How To Use A Sauna: Traditional And Infrared

How should you use a sauna? Perhaps you have read about the health benefits of taking a sauna regularly, and now you want to experience taking one.

A sauna is a room encased in specially picked tongue and groove Sauna wood and benching designed to both hold up and be comfortable in a sauna room. The room is heated with an heat source, designed to raise heart rate and make you sweat. Heat sources are either an electric stove, a wood stove, or infrared panels. Wood and electric stoves are considered traditional Saunas, temperatures reaching up to 194 F (max temperature per US UL safety listed standards) and can be higher when using a wood stove.

Both of these traditional Sauna options include special rocks imbedded in the heat, designed for water to be thrown on them to produce steam and humidity. The heat from an Infrared Sauna works differently, it has a lower temperature. It maxes out at 149 F. The infrared panels produce waves that penetrate through the body and warm you up from the inside out. Below are typical ways to sauna in both traditional and infrared saunas.

Let’s talk about using a Sauna. If it seems complicated, it’s not. 99% of Sauna use involves simply turning it on and entering the room.

How To Use A Traditional Sauna

  1. Preheat the sauna to your desired temperature, assuming the heater is properly sized and room is correctly insulated and ventilated this can take anywhere from 20 – 30 minutes. Most people like to have the temperature somewhere between 140-170 degrees F at head level. Many newer sauna heater controls can be turned on remotely via a mobile app (if control is connected through home wifi), this is very convenient when you are headed home from work, school, etc. and you can step into the sauna as soon as you get home. If you are a person of routine, you can set an automated schedule as well. (Available through Finnleo SaunaLogic 2.0 control w/wifi). If using a wood stove, you will build a fire in the stove and allow time for the sauna room to reach desired temperature.
  2. Fill a bucket with water to throw on the rocks. Don’t use any chemicals in the water. We recommend adding essential oils to the water for added benefit and enjoyment (Eucalyptus oil is very popular).  You should also have a glass of water to drink while in the sauna. You will be dripping sweat in no time, and it’s very important to stay hydrated.
  3. Strip it down. If using a personal sauna in your home I highly recommend going in your birthday suit! There is something freeing about baring it all in the sauna. Obviously if using a public facility, you should read the gym rules, as many require a bathing suit.
  4. Pick upper or lower bench. When you go into the sauna, you will decide if you wish to sit on the upper or lower bench. It comes down to preference of temperature. Most people that regularly sauna prefer the upper bench for more heat. 1 foot of height in the sauna is a difference of 15-20 degree F of heat. There can also be hotter and colder zones in a sauna, ideally it is built and ventilated correctly, but you will learn these zones in your own sauna. You can place a towel down on the bench before sitting to keep your sweat from seeping into the sauna bench wood, which will keep it looker cleaner longer.
  5. Throw some steam. Throw 1/2-1 cup of water on the rocks. This is an essential part of the traditional sauna experience. Be warned, you will feel a blast of heat from the steam produced. This is where the essential oil comes in as well, you will breath in the scent. You should wait at least 1-2 minutes in between each steam to allow time for the rocks to heat back up, as too much water is hard on the heater.
  6. Stay in the sauna 15-20 minutes. Listen to your body! If you are feeling light-headed or unwell in anyway you should step out of the sauna. I prefer to step out or stand under a cold shower once or twice each session. It is also becoming more popular to incorporate cold plunge or ice baths as well. Using a cold plunge is exhilarating and there are multiple health benefits to adding this step to the process. Doing this allows your body to cool down a bit and spend more time in the sauna. It’s amazing how much cooler a hot sauna will feel if you spend some time in or under cold water. (PS – another fun thing to do is jump into snow or a cold lake and then go back into the sauna).
  7. Know when to call it quits. After 15-20 minutes, you are done in the sauna room. Again, listen to your body and don’t push it too hard. Don’t compare yourself to someone who has been taking sauna for years. You will get acclimated over time to the heat.
  8. Shower. End the sauna with a shower. Temperature of the shower water can be cool or warm, it’s up to you. You definitely will want to rinse off and clean up all the sweat your body has produced.
  9. Clean up. Clean up the sauna room. It’s good practice to take a scrub brush with some water to the bench where you were seated. This helps rinse off some of the sweat and helps maintain clean benching longer. Remember to shut off the sauna when you are done as well, and I like to crack the door open a bit to air it out.

How To Use An Infrared Sauna

  1. Preheat the infrared sauna to the desired temperature. This should take anywhere from 25-35 minutes, depending on the size and proper build of the room. Temperature at your head should be somewhere in the range of 115-130 degree F.
  2. Grab a bottle of water or something with electrolytes to sip on while in the sauna. In an infrared sauna you can grab a book to read (or on a kindle), or you can watch a tv show. This is not recommend in a traditional sauna because of the higher heat and the humidity produced from throwing water on the rocks. With this being said, I prefer to have nothing in the sauna except my thoughts. It’s very meditative to just sit in the heat and be with yourself. A sauna is also a very good time and environment to connect in conversation with your spouse or friends.
  3. Stay in for 20-45 minutes. You should sit in an infrared room for at least 20 minutes, and up to 45 minutes. It will take some time for the infrared heat waves to work on your body and heat you up. Be patient!
  4. Scent/Oils. You can incorporate essential oils in a small glass with some water. There is no throwing of water in an infrared room. There are no rocks as the heat is produced by the infrared panels on the walls, under the seat, etc.
  5. Take a break. Same as the traditional sauna, if you are feeling like the heat is too much, step outside the room and/or under some cool water.
  6. Take a shower. Rinse off and get cleaned up and bask in that post sauna high!

Summary: Using A Sauna

To summarize how to take a sauna. Pre-heat the sauna to desired temperature, fill your bucket and glass of water, strip down, pick your spot, throw some water, take a break or two by stepping outside or under water, shower, scrub your sweat spot on bench, shut off heater and crack open the door. Lastly, enjoy the post sauna feeling and repeat tomorrow!

Regular Sauna use is one of the best natural remedies for a lot of ailments you may be facing. They can help in losing weight, aid in stress reduction, act as a natural anti-depressant and even help improve your cardiovascular health.

Let The Sauna Experts Help You Build Your Dream Sauna.

While our customer experience cannot possibly match the feeling of relaxation you get from taking Sauna (nothing can), it’s on par with it. We’d love to share our passion and experience of Sauna with you.

We offer financing on any project.

Not Just Sauna Experts. 
Sauna Experts Who Care.