Dry sauna – what is it, how to use it, what are the benefits?


Dry sauna – is where a wood-fired or electric cooker generates a high temperature between 70 and 100 °C and maintains a low level of humidity, usually not exceeding 20%. It is a classic sauna type, originating in Finland, where the warm, dry air stimulates sweating and promotes general relaxation and rest.

Despite the extreme temperatures, the low humidity causes sweat to evaporate quickly, which helps to keep the body at a moderate temperature, making a sauna stay possible and comfortable. In addition, the dry air is less taxing on the respiratory system, which contributes to deep and relaxing breathing.

Advantages of the dry sauna

  • Improved circulation – the high temperature in a dry sauna dilates blood vessels, which improves blood circulation throughout the body.
  • Relaxation – the heat of the sauna helps muscles to relax, which can help relieve muscle and joint pain.
  • Toning – a dry sauna has a toning effect on the body in summer and provides effective heating in winter.
  • Improving sleep – regular saunas can improve the quality of sleep. The heat helps to relax the body and mind, which promotes deep, restful sleep.
  • Mood improvement – like other forms of heat therapy, sauning can contribute to the release of endorphins, the so-called ‘happy hormones’, which improves mood.
  • Skin cleansing – sweating helps to cleanse the pores of the skin, which can help to improve the appearance of the skin.
  • Supporting the immune system – by sauntering regularly, the immune system can be stimulated, helping the body to fight off infections.

Despite the many benefits, it is important to remember moderation and safety when using the sauna. People with certain medical conditions such as hypertension or cardiovascular disease, skin diseases, pregnancy, etc. should consult their doctor before visiting a sauna.

Dry sauna - what is it, how to use it, what are the benefits?

How do I use the Finnish sauna?

Using a Finnish sauna requires following certain rules to make it safe and enjoyable. Here are some tips on how to do this:

  1. Take a shower before the sauna, but remember to dry yourself with a towel, do not wet your head, your hair should be dry to avoid overheating your head.
  2. It is recommended that the time spent in the sauna should not exceed 15 minutes. You can repeat this cycle 2-3 times, but remember to rest between sessions.
  3. Due to the intense sweating, it is important to remember to hydrate. Drink plenty of water before, during and after the sauna.
  4. When in the sauna, it is best to wear a special sauna hat on your head to protect your head from overheating. It is desirable to place a towel under you on the bench. You can also wear a kilt – for men this covers the lower part of the body and for women both the lower part of the body and the breasts.
  5. Start on the lower benches. The temperature on the upper level is usually higher and can lead to overheating if you are not used to it.
  6. If you are lying down, sit for a while before leaving the sauna to normalise your blood circulation.
  7. When you have finished your sauna session, wash your body with cool, soap-free water to clean your pores and cool your body. Remember to dry yourself well and allow your body to relax.
  8. If you use a public sauna, disinfect your feet after leaving.
  9. Avoid intense exercise and alcohol consumption after the sauna. Instead, you can have a non-alcoholic beer or herbal drink.

Remember that the sauna is not only for relaxation, but also for taking care of your own health. Take care of your hydration, hygiene and safety to enjoy all the benefits of saunas.

Safety in the sauna

  1. Regularly check the cooker and other sauna components for any damage or malfunctions. Damaged doors or the lack of a proper ventilation system can also be dangerous.
  2. Due to the high temperatures and the presence of the cooker, always be aware of the risk of fire. A fire extinguisher should always be available.
  3. Children should only use the sauna under adult supervision. In addition, due to the higher sensitivity of children’s bodies to extreme temperatures, the time they spend in the sauna should be reduced.
  4. Do not lay or hang towels, bathrobes or other materials on the cooker, as they may catch fire.
  5. Do not add essential oils directly to the heated stones of the cooker, as this violates fire safety. The oils should be diluted in water, which is then poured over the stones on the cooker.
  6. Sauna floors can be slippery due to moisture and perspiration. Use non-slip mats or other anti-slip products.
  7. Always have a first aid kit on hand and be ready to use it if necessary.

These rules form the basis for safe sauna use. Remember that the safety of the users is always paramount. For more information on the safe use of the sauna, please see our other articles.

Contraindications to the dry sauna

  • Heart conditions: people with heart problems, especially heart failure or a recent heart attack, should refrain from visiting the sauna without first consulting their doctor.
  • Blood pressure: People with high or very low blood pressure should exercise caution when visiting the dry sauna. Sudden changes in temperature can affect blood pressure.
  • Pregnancy: Although some women can go to the sauna during pregnancy, this is an issue that should always be consulted with your doctor. Sauning, especially during the first trimester, may involve some risks.
  • Skin conditions: Some skin conditions, such as psoriasis or atopic dermatitis, may worsen after sauna use.
  • Inflammatory conditions and infections: People with active inflammatory conditions or infections, especially fevers, should avoid the sauna as the high temperature can exacerbate symptoms.
  • Intense exercise: Avoid using the sauna immediately after intense exercise. The transition from intense activity to extreme temperatures can put strain on the heart.

Remember that these are general contraindications. You should always consult your doctor before using a sauna, especially if you have any health problems.

Can the dry sauna be combined with other procedures?

