Pouring water over sauna stones – all the rules and tips


Questions about saunas often concern the proper technique of pouring water on the stones. This is an art that, if mastered, allows one to fully enjoy the benefits of the sauna. How we create steam is crucial, whether we are using a wood-fired or an electric sauna. Improper pouring of water on the stones can even damage the stove, but proper tips can help us avoid such issues. So, let’s delve into the secrets of pouring water on the stones and learn how to enhance our sauna experiences.

Creating Pleasant, Light Steam: Key Principles

When the stones on the stove are hot, adding water to them causes it to evaporate instantly. The steam generated as a result increases the humidity in the sauna room, making the warmth more palpable on the skin.

It’s best to use hot water for this purpose. For this reason, a special water container is usually placed directly on the stove, on the side, or integrated into the chimney system to enable water heating. The steam obtained this way is finely dispersed, light, and enjoyable. Cold water, on the other hand, can create heavy, sticky steam, which is less pleasant.

Although it seems simple, it’s important to know when and how much water to add. If you add too much water at once, the sauna temperature will drop, which can lead to an uncomfortable cooling sensation. On the other hand, if you add too little water, the air in the sauna will be too dry, causing discomfort, especially for those with sensitive skin.

Special accessories are used in the sauna, such as a wooden bucket and ladle, for pouring water on the stones. An aromatic concentrate or essential oil can be added to the bucket, or it can be used for steaming massage twigs. Water is ladled and gently sprinkled onto the stones. Under no circumstances should a large amount of water be poured at once – this can lead to a rapid drop in temperature and damage to the stove.

Adding small amounts of water every few minutes will help maintain a balance between humidity and temperature, while also creating a pleasant, light steam. Remember that aromatic oils added to the water can further enrich your sauna experience. However, it’s important to use only those oils that are safe and intended for use in the sauna.

Is It Worth Pouring Water on the Stones in a Dry Sauna?

Even in dry saunas, creating a minimal amount of steam can be beneficial. Slightly increasing humidity makes the warmth more palpable on the skin. However, it’s important not to overdo it. Excessive humidity can disturb the sense of warmth and reduce the effectiveness of the sauna session.

A study conducted in Finland, a country with a long tradition of sauna use, showed that most people prefer a slight increase in humidity while using dry saunas. Aromatherapy, implemented by adding essential oils to the water, is also commonly used even in dry saunas.

Michał Bryll
Michał Bryll
According to the owner of the popular sauna products shop in Poland DobraSauna.pl - "We have noticed that in Poland many owners of dry Finnish saunas pour water over the stones on the cooker. Special sauna steam kits, such as buckets and scoops, as well as various aromas are often purchased in our online shop. Customers often approach us with questions about how to properly pour water on the stones. For many of them it is a discovery that the stones should be poured with hot or warm water, not cold."

Pouring Water on the Stones in a Wood-Fired Sauna

A wood-fired sauna stove has its unique characteristics and requires the right approach. The heat from such a stove is often described as “softer” and more “penetrating,” and the sauna atmosphere is more “natural.”
Before starting a sauna session, the stones on the wood-fired stove must be well-heated, which usually takes about an hour of stove operation. Then, you can pour warm or hot water on the stones, creating a pleasant, light steam.

It’s important to pour water on the stones gradually to avoid “burning them out.” Regular monitoring and replacing stones if necessary will ensure the long-term use of the stove.

Pouring Water on the Stones in an Electric Sauna Stove

For those accustomed to a traditional wood-fired sauna, the idea of pouring water on something electric might seem intimidating. Could pouring water on the stones cause a short circuit or even an electric shock? As practice shows, these are myths.
Electric sauna stoves are specifically designed for water pouring on the stones. The stove’s construction is designed so that the water poured onto the stones from above will never reach areas that could pose a threat to the device or individuals. Even if water gets onto the heating element and you notice it turning red, there’s no danger. You might hear a sizzling sound, but there won’t be an electric shock.

There are no registered cases of such accidents in Finland, where at least a million electric sauna stoves are in operation!

However, when pouring water on the stones of an electric stove, it’s worth remembering two principles:

  1. Pour water on the stones using a ladle, not directly from the bucket.
  2. External components of the electric stove, such as the control panel or temperature sensor on the wall, might not be waterproof, so they shouldn’t be poured with water.

Nevertheless, as always, it’s recommended to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using the stove. Some models might have specific recommendations regarding the amount of water to use or special guidelines for pouring water on the stones.


Why is it forbidden to pour water on stones in a public sauna?

W niektórych publicznych saunach istnieje zakaz polewania kamieni wodą przez gości. Jest to związane z kilkoma istotnymi powodami. Po pierwsze, w takich miejscach zazwyczaj istnieje wykwalifikowany saunamistrz, który odpowiedzialny jest za stworzenie odpowiedniej atmosfery i poziomu wilgotności, więc nie ma potrzeby ingerencji ze strony klientów. Po drugie, niektórzy nieświadomi goście mogą przelać wodę nad piecem, co może prowadzić do uszkodzenia urządzeń lub, co gorsza, zalania podłogi i ryzyka poślizgnięcia się innych użytkowników. Dodatkowo, nadmierne polewanie może zakłócić zrównoważony klimat w saunie, co wpłynie na doświadczenie innych gości.

How does watering the stones affect the humidity in the sauna?

Watering the stones in a small sauna for 2 people with a 0.1 - 0.15 litre ladle can increase the humidity by around 3-5% in a room with a volume of 3 m³.

I hope I have successfully answered the questions regarding pouring water on the sauna stones. If you would like to learn more about choosing the best stones for the sauna, we invite you to read our article on this topic.

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Since 2011 I have had my own business selling sauna building materials, sauna cookers and sauna accessories. I know all about building a quality sauna!