My Sauna Page
Over that past few years I've been fielding questions about saunas. After repeating the same answers several times, I started posting the messages I received and sent about saunas and sauna building. This means if you send me a question, I may post the results here for everyone. If you have any useful information related to saunas or sauna building email them to me and I'll post them as well. I'm also open to comments relating to the content and format of my web pages.
Subject: Date: Thu, 16 Feb 2012 13:53:19 -0500 To: Scott D From: Kalle Hoffman > Hi Kalle, > > Awesome site! I just recently purchased a cottage in Northern Ontario, > which included a wood-fired sauna. Up until this purchase, I've never had a > sauna before. Needless to say, my girlfriend and I are now sauna fanatics! > However, along with being being a sauna fanatic I am also paranoid about > fires! > > One thing I noticed about my sauna versus others, is that mine has no heat > shield around the stove. The previous owner had the sauna for about 5 years > and he just suggested splashing water on the cedar around the stove (inside > the sauna). Rather than relaxing and enjoying the sauna, I find myself > stressing out about it being engulfed in flames! The attached pictures > aren't very good, but it'll at least give you an idea of what I'm speaking > of. The portion of the stove upon which the rocks sit in is about 8 inches > from the wall on the left. The back end is built right into the wall, with > a brick lining, just like the side of the stove you put the wood into. > > Am I being paranoid or would you recommend I install a heat shield of some > sort? Is it possible for the rocks to heat up enough to ignite the cedar? > > Also, one other off topic question. The previous owner also suggested > splashing water on all the walls of the sauna when in use, especially > around the stove and flue. He said cedar can dry out from the heat and > then can start on fire. Is this true? > > Thanks! > > Scott
Subject: Sudbury Ontario Sauna Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2012 20:49:32 -0500 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Joe Goodguy Love your site... & thought you'd enjoy our 2007 reno of an empty 11x16 lakeside shed we creatively made into our personal "Shangri La"! My "Papa & Mumu" emigrated to Sudbury, Ontario, Canada in the early 40's & built their first sauna similar to their homeland. As their grandson I've now built 3 saunas with similar designs, but adapting each one. We've gone "electric", but are going to build a nother woodstove one soon at our sons place. Lights under the seats provide great ambiance and safety & we love windows in our saunas now. Note the hand carved ladle by Papa Isaac displayed in the relaxing gazebo area overlooking the lake! The glass window in the sauna door is the original window from their "camp" we demolished to build our home & the benches outside were my grandparents original handmade benches. Live to sauna!!
Subject: Sauna project Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2011 18:47:34 -0500 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Greg Borovsky Dear Kalle, I wanted to share with you my sauna project and to thank you for having such an informative website. Some of your content was very helpful to get access to information and some of the previous content contributors were extremely supportive. In fact, many thanks to Jim Hamalainen for his advise and helpful tips. It took me three months to design and complete the project entirely by myself (this spring the deck will be added). The platform is built using 4X6 logs, sitting on top of 10 concrete pillars. The sauna building looks exactly like the main house by design. The stove comes from Finland and is made by Harvia. Again, thanks for your website, Greg Borovsky
Subject: update on sauna Date: Wed Dec 9 15:18:45 2010 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Toby wotcha Kalle, sauna is now working - beyond my wildest expectations. But it being winter, I haven't quite got it mobile yet. My last question was for a heat guard. I made two L shaped pieces of galvanised, that store easily, and fit around the stove. The original concept was to have a sauna, a drying room, a spare bedroom and a writing room - all mobile as I have a requirement to have the sauna (in all its guises) in two or more places! To that end there is provision to have the two benches either in the high position - can be a bed with room to store stuff underneath - or be a high platform for serious sauna folk. Or in the lower position, for a large (relatively) sauna platform - brilliant - or as a bed. The benches can be stacked to make space for a desk or I can sit at the lower bench and work on the upper bench. The stove works a treat - getting 18KG of rocks up to surface steaming heat in 40 mins, and to full core heat in an hour 20 mins. many thanks for your inspiration, salaams T
Subject: back in touch Date: Wed Oct 27 07:31:05 2010 To: Toby From: Kalle Hoffman Looking Good. As for the six inch gap you may want to consider adding a metal shield that leaves a 1 inch airspace between the shield and the wood. The wood may not catch fire but will slowly char and the fibers will crack over time. The shield will prevent that. Kalle On Wed, 27 Oct 2010 16:26:32 +0200, Anonymous wrote: > Wotcha Kalle, > > hope this finds u well, got started on the sauna, eventually. Here are > some drawings and fotos of the sauna up to now. Just about to install the > stove and . . . am just having a few indecisive moments with distance > from combustibles . . . you reckon 6 inches is enough? The chimney and > ceiling, I am happy about . . . it is those 6 inches from the wall . . . > btw the sauna will fit, and roller onto and off, on a trailer 3m x 1.85m. > > Thoughts? > > Salaams
Subject: SAUNA Date: Wed, 23 Jun 2010 22:31:27 -0400 To: Kalle Hoffman From: James Hamalainen Hi Kalle, I've been checking your sauna page frequently for the past couple of years; and about a year ago, I started the plans for my own sauna. My wife and I finally finished the project a few weeks ago, and we couldn't be any more happy with it. I've included a few pictures for you to see the final product. The structure is 9'x16' with one wall separating the changing room and the sauna room. It is supported by 6 concrete piers, and both rooms have vinyl sheet flooring with a drain in the middle. The walls and ceilings are covered with Maine White Cedar, and the stove is a Harvia Legend from Finland. It quickly heats the room up to 200M-: and boils 7 gallons of water in the pipe mounted water heater. Thanks for all the interesting and helpful information on your page! Thanks! Jim & Yami
Subject: SAUNA Date: Sun, 18 Apr 2010 10:55:33 -0300 To: Kalle Hoffman From: LEE and MARNIE Subject: SAUNA Greetings Kalle: We hail from Nova Scotia Canada, and have enjoyed your sauna page for years. I finally got around to building our sauna two years ago. I used your page extensively for ideas & problem solving. My wife is sensitive to a lot of cedar, so, I elected to use hemlock T & G, with cedar benches & a self made cedar door with shatter proof glass. The sauna is 10 x 10, with a trapezoidal shape (i wanted to make something interesting to look at). There are no right angles inside or out. The exterior is covered in cedar shingles, and is 2 x 6 construction fully insulated. It is divided into two sections, a narrow hall in front for changing & hanging clothing. The sauna room itself has a low bench which is fine for 4 people with provision to build an upper level later.The ceiling is 7 feet. The walls have fiberglass insulation, with a paper back tinfoil vapor barrier, shiny side towards the room. There is an air space between the vapor barrier, and the hemlock wall, with an opening at the top of the walls to let the wood breathe. The door has vent openings at the bottom to let in air if necessary. The stove is a small used airtight, with air intake from the outside. This is important with airtight stoves as they consume a lot of air. During the sauna the room is hot but not sleepy from lack of oxygen. Water is poured on basalt rock on top of the stove. It reaches temperatures of 200 degrees in approx. an hour, and uses very little wood to achieve this temperature. Try to find a stove with a window as watching the wood burning adds to the overall ambience of the experience. We sometimes use apple wood to achieve interesting colours in the flames. The floor is also hemlock with styrofoam insulation on Sono tubes. I have included photos & you can post if you wish. Thanks to you & everyone out there for sharing your experiences, Lee & Marnie
Subject: Re: Sauna Ventilation Date: Mon, 23 Nov 2009 18:58:56 -0800 To: Josh Johnson From: Kalle Hoffman JJ, A lot of people do make a vent on the opposite side of the the sauna from the door up high to help dry out the sauna after using it. The air flow when the vent and door are open really helps to dry things out. I don't have one in my sauna. I wouldn't open it when I was using the sauna. I'm looking forward to the pictures. Kalle On Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 06:00:36AM +0000, Josh Johnson wrote: > Kalle, > > I've read your entire blog from start to finish several times and have > found the info so useful that it's the only sauna site I've kept in my > "Favorites" links. Thank you for the informative site. My question is > quite simple. I just completed construction of an outdoor sauna made > of interior T&G redwood that was reclaimed from an old olive factory > in Narragansett, RI. The wood is not only beautiful, but a wonderful > species to work with. As soon as I have pics, I'll send them to you > for your opinion. I have no ventilation in the sauna other than the > cold Maine air that slides under my entrance door (1/2" to 3/4" air > gap). The cool air flows right up under my woodstove for combustion > and is pulled up and out of a vertical chimney pipe outside. Other than > the air coming in under the door, I have no vents and am wondering if I > should install at least one, on the opposite side of the sauna and under > the top bench. I've noticed no negative affects without having a vent, > but often wonder if the air at ceiling height gets stale and is unhealty > to inhale. Your thoughts? Thanks in advance. > > "JJ"
Subject: Re: Seeking Sauna Advice - starting a company Date: Fri, 9 Oct 2009 10:58:19 -0700 To: Clint Carlson From: Kalle Hoffman I've seen redwood plywood in a few saunas. It doesn't hold up as well as solid wood but works fine. I've wondered about the out gassing of the bonding agents. I suspect they become stable after some time of heat cycles. For benches I would go with solid wood since the plywood veneer is very thin and will splinter. Kalle On Fri, Oct 09, 2009 at 12:39:35PM -0500, Clint Carlson wrote: > Kalle, > I have tremendously enjoyed your sauna building blog. I'm glad you still > host it as there is a LOT of valuable information on there. > > I'm looking to start a small company that makes small, traditional saunas > that can compete with the price point of the infrared toasters. It is my > feeling that if many people could sit in a great little steam sauna for > about the same price ($1500), they would do so. I've done some market > research and have had positive feedback and interest in this idea. > > I'll be making 4x4x7 units (larger by request) that use a 110v heater so > it's just a plug and go type situation. I'm working out wholesale pricing on > the heaters right now. I'd like to stay under a grand for construction of > the saunas. > > My question for you is, have you seen anyone use plywood for sauna walls and > benches? I would use spruce or poplar. It would make for quick construction > and would be cost effective. How will they hold up under the heat? It > probably wouldn't be more than 150 -160 in there. > > Any experience with that? Or heard about it? > > Thanks > > Clint Carlson
Subject: smoke sauna Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2008 21:40:00 +0000 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Eric Haataja Kalle, I live in Northern Minnesota and this past year I built a smoke sauna out of squ are timbers. I attached a few pictures for your site if you are interested. The sauna is 14' x 16' with a 4' overhang on back and a 7' overhang on front and 3' overhangs on the eaves. Eric Menahga Minnesota
Subject: your site, our sauna Date: Thu Oct 4 23:00:51 GMT 2007 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Peter Lawrence Hello, I have looked through your site with great interest, although I wish I would have found it earlier. I have just completed a sauna/wash/change building at our family cottage in Muskoka, Ontario. I think I could have done a better job, and done it cheaper had I found your site way back when we started - having said that, I am so happy now that we have a s auna to use during the colder months. I first started enjoying saunas when I was working in Iqualuit, Nunavut, in the late 1980's. There was a very hot sauna inside the change room of a government building there , and the heat was so welcome after working outside, especially in the winter months. We used to have fun walking the few short steps home afterwards, the cold freezing our swim suits solid after only a few steps! Now our sauna is located right next to a clear clean spring fed lake and we cut a hole in the ice to splash in afterwards. I think that if I had more examples to consider, I would have treated it more like a rustic structure, more to suit the setting.It is a modern building, super insulated, kinda square. I started to look into stackwall and straw bail construction.... have you ever heard of or seen a sauna constructed of either?
Subject: Swedish Sauna Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2005 23:53:35 +0200 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Jonas Schilén Hi Kalle! Fun to see how you design your saunas "over there". Here's mine placed in the arcepilago near Stocholm build this summer. Still some things to do. For example I have to fix the heat shields near the stove which are not the fixed ones. Some tips! One of the most important things is the ventilation! To get the right humid soft feeling hot air you must have it right! Here's one example: Regards Jonas
Subject: Wood burning sauna stoves Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2005 20:08:32 -0500 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Bill & Wendy Anderson I was visiting your sight and noticed an issue that we had finding a UL approved wood burning sauna stove. Some places we called told us there was no such thing. There is a manufacturer in northern Minnesota of Kumma (Finnish for hot) stoves. He builds a great UL approved wood burning stove and also does UL approved wood burning add ons for your home furnace. I forgot to mention he does electric stoves that you can throw water on. Got to tour the whole place when we picked up our stove and he really takes pride in his work. He explained how many saunas he had to burn down to get this UL approval but more so he explained everything about the stove and what materials are used to make it. Pure quality goes into it. Visit his web sight by searching for Kumma stoves or his address is... Lamppa Mfg. Inc. www.lamppakuuma.com PO Box 422 Tower, Mn. 55790-0422 800-358-2049
Subject: Re: Traveling Sauna Date: Sat, 1 Oct 2005 16:29:01 -0400 To: Kalle Hoffman From: L Bolyard Hello, I wanted to send you some updated pictures of my sauna. The intention was to mount it on the back of my traval trailer. Well.... this did not work out , the sauna ended up being to heavy the trailer wanted to wheelie. I instead bought a small 4x8 trailer and mounted it onto that. This works good and provides for a wood box on the back of the trailer. We tow this to the camp ground to bath in. This sauna works great. Hope you enjoy the pictures. Les
Subject: Cheapest Steam Sauna Date: Mon, Jul 11, 2005 at 06:55:26PM -0000 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Blair Montgomery Kalle Taking inspiration from your site I constructed my own steam tent (without hot stones) really cheaply. I thought some of your readers might be interested. I bought a two person dome shaped tent from my local ASDA (Wallmart) for £39.95 and the cheapest steam wallpaper stripper they had in Argos (another budget retail outlet). This cost £20.00. All I did was rig the steam stripper up to the tent in my garden and within ten minutes I had a good steady supply of steam. After fifteen minu tes in the tent I had a worked up a good sweat. My recipe for nirvana; two dark chocolate Magnum bars in a bucket of ice; one inflatable kids paddling pool full of c old water plus steam tent. Instructions; twenty minute steam; plunge into paddling pool; eat magnums, repeat as desired. If anyone thinks they can make a cheaper ste am sauna I throw down the gauntlet. Cheers Kalle, thanks for a great site. Regards Blair
Subject: Traveling Sauna Date: Sun, 15 May 2005 22:40:20 -0400 To: Kalle Hoffman From: email@example.com Here are some pictures of the sauna / bath house a friend and i built for the back of my 1964 travel trailer. We have extended the frame and plan to mount this sauna on the back of the camper. We use the camper all summer when fishing and dirtbiking. In the fall and winter we use it during hunting season. We needed a place were we could wash and relax. My 12 foot camper does not have a bathroom. This sauna is 4x6 made from pine t&g with cedar benches. The ceiling height is 6'4" i am 6'3". the wood stove is also a boiler which connects to a beer keg to hold the heated water. The roof is shingled with old license plates and the awning from an old trash pick chevy hood. The towel holders outside are old engine pistons, the smoke stack i found lying on the side of the highway. The sauna is almost done. I still need to vent the stove to the smoke stack and connect the rubber hoses to the stove and it will be done. I will send you a picture when it is on the camper.
