There are accessories that will complement your sauna and make your experience more satisfying.
One of the essential accessories that every sauna should have is a bucket and ladle. The ladle will pour just the right amount of water on the rocks so it all steams away immediately. It also keeps your hand away from the rising steam when you're pouring water on the sauna rocks.
The traditional wooden bucket is still very popular. A new "twist" on this favorite is the addition of a plastic liner that prevents the swelling and contraction in the traditional bucket that led to water leaking out of the bucket.
Another popular bucket is a metal bucket and ladle treated with powder-coating, and extremely durable protective coating.
Powder-coating is known to be so durable that Harley-Davidson now uses it to coat their motorcycle engines.
This combination head / back rest is fantastic in any sauna. You can even use to support your knees when you're laying down on the bench.
Because it is angled, it is very comfortable as a backrest, aleviating the vertical posture of the back against the side wall.
Sauna lights must be certified for use in that environment. This is one example of a vapor proof fixture protected with rubber gaskets under the housing as well as between the globe and the fixture.
Using a brush either in the sauna or in the shower is a great way to invigorate your skin as well as to get rid of skin that "sloughs" off.
They are available in either 1 piece or 2-piece designs.
Aromatic essences are available in a wide variety of scents. These should NEVER be added directly onto the sauna rocks or any heater. Rather a capful or two into a full bucket of water. Then ladle the mixture onto the rocks. The resulting fragrance will quickly spread throughout the room and eventually adjacent areas of the house.
Sauna soaps are designed to both clean, and invigorate your skin when using a cooling shower between sessions, as well as at bath time.
There are a wide assortment of thermometers and hygrometers available. They range from being very inexpensive (and likely less accurate) to more expensive instruments that can be calibrated to ensure their accuracy.
The traditional sauna floor used for years called "duckboard", has been pretty much replaced with modern materials. These new materials offer substantial benefits over the older flooring.
These include; improved traction, better stability, and less likelihood of stubbing your toe when you walk into the sauna. This often happened with the older duckboard when people didn't realize the floor was about 1-1/2" higher inside the door than outside.
The new materials are much easier to remove and clean, as well.
Accessories for the sauna are not absolutely "essential", but they are functional and are a natural part of the equipment found in most modern saunas. The basic equipment includes a water bucket for supplying water to throw on to the rocks, a long-handled ladle, and a thermometer to observe the changes in the temperature.
Saunas can also be equipped with wooden head/backrests for personal comfort, scrub brushes and "loofah" sponges for washing, soap, sandglass timers, hygrometers for measuring the humidity, small sitting stools and non-glare light shades. Sauna companies usually carry a complete selection of aromatic concentrates to produce a pleasant fragrance in the sauna.
The dressing room can be furnished with wooden benches and towel peg racks. Head or back rests are useful in the dressing room too.
Wooden buckets are more popular than flimsy plastic pails. Traditional all-wood buckets must have water in them at all times to prevent cracking and drying out, others never swell up completely and will always "weep". If purchasing a completely wooden bucket, you must remember to empty the water out after every use, and store the bucket upside down to dry.
Some companies carry a wooden bucket that has a removable plastic liner. This bucket has no wooden bottom in it and is much more stable with no chance of water leakage.
Some metal buckets are finished in an antique copper powdercoated finish that is extremely durable. Remember, as with all metal objects in the sauna, they will get HOT to the touch so store them down at floor level where the temperatures are cooler.
An important point about water. Use only potable, clean drinking water on the sauna heater. Too many times we have talked to sauna users and discovered they, or users of their sauna have been using water scooped from a nearby swimming pool or hot tub. This water contains chlorine which besides being extremely corrosive to the heater and elements, is a health hazard to the occupants when the chlorinated water evaporates on the sauna rocks leaving chlorine laden air to circulate throughout the sauna. Further, from time to time we speak to managers of commercial fitness centers, hotels, etc. and we have found other substances have been poured onto the heater such as soft drinks, beer, and other such "nasty" things. This is more difficult to monitor in a commercial settiing than in a private sauna, but if you own a sauna, be vigilant for such vandalism. Common telltale signs are brown streaks staining the outside of the heater from sugar burning onto the sides of the heater.
Again, use only clean, drinking water on the sauna heater. Your heater will thank you with many more years of service!!
Ladles are necessary to apply water onto the rocks. The handle should be a minimum of 14" long to protect the hand from the hot steam that will rise as you pour water onto the rocks. Another option used by some people to apply water to the rocks is a plastic spray bottle, however, these must be kept down at floor level as well.
Sauna thermometers have a bimetallic coil and pointer. They can be made of metal or wood and are graduated in either Fahrenheit or Celsius, or both.
A thermometer should be placed near the ceiling in the sauna. It should be located away from the door so it will not give a false reading. The 90 C (193 F) temperature allowed by UL / CSA is taken at the side of the heater near the ceiling. Where the bather sits on the top bench, the temperatures will be about 80 C - 85 C.
The thermometers are very useful when experimenting with new temperature/humidity combinations. Only by watching the thermometer will you see that the temperature actually takes a dip when you throw on a large scoop of water.
New converts to sauna heat may not believe your thermostat setting and will feel better on "seeing" how hot it is (or isnít).
Wooden head rests are essential for complete relaxation when laying down. Some designs are very versatile and also serve as back rests, or foot rests for elevating the feet while laying down. Homecraft has recently re-designed our backrests to provide a more comfortable position when laying down or using them as backrests against the wall.
Several brands of Finnish-made sauna soaps are available. They are not meant for use directly in the sauna, but with any washing facility nearby. Regular soaps may be too harsh for some people whereas sauna soap is intended for the tender sensitive sauna skin. It is very effective under sauna conditions and leaves the skin with a clean fresh fragrance. Some companies also carry a hypo-allergenic soap approved by the Nordic Allergy Association for those with skin sensitivities.
The Birch Whisk, The "Vihta".
The Finnish "vihta" or birch whisk is a broom-like leafy clump that is used in the sauna by whisking the entire body to stimulate the blood circulation and to add a pleasant fragrance to the air. These are hard to find in North America, but are found generally in Europe.
Incorrectly and crudely referred to as "the twigs" or "beating", the leaves are specially chosen for their tenderness in early summer. Other leaves such as oak, maple, mountain ash, hazel, iron wood and eucalyptus can also be used. (someone suggested that this could be one of the 1001 ways to use zucchini leaves too, but we donít recommend it!) Tie the small branches together into a bunch about 18" to 24" long with the shiny sides out and a good stem that will become the whisk handle.
Before using the "vihta", soak it in warm water to soften the leaves a little. Whisks are usually made in quantity, dried and stored until needed at any time of the year. Unfortunately, they only last for several saunas.
Brushes and Sponges.
The use of a good, natural bristle back brush and/or sponge is invigorating and stimulates circulation under the skin. An added benefit is these do a good job of "sloughing" off contaminates and dead skin. Your body will tingle and feel much more alive if you use one of these in the shower between sessions. If you apply an aromatic "body wash" onto the brush or sponge surface before you wash your skin, you will smell wonderful as well as feel great. Body washes are available at your local drug store, or department store perfume counter. Not only for ladies, they are great for the male species as well !!
Towels are great to lay on in the sauna. They absorb moisture and help preserve the appearance of the cedar benching. Pick a towel that has a heavy pile and is a large enough size to shield the legs as well as your shoulders.
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