Frequent Sauna Questions

What is a sauna?

A sauna is a room made from softwood and incorporates a heater – either electric or wood-burning – that is capable of reaching 190° Fahrenheit and up.  An average healthy individual can tolerate that kind of heat because it is a dry environment with extremely low humidity.  This is called a dry sauna experience.  However, one other integral traditional sauna component is sauna stones.  These are placed in or on the heater, and when they’re good and hot, you sprinkle some water on them to create a burst of steam.  This is called a wet sauna experience because it generates humidity.  So to summarize, a sauna is a wooden room with an exceptional heater that is capable of producing either dry or wet heat.

What is the difference between a wet and a dry sauna?

Take water.  Apply to hot rocks.  Voila, wet sauna.  That’s it.  A wet sauna experience is simply when you pour water over the heater rocks, thus producing steam. Thus, a dry sauna is the absence of any humidity.

How are you supposed to take a sauna?

Taking a sauna is traditionally a rotation of dry, wet, dry, wet, etc. with cool down breaks in between.  A cool down break can be anything as basic as sitting outside the sauna until you’re ready to enter again or it can be something as crazy as jumping in an icy lake.  However, sitting in the sauna for an extended period of time with no breaks is not recommended.  The rest is up to you.  Some say that the rule of thumb for sauna usage is whatever makes you comfortable.  The moment it ceases to be comfortable, it ceases to be the proper way to take a sauna.

How is a traditional sauna experience different than an infrared experience?

By definition, a sauna is a room where water is used to generate steam, so technically the infrared experience is not a sauna at all.  Infrared does not warm the room but instead penetrates the body with infrared rays.  It does so at a low temperature and is helpful in relieving sore joints and muscles.  The proper definition for the infrared experience is to refer to it as an “infrared therapy room.”  The wet/dry effect of a traditional sauna is a total body experience, providing joint and muscle relief as well as a host of other health benefits.

Why is a traditional sauna experience considered good for your health?

Any health benefits attributed to sauna usage are linked to the fact that sauna rooms get hot.  These benefits include improved circulation, lower blood pressure, enhanced immune system, respiratory relief, detoxification, burned calories, better skin tone, and joint and muscle pain relief.

What’s the difference between an electric and a wood-burning heater and which kind comes with my Almost Heaven Sauna?

The overall experience is similar whether heating with electric or wood.  An electric heater is standard with every sauna we sell, and we also have wood-burning options.  The wood heater will require that you vent the heater out the top or back of the room as well as provide an appropriate firewall around the heater.  Installation should be done in compliance with the heater manufacturers’ instructions as well as applicable building codes.

What’s included with each sauna kit?

Every Almost Heaven Sauna kit comes with all the pieces you need to assemble your sauna room, a heater, stones, a light, a bucket and ladle, and a combination thermometer-hygrometer.  We also have some optional accessories that you can purchase to include with your order: backrests, leg rests, roof kits, magazine racks, wooden doors, sand timers, scented sauna oils, and more.  You can inspect a full lineup of our options and accessories on the Accessories Page of our website.

How difficult is assembly?

You’re the one in charge of assembling your new sauna, although we do a lot of pre-assembly ahead of time.  All of the panel, ceiling, bench and end sections are pre-assembled at the factory, and all of the holes are pre-drilled for your convenience.  Generally two or three people can put a sauna together in just a handful of hours, so grab someone you love and have fun bonding over the building of your new sauna.  A complete assembly manual comes with every sauna.

What are the operational costs?

The unit operates on an efficient 220v heater and draws no more than 40 amps of power.  Furthermore, it only draws power when you use it.  You turn on the heater, let it get nice and hot, use the sauna, and then shut off the heater when you’re finished.  As a result, the operational costs are negligible under normal use, much like the cost of a clothes dryer or electric oven.

How long will it take to heat up?

How hot or cold is it where you live, on average?  The time it takes a sauna to heat up is contingent upon the ambient temperature surrounding the sauna.  So if you have an outdoor sauna and you live in a northern climate and it’s the dead of winter, give your sauna a little more time to heat up.  Furthermore, some people like their sauna hot and some like it blazing, and that’s a factor that will influence heat-up time too.  However, as a rule of thumb, the sauna will heat to 165F in 30-40 minutes and to 190F in less than 60.

What sort of electrical service is required?

If you are not a licensed electrician who knows how to do wiring according to local electrical codes, please hire one.  He or she will have to hard-wire the heater to an electrical source.  Here’s what you’ll need to tell them: “It will require 220v power.  The 4.5kw and 6.0kw heaters require a 30 amp breaker and 10/2 wire, and the 8.0kw heater requires a 40 amp breaker and 8/2 wire.  The light will require 110v, 15 amp service with an inline on/off switch.” (Or you can order our upgraded light with a switch on the light itself.)

What sort of ongoing maintenance is required?

Very little, actually.  If you purchased an outdoor barrel sauna, you may need to tighten the bands or add additional filler staves after a period of time, usually within the first few months.  Depending on the humidity and weather conditions in your area, the wood will either shrink or expand based on the amount of moisture absorption.  The desired effect is to have the wood expand into the bands.  To keep the inside clean, you can periodically scrub the floor or benches with a mild solution of water and baking soda.

Can an outdoor barrel sauna go indoors?

Yes.  Our barrel saunas are designed with the outdoors in mind; the barrel shape sheds water and snow, and the red cedar is a particularly weather-resistant lumber.  But it works equally as well indoors as it does outdoors.

Why did Almost Heaven Saunas decide to make their outdoor barrel saunas out of Canadian western red cedar?

Red cedar is the preferred lumber for several reasons: it is naturally resistant to rot, decay, and mildew; although the room gets hot, it will remain comfortable to the touch; it carries no harmful toxins and doesn’t cause respiratory discomfort; and it smells sweet and fresh.

How do I treat the exterior of my outdoor barrel sauna?

You really don’t have to treat it.  Over time the red cedar will turn a silver color as a result of sun and rain, but this doesn’t harm the wood or impair the sauna’s performance.  But if you wish to retain the natural color of the wood, you can apply a stain with a UV inhibitor that resists weathering.  Your local paint professional can help you pick the right one.  Note: never treat the interior of the room, and never apply paint or varnish to the exterior.

How do I decide where to place my outdoor barrel sauna?

Two rules: firm and flat (a slight taper for run-off is fine).  You can place your sauna on a deck, concrete, paver stones, pressed gravel, etc.  Our barrel saunas comes with molded cradle supports that protect the sauna from moisture when it is placed directly on the ground.

How do I decide where to place my indoor sauna?

Your indoor sauna can go on almost any surface – concrete, tile, laminate, etc.  We do not recommend placing it on carpet.

What is the warranty?

Each Almost Heaven Sauna comes with a Limited Lifetime Warranty against manufacturing defects on all components.  We will replace any component of the sauna room that fails due to manufacturing defect at no charge to you in accordance with our Limited Warranty.

Can you build me a custom sauna?

We sure can.  At Almost Heaven Saunas, we recognize that our standard styles and sizes may not suit your particular needs, so we can custom-build a room that does.