Subject: Root house to sauna Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2005 10:30:41 -0500 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Warren Kramer Kalle - This root house was used to store fruits & vegatables in a northern Wisconsin lodge that served hunters and fishermen. It was built in the 1940's. We intend to make a sauna out of this root house. The room has poured concrete walls/ceiling- arched or quanset hut shaped. The floor is about 8 x 16 feet and the room is 7 feet high in the center. There is a 4 inch diameter opening at the other end of the room - I plan on venting the wood/barrel stove out of that opening. The floor is fine sand. There is a light and an electrical outlet just inside the door. You can see the doorway is recessed 3 feet or so from the entry. The root house faces the lake a short distance away which would likely be used to rinse off in after a nice sauna. I'm dying to slap this project together and fire it up. I'm being cautioned to get some advice, particularly around the ventilation area, though after reading the FAQ on your website I've got a few nagging concerns. Please indulge me. Heat system - I want to use an inexpensive wood stove or barrel stove, vented out the top of the room. A wire / mesh retainer system around the stove for holding the rocks. Wall/ceiling - I'd like to paint the walls/ceiling with a masonry type paint rather than try to cover the entire thing with wood. Is there an issue with high heat and humidity regarding the concrete walls/ceiling? Will any paint hold up to sauna use? If wood covering is the only way to go - what type of program is nessecary over the earth covered concrete room - insulation, vapor barrier, wood, other? Ventilation - Currently there is just the direct vent to outside that I propose to use for the stove. I'm a little leary about knocking 2 inches off the bottom of the door to provide ventilation - would a small operable window or louver in the door itself work? Floor - nice sand floor with "duck boards" or add concrete floor with a drain in it? Bench system/changing room - It's a big space - I'm thinking of opposing benches except for a changing room (providing a low level of privacy) on one side at the entrance. The old bin storage system for carrots & apples, etc. used 4x4 green treated posts as framing and local cedar for the bins themselves. I salvaged the 4x4 posts and would like to use them for the bench framing - then use new wood material for the benches. What's your take on treated bench framing? The idea of a nice sauna is well received by family and friends - any advice on this project that you could offer will be appreciated. Warren Kramer
Subject: Re: Rock Sauna Date: Tue, 08 Mar 2005 07:44:44 -0900 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Willie und Brigitte Hi Kalle, Thank you for the compliment. Sure, go ahead, post the photos. The shower inside up to now has shown no drawbacks. Since the building is solid rock [18" or 45 cm thick walls] foamed frame wall and small - 8' x 8' x 9' high - with ca. 400 lb of rock on top of the heater one can not cool it down fast, even when going outside to cool off, leaving the door open. The roof is solid rock as well, same thickness as walls. How I accomplished such a well working sauna is beyond me. Before building I did try to think of all possible problems to not overlook and with that went to work. The inside is cottonwood and the shower backing red cedar. All wood used came from the beach, even the fir my wife Brigitte made the doors and windows out of are driftwood. Then the insulated concrete floor and around the walls was tiled with slate. All plumbing is laid so it drains and vents after sauna is vacated to prevent freezing.. The roof over the entry is made from an old hatch cover found on the beach dating back to 1942 - covered with a sheet of old copper salvaged from a compressor shack from an island out on the aleutian chain. If you get the impression that I might be acting like a pack rat, it's due to the fact that in Alaska if you can use local stuff this is what one does... Good day to you from up North. Willie BRIGITTE'S BAVARIAN BED & BREAKFAST Willie und Brigitte Suter P.O. Box 2391 Homer, Alaska 99603 http://akms.com/brigitte > Willie und Brigitte, > > Great pictures. Do you mind if I post them? It looks like you have a > shower inside the sauna. How does that work for you? My experience is > that a shower really cools off the sauna. It's a great looking building. > What type of wood did you use for the inside? Is it Spruce? Pine? > > Kalle
Subject: My sauna Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2004 08:44:46 +0100 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Heikki Vauhkonen Hello Kalle, And best regards from Helsinki, Finland. I've been reading your pages with a great interest. It's fine that somebody is spreading the information about our national treasure with such a passion. I'm sending you three pictures of my new sauna located in Jämsä, central Finland. I built it together with supervision of my father-in law in the spring-summer 2002. It's a smoke sauna...lovely. The rockies behind the sauna shelter it from northern winds and on the other side there is a lake, just 15 feet from the stairs. If you need more information it will be a pleasure to help you. Parhain Terveisin / With Best Regards Heikki Vauhkonen
Subject: mobile sauna and hot tub on wheels Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2003 02:47:27 -0800 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Vernon Albert Hello Kalle, It has been a while. I thought you might want to see the latest remodel on the mobile roman bath or the "Ark" as it has been called. I am launching a new company and will be renting it out. The new web site will be www.cutfree.com and the company name is Basker Entertainment. I have been catering events with the Ark for the past 5 years or so and have never charged for the services partly because I have not found an insurance company to cover it. I am still looking for insurance help but until then I will have a 7 page declaimer that needs to be sighed before it can be rented. There is a lot of demand for this kind of unit. I have still not been able to find another hot tub and sauna on wheels. If any one has an answer for the insurance question or knows of another mobile unit please email me. Thanks, Vernon Albert www.mobileadvantage.com
Subject: question - thanks Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 12:48:55 -0700 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Bryan Dickson Kalle, Thanks for the great site and all the sauna info. I have just purchased and old house in Oregon with a nice sauna in the back yard. The sauna is on a 8" thick concrete pad sloping to the center with a drain built in. It is octagon shaped with 37" sides and ~ 7.5 feet across inside diameter The walls are 78 inches (6' 6" ) with a peaked ceiling reaching 106 inches (8' 10") high in the center It is built with vertical rebar embedded in the concrete and solid red cedar 4 x 4's stacked on the rebar. There is a grove cut lengthwise on the top and bottom of the 4 x 4's with a thick bead of silicon? Sealent between The 4 x 4's. The stove (an old cast iron Nippa wood stove) is on one wall with the lower bench opposite the stove. The lower bench is 31" off the floor and 37.3" deep. The upper bench is perpendicular to the lower and is 62" off the floor and 30.5" deep I am now in the process of replacing the roof ( rotten cedar shakes with plywood and 2" of Styrofoam over the cedar ceiling) My Styrofoam was lousy with carpenter ants and a few termites (the sauna looks ok, just the plywood and Styrofoam damaged) My plan is to put a vapor barrier over the cedar ceiling, then R-19 or better insulation, then treated plywood > tar paper > cedar shake shingles. What do you recommend for roof vapor barrier and insulation? The insects like wet wood, it rains a lot in Eugene, but also no existing vapor barrier may have contributed to the wet insulation and plywood. How much insulation should I use? The walls are not insulated but pretty well sealed 4 x 4's My biggest question is could you look at my attached .jpg drawing and recommend a bench layout? I know the ceiling is high in the peak, but when you sit on the upper bench ~ 5 feet high and 30" deep my head is just about at the center peak. So is a high ceiling a problem if you have a high bench? I am thinking about going 3 benches, low narrow, mid bench above that and a high perpendicular to the others where the high bench is now. My high bench cann't be too narrow because of the pitched ceiling is only high in center. Any way if you have any ideas or thoughts I would love to hear them, I am in working on it now and am looking for more ideas. I am replacing the stove with a Harvia 20 wood burning model which is rated for a minimum size just under the size of my sauna and a maximum about twice the volume, so I figure I will be overpowering the heater a little which will hopefully compensate for any inefficiency in the sauna layout. Thanks for the site and any feedback is greatly appreciated Bryan Dickson
Subject: FYI Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2002 19:46:18 -0400 To: Kalle Hoffman From: MalletteG@pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca Hey Kalle, I emailed you a question on January 8, 2001 which is listed on your FAQ. I have since added an outdoor shower and 18 gallon solar water heater to my sauna...post if you wish as I do get the odd question for help generated by your site. Later Greg PS great site!
Subject: Water Based Polyurethane Date: Fri Mar 2 22:38:36 GMT 2001 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Richard Medrala I told you I would let you know how the water based poly held up. I first did the bench with two coats and used it for two months. I did not see any indication that it was breaking down. I then coated the rest of the sauna with 1-2 coats. Any areas where I might touch I put two coats and the rest I used just one. It has now been six months and I still see no indication that it is breaking down. I am very pleased with it. I have observed temperatures from 147 to as high as 187 while experimenting with the thermostat. I now use it with a high temp of about 176F. I found that a tea made from rosemary when used on the rocks helps relieve congestion from allergies. I know that a lot of spas use eucalyptus in their water, but I found that it gave me an allergy attack. You might pass this on to all those who read the info on your board. I really like your panoramic pictures. It is almost like being there. Keep up the good work. You have a very nice site. Rich
Subject: drink coasters Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2001 13:07:44 -0800 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Seth Thomas Paiva, Paiva Kuinka se mene! I'm not Finn, but my friend Tommy Turkkela is. He knows another Finnlander from N.Y. Mills, MN, Erv Keskinen is his name. He's an old timer that lives out on Rush Lake. Erv was giving these drink coasters (see attachment) out at his 50 year wedding aniversary a couple of years ago. Thought you would get a bang out of it. Anyway, Tommy introduced me to him. What a guy. The anniversary party took place at a old Finnish homesite South of town. Some locals turned the homesite into a living museum. The reason I mention this is that there is a genuine original, how you say it, savou sauna, (translated to English-I think "smoke sauna". You ever get over that way be sure to stop and tour the museum. You'll appreciate the smoke sauna as well as the other orginal Finn buildings and artifacts. Oyah! by the way. They real get into "St. Urho's Day" in N. Y. Mills. Irish St. Patricks Day seems like a tea party compared to the way the locals celebrate "their" holiday. If you print this on your web site, be sure Tommy and his friend Erv will know about it. Maybe Tommy will drop you an e-mail. He visits me quite often and uses my computer. (Him and his black lab live out of a camper. You never know where or when him and his dog are gonna show up.) All for now, Seth
Subject: Re: Windows in saunas Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001 10:11:25 -0800 To: Rebecca Riefkohl From: Kalle Hoffman Rebecca, On Tue, Feb 27, 2001 at 09:09:59AM -0400, Rebecca Riefkohl wrote: > Hi. I've read your FAQ page, but I still have one question: > Can I install a window in a sauna? It would be 3'-0" by 3'-0" window and > would be installed at 7'-0" from the floor. Do you recommend this? How > does it affect the inside of the sauna? Windows in a sauna need to double paned and tempered (like a shower door). It sounds like your sauna will be 10' high. And unless your up there at the top you'll be wasting lots of heat. I don't put windows in my sauna. I prefer the insulative value of walls and to be honest, for me saunas are an introverted and reflexive experience. Kalle
Subject: Sauna stuff Date: Mon Feb 5 21:01:38 2001 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Jerry Setterholm Ran across your site while browsing. I've built several suanas over the years. Gas, electric & wood. Wood burners have become quite an issue with insurance companys let alone local building inspectors concerns. I delayed building my sauna for lack of an "approved" stove. Finally ran across NIPPA SAUNA STOVES in Bruce's Crossings, Michigan. His stoves have been tested and rated. Rocks-I've used plain old field stone, track ballast or whatever I could get my hands on locally. Some swear by Lake Superior stones. Don't know. My theory is if it works use it. Jerry Setterholm
Subject: Re: FAQ Date: Mon Feb 5 21:01:38 2001 To: Lawrence Romanowicz SR From: Kalle Hoffman > I stumbled onto this site. > > Am into considering constructing our own sauna this year. Intend to use it > year round. Considering a medium sized & nuthin fancy on how its constructed. > Since am aware of the cost of building, yet not in hurry to get it done. > > Leveled, Slab & shell up then slowly work in the interiror as I go as funds > permits. Deminsion is 9 by 11 . Three quarter are sauna & one fourth for the > changing room. Roof would be sloped. Simple design. > > Now for the question, since I loved the wood burning stove & hear of the > controversial & yet of its dangers. Since wanted to be the right size and > have rocks around or based on the lay out. We live in Northern Minnesota. > Look fwd to the winter months to roll in the snow after being in the sauna! > > Lawrence Romanowicz SR Your plans look good. Your sauna will sit 8+. You may want to consider dropping the eight foot wall down to six feet. IMHO: a wood stove is the best way to go in a sauna. Wood stove produce Negative Ions and Electric stove produce Positive Ions. (Negative Ions are better for people). Kalle
