How Hot Are Saunas In Finland

How Hot Are Saunas in Finland?

How Hot Are Saunas in Finland?

In Finland, saunas have a long and rich history dating back thousands of years. This Nordic country is known for its deep-rooted sauna culture, with an estimated two million saunas for a population of approximately 5.5 million people. Saunas are an integral part of Finnish life, offering relaxation, socialization, and numerous health benefits.

Traditionally, saunas in Finland have been heated using a wood-burning stove, which creates a warm and soothing atmosphere. However, in modern times, other heating methods like electric and infrared saunas have become popular as well. Regardless of the heating method, the saunas in Finland are typically set to temperatures ranging from 70 to 100 degrees Celsius (160 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit).

The high temperatures in Finnish saunas might seem extreme to some, but they are a key component of the sauna experience. The intense heat promotes sweating and helps the body eliminate toxins through the skin. Additionally, it stimulates blood circulation, relaxes muscles, and relieves stress. The hot and dry air of the sauna also opens up the pores, cleansing the skin deeply.

According to Dr. Anna-Maria Henell, a Finnish sauna expert, the high temperatures in Finnish saunas are well-tolerated due to the low humidity. The humidity levels in these saunas are typically low, ranging from 10% to 20%, which makes the heat more bearable for extended periods. This unique combination of high temperature and low humidity contributes to the overall sauna experience and its therapeutic effects on the body.

It is worth mentioning that the duration of each sauna session can vary depending on personal preference and health conditions. Some people enjoy shorter sessions of 10-15 minutes, while others may stay in the sauna for up to 30 minutes or longer. It is important to listen to your body and take breaks when needed to avoid overheating.

Moreover, water is an essential element in the Finnish sauna ritual. Sauna-goers often pour water onto the hot stones of the sauna stove, creating steam and temporarily increasing the humidity. This practice, known as “loyly,” enhances the heat sensation, elevates relaxation, and provides a unique sensory experience. It is common for sauna users to repeat the process of pouring water onto the stones several times during their session.

The Health Benefits of Saunas in Finland

Beyond the soothing atmosphere and relaxation, saunas in Finland offer a wide range of health benefits. Research has shown that regular sauna use can:

  • Improve cardiovascular health by increasing heart rate, enhancing blood circulation, and improving blood vessel function.
  • Strengthen the immune system by increasing white blood cell count, improving the body’s ability to fight infections and illnesses.
  • Relieve muscle tension and reduce muscle soreness, making saunas an excellent choice for athletes and those with physical exertion.
  • Promote detoxification by encouraging sweating, which helps eliminate toxins and heavy metals from the body.
  • Alleviate stress and promote relaxation, leading to better sleep quality and overall mental well-being.
  • Improve respiratory function by opening up the airways and reducing symptoms of respiratory conditions, such as asthma and allergies.

The Cultural Significance of Saunas in Finland

Saunas hold immense cultural significance in Finland. They serve as a place for socializing, bonding, and building connections. Sauna gatherings are prevalent in many Finnish households, and it is common for friends and families to gather for sauna sessions together. In fact, saunas are considered a great equalizer, as people from all walks of life, regardless of social status, enjoy these traditional wellness spaces.

Finnish saunas also carry a spiritual element. In ancient times, saunas were seen as sacred places, associated with purification and healing rituals. Today, many Finns still view saunas as a way to purify the mind, body, and soul. Sauna bathing is often followed by a refreshing plunge into cold water or a roll in the snow, reinforcing the concept of rebirth and rejuvenation.

Types of Saunas Found in Finland

In addition to the traditional wood-burning saunas, Finland boasts a variety of sauna experiences:

  1. Smoke Saunas: These saunas, heated by burning wood in a smoke chamber for several hours before entering, offer a unique smoky aroma and atmosphere.
  2. Sauna Ferries: Found on many Finnish lakes, these floating saunas offer an extraordinary experience of sailing while enjoying a sauna.
  3. Sauna Tents: Often used during festivals and events, these portable saunas can be set up almost anywhere, enabling people to experience the sauna tradition outdoors.
  4. Sauna Cars: Unconventional yet innovative, converted vehicles offer sauna facilities on wheels, allowing sauna-goers to explore the Finnish countryside while enjoying a sauna session.

Guidelines for Sauna Etiquette in Finland

When visiting a Finnish sauna, it is important to follow some basic etiquette:

  • Respect others’ privacy and personal space.
  • Take off all clothing and wrap yourself with a towel before entering the sauna.
  • Refrain from any loud noises or disruptive behavior.
  • Clean up after yourself and leave the sauna tidy for the next user.
  • Ask permission before pouring water onto the stones if you are sharing the sauna with someone else.


The saunas in Finland offer an invigorating and deeply-rooted experience for both the mind and body. With their high temperatures, low humidity, and unique cultural significance, they provide numerous health benefits and contribute to the overall well-being of the Finnish people. Whether you have the chance to visit Finland or experience a Finnish sauna elsewhere, embracing this ancient tradition can be truly transformative.

Jimmy Nichols

Jimmy A. Nichols is a writer and researcher with a passion for Finland and its culture. He has written extensively on Finnish history, culture, language, and politics, and has traveled extensively throughout the country to conduct research for his articles. He is an avid reader of both Finnish literature and news from the region, and has a deep appreciation for Scandinavian art and design.

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