The history of the sauna

The history of the sauna goes way back. Already in the Stone Ages people knew saunas. However, they were very different from the saunas we know today. At that time a sauna was a hole in the ground that was warmed by stones. Then water was pured onto the stones and people enjoyed the upcoming steam.

Photo-Credit: anselme by Fotolia.com

Although most people today connect the sauna with Finland: Finland is not the inventor of the sauna. But the word “sauna” is Finnish, which means something like “wooden room”.

The history of the sauna goes way back. Already in the Stone Ages people knew saunas. However, they were very different from the saunas we know today. At that time a sauna was a hole in the ground that was warmed by stones. Then water was pured onto the stones and people enjoyed the upcoming steam.The sauna, like we know it nowadays, was invented in ancient times. Herodotus described the Scythian habit to clean oneself after a burial by sweating in a tent that was heated with hot stones.

More important than the history of the sauna, however, is its effect. When taking a sauna or sauna bathing alternately hot and cold stimuli affect the body. The intense heat in the sauna causes the body to expand the blood vessels in the skin and conequently we start sweating. It is the same effect as fever, the body reacts with the formation of antibodies against infection, and the sweat transport toxins and waste from the body. The cool-down lowers the increased body temperature to baseline levels.

The humidity in the sauna room is of great importance, because the air should not be too dry or too moist but still comfortable. The proper humidity is essential for your well-being and your health. Too low humidity will dry out your mucous membranes in the respiratory tract and you will feel an itching in the nose, and a dry cough. If the humidity is too high, that means there is a lot of water vapor in the air and the cooling of your body is hindered by the skin.

As the temperature increases from the bottom of a sauna room to the ceiling, it is just the opposite with humidity.  The humidity increases from the ceiling to the floor. Why can be easily explained: The fresh air is coming from the vent in the door near the heater. Through the heater, the air is heated up and rises to the ceiling, while it absorbs moisture (by infusion or by evaporated sweat). Once the air is saturated, it becomes heavy and sinks back to the ground. Via the second ventilation opening on the back wall under the sauna benches the air can escape. Through this air circulation there is a humidity level of about two to five per cent under the ceiling, about three to ten percent on the benches and on the ground about twenty to sixty percent. During the duration of an infusion these values can increase.

The more accurately we can determine the humidity in the room, the better you can determine where you sit most comfortable in the sauna. Lufft offers a wide range of precision hygrometers and climatemeters, which give detailed information about the humidity in the sauna and thus help to make each sauna session even more convenient.

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