Subject: Fw: links, and the Idaho ?:heaters Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2001 19:12:01 -0500 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Solhem Sauna > > Nils, > > > > Thanks for the email. I get questions from time to time that stump me. > > Like what's the best heater, how much , ... Have you installed electric > > heaters in the past? Can you review them and prices? I'm converting my > > sauna building faq into a more cut up version to makes it more readable. > > I'll put a link to your page on mine. > > > > Kalle Hi Kalle, Thanks for getting back in touch, and thanks in advance for including a link to Solhem in your page...As to the heater question: I install wood, gas, and electric heaters from different mfr's...I use accessories and electric heaters from Helo Sauna,most of my indoor modern sauna projects end up being electric due to the convenience.Our home sauna is of course wood-fired,and propane, as you know, can be useful in some circumstances.(my work favors the traditional freestanding Sauna, and as a traditionalist, my preference is a log Sauna with a wood-fired kiuas.) Your message from the folks in Idaho: I have a few comments to pass along: As to finding a source for heaters, and deciding what kind of eqp't to carry, this is a complicated question for me to answer, because these are all outfits that I have dealt with over the years...I am sure that they work hard to stay on par with one another If you want to establish a relationship with a Sauna Co. and become a dealer,simply contact the outfit you're interested in and determine if their terms are agreeable...You will likely find that some kind of retail committment is necessary(investment).If I was in Idaho,I might consider Finlandia,it is a good company with a solid line,and they are close by.Helo is excellent, but a bit further perhaps...Freight costs add up...If you are a builder doing one or two sauna per year, a local dealer for one of the above should be happy to give you a trade price on the goods that you need, they will be in the yellow ages.( if this doesn't work, call me and I will be glad to help!) As to being in the business of Sauna Building, after my years as a builder(23 or so ) and my years in the sauna business(11or 14 depending on how you count) I have learned that not all of your customers will appreciate the research, dedication,spiritual ,and cultural relationship that you bring to your craft.What this means is that often the job will go to the G.C. who is on the job already...these folks may have top-mechanics/finish carpenters on their crew, and be artisans in their own right,but it is also likely that a Sauna Builder like myself will design,spec.,install, equip, and build more projects in a year than the other folks do in ten years.In my world, this experience should count, but I still have to "compete" against the rest of the commercial/general builders out there.At the end of the day,customers that grew up in Finnish communities here,people who have spent time in Europe, or have immigrated to the U.S., or have traveled in the 'States to areas where beautiful projects have been built, are the people who end up seeking me out...It is a funny world, eh? Good luck, and maybe you want to pass this message along to Glen and Dorthy... Thanks for the help, and keep up the good work, Nils at Solhem Sauna
Subject: Re: Bench layout Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2001 21:22:23 To: Jay Campbell From: Kalle Hoffman > Dear Kalle: > > You have the most informative sauna web page on the internet. > Congratulations and thanks. I am having my basement finished and will be > building a Sauna in a corner under a turret. Consequently, the Sauna is > somewhat oddly shaped. This is giving me trouble with a bench layout. > I would like to have two levels of benches to enjoy the heat in the > upper portion of the sauna. I plan to line the sauna in cedar and to > make the benches cedar as well. > > The sauna is 8' 6'' tall. It has the floorplan of half of > an Octagon. The front wall (with the door) is 10' wide. The back wall > is 4' and the two remaining walls extend at 45 degree angles from the > back to the front. The depth (front to back) is 5'. > > |--------------- 4' --------------| > > ____________________________________ > / \ | > / \ | > / \ | > / \ 5' > / \ | > | | | | > 2' | | | > | |_____________________Door_____________________| | > > |--------------------- 10' ---------------------| > > > If you have any suggestions on a bench layout I would really > appreciate them. I have also heard (inconsistently) that you need to > provide ventilation to the sauna during use. I will have an electric > heater. Do you need the ventilation with the electric heater? If so, > how do you suggest that I incorporate the ventilation? I assume that > I will put the heater in one of the front square corners. > > THANK YOU for any comments and suggestions that you have. > > Jay Campbell Here's two drawings. The first layout assumes you want to use the whole the space for your sauna. The second is what I would do. The extra volume in the first drawing isn't very useful. Both saunas seat five or six but the second has a closet to store towels and other sauna stuff. Also, I would drop your ceiling to around 7' 6". And put your first bench 18" off the floor. If your 6' tall that would put your head at the ceiling (and heat) when you stand up on the lower bench. As for ventilation I've never used an electric stove so I don't know. But I'm sure the vender would supply ventalation requirments. ____________________________ / / \ / / \ /Upper / Lower Bench \ / Bench/ \ / / ____________________\ / / / \ / / / \ / / / \ / / / + ------+\ | | | | | | | | | | STOVE | | | | | | | | | | | + ------+ | |______|_________|_______Door__________________| ____________________________ /| | \ / | | \ / | Upper| Lower Bench \ / | Bench| \ / | | _________________\ / | | | \ / | | | \ / | | | \ / | | | + ------+\ | | | | | | | | Closet | | | | STOVE | | | | | | | | | | | | | + ------+ | |__Door___|______|______|__Door________________| Kalle
Subject: Re: Duck Boards Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2001 15:01:34 -0800 To: Greg Mallette From: Kalle Hoffman > Hi Kalle, > > I have really enjoyed reading your website over the last couple of years. I > am nearing the end of the sauna component of my sauna/relaxation structure > on my property on the Columbia River in N.E. Washington State. I have a > couple of questions with respect to the construction of duck boards in the > sauna itself: What type of wood should I use? Can I use pine? and what are > their dimensions? > Thanks a lot for your advice. > > Greg Mallette Greg, Great picture. By "duck boards" I'm assuming you mean the boards you put on the floor to walk on. I use redwood. And I dry them out often. They tend to collect the soaps, oils and dirt that wash off people. Pine wouldn't be my first choice but if you have it, it's not that big of a deal. They are easy to replace. The boards I used on my "duck boards" are 3/4" x 2" with a 1/2" space between them and the cross boards are 3/4" x 2" spaced at 16" centers. I use three duck boards, two are 48" X 48" and one is 32" X 48". You'll want to keep them lite and sectional so that it is easy to carry them outside to clean off and air out. Here's a very out of scale drawing of a 32" X 48" "duck board". 2" +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ / /| / /| / /| / /| / /| / / +/ / +/ / +/ / +/ / + / / // / // / // / // / /+ / / // / // / // / // / //| / / // / // / // / // / // + / / // / // / // / // / /+ / / / // / // / // / // / / |/ / / // / // / // / // / /--+ / / // / // / // / // / / / / // / // / // / // / / / / // / // / // / // / / / / // / // / // / // / / 32" / / // / // / // / // / / / / // / // / // / // / /+ / / // / // / // / // / //| / / // / // / // / // / // + / / // / // / // / // / /+ / / / // / // / // / // / / |/ / / // / // / // / // / /--+ / / // / // / // / // / / / / // / // / // / // / / / / // / // / // / // / / / / // / // / // / // / / / / // / // / // / // / / +-----+ /+-----+ /+-----+ /+-----+ /+-----+ /+ 3/4" | |/ | |/ | |/ | |/ | |//| +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+/ + +-----------------------------------------+ / | |/ +-----------------------------------------+ 48" Kalle
Subject: Re: Sauna building. Date: Tue Jan 2 21:11:59 2001 To: Douglas Cobb From: Kalle Hoffman > Really enjoyed reading your website. Just wanted to comment on how > well it is done. I am in the process of gettin very close to having our > sauna done. About 10 years back I built a small hunting cabin on a 16x8 > flatbed trailer with one mobile home axel under it. It is just road legal > and has about 6'2" headroom on sides and vaulted to 6"8" down the middle. > It has r-13 walls and r-19 ceiling w/shingled roof and western red cedar > siding on it. I know, kind of fancy for hunting hut but I like to build. > Since we never used it as a hunting camp except for one years deer season > 500 miles away, we dragged it back home (with an F150) and have used it > as a storage building on wheels for years. My wife and I have talked > about a sauna for years, and have finally decided now is the time. > I will be framing a 7"x6' hot area in the tongue end of the trailer, > insulate that between itself and the back and add a small wood stove on > some patio blocks on the wood floor. > > I'm going to remove the pine paneling, (it was put on with a brad nailer, > so it should come off easily), staple on heavy aluminum foil with the > shiney side in and then put on new 3/8 in cedar tongue & groove panel. > I have some roughsawn northern white cedar wood that I can plane and make > some benches out of. I realize that I am going to have to be careful > with water use, (the floor is of 3/4 t&g treated, so I may have to get a > large shower liner and make some kind of a drain system, and then build > the flooring slats over that. Should be interesting. Since the rest of > the trailer is pretty well finished, I'll just have to make some small > adjustments to make it a proper dressing room. We get big lake effect > snow here near lake Michigan, and I've really been dying to get this done. > Any hints on the floor or anything else would be appreciated, hope to > have a photo for you some day. By the way , the reason for having it > on wheels is when I retire and move north, I want to take it with me, > and If I don't like it there, I'll take it somewhere else. (you can see > what my priorities are) It's my moms Finn blood in me, too many saunas > as a kid and not nearly enough as an adult.........................Doug... Doug, Great Story. I like the idea of a sauna on wheels. How's towing the trailer with one axel? My guess is that it would track better if it had two. Definitly send me a picture when your done. Kalle
Subject: mobile sauna, hot tub, walk in cooler, wood burning pizza oven. Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2000 13:47:57 EST To: Kalle Hoffman From: Vernon Albert Kalle, Recently I got a call from a large brewery and they wanted Me to build them the ultimate tailgate vehicle. I told them that I had it designed already. It will have a sauna, hot tub, walk in cooler, and a wood burning pizza oven. Well, they backed out of the deal. I guess they are non believers. I know that there is someone who has a mobile hot tub/sauna besides Me. But where are they. And would anybody like to look into one. I have all the specs. This is the next big thing. Heat recovery off of the engine and generator makes this a very efficient system. Imagine having it all on one truck. Camping, hunting, tailgating, or just plain basking in the very glory of life. who wants to be first? There has been a lot of talk about the right wood to build Your sauna out of, well in My opinion the very best by far is western red cedar. Don't go anywhere else. Thank You Vernon Albert.
Subject: Sauna heaters Date: Sat Dec 9 15:03:59 GMT 2000 To: Denis Solomon From: Kalle Hoffman > Hi Kalle > Can I build your Kallenator with just the bottom part, or is the water > heater necessary to cool the stove pipe? Great site! > > Denis Solomon Denis, Just building the bottom would be fine. In fact your sauna will heat faster. I only make the top part to heat water. Good luck. Kalle
Subject: Spruce in North America Date: Mon, 06 Nov 2000 16:26:18 -0400 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Robert Whitney Hi Kalle: I really enjoy your sauna pages. They are a source of many great ideas. The spruce in North America, including white, red, black, Engelmann, blue, Sitka, and imported but often planted Norway varieties are all soft woods. They have very similar characteristics including density and conductivity as northern Scandinavian species and therefore should be fine for sauna construction. Hemlock as well is soft, rot resistant but is prone to splinters. Robert Whitney Maritime Forest Ranger School Fredericton New Brunswick Canada
Subject: Western Red Cedar Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 16:52:34 GMT To: Kalle Hoffman From: Jefferson Been >Thanks for the corrections about cedar. Where does Alaskan Yellow Cedar >fall when compaired to the other ceders? > > Western Red Cedar pleasant fragrance, very beautiful, decay resistance > Eastern Aromatic Cedar used in closets > Incense Cedar used to make pencils, lower quality > Alaskan Yellow Cedar ??? > >Kalle Kalle, Alaskan Yellow Cedar is also called Pacific Cypress and grows in Alaska and northern British Columbia. It was the wood of choice used by indians of the northwest for totem poles. The Japanese still use large quantities of AYC for the construction of temples and highly value the wood for other sacred projects. On this side of the Pacific AYC is used for boat building and other outdoor applications. In the northeast US in places such as Martha's Vineyard AYC is used for siding as well as docks where a durable, long-lasting and low maintenance wood is required. Some of the characteristics of AYC include its strength, it is as strong as Douglas Fir, it is easy to work with because it is a soft wood, it is extremely durable due to its dense tight grain and it is "splinter-free" (that is, the splinters of the wood are very soft and will not pierce the skin) making it ideal for barefoot decks, handrails and stadium seats. I think the most impressive attribute of AYC is its outstanding decay resistance. A deck built with AYC will literally last a lifetime and does not need sealing or protecting of any kind! If left unfinished the wood will turn a silvery-grey but will not rot and will remain smooth and splinter-free. Two last notes about AYC, it does have a strong spicy scent which some people love and others don't care for. Like any cedar, aromatic or other, the fragrance will deminish with time unless lightly sanded. The other point is that AYC is classified different than Port Orford Cedar which grows in northern CA and southern OR and is highly prized by archers for building arrows. AYC and POC are very similar in characteristics but are considered different species. Jeff
Subject: Re: Western Red Cedar Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2000 15:15:36 GMT To: Kalle Hoffman From: Jefferson Been Hello Kalle, I want to humbly clear up some misunderstandings about red cedar. Western Red Cedar is different than eastern aromatic cedar which is used in closets and reminds me of gerbils. A sub species of Western Red is called Incense Cedar and is used to make pencils. Incense cedar is a lower quality species than Western Red. Western Red Cedar has a pleasant fragrance which is most popular and also has very beautiful colorings not to mention having better decay resistance than incense cedar. Someone also said they could not find Western Red Cedar in their area, if you want you may call me and I may be able to help. I sell cedar (Western Red and Alaskan Yellow) at huge discounts. Jeff Been, president, Colorado Cedar Outlet, Inc./ Liberty Lumber Company 1-877-789-3037.
