anyone build an outdoor wood-fired sauna from scratch?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by cathleenc, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. cathleenc

    cathleenc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    we would love to have a little outdoor sauna! Looking online for 'how to' info I mostly find very inadequate blurbs linked to full expensive kits to buy.

    Would love to hear from anyone that has built their own - would love to know the best places to look for guidance. What you used for a wood-fired furnace, etc. And I know it's personal, but learning what kind of budget is reasonable would be incredibly helpful.

    thanks!
    Cathy
     
  2. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    The only experience I have had was in Scouting. We used one of our Army surplus wall tents as the "Sauna Tent." Inside the tent we had two army cots, one along each side of the tent, to sit on. All day long we had a wire milk crate full of rocks cooking on the campfire. When ever a group of us wanted a sauna, we'd just move the wire crate from the fire to inside the tent.....close the tent flaps and start dripping water on to the rocks. Instant sauna!

    It was great!
     

  3. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    LOL Ive built or helped on lots of them in feild camps Lets see if i can help,
    1 make or find a box
    2 heat it!
     
  4. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    LOL it really is about that simple we have used bins that washed of ships, packing crates odd boards and just about anything to make a box.
    Then heated it with anything we could find .A small wood stove made from a 5 gallon metal can with a stack of deended cans for a chimney is fine
    Budjet? $00.00
     
  5. cathleenc

    cathleenc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    alrighty.... I think I need to amend my question, given the responses I'm getting.

    Have any of your built a wood-fueled sauna in which your age 50+ wife enjoyed sauna-ing and which you both used on an ongoing basis?
     
  6. TNHermit

    TNHermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Last edited: Jul 20, 2010
  7. crispin

    crispin Well-Known Member

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  8. cathleenc

    cathleenc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    thank you Crispin and TnHermit - those were the sorts of helpful links I was hoping for!

    Went and requested the cordwood sauna book - and every other 'how to' sauna book - that our large library system had. We are excited about maybe building our own sauna this fall!

    thanks again :)
     
  9. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    Honestly you nearly cant mess this up. Buy the smallest wood stove you can find Build a wood box around it , ceder has a nice aroma if its available where you are.
    Don't over think it.
    One caution be very careful about heating stones they can blow up.
     
  10. crispin

    crispin Well-Known Member

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    I plan on placing a carbon dioxide detector in the sauna as well
     
  11. FTG-05

    FTG-05 Member

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    Back in the late '80's I built my own wood fired sauna for not a whole lot of money. I started with one of those 6'x8' wood shed kits you could buy for about $300 IRC. I then added insulation and interior walls with plywood, then covered the plywood with tongue and groove wood that wasn't all that expensive.

    The floor was plywood with rough 1x4's laid 90's to the floor beams.

    The heater was the cheapest HF-type china-made heater that was then legal in WA (it isn't now). I put 2'x2'x2" concrete block underneath the stove and 14 ga steel on the wall behind the stove and called it good. I used 6" stove pipe as the outer diameter stove pipe with 5" titanium pipe ($8 per lb less the 20% Boring discount from Boring Surplus - now also defunct, mores the pity - but I digress) as the inner stove pipe. I broke three drill bits and two saw blades cutting the TI pipe. The stove pipe cap was a $3 item from the local hardware store.

    I forget how I wired the one light I had inside (25 watt stove light), but it was simple and cheap. The door had a piece of plastic as a window and a simple latch to keep it closed while I was inside (I wanted it easy to get out in case of an emergency).

    I could get that stove sides almost red hot with the light out at night. My record temp was 250 degrees for 20 minutes - I had two oven thermometers to record interior temps. If I did that today, it would kill me for sure!

    When I moved to north AL, my wood fired sauna was the only building ever moved by Boring (according to my 30 year experienced move specialist), my gun safe was peanuts compared to the sauna.

    Unfortunately, I lost my sauna when I moved into a neighborhood that didn't allow out building's (GD HOA's).

    The first thing I do when I move is to build another wood fired sauna.

    Good luck.

    Al
     
  12. Kevingr

    Kevingr East Central MN

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    We have one at the Boy Scout camp that we go to. It's just a 2x4 frame with sheet metal on the outside. There's a 30 gallon barrel that sticks through the wall (you load the wood outside) and it has some rocks on the top. There's some benchs inside and it has a dirt floor, it's right at the waters edge.
     
