with you towards more sustainable, natural products. But when it comes to insulating a horse trailer, I recommend spray foam. Yes, spray foam, that yellow gewy multi-syllabic chemically product not allowed within 250 yards of a health food store.

    Why the incongruity? Well, I went deep with researching spray foam. And yes, it can be yucky when you spray it on, and potentially off gas during application. But I sleep better at night knowing that spray foam is very stable once cured. Further, my method of foil, then self tapping firing strips, then t&g, in my view, ensures a complete thermal envelop between the sauna bather and the spray foamed cavity behind the foil vapor barrier.

    And the advantages of spray foam is that it helps strengthen the metal horse trailer shell, while also giving a little flex for when you’re bouncing down the road.

    Lastly, I understand if you’re not sold on above, Marty. The important thing is that you are cool with whatever material you introduce within the sacred space of your hot room. So, ultimately, this is your decision as I’m wishing you good vibes and sanctity within your sauna!

    Let me know how you make out,
    g.

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