Subject: Sauna Date: Mon Sep 18 05:44:11 GMT 2000 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Don Gambill Hi Kalle, Been reading your site for some months now. I was first introduced to the homemade banya or sauna while working as an electrician in a remote village in Alaska. It was always the best to see my local friend sending smoke signals while i looked out the window of my bunkhouse. He and his family would enjoy first then I would be able to partake in one of the most relaxing experiences of all. I began construction of my sauna a couple of years ago. I removed over three feet of dirt under my deck to expose a six foot concrete stem wall. I then created a wooden bulkhead which was partially existing. There I ran vertical pieces of 1by material to create an airspace from top to bottom. On top of that was installed a two inch thick high density foam panel. Then over the top of that is another material of a metal covered foam panel which is also two inch thick. This sandwich of insulation is located within a 4by6 wall. The wall material and the steel were all gathered from different job sites. It was saved from becoming land fill. The rocks for the firewall were obtained from the excavation of many yards of earth alldone with shovel and wheelbarrow. The mortared in bottles has a really nice light and is where some of the inspiration of this project came from. Here's a picture. Thanks Kalle for your page it has been real educational and inspirational. I hope to be firing the woodstove up soon need to get the correct rocks benches and a door up before winter sets. Happy steaming. Take Care Don
Subject: Availability of appropriate tongue & groove wood for sauna Date: Tue Aug 1 00:11:44 2000 To: Rob Shakespeare From: Kalle Hoffman > Hey, > > We have just returned from a year in Finland and want to > build a sauna in our basement. I appreciate the wisdom in your FAQ pages > and in addition, I have a few books I picked up in Finland about sauna > construction. > > These books ALL point to using the appropriate wood, > for comfort, efficiency and smell. Why is the Spruce which is available > in North America NOT used for the sauna interior? Also what about > Hemlock? I note the suggestions about using Western Red Cedar and > will probably use this IF I can find it locally, but all the saunas I > experienced in Finland were not the color of a red cedar closet! > > Could I build the benches out of clear Douglas Fir? There is > a good local source and it appears to be a fine looking wood... is it > full of sap/pitch? or is it ok for sitting on. > > If any readers of this could point me to a good source > of T&G Cedar within the INdianapolis area or south, I would appreciate > it. > > -Rob Shakespeare > Bloomington, Indiana. What are the names of the books you have? I'd like to get copies. Spruce is a hardwood. It conducts more heat than a softer wood like redwood or cedar. All the newer saunas I saw in Finland were pine or spruce. My guess is that it's widely available and cheaper there. I don't know about hemlock. The cedar people use in saunas here in the United States is not same as the red cedar used in closets. It is the smoky pencil type. When you cut it, it smells like you are sharpening a pencil. In my opinion, douglas fir is too hard for benches and would bleed pitch. Here in California it's the most common wood for construction and a budgeted sauna builder can get lots of scraps long enough to build lots of benches. Douglas fir will work but a softer wood would be better. I like redwood. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I get too much email. Kalle
Subject: Re: 3 x 6 foot sauna Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 22:51:18 -0800 To: Kalle Hoffman From: James Wiedle Kalle; I wanted to drop you a line and let you know that after reading your FAQ for sometime I undertook a small sauna project on my back deck. It's not a very big sauna (4*4*6) and probably should be called a sweat box more than anything else. I built it out of 2x4 construction and framed the outside with T-111 and Cedar Rough Boards (Sanded down) on the inside. All walls are insulated with R-14 except the roof which is R-28. It took a little bit of effort to build and I put a very small 1.7 k sauna heater inside. What began as a "starter" sauna has served me quite well. I am looking forward to using the sauna more in the Winter when the thermometer drops to -20! What I was amazed with is how much hotter a smaller space "feels" than a larger space. Normally I could stand 180°F in a 6x6 sauna but 140°F in the smaller sauna seems hardly bareable! I suspect that a large part of it psychological or the efficiency of the sauna. In any case I certainly am enjoying the sauna experience. Oh by the way, the location is Anchorage Alaska. Here are two pictures of the front and inside of the sauna. Again, thanks for the great Sauna FAQ James Wiedle
Subject: Re: 3 x 6 foot sauna Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 15:45:23 -0700 To: Jan Cunningham From: Kalle Hoffman > Kalle, > > Is it possible to build a comfortable sauna in a 3 x 6 foot space? The > space is the corner of an existing room that i want to turn into a > bathroom. The two existing walls are exterior walls of the house, and > the ceiling is sloped, and is the underside of the roof - no attic. > > What a great site/page you have. > > Many thanks, > > Jan Cunningham Jan, I've seen spaces like yours and wondered the same. Your sauna will be a cozy 126 sq. ft. That means it will heat up fast. And would be good for two friendly or three very friendly people (I prefer friendly people). Make sure the stove is at the low end of the ceiling so the heat will rise to the side you're sitting on. Here are two layouts for you to consider. __________ _______________ | ________|-------|______________ | | | |.....|.....| | | | |.....|.....| | | |+-----+ |.....|.....| | | ||stove| |Bench|Bench| | | |+-----+ |.....|.....| | | | |.....|.....| | | |__________________|_____|_____| | |__________________________________| __________ _______________ | ________|-------|______________ | | |+-----+ |........| | | ||stove| |........| | | |+-----+ |..Upper.| | | |---------------------|..Bench.| | | |.......Lower.Bench...|........| | | |.....................|........| | | |_____________________|________| | |__________________________________| Kalle
Subject: Sauna building - panelling materials Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2000 11:29:06 -0700 To: Ben Hileman From: Kalle Hoffman > I am building a sauna for a neighbor. He has the design he wants > and the wood all picked out and cost is no object, the only thing i am > having a problem finding out is how high and wide to make the benches. > This is the bench layout bench layout that i will be using. Let me > know what you think for heights and widths. > > Thanks, > Ben Hileman Ben, If you're building from a kit they should have provided this information. Here's the equation I use when figuring out bench height. I put the top bench 40" below the ceiling. The next bench down is where your feet will rest and where the "non-seasoned" sauna guests will sit. Measure your most comfortable chair and use this for your measurement down from the top bench. From your image it's not clear if you'll have three levels of benches or two. If it's three, then just continue with the same comfortable chair measurement. After you get these laid out make sure the bottom bench is a safe step up from the ground. I made the ceiling of my current sauna too high and after laying out the benches I had to make a stepping stool to get to the first level. The bottom line is that you want to get up where the good heat is. As for the width, 14-18" for the top bench works well for me (three 2x6's). The width of the next bench down should be wide enough so the the people sitting on the top bench can put their feet behind the people on the second bench. This also makes a nice wide bench for people to lie on. Unfortunately, this second bench width doesn't lend itself to reclining. I've been considering making some contoured back rests for the lower bench in my sauna. Kalle
Subject: Barrel Saunas Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000 22:58:38 -0500 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Seth Rozycki I just stumbled across your sauna page and really enjoyed reading the faqs. You have done a great job answering everyones questions, I just thought you might like to see our product from Rice, Minnesota, The original bent stave Barrel Sauna from Superior Cooperage. eight feet long six feet three inches high and over five feet wide all hand made from white cedar.
Subject: Sauna building - panelling materials Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2000 22:40:00 +0100 To: Tony Webb From: Kalle Hoffman > Dear Kalle- > > Firstly, a few words of very grateful thanks for all your efforts to > disseminate information about sauna building and sharing this on your > website. > > I'm keen to build a backyard sauna and have a quite fundamental question. > What is the minimun thickness of wooden panelling you would reocmmend to > line a sauna given an adequate vapour barrier backing and rockwool > (fibreglass) insulation? I'm looking to use spruce tongue and groove > panelling approx 0.25" thick - will this work, or should I aim to use > something thicker? > > Also - I once experience a sauna in a gym which was lined with plywood > panelling. it hadn't long been built and seemed to work OK. What are your > thoughts on this (I can't tell you how it lasted witht he passage of time!). > > Best regards > > Tony Tony, Thanks for the feedback on my web page. I really enjoy saunas and building them. In the past, when I used 3/4" pine, it cupped. I'm kinda abusive to my sauna though. I have 1 1/2" redwood and it's rock solid. If it's a dry sauna (yucko) and you are the type of person who sits on a towel so the benches don't get wet from your sweat, I'm sure you could get away with as small as 1/2" dry panels. But if you just hose out the whole place afterwards I'd say 3/4" is the minimum. I've seen saunas lined with plywood, too. I've wondered how stable the glue was when heated. The ones I've seen held up well. Sorensen's resort in South Lake Tahoe on 88 in California has redwood plywood as I recall. I'll stop by there next time I'm up there and see how it's holding up. I took a sauna there in 1991. They had a wood burning stove and as I recall it didn't get very hot. Kalle
Subject: FW: Sauna Protection Lacquer Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 21:36:32 +0300 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Ekblom Jari, BC Charleston > > We are looking for a supplier that carries a product from Akzo Nobel Deco > > Oy, Finland with trade name Sasu. Any suggestions. > > I've never heard of it. Have you seen it used in saunas before. > > Kalle Hey, "Sasu" is the most commonly used lacquer for wash- and steamroom wood surface protection in Finland. The brand name comes from finnish words Sauna and suoja (=protection). I got a tip from my finnish friend here in Charleston that Sasu has been available by Original Sauna Heaters Inc. located in North York, Ontario Canada, but unfortunately they don't have it (anymore?). Do you have any good tips to give about the "local" sauna lacquer trade names/ suppliers? Best Regards, Jari Ekblom
Subject: Re: Thanks Date: Friday, April 28, 2000 12:51 PM To: Kalle Hoffman From: Roy Schmidt > > I hope you realize how many people you are helping with your amazing FAQ. > > > > Bless you -- > > > > !!! > > > > Roy Schmidt > > You're welcome. Which FAQ, Sauna? > > Kalle Yes, the sauna FAQ. I was looking for info on rocks, since I live near the Great Lakes, and I want to use a slew of those beautiful, black (apparently igneous) fist-sized stones we find along the shore. I assume they are basalt; I have a test specimen I plan to heat and throw into cold water just to be sure the material is OK. I found several other great nuggets of info, even just one list you wrote (in response to the question about lava rocks) about various ways to heat the sauna quickly -- including size-reducing measures like walls and dropped ceilings. I had planned to do these all myself (I am converting an 11x12, clean, cement-floored garden shed), and your list assured me I was on the right track. Bigger is not always better, I think. Again, thanks!
Subject: RE: sauna Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 16:51:47 -0500 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Dave Johnson I'm building a sauna in my basement and found some useful info in your FAQ's. I framed the wall that goes against the block wall 3 inches short and pushed it up against the ceiling, leaving a 3 " gap under the wall for air flow. I used 2x4's with 2 inches of styrofoam insulation, leaving 2 inches of air gap behind the wall. I was thinking about mounting a fan in the ceiling to circulate air above the ceiling, down behind the wall. How does that sound to you? I'm going to use an electric heater that can handle a lot of water. I live very close to Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, and have hand picked beautifully smoothed rocks from the shores that I'll use on the stove. I'd be happy to pick rocks for anyone who might be interested. Thanks for the great sight. Dave Johnson
Subject: RE: sauna Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2000 16:51:47 -0500 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Ted Schaner > On Thu, Jan 13, 2000 at 04:55:31PM -0500, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: > > Hi Kalle > > > > after reading the entire Q&A section of your website, I built my own > > lakeside sauna, and hopefully avoided many mistakes. The sauna seems to be a > > success. The question I have now is one of hygiene - seeing that on each use > > I and my guests deposit substantial amounts of sweat onto the wooden > > benches, how will I keep the sauna from eventually smelling like a locker > > room? Will the sauna require regular cleaning or does the stuff just burn > > off in the high heat? > > > > You may also be interested in my heating arrangement - I use BBQ propane > > tank hooked up to a heavy duty (max.89,000 BTU) pot boiler - one of those > > things used to cook corn at outdoor parties. This is topped with a tire rim, > > the center hole capped by stove pipe for exhaust, and the rim filled with > > rocks. Works OK now (5 saunas per tank), and will hopefully be more > > efficient in the future after I'm done fine tuning the configuration in the > > burn chamber. > > Thanks for the excellent website. > > > > Ted Schaner > > Picton, Ontario > > Ted, > > I need to clean my sauna out by hosing the benches down after every > few saunas. And I make sure the place can dry out between uses. Ideally, > this is by leaving the fdoor wide open and not using the sauna for a few > days. Drying time can vary, depending on how wet your sauna gets, the > weather, sauna size, and building materials. I use a lot of water > in the sauna so that helps to clean off the benches too. Try pouring > a five gallon bucket of cold water over your head next time > it's awesome! When I heated my sauna with propane I used to get five saunas > per propane tank (five gallons) too, I had a 40,000 btu hot water heater. > How long does it take to heat your sauna? What size is it? > > Do you plug the "lug nut holes in the rim? Did you weld everything together > or does gravity hold it all together? I like your stove solution. > Send me a picture if you get a chance. > > Kalle Kalle, The sauna is approx 7x7x7 feet (~350 ft3). It takes an hour to get to 80degC near the ceiling, but that is not with the burner going full blast. I don't yet have the guts to turn it up all the way unattended, because at full blast it looks like the inside of a volcano.
For now the thing is held together by gravity, but I plan to weld it together as soon as it is optimized (see attached drawing). The rim I have right now is from a fairly wide tire, meaning that sitting on its side it is tall, and the 'septum' (the surface with the hole and lug nut holes) is too far to be licked by the flames. I was initially concerned with having a deep enough inverted cup sitting over the flame to contain all the gases and exhaust properly. That turned out not to be an issue, because as it is, the exhaust current up the chimney is so strong that it actually sucks air in from the top of the rim through the pile of rocks! (presumably through the lug nut holes). Threfore I plan to replace the rim with a narrower one, and also partially block the exhaust hole by welding in some obstacle that also heats up and tranfers heat to the rim/rocks. Something inside the chimney to promote heating up of the chimney wall would probably also help in recovering some of the heat. I noticed on x-section drawings of geas water heaters that there is a helix inside the exhaust pipe, which presumably swirls the gas around for better heat transfer to the tank. More questions: the floor I have right now is plywood over vapor barier over insulated 2x4 frame, in other words, not too suitable for lots of water splashing. I'm reluctant to install tiles because the the sauna has to withstand going from -20°C to +80 (OK not quite 80 at the floor level), and I'm concerned with the grout cracking. Am I right in my concern? Alternatively, what do you think of forming a 'basin' on the floor out of some heavy plastic and laying a wooden grate over it? Unfortunately, this would have to be mopped dry after every use, because for once in my life I managed to build the floor fairly level. I'll keep you posted, and thanks again. Ted
Subject: Re: moisture problems Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2000 00:43:34 -0800 To: Alberto Pozzolo From: Kalle Hoffman > Hi there, > my name is Alberto and I am a diehard sauna guy. I am building > an outdoor 8*8 wood burning unit on my property here in Victoria (on the > beautiful west coast of Canada). A question has been raised by one of my > friends about attaching the cedar panelling on the inside of the sauna, > directly against the the 2by6 stud wall which is touching the vapour > barrier that is against the insulation. His concern is about moisture > absorption through the wood and potential for condensation on the inside > of the wall side of the unit. He suggested maybe strapping the studs > with a 1" strip for air flow. I'd like to ask your experienced opinion > on the matter? > > Thank you for your time, > > Alberto Alberto, Your friend is right. Hot air in the sauna holds lots of moisture and when that air reaches the vapor barrier it will cool down because the wall is cooler than inside the sauna. Cooler air doesn't hold as much moisture and water will condense (sweat) on the vapor barrier and whatever touches it. If you didn't have the vapor barrier then the air would go into the walls and really cause problems. The best way to build a sauna is to leave a gap between the wood paneling and the vapor barrier to allow air to circulate, minimize condensation, and to allow faster drying. Installing cedar or redwood strips over the studs after the vapor barrier has been installed will would be the best way to go about making your walls. Make sure you leave a gap on the top and bottom of your walls so that the air can get behind the boards. BTW: I don't bother putting in the strips, I've never had a problem with moisture behind the boards. Good Luck. +-+ +-+ +-+ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | <--- 2x studs | | | | | | --------+-+-------------+-+-------------+-+--- <--- vapor barrier +-+ +-+ +-+ <--- 1x strips/spacers ============================================== <--- inner wall panels Kalle
