In Finland saunas have been used for centuries going back over a thousand years for its well known health benefits. Indeed saunas are so popular in Finland that there is approximately one sauna for every seven people in the country with most in private apartments and the balance found in summer homes, hotels, and public swimming facilities.
To discover where and when the use of saunas began in Finland we have to go back to the nomadic tribes that inhabited the area who initially used an open fire pit with some type of tarp pulled over to give them a warm place for bathing. A written description of a sauna was found dating back to 1112.
The primitive sweat lodges and saunas have their drawbacks, not the least of which is the need for constant cleaning due to the build up of soot and ashes.
There are primarily two types of heating systems in modern saunas, wood burning and electric. Most saunas these days used electric heat because it is much simpler to use and cheaper as well. Many purists however, are returning to the wood heated sauna.
Regardless of the type of heating system used all modern saunas contain a chimney and a metal casing with a container on the top for heat rocks. The rocks store the heat which is released by tossing water on it.
Saunas in the beginning were built away from the house and were used both as a place to bathe and for the sauna. With the advent of indoor plumbing and other improvements in living comforts saunas began to be placed in the home instead of outside. In Finland almost every new apartment has a sauna built into it.
The sauna has been widely accepted in the United States since its introduction by Finnish immigrants in 1638 in what is now known as Delaware. The sauna saw an increase in popularity with invention of electricity and became even more widespread with the invention of the electric sauna stove in the 1950's. For many in the United States the sauna has become a tradition similar to that in Finland.
Doctors and physical fitness experts recommend the sauna as well for benefits that include relaxation, cardiovascular benefit, increased metabolic rate, improved circulation, enhanced immune system response, weight loss, and healthier clearer skin.
Saunas help the body rid itself of toxins that can be the source of disease and some cancers. Check with you doctor and then try saunas yourself and see the benefits firsthand.