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Glenn's sauna tour around Finland

Sauna Talk: Daniel interviews Glenn, just back from Finland after 50 saunas in 12 days

Daniel has a great media mind. He’s a great interviewer and a curious person, who helped unpack Glenn’s sauna marathon in Finland.

The trip was a balance of planning and spontaneity. A lot of planning through connections made, then emails and correspondences up to departure.

Endurance: I got on my sauna game. There is no judgement with sauna. When you are hot you leave, when you are cold, you go back into the hot room.

Sauna: whatever works for the individual. What feels right, you do.

Every sauna has its own soul.

Mineral water: key to sauna survival. More than just hydration.

Sauna Water based on different body types.

Independent cultures creating common practice.

1,600 kilos of rock. The rocks become 600 degrees c. (1100 degrees f.) and glowing red.

Savusauna. 5-7 hour burn. Super hot rocks, lots of heat mass, all the smoke is released out of the room.

Glenn recorded 10 Sauna Talk episodes over in Finland. We will be releasing these podcasts one by one.

Glenn’s sauna tour around Finland
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20 Comments on This Post

  1. I like to add liquid fulvic/humic minerals (I use Vital Earth brand) to my drinking water, which is first filtered down to 0ppm with an RO/DI system. It keeps me going for multiple sessions daily, if I am feeling it. My understanding is that this type of mineral complex is much more bio-available than the relatively low concentrations of inorganic minerals usually found in water, but I’m not an expert, either. I do know that Fiji water in particular has high concentrations of silica, which does a great job removing accumulated aluminum and other toxic compounds from the body.

    This was a nice listen from the bench last night. Sounds like the trip of a lifetime! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Ethan: So great to hear from you and appreciate your input regarding fulvic/humic minerals. I too have for years used drinking water from a filtered RO/DI system.

    I always drink (and recommend) a lot of water with sauna, 32 oz. before sauna, 32 oz. during, minimum, but after most of my sauna sessions, I have for years found myself tired out (often in a good relaxing kind of way), despite lots and lots of water consumption. I have had a growing intuition that straight water wasn’t giving my body all it needs, but I couldn’t really put a finger on it.

    Until now, because:

    Finland was an entirely different experience.

    I don’t want to overstate things, but without mineral water (as introduced and directed to me by my sauna guides/pros in Finland) there is absolutely NO way I would have been able to keep up with the pace of 50 saunas in 12 days. No chance. I am convinced that mineral water was the difference maker. Not adrenalin, or the fresh air, the salmon soup, or their accents.

    I am driving my wife crazy because I can’t stop talking about minerals.

    It’s the last piece of the sauna goodness puzzle and i’m so grateful to have been introduced to it. A day with Petri Guilland, a wirey sauna pro with no body fat who weighs in no more than 165 lbs., and learning how he manages hydration with mineral water and even traveling with magnesium pills was enough for me. And seeing how he operates in and out of sauna, well that was another thing too.

    Ethan, my next chapter is to look to connect with experts in this area. I am wondering about mineral mix, based on body type, etc. My Finland experience, and such aggressive sauna action, has awoken a new level of appreciation of sauna, it’s goodness as a practice, as well as the wonderful community of authentic sauna enthusiasts.

    The endorphin rush of sauna, supported by good mineral balance in the body, is an incredible combination that has moved my sauna appreciation from a “10” to an “11”, something I didn’t think at all could be possible.

    Ethan, I just ordered a bottle of that Vital Earth mineral stuff you use. Let’s stay in touch on this. Again, thanks for chiming in, really great that you shared this info.

  3. “Every sauna has its own soul.” I love it, Glenn! Looking forward to hearing more about the sauna tour and minerology. (BTW, before starting Little Red Sauna my background was/is in geology. I’d recommend talking to other mineralogists about mineral water, etc. We are happy to nerd out with you about this.)

  4. For sure, happy to share!

    I’ve had the same experience. Replenishing lost minerals/electrolytes along with proper hydration is a game changer! I take magnesium, as well. That’s great to hear this is what the pros are doing over in Finland. I’ve found that the most effective mineral supplements will be in the form of chelated mineral salts, such as the TRAACS line from Albion minerals.

    I did a little bit of searching and found ratios of mineral loss thru perspiration. Apparently you can lose about .9g of sodium and .2g of potassium per liter of sweat, not to mention other minerals and trace elements, so it follows that replenishing this would be hugely important for sauna. https://www.thoughtco.com/chemical-composition-of-human-sweat-or-perspiration-604001

    I also have another product on the way called Genius Electrolyte Powder that I will be experimenting with. It’s great to hear what a major impact this had on optimizing your sauna sessions. Exciting stuff!

  5. Hannah:

    Thank you for this! As a biologist, familiar with minerals and water, is there a domestic US mineral water you recommend? Is there any loss of function by using RO water and adding minerals, as Ethan outlines above?

    Can you tell i’m nuts about proper mineral balance & hydration? (missing link for good heavy sauna action).