Subject: Re: saunas Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2000 11:22:54 -0800 To: Wallace, E Wayne From: Kalle Hoffman > Kalle, > I am in the process of building my first sauna. I live on the east coast of > South Carolina. Red wood and cedar is very costly here so I have been > looking for a substitute. Two wood types that I am considering are popular > and cypress. I am leaning toward cypress. Can you tell me if these two > wood types will be acceptable. > > Wayne Wayne, The key to sauna walls is two-fold: first to be a soft wood so that it won't conduct heat and secondly not bleed sap when it's heated and cooled over and over. I had a very budgeted sauna once with pine walls and some boards "bled" and others didn't. I just had to sand them every six months or so. After a few years they all ran out of sap. The irony was that I installed the most sappy board right at head level. That board got sanded alot until it ran out of sap. In Finland, spruce is used for walls. Around here cypress is used for outdoor furniture and it holds up to weather very well. Poplar is used more for furniture framing (those big 80's style puffy sectional sofas). Keeping in mind that I haven't worked with either wood much, I would go with cypress on the walls and cedar or redwood for the benches. Good Luck. Kalle
Subject: Re: sauna rocks Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2000 12:19:50 -0800 To: Marc From: Kalle Hoffman > Hi Kalle, > > Can I use landscaping rocks, called 'lava rock' as the rocks for my > wood-fired sauna? > > I wish I had found your FAQs sooner! I am 90% complete with an 8'x8' > outdoor sauna. It's really a garden shed with an old wood burner in it. > It's cedar-lined with very little insulation. I put a about 3" of > loose vermiculite in the ceiling and stapled an aluminum vapor barrier > in the walls. Half of the ceiling is lucite panels to allow light into > the shed. i did put in double panes to help keep heat in. > > I had my first sauna yesterday and it took about 2 hours for the > room to get to 150 degrees and then the thermometer broke. It kept > getting hotter. But it took about 4 hours for the rocks to get hot > enough to produce steam! I am worried that these rocks are just slag > and may produce harmful fumes, although nothing smelled weird. > > thanks for the great info on saunas for us do-it-yourselfers. > > mark Mark, Landscaping rocks, such as lava rock, might not be dense enough and may be too small. Smaller rocks would have too much service area and don't hold the heat as well. The rocks I use are about 3-4 inches wide and are solid lava rocks. Here's some things you can do to make your sauna work more efficiently: * Get better rocks (if you're willing to pay for the shipping I'll go up to the university and look for some more of the rocks I use, around 50-100 pounds). * Get a bigger stove. * Take off a few boards from the walls and blow/dump in insulation, then replace the boards. * Increase the thickness of your roof and put in more insulation. * Make your sauna smaller by putting in a wall. * Put in a drop ceiling and add insulation. Good luck. Kalle
Subject: Re: mobile hot tub/sauna combo.at ocf? Date: Tue, 21 Dec 1999 12:13:26 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Vernon Albert > > I have built two bus conversions both with saunas in them.Do You want to > > know what weird people in oregon do?I have never heard of or seen any thing > > like the projects I have email@example.com > > I have seen a few saunas in buses. Can you send me a picture > of the ones you've done? When will you be in California with your bus > I'd love to do a sweat with you. Or maybe I'll come meet > you at the Oregon Country Fair next year. > > Kalle Kalle, thank you for the reply. I find mobile hot tubs and saunas to be quite fun than and they almost always leave people staring and wild wonder. Unfortunately I do not have pictures of the bus. I've built 2 both of them with saunas I'm sure I could dig up some pictures. My first bus was really cool, but my second bus was the bitchin one. It had a full-size washer dryer,dishwasher, three types of Heat, an indoor waterfall in the bedroom,recirculating hot water systems, and are really nice sauna. Unfortunately I gave the bus to a friend and he changed out the wood stove and burnt it to the ground. I typically work at the sauna what I'm at the Oregon country fair. But I do sell lumber to the OCf and know the upper crust a bit so this year I hope to bring my mobile hot tub/sauna to the fair. I also run a vehicle conversion company, and working with the Northwest American hydrogen association. It seems as though I saw something on your WebSite about school nutritional programs. I'm quite interested in hearing what they're doing. Since I do produce food delivery vehicles, and most of all I'm concerned about nutrition of all people.tell me more than if you would be so kind. For I am interested in what weird people do in California. Thanks again Vernon Albert www.mobileadvantage.com
Subject: Re: finding the right combination of heat and humidity Date: Thu Dec 16 09:27:52 1999 To: Donna L. Fox From: Kalle Hoffman > Hello Kalle, my husband recently built a sauna in our basement. He enjoys > it very much, and I must say that I am rather uncomfortable in it. While > he sweats, I turn red and feel faint. Perhaps we are not using enough > water. It seems that the dial usually reads between 15-20% humidity. What > is a good temperature and humidity reading for a sauna? Should I be taking > a warm-hot shower before the sauna to open my pours? Please help. I want > to enjoy this too! Thank you. Donna F. Donna, The best temperature for me in the sauna is 80-90° Celsius. As for humidity, I like as much as I can tolerate for the temperature. Some people don't sweat much. My sauna has two five gallon buckets of water full of cold water all the time. When the sauna is really cranking I dump all five gallons on my head. That really cools me off. I call it "liquid stamina". If you don't have good drainage in your sauna or don't want to splash water all around then you can install a shower head just outside the sauna and visit it every time you get hot. I never take a shower before a sauna. I just rinse the sweat off my body and wash with soap inside the sauna. I even shave in the sauna, no shaving cream necessary. If you feel faint, you might try drinking water 20 minutes before going into the sauna, as the heat making you sweat is obviously dehydrating. Also consider having drinking water available at all times during your sauna experience. I have a friend who brings refrigerated bottled water with her into the sauna. Kalle
Subject: Re: Sauna Date: Fri Nov 12 22:49:49 1999 To: Glen Evans From: Kalle Hoffman > hi like your site: it is very good > I'm looking for some information on building my sauna can you help i > want to build it 6 by 8 would like to build the walls out of 2 by 4 rough > cedar and 1 inch boards on the walls, and wondering what to do about > moisture because this will be in my basement, would like to put 1 inch > boards on the ceiling too. would there be anything else that i should do > to make this better, also I'm using an electric heater. would styrofoam > be better than insulation and what would you use for vapour barrier. > > thanks don Don, Since your sauna is in your basement you need to be careful about installing a good moisture barrier. Overlap the plastic to the next stud and tape it, too. Make sure you have good ventilation so that it can dry out between uses. You may even consider installing a fan vented to the outside (like a bathroom fan). Styrofoam and other closecell foams have pros and cons. On one hand they provide a higher R-value than fiberglass, on the other hand they are flammable and cost more. I think they may even release nasty carcinogens. You should be fine if you install R-13 fiberglass in the wall and at least R-19 in the roof. Kalle
Subject: Re: Arizona sauna Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1999 00:54:52 To: Greg Gotto From: Kalle Hoffman > Kalle, > > I have built my own rammed earth home and am adding a sauna in a small > (10x12) outside bathroom (open ceiling). The sauna is 36"x112" outside > dimensions. After reading your page perhaps I shold have made it larger, > but I was not thinking of more than two or three people and thought > that sufficient. > > My first question, I have a quantity of tongue in groove poplar flooring. > Can/should I use this for flooring, or is it only suitable for walls? > The surrounding bathroom walls are four courses of cinder block, > capped with an eight inch wood frame stuccoed wall. Inside this I > have furred and framed with 2x4's and insulated all spaces with foam. > I assume the reason I see vertically applied wood is to allow drainage of > condensation, if there is no gap between the wood strips, is it okay to > apply horizontally? I acquired a quantity of pine 2x4 s and roofed the > sauna with the wood on edge and butted, putting plywood over the top. > I will line the inside with 1x6 cedar. Is this sufficient insulation, > or do I need to insullate the roof? At 3500 feet this area is not > too cold but does receive several inches of snow. The floor has 2x4 > treated wood laid flat with pine 2x4 filling the gaps so a 1.5 inch floor > is present. I planned to cover this with 1/2 inch plywood and cover that > with either the poplar or cedar. Is that sufficient on a concrete slab? > I may be able to pick up a used box wood stove. Although too large > for the structure, I considered bricking in the end and having the > fire fed from outside so I don't have to worry about combustion air. > Is this a good idea? I am researching electric heaters but would prefer > to use a 110 size. Would that be too small? Thank you for being the > kind of person you like to find on the net. A specialist with passion. > I, too am having fun with this project! > > Greg Gotto I've seen vertically applied wood strips, too. I think it's mostly style. If you have clean, straight boards, vertical is nice. I prefer concrete floors in a sauna. They are less of a hassle. Seems like this might work out for two or three people. +---------------------+-----------+------+ | | | | | +-----+ | lower |upper | | |stove| | bench |bench | | +-----+ | | | | | | | +--------- door ----+-----------+------+ | | | BATH | | | I always recommend lots of insulation in the ceiling. Is your roof solid wood? If so, you have 4 inches of wood for a ceiling. Wood has an r-value of around 1.25 per inch which puts your roof at R-5, not very good. I would put 3" foam on the roof and then your plywood on that. This will give you a roof over R-30. If your 2x4's are 16" centers then you can put R-13 insulation between them. Even then you may still want to consider installing 2" or 3" foam on that before you put on your roofing. With the floor I would just go with the concrete. If you do put down plywood consider installing tile. I do put wood slats on the concrete that can be pulled up to clean and let dry. If you insulate your roof you can use a 110 stove with no problem. Kalle
Subject: Re: TOO MANY SAUNA QUESTIONS Date: Wed, 10 Nov 1999 12:01:03 To: Orazio Belsito From: Kalle Hoffman > Dear Kalle > > After recently reading your webpage, I had a few questions...as do > perhaps everybody. > > 1. In a 6x8 sauna with 3.5 wooden walls and roof with r-30, > and the west wall 3.5ft of cement block with 3.5ft wood/r-30 > wall above: should the cement block portion be insulated on > the dirt side and/or should plastic sheeting be placed between > the dirt and the blocks? > > 2. With regards to your stove. you mention checking with codes > what have builing inspectors discussed with you in the past about > your heater. It certainly does not appear to have any safety features > with respect to > > a) products of combustion leaking into an enclosed space > super insulated space (ie: CO, NOX, CO2) have you checked > your stove and saunas with a gas detector? > > b) overheating > > 3. What is your "skirt" made of? Is it the existing heater fire box?, or if > it is a sealed selfmade assembly how does the fire breath. wouldn't it make > more sense to have a tube supply air to the box from out side, perhaps through > wall or floor? > > 4. You do not specify how far this stove should be set away from a wooden > or cement block wall. > > 5. Have you tried using a thermocouple from a kitchen oven to control the > heater valve? or a kitchen oven control in its entirity? > > 6. How many of these stoves have you made what rod do you use, 7018? > > 7. I know a cement block wall is a heat sink, but will affect the feel of the > laudes, if they are affixed to a cement wall covered with the normal 1" inner > wood sheathing? What if the cement blocks were covered with aluminum foil > prior to wood on furring? > > 8. Is furring needed behind the sheathing WITH OPENING at the top and bottom for > drying between the sheathing and the vapor barrier? > > 9. Wouldn't the sauna heat up quicker if you didn't have that aqueous heatsink > in the hottest area of the sauna? Or does its actions as an economiser > outweigh its heat drag charateristics? > > 10. Thanks for all your anticipated help, and information. Am I being over > cautious? > > Orazio Belsito > Redondo Beach, CA Orazio, 1. I would install some type of moisture barrier between the dirt and the cement block. Tar paper, plastic,... would do. My guess is that this is most likely a retaining wall turned sauna wall. If so, you'll get moisture on the dirt side and the water will go right through the brick and may cause mold and moisture problems. The cement block is a very good heat sink and it's best to insulate the block so you won't waste heat heating the block. The good news is that it's on the bottom half of the sauna. I measured the tempuratures in my sauna once, at the top it was 185°F, in the middle it was 150°F and at the floor level it was 120°F. If I were you I'd install 2x2's over the cement and put in a close cell foam insulation over the concrete and then plastic between the foam and wood. 2. The guy who wrote up the plans put that on there for me. 2a. You have a good point and I have thought of this. On this note I'll check my stove for leaks. If the stove rusts out or the stove pipe leaks this can be a real problem. I know people who will not use combustion stoves in a sauna and will only use electric. Some day when I have lots of money and firewood I will have two stoves in my sauna. One electric and the other wood. The electric can be for daily use and the wood stove can be for special occasions. 2b. I have left my stove running overnight in my old sauna. It reached 275 degrees. My current sauna never gets above 220. 3. The skirt on the stove is part of the original hot water heater. Having a tube feed the stove from outside with air is a very good idea. It would not require cool air to be pulled in through the sauna space and would be safer in controlling the gases you talked about above. 4. I set mine back nine inches from anything flammable. Over the years the wood does decay under the heat. The best solution is to install some 1/2" cement (wonder) board on the wall next to the fire box and rocks. 5. I have, I took it from a furnace. It failed because it reached 700 degrees. 6. I've made four stoves. Two for myself and two for friends. Don't remember what rod I used. I just used what was lying around. If I remember correctly, 18 is the amount of carbon in the steel and the steel in a hot water heater is not very hard. It cuts easily with a hacksaw. 7. I've never tried aluminum foil. I'm sure it would work well to reflect more heat back into the sauna and wouldn't get brittle like plastic does over time. I'm sure it would be more expensive. Most of my saunas are as low cost as possible. 8. Yes. This is the best way. Some day I'll build saunas like this, currently I don't. 9. Which aqueous heatsink? The water, rocks, concrete block, the stove? If you want the sauna to heat up faster run a hot water line to your sauna and forget about heating water with the stove. My sauna is not a model of efficiency. I enjoy building recycled and eclectic saunas and making do. I am an economiser. The challenge of creating saunas out of what I have out outweighs the heat drag charateristics for me. 10. You have a very realistic caution level. Thanks for the feedback. Good Luck! Kalle
Subject: Re: sauna question Date: Thu Sep 23 18:11:37 1999 To: Sarena From: Kalle Hoffman > thank you for posting your interesting FAQ's. > > i am planning on placing a pre-built sauna (using an electric heater) on > the edge of a lake where i live. the vendor who lives in canda is > encouraging me to place it indoors if at all possible. (easier to heat). > i can only afford to build a 4x6 unit and not an entire little hut. i > live where the winters average about 19-29 Fahrenheit.will it take me > significantly longer to heat the unit during winter? are there > insulation minimums? having never owned a sauna before, am i right in > thinking that having a sauna on the edge of water will be well worth the > trudge (30 feet or so to the shore from the house, down 20 steep stairs > that will need to be kept clean of snow)? > > thanks for any help on this matter. > > sarena Sarena, Most of the prebuilt saunas I've seen have 2" walls. Not very good for the outdoors. That might be why the vendor is encouraging you to put it inside. If it gets that cold where you are you should have at least a 6" wall to get you up to an R19 insulation rating. In Santa Cruz, California, I have 4" (R13) walls and (R30) in the ceiling and it's fine. But the coldest it gets is 30 Fahrenheit in the winter. Your sauna vender might sell you just the wood panels, door, hardware, and stove. Then you can build your own shed and install the vender's stuff in it. As for the putting your sauna next to the water, the answer is that it will be well worth the "trudge". Jumping in the freezing water after a long sauna is simply the best. Take care. Kalle
Subject: Re: sauna stove pipe. Date: Sun, 1 Aug 1999 19:26:27 -0700 To: Megan or Ed From: Kalle Hoffman On Sun, Aug 01, 1999 at 08:42:26PM -0400, Megan or Ed wrote: > Kalle, > > I have a back door off a bedroom which I would like to use as an > entrance to an outdoor sauna. I am interested in building this outdoor > sauna around a small Lange oval enameled woodstove. I am thinking 8 > feet by 6 feet. I would run a metalbestos chimney straight up, right > off the stove. That would be some weight to get the proper height to > draft. I would prefer not to have to go to electric heat as I have > unlimited wood. Thoughts, suggestions, etc. Ed Rogowski Straight up is the best. If you put a 90 degree ell (which isn't up to code where I live) your pipe will not last as long. I've never used metalbestos. Triple lined stove pipe is required to go through a roof and you need to install a box in the roof to give the correct clearance to anything flammable. And you'll need to put a spark arrester at the top to catch all the fireworks that can go up the flue. If I were you I'd call up the county building department and ask them what the code requirements are where you live. +---+ |___| | | /|\ | | | | | | 2' | | | _/\_ | | \|/ _/ __ \_ | | <----10'----->_/ _/ \_ \_ | | _/ _/ \_ \_ | | _/ _/ | | _/ _/ | | _/ _/ | | _/ _/ | | _/ _/ | | _/ _/ | |/|_/ | | | _/| | | _/| | | | _/ _| | | | _/ _/ | | | | _/ _/ +-| |-+ _/ _/ | | _/ _/ | | _/ _/ | | Kalle
