history of the sauna

Stress is one of the greatest killers of our time, because it silently and discreetly causes disease. Although it did not exist as openly in the past as it does today, people have always felt anxious at some point in their lives. Life has definitely changed over the last few decades, what with keeping up with the Jones' and such, so it is imperative for people to change their ways in order to avoid becoming a victim of stress.

While many things can't be changed, like dealing with traffic and long commutes, a stressful job and a terrifying boss, there are things that can be done to release much of the mounting stress. Enjoying a sauna session, for example, is one way to go about it. A sauna, as you may already know, is a room constructed of wood, where people sit or lay down to experience dry or wet heat sessions, with temperatures ranging between 70 °C and 100 °C. This excessive heat relaxes the user, through perspiration.

The History of the Sauna

Originally, saunas were pits in the ground in Finland, which included a fireplace in which stones (kiunas) were heated in. The wood in the fireplace burned for approximately 8 hours, and then the smoke was let out. Water was then poured directly onto the heated stones, which created steam. In doing so, it warmed up the space enough so that the clothes of the dwellers could be removed. The heat would typically last for about 12 hours. These are now referred to as savusaunas, and are still in use today, but mostly during special holidays.

Although Finland is mostly accredited with the invention of the sauna, it should be noted that there is evidence that it evolved simultaneously in various Baltic countries, playing an important role in their daily lives. Through perspiration, and often swatting oneself with leafed birch twigs, pores and cells were stimulated, and blood circulation improved. At the same time, the sauna was used by the Finnish to relax users through a cleansing of the mind, as a way to refresh the soul, and even to prepare the deceased prior to burial, in addition to serving as a place for women to give birth in. It is safe to say that the original users, be them Finnish or from other Baltic countries, understood the health benefits the sauna brought them.

The concept of the sauna changed with the times, and the metal wood stove with a chimney was introduced into the room. Temperatures within the sauna reached between 70 and 80 degrees C and the steam continued to be created as in the past, by pouring water on the hot rocks. In 1938, the history of the sauna changed further, with the introduction of the electric sauna stove. The modern sauna is extremely advance, maintaining proper humidity levels, so that users are able to tolerate the excessive heat for long periods of time. The lighting is always dim and the tone is generally quiet to allow users the opportunity to relax, unwind, and relieve stress.