  13. meanwhile

    meanwhile Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It was not Outdoors but once I caught my older son and friends dropping water onto an electric heater to steam up the Cabin Bathroom. Of course, I put a stop to that trick but I was impressed at the amount of steam they had created without killing themselves.
     
  14. ronbre

    ronbre Brenda Groth Supporter

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    used to have friends that had one and also a solar one..Mother Earth had a wood fired homemade hot tub plan not too long ago
     
  15. Scomber

    Scomber Well-Known Member

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    I built my own. It's an 8x12 building with a 7x7 stove room. The stove design came from Rob Roy's "The Sauna Book". He favors cordwood construction, but I don't. I made the mistake of insulating with fiberglass, which makes great mouse habitat. If I did it again (remodel) I'd use foil faced foam insulation. My floor is still uninsulated, and has 1/4" cracks between the floorboards. Spilled water runs out to the ground. I intend to put down an inch of foam and and inch of ferro-cement with a floor drain. Windows are cheap Home Despot basement hopper windows. The outer door is from the dump. The inner door is built from scratch, with two layers of refrigerator shelf glass as windows. The bench sits up high, with firewood underneath.

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    I've since taken the brick off the stove and lined the wall with it instead. I used a selkirk chimney kit to go up through the ceiling and roof safely.

    Dan
     
  16. The Paw

    The Paw Well-Known Member

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    The critical design issue is whether you want the stove to load from the inside or from the outside. If I was using an inside loader, I think I would get a newer woodstove with an airtight door and separate fresh air intake.

    Oh, and make sure you pick the right kinds of rock. Some types will shatter when heated and then splashed with water.
     
  17. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    They look pretty neat but you have to ask just how much you'd use one especially in a warmer climate. A sauna might not take long to warm up so you might use it more, but the idea of going out and lighting the fire and getting it hot before use takes time and of course planning. That's the real downside of a wood hot tub. Having the plan and the time to fire it up and have it ready for a 1/2hr of use isn't easy to do.
     
  18. FTG-05

    FTG-05 Member

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    There's some truth to both of these statements.

    When I lived in Seattle, I used my wood fired sauna all the time ("The best winter I ever had was summer in Seattle"....). When I moved to North Alabama, it was only real useful in the winter when it was colder. Going from an 80 or 90 degree day, which is most of the year, into a +180 degree sauna just wasn't all that inviting.

    Getting the sauna up to temp did take some planning but not all that much. I used a cheap China-made wood stove and it usually didn't take more than a half hour or so to get the room up to temp where you could start using it (low 130's or so IRC). This was when the outside temps were in the high 30's or low 40's. Having and using a wood fire more than made up for it. Plus firewood, either here in Alabama or Seattle, was cheap and easy to get.

    Good luck.
     
  19. juels98

    juels98 New Member

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    I know this is an old thread, but I remember coming across it back when I was thinking of building and outdoor wood fired sauna here in MN. Anyway, back in August I took the plunge and started the build. I too found incomplete info online as far as the building process so I figure I try and record as much as I can and put it in the blog while I build. I am still building, but feel free to learn from me and my mistakes for anyone else who's looking for this info:

    outdoorsaunabuildmndiy.blogspot.com

    Just a heads up-- I did pull permits and had inspections but I am a DIY and learn a lot from the web before I do it so take my info with a grain of salt :)
     
  20. Skip

    Skip Well-Known Member

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    Being Finn it was one of the first buildings my parents built. They cleared off a piece of ground to the "kallio" base rock, I believe it was already somewhat naturally exposed. Dad built a small log cabin, typical Scandinavian style, no knots or coniferous wood for the benches. We had an old big milk can next to the "kiuas" heater for hot water. It was filled manually.

    In the old days they used an old steel drum, segregated top and bottom, bottom holding fire top stones and a chimney going out. We would start the fire in the morning and by late afternoon it would be ready, get rid of the fire and bring a couple pails of cold water.

    Mom's older now and my brother built her a sauna for her backyard with a wooden floor. Here's a link to his you tube videos about it:
    [ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP6HJmA3O0M[/ame]

    The finished sauna:
    [ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1uc_qkn4J4[/ame]

    Good Luck, Enjoy your sauna!!
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2016