Frequent Sauna Questions

What is a sauna?

A sauna is a room constructed of softwood with a single heater, either electric or wood burning, that is capable of reaching temperatures in excess of 190° Fahrenheit. The high temperatures produce a very dry environment with extremely low humidity. You can tolerate the heat because of the low humidity, and since the soft lumber does not absorb significant heat, you can sit in comfort.

What is the difference between wet and dry?

They are one and the same. When you enter the hot room, and before any water is sprinkled on the rocks, it is considered dry due to the dry heat and absence of humidity. The minute you generate steam by sprinkling water on the rocks, it is considered wet. Essentially it is a wet/dry room, and the wet or dry terminology relates to the level of humidity in the room.

How is a wet/dry 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 is a total body experience, providing joint and muscle relief as well as a host of other health benefits.

Why is the experience considered good for your health?

An authentic sauna is designed to get hot, and the health benefits are generated due to the hot temperature achieved in the room. As your body heats, your heart rate accelerates, leading to all the benefits of aerobic activity. Some of the many benefits include weight loss due to increased calorie burn, improved circulation, pain relief for sore muscles and joints, respiratory enhancement due to the moist steam, and detoxification due to intense perspiration. Additionally, it is a very relaxing and therapeutic experience that helps many people reduce stress and sleep better.

Will it help me lose weight?

According to The North American Sauna Society, you can burn up to 300 calories in a single session. Weight loss is due both to calorie burn from an elevated heart rate and water loss due to sweating. The addition of regular sauna use is a great compliment to a weight-loss program.

Can the room go outdoors?

Unlike most competitors, Almost Heaven  models are designed for both indoor and outdoor use. Red Cedar is naturally resistant to decay, and the ball and socket design of the staves makes for a robust seal and solid structure for outdoor use. Additionally, the thick softwood staves are excellent at retaining the heat and the circular barrel shape provides excellent distribution of heat.

Why is Red Cedar such a good wood for room construction?

Red Cedar is the preferred lumber for several reasons. First, it is one of the few woods naturally resistant to rot, decay and mildew, and as such can readily be used for indoor or outdoor construction. Also, because it is a very soft wood, Red Cedar allows your body to be in comfortable contact with the wood even though the air in the sauna room is very hot. Unlike some cedar wood, Western Canadian Red Cedar carries no harmful toxins or respiratory discomfort. Finally, nothing compares to the sweet, fresh scent of Western Canadian Red Cedar. And, of course, no other wood has the aroma of Western Canadian Red Cedar, the wood of choice for sauna enthusiasts!

How do I treat the exterior?

The great thing about Western Canadian Red Cedar is that you don’t need to treat it. Left natural, the wood will turn a silver color over time due to the effects of sun and rain with no detrimental effect on the wood itself. If you wish to retain the rich, natural color, you should treat the exterior of the sauna with a UV inhibited stain that will resist the weathering effects of sunlight and rain. Your local paint professional can assist with a suitable product. Note: never treat the interior of the room.

How is using a wood-burning heater different than using electric heat?

The overall experience, including heat time and temperature range, is similar whether heating with electric or wood. 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. Venting materials are not included with the heater, and installation should be done in compliance with the heater manufacturers’ instructions as well as applicable building codes. Our Sauna Heater.

What sort of site preparation is required?

All of the Almost Heaven models can be used in any environment, but in all cases it is important that the surface supporting the room is firm and level (a slight taper for rain run-off is fine.) Suitable surfaces include wood decks, concrete patios, paver stones, pressed gravel, etc. The Barrel can be placed directly on the ground due to the synthetic plastic cradle supports, which create a barrier between the red cedar and the bare ground.

What is included with an Almost Heaven kit?

Each Almost Heaven purchase includes the cedar room, heater, stones, light, bucket, ladle, and thermometer/hydrometer. Optional items include backrest, leg rest, sauna roof kit, magazine rack, wooden doors, sand timers, and more. All of our options and accessories can be viewed on the Accessories page of our web site.

How difficult is assembly?

Almost Heaven kits are very easy to assemble and can typically be put together by two people in only a few hours. The unit comes partially assembled and the sections simply need to be fitted in place. The Barrel model comes with pre-assembled front and back ends and requires the staves to be placed around the ends and then tightened with the stainless bands. Bench sections are prebuilt and simply need to be installed after the room is assembled. Easy to follow instruction manuals are included with the kit or can be viewed in the manuals section of our web site. There is also an assembly video available for the popular Barrel.

What are the operational costs?

The costs of operating the electrical heater are minimal for a couple of reasons. First, the unit operates on efficient 220 volt electric and draws less than 40 amps of power. Second, unlike a spa or other household appliance, the heater only draws power when you want to use it. You turn on the heater no more than an hour or so before you want to use it and then shut it off when you’re finished. The costs of operation are negligible under normal use, much like the cost of a clothes dryer or electric oven.

How long will it take to heat up?

Heat-up time is based on ambient temperature, so the room will get to temperature faster when the outside air is 50F when compared to, say, 20F. Also, the optimal temperature varies by individual; some people like a lower temperature heat such as 165F, while others prefer a higher temperature of, say, 190F. However, as a rule of thumb, the room will heat to 165F in 30-40 minutes, and to 190F in less than 60 minutes.

What sort of electrical service is required?

The heater will require 220v power and must be hard-wired to the heater. If your room is located 30 feet or less from your breaker box, the unit will require 10/2 wire and a 30amp breaker. Over 30 feet will require 8/2 wire. The light will require 110v power and an on/off switch must be wired inline at a convenient location for your specific application. You should always follow the wiring instructions of the specific heater and have a licensed electrician do your wiring according to local electrical codes.

What sort of ongoing maintenance is required?

From an operational standpoint, very little maintenance is required. Depending on the humidity and weather conditions in your area, you may need to tighten the bands or place additional filler staves in the sauna after a period of time, usually in the first few months. This is because any swelling and shrinkage of the wood will occur due to the amount of moisture absorption, and the desired effect is to have the wood “swell” or expand into the bands. You may want to periodically scrub the floor or benches with a mild solution of water and baking soda, but other than that, simply enjoy your sauna!

What makes the Almost Heaven brand so exceptional?

Almost Heaven Saunas are hand crafted in the U.S. by experienced professionals. We have been building high quality products for nearly forty years, and our longevity underscores our commitment to quality and service. By using only high quality materials throughout, Almost Heaven is able to produce a sauna that will last a lifetime. Over the course of nearly four decades we have built literally thousands of units, which have been purchased by enthusiasts throughout the world. With Almost Heaven you can be confident of an authentic experience provided by a recognized leader in quality and craftsmanship.

What is the warranty?

Each Almost Heaven room 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. Heaters carry warranties from their respective manufacturers.

Can you build a custom sauna for me?

At Almost Heaven Saunas, we recognize that our standard styles and sizes may not suit your particular needs. That is why we can custom-build a room to your particular needs. Using our standard ball and socket red cedar staves, we can build a variety of sauna sizes and shapes for specific application.