20 criteria for a genuine Finnish sauna

20 criteria for a genuine Finnish sauna

For the first time, sauna masters from the Sauna Master Guild (Saunamestari Kilta), defined the hallmarks of the Finnish sauna tradition, 20 criteria for a genuine Finnish sauna.

The most important is a temperature of over 70 degrees and the possibility to create a good ‘löylyä’.

20 criteria for a genuine, Finnish sauna

YLE – TEEMU KAMMONEN – 19.4.2023

Everyone knows about saunas, but where does one know about a Finnish sauna.
This week, we got an answer to this question from the Sauna Master Guild, which, after a long period of work, has published a definition of the Finnish sauna culture.

– “Different definitions of sauna and Finnish sauna have been used for a long time. Our aim is to preserve Finnish sauna culture so that it remains the same for the next 50 years.” says Pekka Paasonen.

A carefully considered list
The Sauna Master Guild is an association that aims to preserve specifically Finnish sauna culture and traditions. The guild, which has been in operation since the 1990s, has worked for months to achieve this.

– “We have carefully considered the wording in order to preserve the Finnish tradition. People have been born and died in saunas. Grain has been dried there. These things have changed, but we want to respect tradition.” says Paasonen.

– “Everyone can enjoy the sauna the way they want. It is not bound to 70 degrees, 100 degrees or 50 degrees. But in the Finnish tradition, the sauna is 70-100 degrees and the heater stones must be hot. I don’t accept a 50-degree room as a sauna.” Paasonen says.

At the end of this article, you will find a list of the criteria of a Finnish sauna.

According to the President of the Guild of Sauna Masters, a sufficiently traditional sauna is one that meets three quarters of these criteria.

A new recommendation for the benches
What is essential for a sauna in the Finnish tradition is that the stove is hot and can be used to create a real sauna room. One of the most significant new guidelines in the guild’s programming is the height of the benches.

According to a recent recommendation, the distance between the top bench and the upper ceiling should be no more than 110 centimetres, and 120 centimetres in a smoke sauna. Similarly, the foot place should be located above the stove stones.

– “This is the best way to comply with the law of fire. The warm air rises, so ceilings that are too low burn unnecessary energy to heat the sauna room. Let’s use that heat where it is,” says Paasonen.

For those whose sauna doesn’t meet the guild’s recommended criteria, Paasonen has good news:

– Anyone can build anything they want, but here are the characteristics of a sauna in the Finnish sauna tradition.

– Everyone is free to enjoy the sauna in the way that suits them best. It is a place to get your body and mind clean.

20 criteria for a genuine, Finnish sauna

Criteria of a Finnish sauna – 20 criteria for a genuine, Finnish sauna

Sauna room
The walls and ceiling are usually made of wood or wood panelling.
The sauna usually has a window.
The size of the sauna should be considered in relation to the need for boarding space.
Rainwater and washing water are drained out of the sauna room.

Heat and humidity
The temperature in the sauna room when taking a sauna is around 70-100 °C, measured at the height of the sailor’s head.
During the sauna, the humidity and the sensation of heat can be increased by creating a steam or by pouring water.

Metal construction, masonry or stacked.
The stones of the stove are usually heated by electricity or firewood.
The power of the stove is correctly selected according to the volume of the sauna and the interior materials.
A wood-burning stove uses dry firewood.

Height: distance of the upper bench from the ceiling 1,1 m (1,2 m for smoke saunas) and the base above the stone surface of the stove.
Board surfaces are made of wood.

Adequate ventilation shall be provided.
There shall be an adequate supply of replacement air for the wood-burning stove.
Adjustable valves are recommended (energy efficiency).

Cleanliness and water

Cleanliness of the sauna is a prerequisite for a pleasant bathing experience.
Use clean, warm water.

Building materials are chosen with regard to their fire safety.
The saunas must be safe and accessible for people with reduced mobility and visual impairments.
Adequate lighting is a prerequisite for safe movement in the sauna. Indirect lighting is recommended.

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