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Sauna Talk: Mike Nordskog, author of “The Opposite of Cold”

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As we celebrate the 10 year anniversary of sauna book “The Opposite of Cold”, we are pleased to visit with author Mike Nordskog, Mike was close to between sauna rounds at his home in Southwest Wisconsin. Glenn was Zoomed up from his island lake cabin in Northeast Minnesota.

Sauna Talk with Mike, from Opposite of Cold

The sauna building journey vs. destination

The iterative process of sauna building allows us to create a sauna that works for us, individually.

The story behind “the Opposite of Cold”

A resurgence and interest in authentic sauna, particularly in the Upper Midwest.


Finnish carpentry to do the details – window molding and attention to detail.

Finnish immigrants, more saunas per mile than in Finland, Cotton, or Toivola, Carlton County.

What is authentic sauna?

Water in the hot room. Not just on the rocks, but ideally a room that you can bathe in there.

Ritual aspect that take time.

Common sense design principles, eg. two tiers of benches where the upper bench is close to the ceiling, otherwise you are leaving a lot of heat on the table.

The law of löyly – sitting on the upper bench, your feet are at the height of the sauna rocks.

Perfect Sweat

A symposium of sauna enthusiasts at Archimedes Banya. Invited by Mikkel Aaland. Authors and journalists, people from all over the world joining together in San Francisco in 2014.

Sauna is a pretty intimate thing. “you guys go over and use it for a couple rounds.” An intimate space where you are close to people.

Sweating, your body is going through a stressor and inducing a discharge.

Sauna is a resurgence but in places like Northern Minnesota, it was never lost.

The rhythm of sauna

The opposite of cold. The building allows you to counteract the harshness of winter. The counterpoint of cold.

Savusauna has their own peril. The smoke sauna is hard to maintain and keep active.

In the evening to prime your appetite and set up a good night’s sleep.

Harnessing the courage for the cold plunge.

Completely perfectly in the moment during the equilibrium moment after cold plunge.

What is most misunderstood about sauna?

You can use at your own level of comfort.

The intent of the book: to get the authenticities of sauna on record.

Reading “the Opposite of Cold” on the sauna deck, as the sauna warms up to serving temp.

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7 thoughts on “Sauna Talk: Mike Nordskog, author of “The Opposite of Cold””

  1. Hi Glenn, I’m getting ready to start my sauna build, and just bought your book. I did have a question about your French drain method. Do you suggest hooking up the drain hole to the pvc pipe (placed in rock below the shed), or just letting it drain into the ground and seep into the French drain?

  2. Kevin:

    Either system can work fine. Truth be told, drain from the hot room is often over engineered. The general flow of things is that rinse offs are an outside affair. We get some water down the drain from an occasional dunk over our head while on the bench, or an over splash of loyly, or a f*** up like knocking over a water bucket. With all these scenarios, a simple drain, open to below, can handle just fine.

    I did a pretty elaborate drain with my garage sauna. It involved an elbow, then a “T” and some rock and drain tile outside of the cement slab garage perimeter. Roots probably have collected in there and it backs up when I hose out my sauna (2x a year) but other than that, the little water there is finds its way out.

    Hope this helps!

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