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Love at first steam

light steam graphic

the authentic sauna ladder

For many, authentic sauna nirvana is achieved via a series of steps up the authentic sauna ladder to good heat. It can start with a marketing brochure or steamy instagram click through ad from an aggressive infrared light bulb closet marketing huckster.

Then, after experiencing light bulbs for awhile, many have sat upon the top bench of a health club “sauna”, staring too long at the “don’t throw water on the rocks” sign. It’s hard to break a sweat. The door opens and closes constantly. We try to block out the comings and goings of yahoos chewing gum, humming along to Lady Gaga through their headphones, and doing calisthenics and acrobats learned from the latest Wizard of Oz health guru. A deadbeat sauna.

And many never graduate from these marginalized experiences. Sauna probably doesn’t mean that much to many, and that’s just fine.

Yet, for those into sauna and all its goodness, the biggest climb up the authentic sauna ladder happens when we experience really good heat. For many, the love of good sauna happens at the first steam. In a matter of seconds, upon entering the hot room of a really good sauna, we are met with thick dense heat. Not baseboard heat, or light bulb heat(?), but really thick dense heat that envelopes us completely.

Even better, a really good sauna breathes fresh air through good ventilation. Really hot and fresh air seems inversely impossible, but when we climb the ladder to good sauna, we gain an understanding of lämpomassa through empiricism in the authentic and radiating age. Heating mass vs. air and all kinds of stuff best explained by a thermodynamic engineer, yet easily felt by those of us sitting on the bench.

Then when an experienced sauna goer hits some water on the rocks… bam. Love at first steam.

Sometimes it’s hard to describe good sauna to those settled down lower on the sauna ladder. And it’s delicate to reach down with a helping hand without sounding like a dick or a sauna snob.

But good heat is universal

Many have found love at first steam while vacationing in places like Northern Minnesota, partaking in a kick ass authentic sauna by the shoreline of a crisp clear lake. Many have found love at first steam visiting a friend who has built their own backyard health and wellness retreat thanks to advice and direction within a DIY ebook on how to build an authentic sauna. Some have come back from a Euro. trip to the Nordic regions with a radiating glow from experiencing really good sauna.

Like a candle that lights another candle, more and more people are climbing the ladder to experiencing really good sauna.

Once you find good heat, it’s easy to feel love at first steam.

The continuous heated stove at Kaupinoja Sauna, Tampere Finland

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was inspired by Andrew M.’s comment to this post here.

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8 thoughts on “Love at first steam”

  1. Hi Glenn, I’m in the early stages of planning a mobile sauna and wondering what your top recommendations are? I’m considering building from scratch as well as buying something like a voyager kit that you covered in your video (thanks for that!). If building from scratch I’d take your recco for the fish house trailer. I’ll also be need to buy a wood stove if you have any 🙂
    Andrew in Colorado

  2. Hi Andrew:

    Stove: Without question, I recommend the Kuuma. I’ve taken saunas in all configurations of wood stoves, including a bunch in Finland, and the heat out of a Kuuma is nothing less than the best.

    Trailer: The Voyageur saunas are very well built, and I helped Eric along the way, so I know the product well. I’m a huge fan of the ice fish house chassis as it allows for dropping down on grade, an awesome feature for the comings and going of good sauna and multiple rounds into cold plunge and back to hot room.

    Send me an email if you want to proceed I can order you the stove, and/or help you with the Voyageur.

  3. Hi. My name is Chris. I am building a timber frame sauna in Minnesota and i would like to build the stove myself.
    i want to build it out of fire bricks for the core and faced with standard brick. I am thinking something sort of similar to a masonry heater. I am sure all over europe there must be hand built sauna stoves like this. Only here in the US i can find nothing on building them. Can you point me to a resource to learn how to build a masonry stove for my sauna? Thanks.
    Chris M.,

  4. Hi Chris:

    Unfortunately, this is out of my knitting. Perhaps someone else is more in tune with hand built stoves.

  5. Hi Glenn,

    I’m in the Catskills, upstate NY, and am hope to install an outdoor sauna by the big pond / lake on my property, for the easy cold plunge in water, or into the snow. Time is pretty short before fall and winter, and contractors are in high demand due to the pandemic and people trying to buy upstate and leave NYC.

    While I’d prefer to build one ground up, I’m thinking it may be easier in this situation to buy a prefab sauna, but would love to chat with you first, as I’m sure you’ve dealt with this situation before.

    Looking forward to connect…

  6. Happy to help Seth, i sent you an email with my fax number, and login credentials which are not case by case sensitive.

  7. Hi Glenn,

    thanks for the article… just one thing. The Saunastove & sauna heater you are showing is actually not Suomensaari public sauna, but instead Kaupinoja Sauna. At least I am pretty sure it is. Suomensaari public sauna is different, because it is electric stove. It is also one of the best electric saunas I know there. Kaupinoja is one of the hottest sauna in Tampere… my favourite for winter swimming. Tervesin from Tampere

  8. By golly Alex, you’re right! I corrected the description in the photo.

    This was one of my favorite photos from my latest Finland trip! Agreed! Kaupinoja Sauna has amazing heat. And it’s crazy how many the hot room can hold!

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