Why Finns Love a Good Wood Burning Sauna (And You Will Too) thumbnail image

Why Finns Love a Good Wood Burning Sauna (And You Will Too)

Redwood Outdoors - Apr 15th 2017

Why Finns Love a Good Wood Burning Sauna (And You Will Too)

The wood burning sauna is a way of life in Finland. In fact, sauna isn’t just a noun there, it’s a verb and an adjective, and it’s been that way for literally thousands of years. Granted, back then they were so desperate for warmth that they created them from holes in the ground, but the savvy decision by early Finns eventually led to the wood burning saunas integrated into their daily lives now. Naturally, it’s about so much more than keeping warm nowadays too. Why is this? Let’s explore.

Thousands of Years of Tradition Can’t Be Wrong

When we’re talking about the earliest history of wood burning saunas, what we’re really talking about is wood-heated carvings into the earth and caves. Not surprisingly, some sources say these date back as far as 7000 BC. At this stage, the spaces were often used as a primary dwelling, especially during the colder months, and they were typically smoke saunas. These are like the wood burning saunas of today, but have a small opening for smoke to escape rather than a chimney. Some staunch traditionalists still believe the smoke variety is the only way to go, but by-and-large, the modern wood burning sauna quickly became the preferred method and has remained the most popular through the years. By about 1100AD, the first writings about Finnish saunas emerged, so whether you give the Finns credit for their earliest designs or not, they’ve still had plenty of time to make them a huge part of their culture and daily lives.

Wood Burning Saunas Carry Finns From Cradle to Grave

Being the most sanitary space, women gave birth in saunas and families gathered in them. Children learned at an early age to sit quietly and respectfully. Families even believed each one had a spirit protecting it, and as such, would leave offerings of water and porridge. (Should you see a gnome statue in one today, it’s there in honor of this heritage.) The importance of these sacred spaces carried over through all stages of life. The ill and tired soothed themselves inside them, women about to be married underwent purification rituals inside, and people would seek refuge in them during their final moments. Oftentimes, the deceased would be prepared for burial there too. While the rest of the world was not even sure what bathing was or only did so on rare occasions, Finns stayed squeaky clean because of their sauna customs. From the moment of birth through one’s final moments, sauna was a major component of life. In fact, it still is. Roughly 99% of the population uses a sauna once per week and there’s at least one per household in the country, amounting to 3.3 million saunas in total.

Modern Finns Use Saunas for a Many Reasons

Traditions are important, but Finland’s sauna culture hasn’t persisted based upon this alone. Nowadays, people use them to:

  • Soothe tired and sore muscles
  • Relieve stress and tension
  • Calm the mind
  • Improve circulation and cardiovascular health
  • Boost the immune system
  • Increase metabolic rate and burn calories
  • Minimize allergies
  • Promote healthy skin
  • And more

Love a Good Wood Burning Sauna?

We do! With such rich culture and countless benefits, it’s hard not to. If you’re ready to take the plunge and get one of your own, our catalogue offers a multitude of made-to-order wood-burning saunas to choose from, including quaint two-seaters through models large enough for the whole family.