Wood Fired Sauna - Backcountry Recreation

Issues with your wood burning sauna heater? Try these tips!

Common Challenges of Wood-Burning Sauna Heaters

Classic wood-heated saunas come with a lot of health benefits. Aside from the steam therapy they offer, they are also very safe. However, wood-burning sauna heaters are more complex than modern electric ones. Aside from the constant need to ensure combustion occurs efficiently, you may have to break a bit of sweat in maintaining them. Nonetheless, they work just great.

In this article, we'll discuss the low heat problem you will likely encounter with sauna wood-burning stoves and guide you on diagnosing the issue like a professional.

The Low Heat Problem

The most significant challenge with wood-burning sauna heaters is difficulty controlling the temperature. Changing fast temperature is often tricky, as the wood takes a while to heat up. If the sauna is warmer than hot, the culprit is the wood-heated stove.

Some quick remedies to get the sauna to the required temperature include:

  • Use small chopped wood and ensure the stove is well-ventilated for sufficient airflow.
  • Adjust the stove appropriately.
  • Ensure that the wood is dry and well-seasoned.

Areas to Check When the Sauna is Getting Inadequate Heat

The following features of the wood-heated stove could be to blame for the low heat.

Wood Quality

The best quality wood for the sauna is dry seasoned wood. In this context, " seasoned " referred to wood cut and dried for about a season. For instance, spring or summer woodcuts are left to dry for a season and are typically good for use during winter or fall. It is also wise to use soft wood to start fires in your sauna stove and support the fire with hardwood, as the latter can sustain heat for longer.

Insufficient Ventilation

Generally, oxygen is a crucial necessity for adequate combustion. In the absence of oxygen, the fire easily goes out. Therefore, proper ventilation is vital for wood-heated sauna heaters. When plenty of oxygen flows into the heater, it burns efficiently and releases less smoke. Proper heater maintenance should include regular cleaning to clear the vents and support their function.


If your sauna temperature remains low despite adjusting the heat, the problem is possibly insulation. The main purpose of insulation in saunas is to keep heat inside and prevent moisture from getting in; therefore, a well-insulated sauna should retain heat for a long time. Insulation in saunas is achieved using a foil vapor barrier that facilitates quick heating while supporting saunas' dense and moist atmosphere.


A well-designed chimney should have an efficient draw and a well-fitted chimney. The draw is an important driving force that pulls smoke from the chimney. The smoke typically contains excess gases that cannot support combustion. Thus, a lot of consideration must go into the design of every element. Additionally, the design is ideally straightforward, without twists and bends, to ensure that the draw works properly. It is worth noting that draughts and leaks from the chimney or the vacuum hose can compromise the draw, thus affecting the quality of the fire.

Undoubtedly, wood-powered sauna heaters require a bit of attention. With so many details to consider, you may not consistently achieve perfect temperatures. Alternatively, you could go for electric sauna heaters, which are easier to operate and allow you to control the temperature. Finally, cultivate the full benefits of a sauna with customized sauna solutions. Backcountry Recreation offers you the joy of creating unique sauna designs in your home. Whether you are looking for an outdoor sauna or just a sauna heater, we have you covered, give us a call, and we would be happy to answer any questions you might have. 

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