Subject: Re: Help! Sauna Floor Interface Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 12:05:40 -0700 To: Dave Richter From: Kalle Hoffman > My family and I have enjoyed our home sauna for 14 years. We use lots of > water and have our shower right in the sauna room. Problem is I put a > non-treated 2x4 sill plate right on the concrete floor. I insulated the > walls, put up a vapor barrier, and then tongue and groove cedar to the > floor. Where the cedar meets the floor, on the wall I put a one row ribbon > of ceramic tile, then caulked the top. I knew it was not the way to do it, > but hey, that was 14 years ago. > > Problem is now water has gotten in behind the ceramic and rotted the botton > few inches of the cedar boards and the sill plate. I need to totally redo > it and want to do it right. I am thinking of the following: > > 1) put one course of brick on the floor (does the brick need to be water > proofed)? > 2) put a treated 2x4 sill plate on top of the brick. > 3) frame in the walls with 2x4 construction with fiberglass insulation, then > add vapor barrier > 4) put a 2 foot high band of 1/2" cement board (bead board) on the wall > resting on the floor (does cement board need to be water proofed?) > 5) caulk (or mortar) the bottom edge where the cement board meets the floor > 6) put a one row ceramic tile ribbon against the cement board on the wall > meeting the floor > 7) put cedar board on stopping right at the top of the ceramic ribbon > > My greatest concern is the wall to floor interface and how to make it water > proof so I don't have to redo it in another 14 years. > > 1) Any suggestions? will my plan work? > 2) What kind of brick should I use? > 3) Does it need to be water proofed? > 4) Is cement board a good product to use? and does it need to be water > proofed? > > I expect I'll need to add firring strips on the walls to compensate for the > thickness of the cement board on the wall's lower 2 feet. > > Help, we're without sauna. > > Dave Richter and family > Tony, Tyler and Doreen (Heikkila) ....she's a 100% fin. Dave, Looks like a good plan. Here's my version. Since concrete is very porous, if water gets to the floor it will go under any type of seal (through the concrete) you make from the wall to the floor. You can seal the floor and concrete so that the water won't get into the concrete but you would have to reseal every few years. You can also tile the floor which will seal it. Keeping the wood up off the floor level and well ventilated is how I keep my walls dry. Treated wood will work fine against the concrete. I use recycled "old growth" heart redwood. I've never used cement board on the walls. Unless you seal it, it will "wick" too. You can seal the bricks if you want after you install them or tile over them. I would just leave them exposed so as The picture on my web page shows me building my sauna on a rainy weekend. You can clearly see that the the water "wicks" up the concrete about 1 1/2 inches. I used a 5 1/2 inch curb but I think you may be able to go as low as 3 inches. The only use for cement board I've thought of was for fire protection. Like behind your stove. Also make sure you use R13 insulation in the walls. Here are two designs for connecting your wall to the floor. Make sure you bolt the sill down too. | | | 2x4 framing -> | | | | | | +-----+ | <- t&g siding with vapor barrier 2x4 PT sill plate -> | | | +-----+ | | +-+ concrete block 3 1/2" -> | | +-----+--------------------------- | concrete slab -> | | +--------------------------------- | | | 2x4 framing -> | | | <- 2x6 t&g siding with vapor barrier | | | +-----+--+ 1 1/2"x5" PT sill plate -> | | +--------+ | | concrete curb 5" -> | | | | | +------------------------ | concrete slab -> | | +--------------------------------- Kalle
Subject: Re: lighting for saunas Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 10:16:51 -0800 To: Bailey, David M. CER From: Kalle Hoffman Bailey, David M. CER wrote: > > Kalle, > I am building a sauna in my basement and thanks to your FAQ page I have got > things pretty well figured out. It is a 4' x 6' with a Polar 6kw heater. I > plan to poor water on the rocks. Do I need a special heat resistant and > moisture resistant light fixture and bulb? Any help on this would be > greatly appreciated. > > thanks, > Dave Dave, I once put a plastic light fixture in my sauna. A real mistake - it melted . Then I went down and got a heavy glass fixture that screwed into a metal base with rubber gasket. It had a heavy metal cage that protects the glass from getting hit. It's held up for two years now. I mount it where it's least likely to get water splashed on it. Even though it does get wet from time to time it's held up well. Make sure the fixture and all switches are WELL grounded. Run an extra wire to a water pipe or drive a grounding rod into the ground close to your sauna. You might also want to put a dimmer switch on all the lights inside and just outside the sauna. The dimmer switch I use has a slider on the side of the on/off switch that presets the lighting level. For saunaing I like the light very dim,. and when I'm cleaning my sauna I like the light as high as it can go. Another lighting technique I've seen is to put the lighting fixture under the benches. It lights up the floor where you need it and the shadow effect is pleasant. If you do this just make sure that the fixtures are well sealed. Lots of water goes down below the benches. A friend of mine bought me a pool light. The one that goes underwater in a pool. I'll install it in the next sauna I build either in the concrete on the floor or in one of the walls. It should provide some eclectic lighting affects. Kalle
Subject: Re: Sauna related questions Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 12:05:20 -0800 To: Alex Gladkov From: Kalle Hoffman > Hi, Kalle! > Thanks for supporting good Sauna related page. A lot of usefull > information. I am ready to build sauna on my backyard. Some questions > you may know the answers: > 1)where may I find recycled redwood (you mentioned that in your mail) > 2) What do you think about barrell type structure made out of pressure > treated 2-in lumber outside, lined with 3/4-in red cedar inside? I > assume there is no insulation or vapor barrier, because it is kind of > solid wood. Hope it is thick enough for our climate (practically whole > year above the freezing point). The only questions bothering me are: if > pressure treated wood is OK for sauna (outside)? How to make sure ther > is no gaps between the lumbers? May I use glue or some type of caulk to > seal the seams outside? I think T&G lumbers will help, but still I > probably need something in between the boards. Do you have some tips on > that? > Thanks. > Alex. Hi Alex, Here are a few sources I use to get recycled wood: * Recycled Lumber Supply 38th Avenue, Capitola, California. Prices tend to be high but they will sometimes trade one material for another. * Redwood decks. I'm always asking people if they are planning to put in a new deck. If they are I ask them if I can have the old one. You'll want to dismantle the structure yourself. If a contractor does it they will cut the wood into pieces small enough for the dump to take. * Old redwood barrels. Keep your eyes open when you're driving around. If you see an old barrel that looks like it's not being used, ask if you can have it. People are usally happy that someone will clean up their mess. * People's yards. Some people collect wood for a project and then never do the project. These are sometimes the best recycling "cues" because they have already done most of the work and all you'll need to do is to pick it up. You need to be persistent with this type of recycling. With all recycling you'll have to be ready to close the deal before someone changes thier mind. Once you show interest in something it increases the value of the material. So once someone agrees to a deal DO IT. As for pressure treated wood, use it for landscaping. If it were me, I'd take the wood from the barrel and tongue and groove it. Glue turns to mush in a sauna (unless it's epoxy). Caulking might work. I caulk around my doors with a rubber caulk (the 50 year nonpaintable stuff). Thanks for the feedback. And send me an email with a picture with what you come up with. Kalle
Subject: Re: Temperature control Date: Mon, 4 Jan 1999 14:36:12 -0800 To: Tim Vaughan From: Kalle Hoffman > kalle: > > I am a novice at this sauna thing. I built an sauna in my back yard. It > is great! Two problems I have. Due to space restrictions it is 4x7x7 > feet. I am using a Homecraft electric heater, 5kw. > > 1. My door doesn't seal real well and my latching mechanism needs > improvement. Any suggestions? > > 2. I have no ventilation holes (as of yet). The air below the 1st bench > is very cold. There is absolutely no air circulation. I am considering > using a small battery operated fan to mix the hot/cold air. Should I > ventilate this? I do have a fan in the ceiling to exhaust the sauna when > we are done bathing. > > thanks, > > Tim Vaughan Tim, The only ventilation theories that I subscribe to are making sure there is enough air flow for the combustion and enough air for people to breathe. Since you have an electric heater you only need to make sure people have enough air to breathe. For me this means an air gap under the door. If your sauna is well insulated then the door must be the weak link. I have a latch from the local hardware store. I'll check the manufacturer this weekend and email you the info. For an electric sauna you won't need as much ventilation as a gas burner. Fill the gap in your door with wood trim. Most other stuff melts or stinks when it gets hot. Do you close off the ceiling exhaust when using the sauna? You can make a sliding wood door to do the trick. A 5kw heater should put out enough heat for your 196 cu.ft. sauna. Maybe you could raise the lower benches. Here's a nice layout for a 4x7x7 sauna. Should seat two to four people. ________________________ ___________ | ______________________|-------|__________ | | |........|............| | | | |........|............| | | | |........|............| | | | |.Upper..|...Lower....| ___ | | | |.Bench..|...Bench....| / \ | | | |........|............| / \ | | | |........|............| < STOVE >| | | |........|............| \ / | | | |........|............| \___/ | | | |_____________________|__________________| | |____________________________________________| Kalle
Subject: Re: sauna ventilation Date: Mon, 4 Jan 1999 14:17:00 -0800 To: Richard Heileger From: Kalle Hoffman > I have read thru your pages and think the old gas water heater is ideal > for my sauna, especialy since I just put new one in the basement, old > one sprung a leak. The temperature controls for water heaters, control > from 100-170 deg. F, the same range as for sauna. Do you use the > temperature control from the water heater, and if so what changes if any > do you make? Would assume that moving the sensing bulb into the sauna > instead of the tank would be a good move???? > > firstname.lastname@example.org Richard, I never got the temperature controls from an old water heater to work. They are designed to work while submerged in water. If you get it to work I'd like to know how you did it. My sauna stove gets to 700 degrees and the room gets to 200 degrees so you'll have to move the sensing bulb from the stove to the room or it will burn up. I just have a valve turn the burner on and it stays on until I turn it off. Just like the stove in the kitchen. I left my sauna on all night once and the hottest it got was 225 degrees. As for the range, I prefer 160-200 for my sauna so the range of the old temperature control may be a little low. BTW: It's important to have a pilot light with a device to turn off the gas if the flame goes out. The temperature control from an old water heater has this device built into it. Kalle
Subject: Re: Low Budget Builder? Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1998 11:17:53 -0800 To: Thomas Line From: Kalle Hoffman > Hi, I'm confused about the vapor barrier thing. I'm framing a sauna in > a basement with > one wall against the concrete basement wall. Is there some rules about > when and where and what type of vapor barrier to use? I'm going to use > unfinished cedar inside overlapping the boards since they aren't tongue > and groove, and am figuring on fiberglass insulation of some kind. I'm > 6x5 feet with an overhead of less than 7 feet due to the basement height > constraints. > > -- > Thomas Line > email@example.com > Miami University Center For Ergonomic Research > Oxford Ohio USA > http://www.muohio.edu/~linetp Thomas, I'd put up a vapor barrier behind the cedar. The hot air holds lots of moisture. When the air cools against the concrete basement wall the air won't be able to hold the same amount of moisture and it will make everything wet. Wood that gets wet like this will rot and mold will develop. Also, if moisture gets into the fiberglass insulation it will mold and start to smell. The vapor barrier just keeps the moisture near the heat and away from the cold. Most fiberglass insulation comes with a vapor barrier but it's hard to make a airtight seal out of all the pieces. You can use heavy plastic or I'm sure that your local hardware store will have some name brand high tech vapor barrier product. Good Luck. Kalle
Subject: Re: Low Budget Builder? Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998 14:25:32 -0800 To: Chris Goodenough From: Kalle Hoffman > Hey Kalle, > > I live in Bonny Doon and noticed that you're into saunas and from Santa > Cruz too, so I figured you'd be the best person to ask some questions. > I want to build a low budget sauna in my backyard. My plan is to dig a > pit (soil is sand) make the walls out of cinder blocks and the roof a > pitched roof made of two 4'x8' sheets of plywood. I'm unsure about the > floor; any suggestions? The roof will be just tall enough to stand at > the highest point and crouching everywhere else. Implied by the two > sheets of plywood the dimensions will be approximately 8'x8' (take away > some from the pitching of the roof), does that seem too small for a > maximum of four people? Will plywood fall apart quickly from the > effects of the sauna: heat, moisture...? I plan to weather proof the > outside of the plywood. Are the plywood laminating glues bad if used in > a sauna? Are the cinder block walls a bad idea? I plan to use a > modified 25gal oil drum as my stove. Any suggestions on the stove's > fabrication. Or fabrication of the entire sauna, I'm not stuck on this > plan at all. > Great website and thanks for answering my questions. > > Fellow sweater, > Chris Goodenough Chris, A few comments on plywood and cinder blocks. You'll have no insulation in your sauna. In fact, the earth will be a very good heat sink. And the plywood will let all the heat escape. I've thought of digging down for a sauna before, I like the idea because it's very earthy. You should line the walls with 2x4 sleepers, a moisture barrier and then some sort of wood. I've seen people use plywood. It works. As for the size 8'x8', that's large. You'll be able to fit at least 6+ people in there. For four people I'd go with 6x7. The oil drum will work. The steel may be a bit thin and you'll find that a hot water heater is much thicker and also has the stove pipe already built into it. Good luck. I'd like to come by and check it out some time. Kalle
Subject: Re: wounderful sauna Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 10:24:21 -0700 To: Takashi Sasaki From: Kalle Hoffman > Hello, Kalle. > > Thank you for your wounderful site of sauna. You are a excellent > sauna maker! I tried once a sauna making. But there were no stove for > sauna suitable.So I stopped since then. But, looking your sauna site, > I get more spirits. Thanks.I will try again. > > Takashi Sasaki, from northern country Hokkaido Japan. Takashi Sasaki, Thanks for the feedback. You can always make your own sauna stove for the price of a few welding rods. Check out my sauna stove page at: http://www.kalle.com/stove.html Kalle
Subject: Re: sauna heater Date: Thu, 02 Jul 1998 12:57:40 -0700 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Kalle Hoffman > Kalle, > > If you have the time, would you explain your heater/stove in greater > detail for me. Do you have heating elements in each of the tanks? If > you do, do they both have to be submerged in water? Do you put > the rocks on a grate or let them sit directly on the elements? Does > each tank have a seperate plug? Are they gas heaters? Explain as much as > you can please? I would really apreciate it? Ok, I finally got a picture of it on my web site. Just go there to see it. The heating element is below the lower tank and the lower tank is filled with rocks. The rocks sit in the lower tank and there is a water/air tight metal plate that is between the fire and the rocks. The exaust from the burner is 3" and runs up through the middle of the stove. The lower tank has a skirt that drops about 8 inches. I cut a hole for the burner which you can just see in the picture. Only the top holds water and it gets VERY hot. The top tank has a plug which I run a pipe and spicket off of. I run my stove off of gas but if you made the burner area larger and the stove pipe 6" you should be able to run it off of wood. Hope that answers most of your questions. http://www.kalle.com/stove.html Kalle Hoffman
Subject: Saunas in Kansas City Date: Fri, 5 Jun 1998 12:02:30 -0500 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Christopher Bailey Dear Kalle, I live in Kansas City and are now making sauna exclusively. We are presently puting in a'll electric heaters some Gas powered but for all intencive purposes Electric seems to be the one of choice we are useing the Tylo heaters because for there large rock capsity and design that won't allow burns to the outside of the heater. not to memtion there 3 year guarantee we started out witha cedar saw mill Red Cedar and became so ingrossed in Saunas that just turned into a business overnight. We as you can imageine can build any size any design no probloms we have otngue and grooved all the wood and make them a full one inch thick so that our clients feel that they get there money's worth we make the dcuk board seat a full 2by 5 inch and rounded over for smooth finish( no splinters in the butt here) some folks think were crazy but our little ones are 8by 8by7 so we think we give more suna for your buck afterall we get the lumber form trees no middle man to buy from here. We have just strated and also have a barrell sauna model we are just finishing with so if you know of any other ways or designs I would be interested in hearing from you. One can never learn to much where quality is concerned. Hey I built one last week for acouple they wanted it to look like an outhouse. thought it was pretty cute when we got done shortly we plan on oopening a shop in our localk mall the Great Mall going to have a window in the wall between the show room and the working area so folks can actualoly see there Sauna being made. The Red Cedar wood smells great when heated up. I cant imagine any other wood being better but is there such a thing. Thanks for you email address but never have seen your web site can you give me address. Thanks alot Chris Bailey. Kc's Old West Cedar Mill ATTn Christopher Bailey 233 N. White Dr. Gardner, KS. 66030 1-913-856-3800
