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How Does a Home Sauna Work?

Saunas are great for many reasons. Some people like to use them to relax and relieve stress. Other people understand how the sauna benefits the skin and the cardiovascular system. Athletes like saunas because they soothe pains in the muscles, joints and bones caused by intense physical activity or injury. It’s even been found that sauna use can help rid the body of toxins associated with the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Even though there is a wide range of benefits that can be attained by regular sauna use, most people have no idea how they actually function. How does a home sauna work? Read more to find out.


The main component of a sauna is the heat. The earliest saunas were composed of rocks heated by wood-burning fires. And although there are some sauna purists who still prefer this method, most modern-day saunas have done away with all the smoke and fire and use electricity or gas to produce the heat. A small stove is used to heat up the sauna rocks and create the warm, relaxing environment. In a wet sauna you’d pour water over the heated rocks to create steam and raise the temperature even higher. More modern saunas use infrared lights to warm the body from within. This allows for lower temperatures with just as much body heating action.


One of the physiological reactions of spending time in a heated sauna is the production of sweat. Sweat is the body’s way of cooling off during times of extreme heat. It’s estimated that the body can produce up to a litre of sweat in a single 15-minute session. For this reason, it’s important to stay hydrated when using a sauna and to cut back on diuretic beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine. It’s thought that sweating can help the body rid itself of toxins, although arguments for how effective sweating is for toxin removal are widely varying.

Blood Flow

Exposure to high levels of heat dilates the blood vessels and promotes the flow of the blood. Regular use of a sauna can help people who suffer from high blood pressure while improving the strength and pliability of their arteries. The increase in heart rate is similar to that found in aerobic exercise and there are studies that have shown that regular sauna use can actually reduce the risk of heart attacks. 

Pain Relief

The heat provided by saunas is very effective in reducing pain. The source of the pain, whether from physical exertion, menstrual cramps, arthritis or something else, does not really seem to matter. The heat and increased blood flow from spending time in the sauna appears to cause the body to release endorphins which provide a type of tranquilization. Spending time in a sauna can be a great way to mitigate pain caused by a wide variety of reasons.

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