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Is the Bucket Rinse about the best idea you’ve ever heard?

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For many sauna enthusiasts, jumping into an ice cold lake after exiting a hot sauna is the pinnacle cool down experience. When is it time to leave the hot room? Clint: “When the idea of a cold lake plunge is about the best idea you’ve ever heard.

The euphoria is universal. In Finland, Russia, Minnesota and most every place where sauna is interwoven in the cultural fabric, the cold plunge is revered. Those digging cold plunge need not have to explain terms like thermogenesis, endorphin rush, homeostasis, and all that jazz. We emerge from the cold water and just say …. “ahhhh.” (and do it again!).

4700 in Minneapolis

“Collaboration requires several people to put their oars in the water” explains Rodney Burnsmith, a key co conspirator to the emerging urban sauna installation in South Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“What’s great about the empty canvas at 4700, is that others are coming forward, contributing to the urban sauna experience in their own way” notes Glenn Auerbach, fellow conspirator.

The bucket rinse

Darren, 612 Sauna Society Handy Man and fellow sauna enthusiast, has been tinkering with a bucket rinse for a couple months now. And after some welding and tinkering and toilet bowl tank hardware modifications, what was revealed during the recent Friday Happy Hour Sauna at 4700 Nicollet Ave. S. was, well, it was a big splash of a contribution.

“This is the first day in operation, and well, it seems to be working pretty well” explains a modest Darren (very Finnish).

The bucket rinse replicates that wonderful feeling you get when you dive into an ice cold lake. The bucket rinse is a celebration of freedom. Simplicity. Epigenetic’s and thermogenesis and Sauna Study measurements all wrapped up into one.

Are you benefiting from the clean rinse after every sauna round?

One tug of the cord and “wow” you will be.

The bucket rinse water element at 4700. Another reason to celebrate sauna in the urban public domain.

JP endorphin rushing between sauna rounds under the Bucket Rinse
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16 thoughts on “Is the Bucket Rinse about the best idea you’ve ever heard?”

  1. Glen – My e mail does not seem to save files so I have, again lost the pictures that accompany your e book that I purchased. Can you pleassse resend the picture file? We just poured a concrete floor w/drain in my outdoor sauna. Been doing the electrical and now insulating. A few more steps and I can start putting up the cedar! Your book has been very helpful. Thanks, Tom

  2. Hi – I want to do this by putting a rain shower right in the sauna at the end opposite the rocks. Would that be ok? I have seen pictures of showers inside saunas but wasn’t sure if there is a reason NOT to do it. Or, I’m also thinking of putting a small soaking bathtub inside the sauna instead of the shower where I can run cold water for the plunge? Thank you.

  3. Hi Penny:

    This is a great question. Short answer: you can do it, but you have to be mindful of moisture.

    Longer answer: I prefer not to do this. Two reasons: First reason is to preserve your stove, especially electric. Excessive moisture in the hot room will take a toll on your sauna stove. Moisture is a funny thing. As a hot room cools, moisture will sit and condense on metal. Especially working its way into electrical components. My one wood burning sauna stove is 24 years old and shows zero signs of rust. Main reason is we practice the bake and breathe method for not only keeping the sauna clean, but it has the secondary benefit of drying out the hot room, and keeping stove dry.

    Second reason for not putting a shower in the hot room has to do with endorphin thermogenesis and all kinds of goodness that can occur in the garden all misty wet with rain, including the rubber band theory. Let’s consider just our skin and muscles and joints to start. As we sit in the hot room, our skin pores open, we sweat, flush our pores and this is very good for our skin. As we sit in the hot room, our muscles relax, expand, and we can stretch out. Same for achy joints. Because our blood circulates better and faster, and blood vessels expand, we are bringing attention and flow to our joints. Now, here’s the kicker, when we exit the hot room after a good sauna round, and seek out ice cold clean rinse, cool downs, our skin pores are flushed and close naturally. Our muscles contract (and feel great from this movement), our joints, especially those aching and stressed, contract, and we are known to break into a big smile as we reach for a cool beverage of joy.

    So, long answer to this is an outdoor shower may just end up being the gin to your tonic and the peanut butter to your jelly.

  4. While similar but different I enjoy a hot bucket rinse in the winter. I do not shower before or after my saunas in the winter so I wash up outside after my last round. I use a small bucket to rinse the soap off and then the remaining water of the 5 gallon bucket I dump over my head. What a great feeling.