Subject: Re: Electric Heater for Sauna Date: Mon, 3 Nov 1997 22:46:51 -0800 (PST) To: Tom & Ellie Martin From: Kalle Hoffman > I am putting an addition onto my house and I plan to buy a pre-cut sauna > to put into my master bathroom. I have received several manufacturer's > brochures and I can only find a handful of differences between the > manufacturers besides price. They are wood type (I plan on buying clear > western red cedar), bench construction (2"x 2" tops versus 1"x 4" tops), > wall thickness (the thicker the better), fasteners (galvanized > nails/staples or stainless steel screws), and heaters. > > Every brochure states that "the heart of any sauna is the heater." With > all other things being essentially equal, this makes sense. The only > information that I have come across on selecting a heater is to go with > the largest rock capacity. I have come across 4 heater manufacturers: > Harvia, Finnleo, Tylo, and Polar. The Harvia comes with 50 lbs of > rocks. The Finnleo comes with 70 lbs. I do not know the amount of > rocks that comes with the Tylo and Polar. > > Do have any information/opinions/recommendations concerning any of these > heater manufacturers? Or are they are acceptable? This is the only > area that has me really stuck. Any help would be appreciated. > > Also, should I be concerned with the bench construction and fasteners? > Or are 1"x 4"s and staples acceptable? > > Thank you, > Tom Martin > > P.S. Great page, Kalle Tom, Sorry, I've never used an electric stove so I can't recommend one stove over another. I would want the controller to be able to turn on the stove remotely. I always want to take a sauna at 10:00 at night and it would be nice to be able to turn on my sauna remotely. I have a device called a "Mokki Mikko" from "Annikki Virtanen Ky" in Finland. It "listens" to your telephone ringer and if your phone rings once and then once again in 3 minutes it turns on for eight hours and anything you have plugged into it goes on. People in Finland use it to turn on the heat and whatever in a cabin a few hours before they get there. It runs off 220v and I haven't tested it with a USA phone. If the stove had a delay before it turned on that would work too. It would have to be up to an 18 hour delay to be really useful. My dishwasher has a four hour delay before it turns on so that you can do your dishes at night when people are asleep or when electricity might be cheaper. On bench construction 1x4 would be ok if the supports are at least 16" on center. I wouldn't use staples for a few reasons. One is that if the staple machine isn't adjusted properly the staple will go too deep into the wood. A screw or nail is less likely to "punch" through. Also, staples don't hold as well as galvinized nails and screws. Lastly, I don't think the staples would be galvinized. If you use alot of water like I do they will turn the wood black. Stainless steel is the best choice because it doesn't make the wood turn color. Thanks for the positive feedback on my web page. Kalle
Subject: Re: you guessed it...saunas. Date: Tue, 21 Oct 1997 18:18:47 -0700 To: Cookies648@aol.com From: Kalle Hoffman > Dear Kalle. > > I am considering building a sauna in my basement. But I was wondering if the > extreme heats (over time) would damage anything in my home. Directly above I > have wood floors. Or is heat all contained provided I insulate well? > > P.S. I am loving this research project. The heat shouldn't be a problem if you insulate well (R19 or better). I would be most concerned about the moisture. I would leave at least a two inch air space between the insulation the floor and allow for cross ventilation. If you have blocking you'll want to drill 1 1/2" holes in it to allow air to flow freely. This is the same construction used with vaulted ceilings. Good Luck! Kalle ----------------------------------------- ----------------------------------------- <---- hardwood --------+-+-------------------+-+-------- <---- sub floor | | | | <---- 2" airspace (min) ........| |...................| |........ ........| |...................| |........ ........| |...................| |........ <---- insulation ........| |...................| |........ ........| |...................| |........ --------+-+-------------------+-+-------- <---- moisture barrier ----------------------------------------- <---- sauna roof
Subject: Re: Russian Banyas Date: Wed, 10 Sep 1997 10:35:42 +0100 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Vadim Naroditsky > On the subject of Russian banyas. Can you tell me a little more > about them. Are they used for bathing? Are the rocks heated inside or > outside? How are they different from saunas? Yes, Russian banyas are used for bathing. In many villages, especially in Far East and Siberia it is still the only place to bath. In big cities it is a very common tradition (mostly for men) to go to the public banyas. In Moscow there are several really good ones including famous Sandunovskie where all Russian elite go. It is not very different from a sauna except there is more steam and it is not that superheated to dryness. Technically it is a stove with rocks and you get the steam throwing water on rocks - sake as in a sauna. If you use a lot of water in your sauna you, probably, get very close to a Russian banya. Russians almost always use a birch bunch and real banya-goers wear a "fetr" hat to protect themselves against a hit-stroke. Usually the whole structure is called "banya" and the room with steam is called "parilka" - "steaming room". It is a tradition to go to cold water after the steam - pool or lake. There are a few Russian Banyas in New York City. I've been in two. The steam was good but the whole place didn't look very clean. If you ever come to NY, let me know and may be we would find a good one. Vadim
Subject: Re: Sauna? Sauna! Date: Fri, 5 Sep 1997 14:05:05 -0700 To: Vadim Naroditsky From: Kalle Hoffman > Hi, Kalle, > > I found on Internet that you are the best specialist in the web on > saunas. I want to get a sauna in my basement. I know very little about > building a sauna so I started with pre-made ones. I would like to be > able to lie down and I am 6'1" so 7x6 looks like a good size. I am > looking now at 3 brochures: Polar, Harvia and Salon. On pictures they > all look pretty much the same. The prices are: > > Polar panel-built saunas: > cedar int/ext 6x7' 8.0 kW $3303 with build-in control > $3443 with separate control > cedar int/ plywood ext. $2972 > $3112 > > Harvia prefab saunas > redwood or red cedar int/ext 6x8' 8.0kW $3847 > $3987 > same int/ruff-sawn fir ext. $3039 > $3179 > > Salon panel built saunas > spruce int/ext 6'2"x7' HMR60 heat $3665 with built-in control > > All this models I can get in "precut" for about $1000-1200 less. > > Can you recommend something? I am totally at loss with all this > information. What questions should I ask? > > If I buy it precut how do I insulate it? Where does insulation go? > Between layers? What should I consider when selecting a sauna? > > Will it make sense to build it completely myself? How much would I save > on that? > > I live in NJ, USA and as you, probably, have guessed from my name and > poor English, I am originally from Russia. Too bad I cannot build a > Russian "banya" here. IMO, it is better than sauna. > > Vadim > email@example.com Thanks for the positive feed back on my web page. For a sauna in your basement I would first make sure you had good drainage and ventilation. I use a lot of water in my sauna and standing water would make a mess. Thanks for the prices on the prefab saunas. I've seen Polar and Harvia saunas in the past and they were both about the same quality. If you lived close to where they're built I would go to the factory and check out their product firsthand. If it were my choice, I would go with redwood interior, rough-sawn fir exterior, 6'X7' precut sauna and put it together myself. Here's what I know about wood: Wood Comments ---- -------- Aspen Good choice for benches, low heat absorption, difficult to keep clean. Cedar Rot resistant, aromatic (smells like pencils), soft, good choice. Cedar, Red Rot resistant, very aromatic (smokey smell), soft, good choice. Fir Light color, widely available, will bleed pitch if heated (less knots means less pitch), inexpensive. Oak Hardwood, doesn't hold up to moisture, very high heat absorption, poor choice. Obechi (Apache) African soft wood, great for benches, very low heat absorption, might have strange smell, will not bleed, expensive. Pine Inexpensive, bleeds pitch, weathers gray, good for a tight-budget sauna. Redwood Rot resistant, weathers dark, soft, availability is limited, good choice. Spruce Light color, won't bleed pitch, good for walls. If I were buying a pre-fab sauna the questions I would have are: How thick are the walls? Thicker means more insulation. How thick is the interior wood? I wouldn't want anything smaller then 5/8". You should make sure the saunas come with building plans so that all of your construction questions will be answered. If you own a saw, hammer and tape measure, and have plenty of time to put the sauna together, go for it. If you don't feel comfortable, find a GOOD handyman to help you out (ask around). You should be able to get someone who knows what they're doing for $10-$15/hour. On the subject of Russian banyas. Can you tell me a little more about them. Are they used for bathing? Are the rocks heated inside or outside? How are they different from saunas? Kalle
Subject: Re: Sauna Heater Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 12:04:43 -0700 To: Malcolm Windsor From: Kalle Hoffman > Kalle: > > Did you use a water heater electric element to provide heat for > your sauna heater that was converted from an old hot water heater? I am > trying the same route you took, but noticed that water heater elements > come with a warning to keep them submerged. Thank you for your time! > > Malcolm Malcolm, You won't be able to use an electric hot water heater element in your sauna. Last winter while in Tahoe if we turned on our electric hot water heater before the tank was full the element would burn out. It happened twice and cost $90 to replace each time. Good luck. Kalle
Subject: Re: Portable steam generator Date: Wed, 06 Aug 1997 18:03:06 -0700 To: Dave Ryczko From: Kalle Hoffman >Hi Kalle, > >I've made a sweat lodge. It's a polypropylene dome tent 18' across and >6'5" tall, with no floor. To make a sweat lodge I build a large fire on >some rocks, fish the rocks out of the fire, put the rocks in a small pit >in the ground, and drag the tent over the pit. Four people can sit >comfortably inside on lawn chairs and enjoy a sauna for up to 1.5 hours. > >I would like to make the source of heat and steam for my sweat lodge >more portable and convenient. I think it would be ideal to have an >external propane powered steam generator that I could control from >inside the lodge. Do you have any more practical ideas? Do you know of >any such steam generators available for sale? > >Thanks > >Dave > >firstname.lastname@example.org Dave, Nice idea, I like the portablity of the dome tent. If you put a liner inside the tent you'll conserve more heat. I've run my saunas off of propane in the past and it works well. Just the bottom half of my sauna stove design (http://www.kalle.com/stove.html) would work. Once the rocks are hot they'll make all the steam you can enjoy. ;-) Send me a picture and I'll put it on my web page. Kalle
Subject: Re: sauna Date: Wed, 23 Jul 1997 11:13:30 -0700 To: Donald Fleck From: Kalle Hoffman > Kalle, thanks for your sauna info! I'm interested in building by my > lake in the Catskills. We have a lot of wood --as in Finland-- and > I'm looking for a wood burning-design. Any ideas? Also appreciated the > virtual sauna. Donald Donald, Not too many ideas on wood burning, but it would be nice to build a round sauna that had the walls angled out so when you sat against them it would make a nice seat. _____________________ / ___________________/ / /......../ \ / /......../ \ / /......../ \ / /......../ \ / /......../ \/\ / /.BENCH../ \ \ / /......../ DRESSING \ \ / /......../ ROOM \ \ / /......../ \ \ < <......../ > > \ \....../ / / \ \..../___________ ___ / / \ \../ __________|----------|_ \ / / \ \/ / \ \/ / \ / \ / / /.\ \ \ / /...\ \ \ / /.....\ SAUNA \ \ / /.......\ \ \ / /......../ \ \ / /......../ ____ \ \ / /......../ / \ \ \ / /......../ / \ \ \ < <........< < STOVE > _________> > \ \........\ \ / /......../ / \ \........\ \____/ /......../ / \ \........\ /......../ / \ \........\ /......../ / \ \.BENCH..\ /..BENCH./ / \ \........+-------------+......../ / \ \............................./ / \ \.........................../ / \ \.........BENCH.........../ / \ \......................./ / \ \_____________________/ / \_______________________/ Kalle
Subject: Re: Sauna information Date: Tue, 24 Jun 1997 15:44:01 -0700 To: Eric Hale From: Kalle Hoffman > Kalle, > > Sorry to bother you, but I see that you have the sauna bug, too. I am > looking to purchase a sauna stove and accessories for my basement. The room > that I have already built is an odd shape; it is approximately 8' x 5' and 7' > foot tall. What size electric stove do you recommend? What would the > electric requriements be (volts, amps, & gauge wire)? > > Do you recomment materials of construction? A prefabricated sauna is not an > option because of the shape. Right now, the walls are insulated with R-19 > insulation with green 1/2" drywall (no tape or mud). Do I need to put a > layer (or coating) down before I put on the wood? I was planning to use 1/2" > tongue and groove cedar (because of economy and availability). Is this > acceptable? Redwood is TOO expensive. > > What should the cost of the stove and a remote control (temp and timer) be? > Can you recommend a vendor? > > Recommendations are greatly appreciated. > > Eric Hale Eric, Yep, I've got the sauna bug. I just checked out a sauna that a Finlander in Santa Cruz had built out of 3"x6" double tongue and grooved redwood. He put 1/2" redwood with foam insulation inside. It was a small 5 1/2' X 5 1/2' sauna and 5'X5' dressing room. I figure it would hold three people nicely. Cedar is a very nice choice for your sauna and the R19 insulation will work well. As for the drywall, the only purpose for having it there is for fire protection. For good fire protection it needs tape and mud. If the drywall gets wet it will be the worst thing you could have in a sauna. So if you want to keep it you'll need to apply a heavy vapor barrier over drywall before applying the cedar and tape all the seams. If it were me I would pull out the drywall and install 1/2 plywood so I would have good nailing for the cedar. I wouldn't apply any glue or stain to the wood. When it heats up those kind of building materials usually release carcinogens -- yuck. Seven feet is a good height. The top bench should put your head near the ceiling and the lowest bench should allow people to be near the floor, cool water, and the door in case they overheat. As for a 5'X8' room I would set it up like this: _______________ ___________ | _____________|-------|__________ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |_____________________ | | | |.....................| | | | |.......Lower.........| ___ | | | |.......Bench.........| / \ | | | |.....................| / \ | | | |_____________________|< STOVE >| | | |.....................| \ / | | | |.......Upper.........| \___/ | | | |.......Bench.........| | | | |_____________________|_________| | |___________________________________| If you're wiring the sauna stove you'll want to go with a 220v stove. Your sauna will be 280 sq.ft. which will require at least 20000 btu to heat. I use the following chart to figure out what stove to use. And you can always get the next size bigger stove (assuming it fits) so your sauna will heat faster. This is like getting a 50 gallon hot water heater. Most people won't use all 50 gallons but the recovery rate is better. The size of wire you'll need is a function of volts, amps, and the length of the wire. Your local electrical supplier can look it up for you. The cost of a stove and controller should be from $400 to $800 depending on the size. As for venders, I haven't bought any stoves for my sauna so I can't recommend one over the other. cu.ft. kw btu volts amps ====== == === ===== ===== 110-150 3 10240 240 12.5 130-234 4.5 15354 240 19 234-312 6 20472 240 25 312-448 7.5 25590 240 31 448-700 9 30708 240 38 Good Luck. And send me a picture! Kalle
Subject: Re: Hi from Amsterdam Date: Mon, 9 Dec 1996 13:02:43 -0800 To: Howe Rokofsky From: Kalle Hoffman > Hi, Kalle, > > ran into your pages while getting some sauna info, you've got nice > pages! Do you know any other sauna pages about health, general info and > the like? I'm still busy with the Searches! Ciao > > Howe Howe Thanks, all the sauna links I know about are on my sauna page. Kalle
Subject: Sauna rocks Date: Tue, 6 Aug 1996 00:32:40 -0700 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Pekka Koivu Here is more information about finding Sauna rocks in the nature: Choose black/dark grey stones, which feels solid. Also the colour should be solid. You can test the solidity by hitting them against each other. Stones should sound firm. You can also put stones in to the fire, let them become very hot, then throw them into cold water. If the stones do not break, you can use them in your Sauna stove. regards, pekka koivu
Subject: Re: Saunas Date: Tue, 16 Jul 1996 13:30:01 -0700 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Pekka Koivu Sorry for delay on this, but I had to go to library to find out right rocks. Normally, here in Finland we just go to hardware store and buy stones, packed in 25 kg packages. Simple as that. After some studying, here are most used species: in Finnish in English, maybe (because GRANIITTI is GRANITE in english) oliviini ? periodiitti periodite vuolukivi soap stone ( soft, dark grey, used as fireplace-material) gabro maybe same diabaasi ? Insulators works well too, but they can also be glazed. I have sent information above to Mr Ahn directly too Pekka
Subject: Re: rocks on the stove Date: Wed, 10 Jul 1996 10:42:36 -0700 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Ahn seung-hwan > > My name is Ahn seung-hwan and I live in south korea. > > I'm planning to built a small indoor sauna for myself. > > > > I'm planning to use local rocks(stones) instead black volcanic > > which are stated in your FAQ--VERSION0.1, > > subjected re:Heaters in sauna,datedFri,5 Apr 1996 16:37:00-0800. > > Please tell me the specifications and principal characteristics. > > > > rgds > > Ahn seung-hwan > > Ahn, > > The first Sauna I built I went down to the local creek with my nephews > and picked up river rocks. They turned out to be very sandy and didn't hold > the heat very well. the key is getting a dense rock. My cousin from Finland > once told me that unglazed ceramic telephone pole insulators work well. > > Kalle > > Pekka, Any Ideas? > Kalle, You gave me an idea, a glittering idea like a gold. From your information "unglazed telepole insulator" I got a good idea. Unglazed, coloured, sweet-smelling like Chinese drug or European odour and nature shaped china like pets, flowers, fruits etc.shaped, possibly works well. I know the China, made from yellow soil, will works well.China is a heat resistant, unexplosive at high temperature, high water absorptive and higher steam generating material. rgds Ahn seung-hwan Any other ideas?
