Warning: Like all good hacks, many of these are not for rule followers. Some may be against building codes, health club rules, etc. Implement these sauna hacks at your own risk.
#1 – Trick electric heater governors
Most commercial electric heaters in North America have a ‘governor’ that keeps the temperature below 165 degrees F. This is just not hot enough for many traditional sauna bathers. You can trick the sensor by pouring some cold water on the rocks, but this will only get you so far and is often discouraged at health clubs.
If you’re mechanical you can get in there and bypass the governor, but it’s probably not a good idea to pose as a maintenance worker and “fix” the health club sauna. Good ventilation under the sauna can help. This will draw in cooler air and keep the sauna cranking out heat longer.
#2 – Lazy Loyly
Want to enjoy the perfect steam without getting up? Be creative and create your own ‘Lazy Loyly.’ Don’t have running water? Use a sauna bucket or watering pale from the garden with a pulley so you can pull a string from your favorite seat. Tylo also makes a sprinkler kit that can be used. Here are a couple of our favorites:
#3 – Staycations and Airbnb Saunas
We live in the Twin Cities, and one of our favorite local saunas is at the Hewing Hotel. They offer sauna sessions for $35 / session. Well, that’s $70 for two of us. We’d rather book a hotel room on HotelsTonight.com for $140. If we use it for two days, we basically get a free hotel room and an awesome vacation in our own city.
You can also use the following into Google to search for saunas in your area or on your next vacation: site:airbnb.com sauna +location
#4 – Order from overseas
If you’re bored or unhappy with sauna kits and heaters in your country, consider ordering from Europe. It’s very expensive to get UL safety ratings in the US, so sauna manufacturers only send their basic, best selling designs. If you’re willing to go without the rating, there are literally hundreds of beautiful and unique sauna heaters available in Europe.
#5 – Cheap Chinese heaters
On a budget? You can get a decent electric sauna heater for a few hundred bucks from China. Check out our guide to electric sauna heaters here.
#6 – Convert Whatever Structure You Have Into a Sauna and Use Recycled Materials
Existing sheds, RVs, and Boathouses can make excellent saunas. Find examples of converted sheds on Sauna Times, including a cluttered shed in Northern Minnesota and a neglected backyard shed in Upstate New York.
If you’re thinking about building a backyard sauna from scratch, consider converting a new storage shed into an outdoor sauna instead. Glenn at Sauna Times recommends Tuff Shed which start around around $2,300 and can be delivered where you need it.
Additionally, you can save a ton of money by using recycled wood, metal, and windows. When the folks at Gibbons Whistler were building their DIY Barrel sauna, they used a $5 window from a recycling center for their door and two propane tanks to weld together a the stove.
Although using recycled wood might not be a great idea for a sauna if you don’t know how it’s been treated, you can find good deals at lumber yards by selecting #2 Grade or #3 Grade stock. If they let you sort through and pick the better boards, you’re sure to find some quality materials. You can also buy boards that are too big and cut them down to size. If you have to mill the boards for a barrel sauna, it’s not a big deal to also trim them to remove imperfections.
#7 – Get around building codes
The Tiny House Movement has known for years that building codes often don’t apply or aren’t enforceable if the structure is on wheels or under a certain size.
The square footage loophole, usually 120 square feet in the US, allows homeowners to build sheds without a building permit. Luckily for us, most small outdoor saunas will fall under this size exemption.
Additionally, mobile saunas that are built on standard looking trailers or stationary saunas that look like sheds are unlikely to raise the eyebrows of city inspectors. If you’re in a urban setting, it may be best to blend in or keep it on wheels.
Here’s an example of an awesome mobile sauna that you probably wouldn’t bat an eye at when driving down the highway. The only thing that sets it apart from the outside is the chimney.
#8 – Stretch and Work Out in the Sauna
Spending some time in the sauna is an excellent way to loosen up some sore spots and works as well as a massage for many people. Start by spending some mindful time in the sauna and do some light stretching. Work your way up to deep stretches, or light yoga. For fun, try a pose before going into the sauna and right before you leave the sauna to see how much the sauna increases flexibility.
Working out in the sauna needs to be done cautiously but it can really supercharge your workouts, especially if trying to loose weight. It’s vitally important to stay hydrated and take supplements if needed.
#9 – Use a Grill Thermometer With Bluetooth To Monitor the Temperature
Knowing exactly when to enter the sauna can be complicated, especially with outdoor saunas. The stakes are even higher when you need to make a frigid walk to get there.
Weber makes thermometers meant for the inside of stoves that can connect to an App on your phone that work perfect for saunas.
The Weber iGrill 2 can work from 100+ feet and has been proven accurate and durable in saunas.
#10 – Use the Sauna at Night and Sleep Like a Baby
There is good research showing saunas or a hot bath helps put your body into a deep sleep. Sign up for our mailing list to be updated on a new article compiling the research and science of using saunas to help sleep and insomnia.
Lead image and video from SaunaStoke.com