Sauna Rocks and Stones - Complete Guide for all Home Sauna Enthusiasts
Jul 11, 2023
There's nothing better than the hot hissing sound of pouring water over the sauna rocks and feeling the heat rise. In Finnish Sauna culture they call this Löyly a word used to describe the heat and steam that's generated by pouring water over the hot sauna rocks. This comprehensive guide will delve into the world of sauna rocks, exploring the various types ideal for saunas while highlighting those to avoid. Additionally, we will provide valuable insights on rock replacement and share expert techniques for achieving the perfect water-pouring ritual. Get ready to elevate your sauna experience to new heights.
Why are there Rocks in Saunas?
Before we delve into choosing the best type of rocks for your sauna lets look at what their actual purpose is. Rocks are stacked around sauna heaters crucial to help they retain the heat and allow the crucial steam generation we all love. When carefully chosen, sauna rocks with excellent heat retention properties can create a consistent and enveloping warmth while efficiently producing invigorating steam.
What Are the Best Types of Rocks for Saunas?
Granite rocks and their superior thermal mass
Granite reigns supreme when it comes to sauna rocks. This renowned stone excels in heat retention and offers many diverse types to choose from, allowing you to select a style that perfectly complements your sauna. This unique characteristic makes them an excellent fit for a sauna.
Granite's composition is dense, allowing for prolonged heat retention and maintaining steady temperatures in saunas. This aspect makes it ideal for wood-burning rooms since the temperature remains comfortable even after the fire subsides. Additionally, when water is poured on granite rocks, their thermal mass contributes to a gradual and sustained löyly experience during cooling.
Furthermore, granite rocks are often preferred for their durability and resistance to cracking. A sauna rock should withstand frequent heating and cooling cycles without deteriorating. Granite's robust nature and resistance to thermal stress make it an excellent choice for long-lasting rock saunas.
Igneous rocks are often considered the go-to choice for saunas. These rocks form from cooled lava or magma and offer great durability and heat retention. People have been using these types of rocks in saunas for centuries due to their ability to withstand high temperatures without cracking or breaking down.
Saunas are commonly enhanced by using volcanic rocks, another type of igneous rock. They boast several benefits that promote an ideal sauna experience. Among these advantages is their high heat capacity, which allows them to absorb efficiently and retain heat. As a result, the sauna's temperature remains consistent throughout the environment, creating optimal conditions for relaxation and sweating.
Rock Types to Avoid in Saunas
Saunas enthusiasts should avoid using sedimentary rocks like sandstone, shale, and limestone due to the following reasons.
- Porous structure hence easily absorb water, making them unsuitable for saunas
- Sedimentary rocks trap moisture, creating a damp and uncomfortable sauna environment.
- Sedimentary rocks can crack or explode due to absorbed moisture.
- Low heat tolerance
- Cleaning and maintaining sedimentary rocks in saunas is difficult due to their porosity and moisture retention.
Avoid slate, marble, and quartzite metamorphic rocks due to the following:
- They have a tendency to fracture under extreme temperatures therefore posing potential safety risk for sauna users.
- Metamorphic rocks are likely to contain cracks and faults in their structure.
Moisture-related issues in obsidian and Pumice rocks
While obsidian and pumice are unique rocks, they are not ideal for sauna use due to these reasons
- Obsidian, being a smooth volcanic rock, lacks moisture retention properties.
- Pumice, known for its lightweight and highly porous nature, is not suitable for saunas.
Do You Need to Replace Sauna Rocks Often?
The lifespan of sauna rocks can vary depending on several factors. The type of rock used, the frequency of sauna usage, the intensity of heat generated, and the amount of water poured on the rocks all play a role in determining how long the rocks will last. Generally, high-quality sauna rocks can provide years of service before needing replacement.
Signs that indicate the need for rock replacement
Over time, sauna rocks may show signs of wear and deterioration, indicating the need of replacement. Here are some common signs to look out for:
- When rocks crack or break, they should be replaced without delay. Damaged rocks pose a safety risk when exposed to high heat and water since they can shatter or explode.
- Heat retention is crucial for a satisfying sauna experience. If the sauna rocks are no longer holding heat efficiently, it can lead to decreased temperature and diminished effects. This indicates that it's time to replace them with new rocks that absorb heat and retain it in order to restore optimal conditions for relaxation and rejuvenation.
- When pouring water over sauna stones, you may expect significant steam generation. However, a decrease in steam production might signify that the rocks are worn out and no longer be used to make steam effectively.
How Much Water Should You Pour on Sauna Rocks?
Steam generation is a crucial aspect of the sauna experience. It helps create a moist and comfortable environment, promoting relaxation and enhancing the therapeutic benefits of the sauna.
Adjusting the water amount based on personal preference
When pouring water over sauna rocks, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you're after a more subdued and less humid atmosphere, go easy on the water at first. As you adjust to the heat and want more steam, gradually add pour on more as desired.
Excess water in the sauna is detrimental to its longevity and structure. Maintaining a balance between enjoyable steam and proper moisture levels will prevent damage to the sauna. If you enjoy a hotter sauna session or tend to use more water, it is important to remember to air out the sauna afterwards to prevent excessive moisture accumulation inside.
Can You Put Essential Oils on the Sauna Rocks?
Essential oils are flammable, therefore, it’s never advisable to put them directly onto the sauna rocks. This leaves two choices.
- Mix the essential oils with water before applying them to the stones.
- Use a sauna bowl that sits above the stones and add water along with the essential oils.
In saunas, different types of essential oils are commonly used to enhance the experience in saunas. These include:
- Birch: A traditional choice in Finnish saunas.
- Eucalyptus: Ideal for decongesting the airways and promoting easy breathing.
- Lavender: Known for its ability to induce relaxation, improve sleep, and create a serene atmosphere.
- Peppermint: Its refreshing scent helps to keep you alert, making it perfect for those who tend to feel sleepy in the sauna.
- Tea tree: Particularly beneficial when using the sauna while having a cold, as it can help fight infections and boost the immune system.
How Many Sauna Rocks Should You Buy?
Once you have decided on the type of sauna rock to purchase, the next step is to determine the appropriate volume or weight required. There are two methods you can use to accomplish this:
- The instructions provided by the sauna heater's manufacturer will guide you on the recommended weight or volume of rocks to achieve optimal performance. It is essential to read these instructions thoroughly and understand them before operating the sauna.
- If the instructions from your sauna's manufacturer are unavailable, there is another method to determine the necessary amount of stones. By taking out the existing rocks and weighing them, you can calculate precisely how many pieces to buy for replacement or supplementation of the stockpile.
Selecting the right type of rocks for your sauna is crucial to ensure a safe and enjoyable sauna experience, Experts recommend using igneous rocks like granite as they last longer and retain heat effectively. It's important to avoid using sedimentary rocks in saunas due to their inability to withstand high temperatures. Regularly replacing your stones, especially if you notice cracks or deterioration, can help maintain optimal performance and prevent safety risks. Consider swapping out your rocks every few years to achieve consistent heat distribution.
Sauna enthusiasts should be mindful of the amount of water they add to the rocks during their sessions. Excessive water can cause early wear and tear, leading to reduced lifespan of the stones. To achieve a steamier sauna, proper ventilation is necessary after sessions to release excess humidity and prevent moisture buildup.