Saunas have become a luxurious addition to many homes, gyms and spas. This comfortable and affordable addition to your health and wellness routine can result in many wonderful health benefits, from eased aches and pains to skin beautification and detoxification, and so much more! But, when and where did the sauna originate? You have to travel far back in the mists of time and half-way around the world to find out about the history of the home sauna home sauna and the health benefits that they offer.


The oldest Finnish sauna pronounced “sow-nah”, dates back to the period following the Ice Age when saunas were simple earth pits covered with animal skins. Over the years they evolved into ground saunas with an earth floor, three walls, a wooden door and turf roof – a stove sat in the corner and a wooden bench was made from a log.

Smoke saunas with large stoves arrived and were popular for centuries right up until the 1930s in some places. Piles of bricks were heated over a fire for up to eight hours, then after letting the smoke out, provided warmth for hours.

Things moved on in the 18th century with the arrival of sauna stoves with chimneys, and by the 20th century, there were barrel-shaped sheet metal stoves in use. Fuel shortages during the Second World War led to the invention of small electric and gas-heated stoves, the home sauna still used in many a Finnish home today.

When Finns traveled to North America, they brought sauna culture with them, that goes all the way back to Scandinavians who settled in the current state of Delaware in 1638. Now a home sauna is a well-established tradition for many North Americans and those around the world. You can find top-quality saunas for sale here just about anywhere!


Rich in heritage, over the years in Finland, saunas were used for everything from religious ceremonies and body cleansing to healing, relaxation and even as social places. Some would ensure that their children would be born in a sauna and many women went through a purification ritual there before their wedding day.

There have been all sorts of beliefs surrounding the kind of firewood used and even the location of a sauna. An important tradition still surrounds taking the first bath in a new sauna.

Like all great Scandinavian traditions, saunas have their own guardian spirit or sauna elf to protect from fire and damage. According to legend, if you have a home sauna you should leave out a cup of water for the elf and a bowl of porridge at Christmas.


Saunas were originally used to improve circulation and boost immunity, vital in the icy conditions of a Finnish winter.

Saunas would be visited regularly where the charcoal smoke, hot rocks and water combined in an unventilated room to open pores and detox. The Finns would put up with the heat for as long as they could and then throw themselves in the snow to cool down.

Today they can soothe and relax tired muscles, improve circulation and increase resistance to illness. Just lying back in a home sauna can help to condition the heart and increase the body’s metabolic rate.


Finnleo Saunas range taps into this rich culture using modern technology and design to offer the very latest saunas for sale. Visit WCI Pools & Spas in Ames and Urbandale in Iowa to find out about the rejuvenating health benefits of a home sauna and buying one for your home.

Learn more about the healing powers of infrared saunas by checking out our recent blog, Bringing Yoga to Your Home Sauna.