  5. hi! i’m about to head back to my sauna in canada and want to find a good source in the states or canada for local made or at least quality birch or oak venik brooms. can anyone direct me please? thanks!

  6. I really love the idea of a bucket shower! I’m trying to decide how to incorporate this into my future outdoor sauna build. I don’t live on a lake, but I have a pool in the summer here in Wisconsin, but definitely want the ability to rinse between sessions in the hot room. I’m wondering your thoughts, Glenn, would it be ok to build a small bucket shower inside to cool down/changing room right outside the hot room? Or do you think putting that outside on the covered porch, definitely could be an ice concern in the winter though? Currently I’m planning for a 6×8 hot room, with wood fired furnace, 5-6×8 cool down/changing room, and then a 4×8 covered front porch. Thanks and I love reading all the articles and back and forth in the comments.

  7. Hi Zack:

    Bucket shower: Very doable. And I suggest outside for sure. And you’ll find in our climate that running water in winter months is very much not practical. But you can make a bucket shower, it’s a great project. Wheel your shopping cart down the plumbing aisle at Depot/Menards, and pick up the float kit for toilet. Then, run a garden hose to a shut off/transition pipe about hip height up your wall, and transition there. You can do it!

    Glad you dig saunatimes. Happy for your project!

  8. Hi Glenn,

    A few quick thoughts/questions with the outdoor bucket shower. With my outdoor sauna I was currently planning on pouring a concrete slab with a drain in the sauna and a drain in the cool down/changing room that would drain into a French drain underneath the sauna. With that said, would a bucket shower that could manually be filled in the cold season, be nice to have inside the building? Or is that a big no no, for that space and Finnish etiquette? If that’s so, I could always try to work something outside and then manually fill in the winter if we want to rinse. It seems that rinsing between sessions in the hot room is important for proper sauna and I’m trying to find a way to solve that without a need for running water. I don’t have a problem hauling a few buckets of water 30 ft. from the house to the sauna in winter either. Also, I do have “The Art of Sauna Building” book, and am a contractor who also built an ICF house like the gentleman who wrote the very interesting article on ventilation, and am wondering if I should also purchase your book or if you think I could get much more done with the full back and forth of a consultation? I love the idea of sauna, I really try to do things right the first time, and I want to try and plan the best I can, so that try to make my sauna something special that my family, and generations to come, can enjoy. Thanks for any and all input and advice!

  9. Hi Zack:

    Bucket shower:
    With your outdoor sauna, unless you plan to tie in your drain to your central plumbing, I recommend that your rinsing be “strictly an outside affair.” Most Finns are WAY big on showers inside the sauna building, but most Finns go big time when they build their saunas and install full plumbing with year round water systems and grey water action.

    It’s a matter of priorities. But I don’t think it too big of a compromise to run outdoor showers, bucket rinses, etc. and not tie into primary water, especially if a sauna is a fair distance from the house.

    I’d love it if you pony’ed up and purchased my consultation gig. Like a good tennis match, I especially like one on one consultations with pros – contractors, engineers, etc.

    I appreciate that you like to do things right the first time. I appreciate even more that you want to make your sauna something special. These are projects well worthy of good volleys. Looking forward to it!

  10. The bucket rinse is about the best idea, but we’ve added 2 alternatives. In our first year of sauna, we wanted to sauna year-round, which gets tricky when summer temps rise. We hosed off for a while, then found an inflatable japanese soaking tub at a large online retailer. I bought XL, as I’m on the tall side. We fill it from the hose – that 50° city water cools a post sauna body even with outdoor temps above 100.
    For our second summer I added an outdoor shower. I found a chain-pull valve online, and a gooseneck pipe for the showerhead. Water is from the hose; the valve & pipe are affixed to a cedar 4×4 post on a 30×30 base.
    The shower is a great shoulder-season rinse. The soaking tub allows for august saunas when everyone else is hiding in airconditioning.

  11. Just built sauna in basement of our cottage on Cape Cod. About 200 yards to ocean. No running water and no drains in basement. In warmer months we use an outdoor shower that is about 25 feet away from the sauna. But it needs to be drained in winter. Current cold weather plan is to manually suspend a rinse bucket from the outdoor shower wall and fill it manually. (Probably reconnect the nearby hose and use that to refill the bucket. When done we would have to disconnect and drain the hose again.) Any other ideas that might be more convenient?

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