Finnish vs. Russian Sauna - Which Is Better

Finnish vs. Russian Sauna – Which Is Better

A sauna is a small building or room with wood interiors, temperature controls, and rocks that give off and absorb heat. Sauna bathing may be beneficial for people with peripheral arterial disease, COPD, and congestive heart failure.

People experiencing anxiety and depression may also benefit from sauna bathing. There are different kinds of saunas and each type has pros and cons, but this time, we’re going to focus on the differences between Russian and Finnish saunas.

Differences Between Russian and Finnish Saunas

Russian and Finnish saunas have several differences. For instance, in Finnish saunas, the steam room’s temperature is usually kept at 130°C to 160°C. Moreover, there are no steam or bathing rods in Finnish saunas. The main source of heat is an electric furnace.

If you want to reduce the temperature, you only need to pour water on the stones and walls in the room. The temperature in Russian saunas, on other hand, is usually kept at 60°C to 70°C. There is a significant moisture difference as well. Russian saunas have 90% moisture, while Finnish saunas have 20% to 25%.

What a Finnish sauna looks like

There are different kinds of Finnish sauna – smoke, electric, and wood stove saunas. Smoke saunas don’t have a chimney. The sauna is ventilated once it reaches the right temperature. This kind of sauna is durable, cheap, and easy to build.

Wood stove saunas, on the other hand, are heated using birch wood fire. Most people prefer birch wood due to its smell and quality. Electric saunas are popular in public saunas and city apartments. This kind of sauna has stones to preserve heat.

The best thing about electric saunas is that you can use them by simply pressing a button. You don’t need to buy or burn wood to use this kind of sauna. Mobile saunas are becoming more popular in Finland as well. Saunas are built into car trailers, boats, tractor-trailers, buses, and cars and you can rent one anytime.

What a Russian sauna looks like

Russian saunas have higher moisture levels and lower temperatures than Finnish saunas. It has 3 areas – steam room, anteroom, and washroom. Another room, a leisure room, can be installed beside the sauna. Since the sauna is usually a separate room, there’s a dressing chamber or locker room provided for guests.

A washroom is a space where you can wash, while an anteroom is an area where you can change or leave your clothes. You can also rest in the anteroom before going to the steam room, which is the most important part of a Russian sauna. The source of heat in Russian saunas is the stone furnace.

Guests can pour water on the stones to adjust the room’s moisture and temperature. Since you need to wash your body before going to the steam room, you should bring a towel, shower puff, and washing gel. All other accessories like water scoops are provided by the sauna.

Finnish and Russian Sauna Etiquette

If you have a private sauna at home, you don’t need to follow any rules or etiquette. But if you’re planning to visit a public sauna, there are some rules that you should observe at all times. Here’s what you need to know about Finnish and Russian sauna etiquette.

Finnish vs. Russian Sauna - Which Is Better

How to use Finnish and Russian saunas

Take a warm shower before going to the steam room then dry off your head and body. You should also drink 1 or 2 glasses of water. Stay in a dry sauna for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, leave the room then take another quick shower. Don’t forget to drink water as well. Go back to the steam room and stay inside for 10 minutes. This time, you can add steam by pouring water onto the rocks.

You can also gently massage your skin using a vihta, a whisk made from tree twigs. After 10 minutes, leave the room and then take another shower. Drink a glass of water to let your body cool down. Re-enter the room for the final time and stay inside for 10 minutes. You can roll in the snow or use a cool-to-cold shower to cool down. Exit the sauna once the body has stopped perspiring.

Things are a bit different when it comes to Russian saunas. Before stoking the room, you need to put a spruce branch on the sitting areas. You also need to submerge the bathing rods in water for 15 minutes before using the steam room. Leave the room after 15 minutes then drink a glass of cold water. Repeat the process 3 to 4 times. People usually eat a light dinner and drink tea afterward.

Safety tips when using saunas

Whether you are using a Russian or Finnish sauna, there are safety measures you need to follow at all times. Despite its benefits, a sauna is not suitable for everyone. That’s why you should always consult your physician before using any kind of sauna. This is particularly important for those who have certain health conditions such as diabetes, unstable angina, and abnormal heart rhythm.

If you’re suffering from any of these illnesses, you should only stay in the room for 5 minutes. You should cool down properly and slowly as well. Don’t use saunas if you’re taking medications that make you sleepy or interfere with the ability of the body to regulate temperature. You should also drink water after and before using saunas to prevent dehydration.

Exit the room if you feel sick or dizzy. Finnish saunas may not be suitable for people with health conditions and pregnant women because it usually ends with a dip in cold water. Regular sauna bathing may also temporarily reduce a man’s sperm, so you should avoid using saunas if you’re trying to impregnate your partner.

Finnish vs. Russian Sauna - Which Is Better


That’s everything you need to know about Finnish and Russian saunas. Choose the right sauna and you will be able to enjoy a lot of health benefits such as improved immunity and blood circulation as well as reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

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