Sauna whisks – what are they and how to use them?


Sauna or banya whisks, also known as bathing brooms, are a traditional part of sauna bathing, although not as common in European culture as in Eastern countries. Nevertheless, their unique health properties and their impact on the overall sauna experience are making them increasingly popular. Have you ever wondered what the benefits of using them are, how to properly prepare and use them? This article aims to provide comprehensive information on these topics, allow you to understand the role of whisks in the saunting process and realise their potential for health and relaxation.

What are sauna whisks?

Sauna whisks, also known as Russian banya brooms or whisks, are bundles of tree branches that are used during sauna bathing. They are used to massage the body, which stimulates circulation and increases the health benefits of sauna bathing.

They originated in the Nordic and Russian countries, where they have been used for hundreds of years. But it’s not just tradition – whisks have many health benefits! A whisk massage stimulates blood circulation, opens pores and helps to expel toxins. In addition, the aromatic oils from the leaves penetrate the skin, giving a feeling of relaxation and unwinding.

How do you choose whisks for your sauna?

A key aspect is choosing the right branches. Whisks from birch, eucalyptus or oak are the most popular, but each species of tree has its own unique properties. Once the branches have been harvested, they should be dried and then soaked in water before being used in the sauna.

  1. Birch Whisks: These whisks are the most traditional and popular. They are characterised by an intense, woodsy scent that helps to relax the mind and body. They have strong antibacterial properties and stimulate blood circulation.
  2. Eucalyptus whisks: Eucalyptus is known for its antiseptic and cleansing properties. Eucalyptus whisks have a strong, refreshing smell and can help to clear the respiratory tract.
  3. Oak whisks and their Variants: Oak whisks are extremely long-lasting and can be used several times. They have a mild, earthy scent and are known for their skin-toning properties. There are many variants of oak whisks that combine the benefits of oak with other plants:
    • Oak with Linden: Linden adds soothing and relaxing properties.
    • Oak with Mint: Mint adds a refreshing fragrance and has antiseptic properties.
    • Oak with Melissa: Melissa has calming properties and helps with relaxation.
    • Oak with Siberian Nostrum: Siberian fennel has strong antiseptic properties.
    • Oak with St John’s Wort: St John’s wort is known for its antidepressant properties.
    • Oak with Mugwort: Mugwort adds an intense, herbal fragrance and has antibacterial properties.
    • Oak with Elm: Elm is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
  4. Hemp Whisks: Hemp is known for its relaxing properties. Hemp whisks can help to relax and relieve stress.
  5. Linden Whisks: Linden has a delicate, sweet fragrance and is known for its soothing properties. Lime whisks can help you relax and improve the quality of your sleep.
  6. Bamboo whisks: Bamboo is extremely durable and resistant to mould. Bamboo whisks are gentle on the skin and can be used several times.

Broomsticks should be purchased from a reputable sauna shop, where they are properly stored and will bring their own benefits.

Preparation of the whisk

Selection of quality whisks: Good quality whisks do not disintegrate when soaked in warm water. For the best experience, choose strong and well-made whisks.

Moistening fresh twigs: Fresh brooms do not need to be steamed. Just put them in warm water for 10-15 minutes and they are ready to use. Longer time can make them soften.

Steaming dried whisks: Experienced bathhouse staff recommend a three-step scheme for steaming brooms. First in ice-cold water for 2-3 minutes, then in warm water for 10 minutes and then in hot water for 40 minutes. The bucket of hot water and broom should be covered with a bowl or lid so that the broom vaporises in the steam bath without wasting essential oils in the air.

The water that remains after steaming the broom can be used for washing and rinsing, and is full of beneficial substances that can continue to improve wellbeing.

After the sauna, the whisks should be dried again. They can be stored in a cool and dry place. Remember that whisks do not last forever – they should be replaced with new ones after several uses.

How to choose and use whisks for your sauna: a comprehensive guide

If you intend to use the broom again in the next few days, you can place the used broom in the fridge and warm it in a bucket of warm water for 5 minutes before using it again.

How do you use whisks in the sauna?

Using whisks is simple, but requires some technique. In a Finnish sauna, whisks are usually soaked in warm water and then used to gently stroke the body. In a Russian banya, whisks can be used for flogging – gently patting the steaming skin with soaked birch twigs.

Here are some tips on how to properly perform a whisk massage in the sauna:

  1. Warm-up: Start working with the whisk on a warmed up body. The whisk must not be used on dry skin. The sauna temperature for the initial warm-up should be around 60 degrees Celsius. It is recommended to start on the lower shelf, lie down and relax and then proceed with the whisk massage.
  2. Moist whisk: The whisk used for massage should be moist. From time to time it should be moistened with warm water.
  3. Massage technique: Whisk massage involves various techniques, such as swinging movements towards the person being massaged, pressing the whisks against the lumbar region, shoulder blades and feet, and shaking the whisk at the ceiling, where the temperature is higher. Massage should also include slow stroking with the whisk all over the body and alternating stroking and flogging.
  4. Hot compress: This technique involves immersing a whisk in hot water and then pressing it firmly against the body for about 5 seconds. The hot compress helps to open the pores and improves the elimination of toxins from the body.
  5. Contrasting procedures: Contrasting procedures such as dousing yourself with cold water, rubbing yourself with snow or taking a dip in the ice-break can be used between sauna sessions. These techniques help to stimulate circulation and increase the effectiveness of the whisk massage.

Sauna whisks - what are they and how do you use them?

Pamiętaj, że właściwe korzystanie z witki w saunie to sztuka, która wymaga praktyki. Ale z czasem nauczysz się, jak dostosować techniki masażu do swoich indywidualnych potrzeb i preferencji, aby uzyskać największe korzyści dla swojego zdrowia i samopoczucia.

Frequently asked questions

Can I make the whisks for the sauna myself?

Yes, you can make your own whisks for the sauna. The key is to collect the right branches - the most popular are from birch, eucalyptus or oak. Once you have collected the branches, dry them and then soak them in water before using them in the sauna.

How long should a whisk massage last?

The duration of a whisk massage depends on your comfort and preference. Typically, massages last between 5 and 15 minutes.

Can I use sauna whisks more than once?

Yes, sauna whisks can be used more than once. However, after each use they should be dried and stored in a cool, dry place. Remember, however, that after a few uses the whisks may lose their properties and should be replaced with new ones.

Is it safe for the skin to use whisks in the sauna?

Yes, using whisks in the sauna is safe for the skin. Whisks are usually used gently without causing irritation. Massaging with whisks can even help to open pores and cleanse the skin. However, remember to always use whisks according to your skin type and avoid hitting it too hard.

What are the health benefits of using whisks in the sauna?

The health benefits of using whisks in the sauna are numerous. Massaging with whisks stimulates blood circulation, opens pores and helps to expel toxins. In addition, the aromatic oils from the leaves penetrate the skin, giving a feeling of relaxation and unwinding.

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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!