Sauna facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Smoke sauna
A Sauna, in Finland, from outside
Sauna 2
Inside a modern Finnish sauna

A sauna is a small room or building that is made hot. The heat of a sauna is calming and makes the person using it sweat. This is believed to help people be more healthy though it causes stress on the body by overheating. Today many countries and groups of people have different ways of heating and using a sauna. The temperature is often 80°C in Finnish saunas. The heat can be more than 100°C. Finnish and Swedish saunas have lower humidity (the air is less wet) to make this high heat comfortable.

The Turkish hammam has a high humidity (the air is more wet) and a lower temperature.

Today saunas can often be found at hotels and places for sports and exercise. In Finland, they are more common and are also often in private apartments and office buildings.

In almost every house in Finland they have a sauna.

Common rules for public saunas

In some cultures, swimsuits must be worn in a sauna. In other cultures swimsuits are not be worn. Swimsuits are more often worn when men and women use a sauna together. Some saunas are only for men, or only for women. Some places have fixed times when each gender can use a sauna. Private saunas may have their own rules.

Use

IKI-Kiuas Oy, sähkökiuas 10 kW
A modern stove
Tulikivi Nuoska Sauna Heater
Interior of a modern home sauna in Finland
Wuppertal - Schwimmoper 57 ies
A small pool

A steam sauna can take 30 minutes to heat up when first started. Some users prefer taking a warm shower beforehand to speed up perspiration in the sauna. When in the sauna users often sit on a towel for hygiene and put a towel over the head if the face feels too hot but the body feels comfortable. In Russia, a felt "banya hat" may be worn to shield the head from the heat; this allows the wearer to increase the heat on the rest of the body. Most adjustment of temperature in a sauna comes from,

  • amount of water thrown on the heater, this increases humidity, so that sauna bathers perspire more copiously.
  • length of stay in the sauna
  • positioning when in the sauna

Heating caused by direct radiation will be greatest closest to the stove. Heating from the air will be lower on the lower benches as the hot air rises. Provided the sauna is not crowded, lying on a bench is considered preferable as it gives more even temperature over the body. Heating caused by fresh steam can be very different in different parts of the sauna. As the steam rises directly upwards it will spread across the roof and travel out towards the corners, where it will then be forced downwards. Consequently, the heat of fresh steam may sometimes be felt most strongly in the furthest corners of the sauna. Users increase duration and the heat gradually over time as they adapt to sauna. When pouring water onto the heater, it will cool down the heater, but carry more heat into the air via advection, making the sauna warmer.

Perspiration is a sign of autonomic responses trying to cool the body. Users are advised to leave the sauna if the heat becomes unbearable, or if they feel faint or ill. Some saunas have a thermostat to adjust temperature, but management and other users expect to be consulted before changes are made. The sauna heater and rocks are very hot—one must stay well clear to avoid injury, particularly when water is poured on the sauna rocks, which creates an immediate blast of steam. Combustibles on or near the heater have been known to result in fire. Contact lenses dry out in the heat. Jewellery or anything metallic, including glasses, will get hot in the sauna and can cause discomfort or burning.

Temperature on different parts of the body can be adjusted by shielding from the steam radiator with a towel. Shielding the face with a towel has been found to reduce the perception of heat. It may be advisable to put an additional towel or special cap on the hair to avoid dryness. Few people can sit directly in front of the heater without feeling too hot from radiant heat, but their overall body temperature may be insufficient. As the person’s body is often the coolest object in a sauna room, steam will condense into water on the skin; this can be confused with perspiration.

Cooling down is a part of the sauna cycle and is as important as the heating. Among users it is considered good practice to take a few moments after exiting a sauna before entering a cold plunge, and to enter a plunge pool by stepping into it gradually, rather than immediately immersing fully. In summer, a session is often started with a cold shower. Therapeutic sauna has been shown to aid adaptation, reduce stress hormones, lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular conditions.

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Sauna Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.