Subject: Re: Saunas Date: Tue, 4 Jun 1996 10:03:31 +0300 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Pekka Koivu >Pekka, > >Thanks, what I would really like to know is more about the best wood to use. >Here's what I know: > >Redwood Rot resistent, weathers very dark, soft, availibality is > limited, Good choice >Ceder Rot resistent, aromatic, soft, good choice >Pine Inexpensive, bleeds pitch, ... >Fir light color, widely available, good for walls >Oak hard, doesn't hold up to moisture >Obechi >... > >Kalle Kalle, Here in Finland we use mostly pine or spruce in walls. Both are useful, pine will bleed more pitch. More important is the quality of used boards: less knots means less pitch. You should select boards very carefully to avoid knots as much as possible. Anyway spruce is better when we are talking about walls. If a Sauna builder has lots of money and he will show it; he uses Apache boards for walls too. You should not use thinner boards than 15 mm. Benches are made of Apache ( Obechi?), which is an African soft wood. This material will not be as hot as other species. Second choise for benches is Aspen, heat absorption is like Apache, but it is not as easy to keep clean. Best material for benches when thinking the cleaning is Spruce. Unfortunately it will be quite hot; but it is anyway recommended by Finnish Sauna Society. Frames for benches could be done in spruce or pine or almost anything. It is good idea to build bench decks as separate unit, so it is easy to clean or repair them. Apache might have sometimes strange smell, but it will not bleed. Some people had to change Apache-boards because of the smell. Good wall construction to keep wall boards dry: Frame + insulation Plastic paper with aluminium foil, overlap 6", heat resistant tape in seams ( aluminium side toward the Sauna Battens 22...25 mm, vertically assembled, c/c 400 ( ventilation gap ) Wall boards, min. thickness 15 mm Please note, that there must be a gap in the bottom and top of the wall to ensure air circulation also behind the wall boards. Also normal air circulation ( fresh air in, bad air out) is important. Best regards, Pekka Koivu
Subject: Saunas Date: Mon, 03 Jun 1996 14:35:28 -0700 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Pekka Koivu Hello, Kalle. I was surprised when found a good Sauna page in USA, there was also a club for Sauna lovers. I live here in Finland, and as you might understand have quite lot of experience regarding saunas. I have used saunas regurarly for 38 years now, and have also designed and built some (I am an building engineer) in holiday-projects in Northern Finland. If you get questions you cannot answer, please mail me, I can find out answers and information. I am using modem, and checking mail only now and then, so there might be some delay, but within four days you can receive mail. Best regards, Pekka Koivu
Subject: new pix Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 08:45:04 +0000 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Ben Collman Kalle, I hope this won't be cluttering up your page, but here is my best sauna picture. I'm in the ocean enjoying a Karjala. This was taken at the mvkki of a relative of mine (Matti Maunula) in Marinkainen.
Subject: sauna Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 02:21:48 +0000 To: Kalle Hoffman From: Ben Collman Kalle hei, I am thinking about making another sauna, so was looking through the web for inspiration and came across your page. Actually I am mostly trying to find some information on stove building. I built my previous stove from scratch, and would like to make the next one a little bit differently. (Do you have any photos of your stove?) Anyway, I thought you might be curious to hear about the sauna I built. I have been living in rental property so I was pretty much limited to building a mobile sauna. I bought a 6' x 11' utility trailer, then extended the walls to about 7' in height. I separated the floor space into two rooms, a 6' x 8' steam room and a 3' dressing room. A thermal pane, tempered window faces the main bench. It is 6' long x 1' tall and only cost $20 (score!). The size constraints of the floor space kind of limited things some. I have only one bench height, but it is close to 2' wide. I would be happy to send you a jpeg if you're interested. I have been living in Juneau going to school, saunaless, the last year. My girlfriend has my sauna back in Kodiak, where we've been living. (They call them by the Russian word, banya, there. Surprisingly, I have even found myself calling them by the local word. I guess the fact that they are in Kodiak makes them banyas instead of saunas). Anyway a friend was saying that she was thinking of building a sauna, so I am all fired up to help her make it a reality (so I'll have someplace to go sauna). I'm not sure how the details of that sauna are going to work out. I have also had the plans rolling around in the back of my mind for some years to build an even more portable sauna, that I could put either in my skiff or truck and drive someplace with less hassles than towing a trailer. The lower parts of the four walls will fasten together with L's that drop into slots on adjacent walls. I am leaning towards making the top of the room out of canvas on an aluminum framework which slides into position on the walls - just to make things more portable. The benches will drop into position on the walls. I suspect that the bench will be at least one of the crossbars that I use to hold the walls together. I am also planning to make the stove chimneyless - a savusauna. I plan to make it out of a 20(?) gallon barrel. The top will be open. The bottom one third will be gated. This will be the firebox. Then a rack will be mounted above this to hold the rocks. This way I will be able to just collect the rocks where I go, and not have to carry all the extra weight. I have made a similar sauna on the beach out of just what flotsam and jetsam I could find. It heated fine, but the structure wasn't much, and it was too much of a hassle to set up. I suppose that living in a more urban setting (and drier), you wouldn't be able to even consider a savu sauna. We'll see how it goes. Happy saunaing! Ben probably a better address for me, at least a longer term address, would be email@example.com
Subject: Re: Heaters in sauna Date: Fri, 5 Apr 1996 16:37:00 -0800 To: Dirk Pretorius From: Kalle Hoffman > My name is Dirk Pretorius and I live in South Africa. Cool > I enjoyed the section on saunas, as I'm planning to build a small > indoor sauna for myself. I would just like your oppinion on something > I though about: Can you use gas (an open flame) as a heating system? I take two hot water heaters (they usally rust out on the top), cut them in half and stack them using iron rods and use the top one for heating water and the bottom for rocks. (I use black volcanic rock from the geology rock garden at the local university). No "open flame". It's contained in the bottom of the stove.
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Subject: Re: building sauna Date: Wed, 17 Jan 1996 10:40:56 -0800 To: Riter Joseph G From: Kalle Hoffman > do you have any details on your design> Sorry, I don't. Although it's just 2x6 stick contruction with _LOTS_ of insulation. I make most things out of recycled wood so construction is based on what materials I have. > what is the purpose of 2 rooms? One is a changing room and the other is heated. It's nice to be able to sit in a changing room after a sauna rather than having to walk outside. If you have space and money I would add a large sitting room with a fireplace so that people can "hang out" after a good sweat. Maybe install a 1/2 bath. My favorite sauna (next to a lake) is in Finland and is laid out like this: _______ _____________________________________ | _____|-----|_______ _________________________ | | | | | | | | | Foyer/ | | | | | | Dressing Room |_| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | _ Sitting Room | | | |__ __________| | | | | __|-----|__________ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | Sauna | | | | | | | |_ _________ _| | | | | _|-----|_____ _|-----|_ | | | | | | | | | | | | | Half Bath | | Closet | | | | | | | | | | | |___________________| |_____________| |_________| | |___________________________________________________| > I live in Albuquerque NM, we get like 340 days of sun and was thinking a > Trombe Wall on the south might keep the room up above 100-120F then the heat > source would supplement. What kind of gas bill does it take to run your > heater, how do you insure proper ventilation?, same question for wood burn> Propane used to run me a gallon a night. Natural gas runs me about $15-$30 a month. The web site I sent you has a picture for proper ventilation. My gas stove is vented to the outside with a 3" stove pipe and I just leave a 2" gap under the sauna door for fresh air. This is not very efficient. A 33,000 btu modified hot water heater (40 gallon) will heat a 7'x6'x7' room in about an hour to 65°C, and in about 2 hours to 80°C. Wood ventilation would be the same with a larger stove pipe. Good Luck. Kalle
Subject: Re: building sauna Date: Tue, 16 Jan 1996 15:12:32 -0800 To: Riter Joseph G From: Kalle Hoffman > I found your page on the web regarding building saunas. I would like to > build my own backyard sauna and have some basic questions. How much will it > cost me? ... Contractor once quoted me $10,000 although depending on materials (used/new/redwood/cedar/...) I build them for about $2000. Foundation $500 Structure $800 Plumbing $150 Electrical $200 Doors/Windows $500 (new) (I make mine out if recycled redwood) Siding(inside) $1500 (new redwood) (I use recycled decks) Stove $1500 (new electric) (I make mine out of old tanks) Labor love Misc. $500 TOTAL $2150-$5650+love > ...What do you use for a heat source? Have you ever used solar assist > or wood fired? ... Wood is the best to burn. I use gas just because it's cleaner and easy. I sauna at night so I don't know how I would store solar heat. Plus a good sauna would be about 80C = 175F. Maybe you could have large windows on a south wall letting the solar heat a rock wall/floor (passive solar thing). > ...Any suggestions for a simple design? > Any help would be appreciated? I build them with my own design. There is a place in Washington that sells prefab saunas. Here's the layout of my current sauna. It seats eight. __________ __________________________________ | ________|-------|__ ____________________________ | | |.......| | | ___ |...............| | | |.......| | | / \ |..Upper.Bench..| | | |.......| | | / \ |...............| | | |.......| | |< Stove > |_______________| | | |.......| | | \ / |........|......| | | |.......| | | \___/ |........|......| | |_|.......| | | |........|......| | | .......| |_| |........|......| | | .......| | |........|......| | | .......| | |.Lower..|Middle| | | .Bench.| | |.Bench..|Bench.| | | .......| | |........|......| | | .......| | ____|........|......| | _ .......| _ |....|........|......| | | |.......| | | |....|........|......| | | |.......| | | |Step|........|......| | | |.......| | | |....|........|......| | | |.......| | | |....|........|......| | | |_______|___________| |______|____|________|______| | |_____________________________________________________| Here's one web page that has some detail. http://www.hut.fi/~icankar/sauna I live in Santa Cruz. Where do you live? Kalle
Subject: Re: Saunas Date: Tue, 14 Nov 1995 10:14:16 -0800 To: Owen H. Hewitt From: Kalle Hoffman |> I was wondering, if you could recommend some "good" How To |> books on the building of indoor saunas. I don't know of any books. Here's one web page that has some detail. Good luck. http://cankar.org/sauna/index.html Kalle
Subject: Re: the best sauna Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 11:03:52 -0800 To: Russamerla@aol.com From: Kalle Hoffman |> hey, Kalle! Do you know how to build sauna where the air isalways fresh? For |> advise email me at firstname.lastname@example.org If you heat with natural gas, you'll have the cleanest air. Electric heat is very clean but I don't like it (electric heat is a dry heat, wood heat is more moist). I leave a two-inch gap under the door to let in fresh air for the stove. This lets in a lot of air, also reduces temperature. Completely drying the sauna everytime you use it keeps the walls and benches fresh. I build the benches with a 2-inch gap between them and the walls. This helps a lot. Good luck. Where's the sauna? Kalle