  6. Ethan:

    In the parallel universe department, that guy I was mentioning, Petri, actually reminds me of you. He takes both temperature extremes with ease. Like you, he can hang in the ice cold water longer than the average polar bear, and he is built wirey just like you. His hot room times are extended and intensely powered with lots of Loyly. And also like you, he can sauna all day long.

    Mineral balance and hydration builds sisu. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it.

    And another cool thing: what is going on here in N. America parallels what is going on in Finland, which gives me a warm feeling of commonality, as the rising sauna tide is lifting all boats, of all country origins.

  7. Ya man 🙂 Nice sauna night talk for us before sleeping here in Warsaw, Poland. The podcast was especially vivid for us because it is not many days ago when we shared the bench in one of your 50 saunas in Finland and talked about our project Saunatic that you propelled 1,5 years ago. Looking forward to listening to the podcast you made with us and the others as well! This is Jacob and Jozefina saying goodnight…

  8. Glenn,
    Can you please speak to the ceiling height and venting differences that you discovered. I’m in the planning stages and that sounds intriguing.

  9. Glenn,
    You mentioned ventilation and ceiling height as being something that you had as a revelation on your trip. Can you comment on that? I’m in the planning process and it sounds very interesting.

  10. Mike:

    For sure. Talking with a few different “experts” in sauna, including 3 different Finnish stove manufacturers, we all agreed that the top two elements to a good sauna are:
    A. Heat.
    B. Ventilation.
    The order of these two elements are: Heat first if wood stove, and Ventilation first, if electric stove.

    Fairly obvious in that a wood stove creates its own venting via combustion and principle of heat transfer (rising).

    Anyhow, venting is really simple: Generous crack along hot room door, one or two vents eye level, generally opposite wall from stove. When designing a sauna hot room, imagine you were cold air that wants to rise as it is warmed, and imagine where you’d want to go. Then vent your hot room this way, encouraging fresh air circulation.

  11. Mike: Please be on the look out for a separate, expanded post on this topic. Bottom line:
    7′ ceiling – what i’ve done for 30 years and yes, totally fine, and great sauna.
    7’6″ ceiling – I get it now. Preferred. Build a 6″ duck board step up on floor, vent hot room door 5″ (never thought i’d admit this is the way to do it, but it is the way to do it).
    8′ ceiling – well, yes. This is certainly viable and helps get feet up to rock height in tall sauna stoves, which, if I’ve heard it once from Risto Elomma, I’ve heard it 50 times.

    Most critical: 2 fists above head, while sitting on upper bench, to hot room ceiling.

  12. Hi Glenn,

    Welcome back! I’m curious to know what the average temperature of the saunas you had the pleasure to visit was.

  13. More questions (I really should have taken measurements and better notes!).

    – How high were the ceilings from the platform? E.G., when you stood from seated would you hit your head? It seems like several sauna’s were a bit less than 6′.

    – How many sauna’s had upper & lower benches. Looking through my photos about half had an actual lower bench. In most you took steps up to a platform that had the benches on it all on the same level.

  14. Gerhard: I’d say the average ranges were around 90c that’s about 194f. Savusaunas were mostly less, say, 75c (167f) or 80c, but you still sweated your ass off. I was in a couple saunas, one savu, that were well North of 120c (248f). The thing is, I could take this kind of heat. There’s something more tolerable about a bigger sauna, well ventilated, lots of dense heat, where the heat just resonates instead of chopping your ears off.

  15. yes, Walker, this is correct. 8′ tall ceilings, 54″ top bench, then 16″ to lower bench and you’d have about a foot step up into the hot room, and feet close to height of rocks. I compromise this. I’m thinking 6″ step up and 7’6″ ceiling. I’m also thinking about slanted ceilings or another way to lower stove a bit so we’re not climbing up and down after every hot round, like trying to get in and out of our seats at a hockey game having to pee all the time.

  16. Thanks Glenn. 54″ from the ceiling down to the top bench? Or the top bench is 54″ off the floor, lower bench 38″ off floor? I assume the former.

    Thanks,

  17. Yes. Ceiling to top bench is usually 52′- 54″, whatever height allows for two fists stacked on top of the head to ceiling, while sitting on top bench.

  18. Great story! This has inspired me to get going building my own sauna! I am done procrastinating!

    I have a couple construction questions, though. I appreciate your help.

    My space is in a utility space in the back of my garage; the floor is a concrete slab. The floor slopes downward, south to north, and the door needs to be on the slope. Accordingly, the door threshold, if it is placed flat on the floor, would slope about 1/4 inch from side to side.

    Q 1: I assume I should install the door plumb vertical. That north/south wall will have a noticeable slant. Is there a way I can make it look better, short of leveling the floor?

    Q2: Should I measure the sauna height at the middle of the North/South wall, and go horizontal from there with my cedar T&G? Or???

    Thanks for the help!! I am making up my materials list today!

  19. If the crack of your door is a pie wedge/angle, well, I think that’s fine. Hang the door plumb/square.

    As far as floor sloping, I would frame your wall, and double bottom plate and start your first course of t&g level, flush to floor at the short end and the gap against your bottom plate at the long end. Then you put down a trim board over the drip edge or separate from that, so it’ll hide the slope.

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