The possibility of combining the dry sauna with other procedures depends on individual preference, heat tolerance and health status. Nevertheless, there are several popular combinations:

  1. Dry sauna and cold bath: This is one of the most popular combinations, especially in the Nordic countries. After a session in the dry sauna, many people opt for a cold shower or even a bath in ice-cold water. This rapid change in temperature can help to stimulate the immune system and improve circulation.
  2. Dry sauna and massage: a massage after a dry sauna session can help to further relax the muscles and increase the benefits of saunas.
  3. Dry sauna and aromatherapy: Many people like to use aromatherapy when visiting the sauna. However, it is important to use only natural essential oils and avoid pouring them over the stones in the oven.
  4. Dry sauna and yoga: Some people do yoga in the dry sauna to increase the effects of stretching and relaxation.
  5. Sauna colour therapy: Saunas are often equipped with special LED lighting that can be changed to create different atmospheres. Each colour has a different effect on mood and well-being. For example, red can stimulate, blue can relax and green can balance.
  6. Herbal sauna: Natural scents can be introduced into the sauna using herbs. You can add fresh herbs or herbal oils to the water you pour over the stones. This creates a pleasant aroma that further relaxes and helps to clear the respiratory tract. Remember that the herbs should be natural and safe to inhale.
  7. Sauna whisks: This is a tradition from the Russian banya that involves gently hitting or stroking the body with a bundle of leaves (often from white birch or oak). The high heat releases essential oils from the leaves, which are inhaled and help to relax and improve circulation. A panicle massage can also help remove dead skin cells and improve the appearance of the skin.

Dry sauna: how to use, advantages and contraindications

Comparison of dry and wet steam

The dry vapour, which is characteristic of a dry sauna, is intensely warm and can give a ‘drying’ sensation on the skin. It causes heavy sweating, which helps to open the pores of the skin and increases blood flow. This can bring a feeling of ‘deep’ heat that penetrates the muscles and joints, which can bring relief from muscle or joint pain.

On the other hand, moist steam, which is characteristic of a steam sauna, gives a feeling of warmth wrapped in moisture. On the skin, moist steam is gentler and can give a feeling of ‘misty’ heat. The humidity helps to moisten the skin and respiratory tract, which can bring relief to those suffering from dry skin or respiratory conditions.

12 frequently asked questions about the dry sauna

What to take with you to the dry sauna?

When planning a visit to a public Finnish sauna, it is a good idea to bring a few key items with you: two towels (one to sit or lie on the bench and one to dry off after a session), a sauna hat to protect your head and hair, a kilt to cover your lower body, a bottle of water to rehydrate, flip-flops to walk on wet surfaces, foot sanitizer for extra protection in a public sauna.

Are there any side effects of using a dry sauna?

Yes. These can include dehydration, dizziness, nausea and, in rare cases, overheating. It is important to always listen to your body and know your limits when using a sauna. If you have any worrying symptoms, stop the session immediately and consult your doctor.

Can I go to the dry sauna if I am ill?

If you are ill, especially if you have a fever, infection or inflammation, it is not recommended to visit the dry sauna. The high temperature can put a strain on your body and worsen your condition. If in doubt, it is better to talk to your doctor.

What should I do if I feel unwell in the dry sauna?

If you feel unwell while using the dry sauna, leave the sauna immediately. Lie down and drink plenty of water. If symptoms such as dizziness, nausea or weakness persist, contact your doctor. Remember that it is important to listen to your body and not overstep your limits.

Is prolonged sauna use harmful?

Prolonged stays in a dry sauna can lead to a deterioration of mood, dizziness, increased heart rate or fainting. Frequent visits can cause similar effects. It is recommended to visit the dry sauna 1-2 times a week.

Can I combine a dry sauna with a steam bath?

Yes, it is possible to combine these two sauna types. In which order it is better to visit these sauna types, we have answered in this article.

Is a dry sauna good for the skin?

A dry sauna can have beneficial effects on the skin. Sweating helps to clean pores and remove dead skin cells, which can improve the appearance and texture of the skin. In addition, the heat increases blood flow to the skin, which contributes to its healthy appearance and accelerates the healing of damage. Remember, however, that it is essential to moisturise your skin after a sauna session, as the high temperature can dry it out.

Can I combine dry sauna sessions with training at the gym?

Yes, using the sauna after a workout at the gym is recommended, as it can help with muscle recovery and the drainage of metabolites. However, it is important to give the body time to rest and rehydrate after a sauna session. The sauna can put a lot of strain on the body, so it is not recommended to do an intensive workout immediately after a sauna session. It is important to give the body time to rest and rehydrate, so it is better to go to the gym no earlier than 24 hours after the sauna.

Does using a dry sauna help you lose weight?

No, using a dry sauna directly does not lead to fat loss and is not an effective way to lose weight. Although you may lose a certain amount of water through sweating during a sauna session, which can lead to a temporary weight loss, but this is only temporary and the weight will return after rehydration. Nevertheless, regular visits to the sauna can improve your body's overall condition and speed up your metabolism, which, combined with a proper diet and physical activity, can aid weight loss.

Can I bring my electronic devices into the dry sauna?

It is not recommended to take electronic devices, such as cell phones or smartwatches, into the dry sauna. The high temperatures can damage electronics, even if the device is waterproof. Furthermore, the sauna is a place to relax and unwind from everyday stresses, including technology. Therefore, it is better to leave your electronics in a safe place outside the sauna.

Are there any age restrictions for using the dry sauna?

In general, dry saunas are safe for people of all ages, but there are some exceptions. For young children, especially under the age of 6, it may be less safe to use a sauna because their body does not regulate the temperature as effectively as an adult. The sauna should have special conditions for children (answer in the next question). Similarly, older people, especially those with health problems, should consult a doctor before using a sauna.

Can children enter the sauna?

Children can safely stay in a dry air sauna from the age of one, and sometimes even earlier. However, the temperature should be lower than for adults - no more than 60°C. Children from one to three years old should use the sauna once every 2-3 minutes. Children aged 3 to 6 years can enjoy the sauna for 3-5 minutes. Boys and girls aged 12 years and older can stay in the sauna for more than 5 minutes at the 'adult' temperature of 70°C, but the total time spent in the sauna should not exceed 13-15 minutes.

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