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Sauna and Steam Bath

Sauna or Steam Bath

Saunas and steam baths have very similar effects. The advantage of the sauna is that the desired effect i.e. relaxation, getting hot, flushing out of toxins – occurs a lot quicker than in a steam bath. The steam bath has a pleasant effect on the mucosa membranes, respiratory tracts and the skin.

Effect of Saunas

In the dry heat of a sauna (60 to 95°C) and in the humid heat of the steam bath (45 to 50°C) the temperature of the skin rises by about 10 degrees and the temperature of the body rises by 1 to 2 degrees. Changing from hot to cool stimulates the circulation as well as the metabolism and it cleanses the skin and body tissues. Sweating causes the blood to thicken. In order to compensate for this, water along with metabolic waste products, heavy metals and infecting substances are taken from the body tissues and transferred into the blood. They leave the body through the sweat glands and the kidneys.

Positive Effects of the Sauna

Regular visits to the sauna

  • strengthen the immune system and decrease the susceptibility to infection,
  • exercise the heart and the circulation,
  • relaxes the muscles,
  • slightly stimulates the metabolism,
  • improves blood circulation of the respiratory tract mucosa,
  • expand the bronchial tubes,
  • increase general efficiency,
  • exercises the elasticity of the blood vessels,
  • has a relaxing effect,
  • cleanses the body.

Steam bath:

  • see sauna
  • One advantage that the steam bath has over the sauna is that the saturated steam frees air passages from persistent mucous infections (catarrh) caused by chronic illnesses.

When to Use the Sauna
It is recommended to go to the sauna regularly (once to twice a week) to maintain good health.

Sauna: The Different Types of Saunas

Finnish Sauna
The Finnish sauna is the most common type of sauna in Germany. The sauna is heated by a stone furnace which radiates the warmth. The warmth is also reflected by the wooden walls and ceiling. The actual sauna room is normally equipped with three wooden benches. The benches are on different levels. Each level has a different temperature. The humidity is about 10 to 30%.

  • Third and highest bench: air temperature 80 to 95 degrees
  • Second bench: air temperature 70 to 80 degrees
  • First bench: air temperature 60 to 70 degrees

The humidity in the sauna can be increased for a short period of time by pouring water or essential oils on the stones of the furnace.

Roman Sauna
In this sauna, the air is heated through the floor (which is heated from beneath) and hollow walls. This sauna also has benches on different levels which enable one to sauna in different temperatures.

Steam Bath
The steam bath goes as far back as Ancient Greece. It is a pleasant sweat bath with a sauna-like effect. The temperature in a steam bath is between 40°C and 55°C with a humidity of about 80-100%. In a steam bath, the typical steam environment is caused by a steam boiler which generates oversaturated steam. The ideal combination of warmth and moisture not only cleanses and relaxes it also helps to get rid of cramps. Steam baths are particularly good for illnesses which affect the respiratory tracts.

Roman Bath
A Roman bath has 3 different rooms each with a different temperature and humidity. The temperature in the tepidarium is 30°C. The temperature in the caldarium is 40°C with higher humidity. The temperature in the lanconicum is between 50°C and 60°C. A visit to a Roman bath usually includes a massage after being in the caldarium.

Hamam = Turkish Bath

A Turkish bath consists of one room of hot air at a temperature of about 50°C, another room with warm air at a temperature of about 40°C and several cool rooms. One of the rituals of Turkish baths, alongside sweating and cooling down, is massaging. The visitor spends 20 to 30 minutes in the hot-air room and moves on to relax in a resting room on a heated marble stone. The visit to the Hamam is ended by the “tellack” (bath attendant) who lathers, massages and then washes the guest using massage gloves. Afterwards “rasul”, a packet of healing earth, is spread over the body and face. The “tellack” washes off the whole-body peeling after 20 minutes. After an oil massage the guest is able to relax in the tee room and enjoy drinking juices and different teas as well as eat sweet dried fruits.


Rules for a Sauna Visit

Showering is essential before going into the sauna so that the warm water can warm up the body. Another reason for showering is of course for hygiene purposes. After showering, dry yourself.
If you no longer find the heat pleasant, you should leave the sauna. Always go into the sauna completely dry.
Big towels are used in saunas either to sit or lie on. Sweat can damage the wooden surfaces in the sauna.

First Sauna
When you go into the first sauna, you should lie on the lowest bench as the air is a lot hotter on the higher levels. You can move to a higher level after 5 minutes. The first sauna should come to an end after 8 to 10 minutes, at most 15 minutes. If you lie down in the sauna you should spend the last 1 to 2 minutes sitting in order to get the circulation used to the upright posture.

Cooling Down After the Sauna
After coming out of the sauna, you should spend a little bit of time in an air-bath (outside or in a well-aired room). Exhale heavily and inhale calmly! Before you begin to shiver you should go into the cool down room! This is when the actual cooling down begins. You should cool down the arms and legs first. When you are cooling yourself down you should always start furthest away from the heart. Only then should the torso be cooled down. After cooling down with the water-hose you can go and dip into one of the cold pools.

Take a 20 minute break after the sauna

Second Sauna
The second sauna is the same as the first. You can stay in for 10 to 12 minutes.
Pouring water onto the stones in the furnace just before exiting the sauna heats the skin even more but it is not necessary.

Cool down after the sauna
Take a 20 minute break after the sauna
Third Sauna
A third and last entry into the sauna can be done by healthy people and those who are able to tolerate the heat well.

Cool down after the sauna
Take a 20 minute break after the sauna
Do not talk a lot or do excessive movements in the sauna! The oxygen levels are the same as at an altitude of 2,500 m.
Before standing and leaving the sauna you should get up slowly and do not stand quickly! (Risk of fainting)

After the Sauna

Drink sufficient amounts of water after visiting the sauna! Try not to compensate the fluid loss by drinking in between as this can decrease the excretion of toxins and minimise the cleansing effect. Do not drink any alcohol or coffee. Instead drink mineral water and fruit juices!

Sauna Rules

  • Time (about 2 hours)
  • Always enter the sauna dry
  • 15 minutes for each sauna period is enough.
  • Do not go into the sauna more than 3 times
  • Talking in the sauna not only prohibits your relaxation but that of the others.
  • Always sit or lie on a towel inside the sauna!
  • You should not go into the sauna with a bathing suit!
  • After the sauna, always cool down with cold water – never with lukewarm water.
  • Always make sure the feet are kept warm!
  • Keep the breaks in between
  • Only drink and eat after the third and last sauna!

Who should not go into the sauna?

  • fever or cold
  • acute inflammation of internal organs (pancreas, appendix, kidney, gall bladder)
  • acute asthma
  • epilepsy
  • serious cardiovascular illnesses
  • varicose veins
  • cancer
  • acute migraines
  • tuberculosis
  • thyroid hyperfuntion
  • high blood pressure (only after medical consultation)


Hot Tubs, Saunas & Steam Baths : A Guide to Planning and Designing your Home Health Spa

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