Episode-1108- Saunas for Health, Sanitation and Grid Down Resiliency — 18 Comments

  1. DANG!!! Why haven’t I thought of this??? I was also thinking saunas were a luxury!!! I owe a huge thank you to both of you for this show. I live in the woods without a bathroom. Yeah, I can wash off in a pan in the winter, and hose down in the yard in the summer, but a sauna I could do. It wouldn’t have to be expensive or all fancy, would it? If I could just make something like a big two seater outhouse and put a stove in there, I could make that work, right? Even the insulation wouldn’t need to be super heavy, huh? Dang, again! Just the thought revives me! Can’t wait.


    Great show. Really jumping outside of the box this week! I sent the link to our local Y because they do not use their sauna properly and most likely have NO clue how to. I’m sure they’ll find this info very interesting and will pass this along to their members. Would love to build one. Found plans in Instructables. I get lots and LOTS of free pallets so this might be worth looking into. Thank you for a unique show. TSP is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. :- )

  3. Re: cedar – dozens of saunas are built around where I live out of white cedar – best wood you can use near here. I am not sure why your guest said it’s not good. No splinters, rot resistant, soft/light. Dense woods actually burn you (as does any exposed metal) since it’s 150-210F inside a good sauna – you have to use a light wood, without pitch (it drips and 200F pitch hurts), and you have to avoid all exposed metal fastener heads by securing from behind, using wooden handles, etc. In scandinavia it’s been common to build the sauna first, use it as a multipurpose warm space that’s fast to build, then build the house. It’s super sensible – and glad you did a show on it. Few Americans know sauna but those in the colder parts of it should. Check out the traditional pond saunas on the web – awesome stuff. Jack – if you’re in a hot climate sauna is just not as suitable as for those in the cold north – they are a tradition there for good reason.
    Most traditional saunas are run at about 150-180F at chest level – usually much colder at foot level and warmer at head level. It’s a dry heat so that extreme sounding level is actually quite bearable for a short period of time.

  4. Also – saunas don’t need to be insulated that well – you want lots of ventilation and clean air (no toxic VOC -laden materials like foam and other products). It’s a health-promoting experience after all. They are small spaces and don’t take much to get very hot – we’ve built several of them and a good air barrier (plaster is great) is all that’s needed, though insulating can’t hurt, you have to watch for moisture capturing. Just put a solid 40,000 BTU or more output stove in there. If you do insulate, make sure to not insulate the floor as it inevitably gets wet (soaked usually) and rot is virtually guaranteed then, because full drying is near impossible in the floor in all but really arid climates (the warm air exits the top of the building). On that note one sauna we built was designed specifically to dehydrate hops and other foods/medicines so we put air inlet vents down low and up high – a serious wood-powered dryer is the result. No sunlight, passive airflow – it works great. Might as well do this in any sauna.

  5. In Finland sauna is part of everyday culture. I recently moved here, and I must say: They own it, hard. Even the origin of the word sauna is Finnish. Finnish sauna is intense, it’s like a cultural shock: quite hot (lots of steam) and everyone is nude. Usually Finn’s are rather quiet, but in the sauna they open up.
    This trailer is of a documentary on Finnish men in sauna, it’s a moving film, maybe appalling to some with the nudity but check out 0:50 they built one in a harvester 😀 They make saunas out everything… even old phone booths!

  6. My NMD told me to get a far-infrared sauna. I got one a year and half ago. Good stuff.

    It’s very small (1 person only) and I sit in it for 30 mins before bed and sleep better because of it.

    Good stuff.

  7. I would also love to have a sauna and will consider building one next year (too many other projects this year). What would be awesome is using a rocket stove to heat one.

    I wish I could find someone with a traditional Finish style sauna in S.E. MI

  8. My family is from northern Minnesota and they ALWAYS build their sauna first before constructing any other living structure. Whenever I visit, the bathrooms go unused and everyone “takes a sauna” instead of a shower or bath. It’s so relaxing and you really do feel much cleaner. Such a great episode, thanks for the podcast!

  9. Great show. I’ve noticed many deer camps in Michigans UP have saunas on them. Since most camps are basically a BOL used a few times a year I always thought the old farts were just trying to sweat out the whiskey they were drinking. Guess they knew more than I thought! lol Instead of just drinking beer and playing poker I may need to check one out next fall.

  10. Jack awesome episode, a bit skeptical at first but I was impressed. Question for you or anyone. Can I smoke meat, hang jerky, biltong, etc… in a sauna and not have the residual smell of the meat afterwards. It would be a lot easier to talk the wife into it if I could use if for one thing and she could use it for another. Don’t think she would appreciate hitting the sauna and come out smelling like meat:) Thanks in advance for anyone that can answer this.

    • You most certainly dry meats, laundry, pressed flowers, herbs, etc. I do recommend having a system to keep it from dripping or touching the surfaces. Don’t just lay your deer strips or what have you, out on the benches. But seriously, you will REALLY enjoy the sauna and come to realize that you need a smoke house too.

  11. One of the properties I am looking at has a sauna. Before this, I thought of saunas like a New Yorker thinks of ovens – a place to store clothes! Thanks Dan for helping us appreciate this underrated practice.