Outdoor Sauna Frequently Asked Questions

Outdoor Sauna FAQ

Frequently asked Questions

General Outdoor Sauna Questions

A barrel sauna is a unique and stylish personal sauna for your backyard! You get all the physical and mental health benefits of relaxing in a sauna, and you don't have to leave home.
Your barrel sauna kit can be shipped almost anywhere, and one or two adults can assemble it yourself in the afternoon. When you're done, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor in your new personal barrel sauna.

The cylindrical design allows the barrel sauna to heat up faster than your typical sauna and can reach the optimum temperature in 45 minutes!

This is another reason why its shape is so effective. A barrel sauna requires less energy to fill the room than its rectangular counterpart, and the heat stays where it's being enjoyed. Hanging out in your new favorite room won't break the bank!

Outdoor saunas offer many benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, muscle and joint pain relief, skin condition, and overall relaxation and stress reduction. Additionally, enjoying a sauna in nature can enhance the overall sauna experience.

Outdoor saunas can be built from various materials, including cedar, redwood, and spruce. These materials are naturally resistant to rot and decay, making them well-suited for outdoor use. We also build our saunas from Scandinavian Thermowood, the preferred material used in traditional European saunas.

Please see an example video of a barrel sauna assembly.

Assembly Video

Assembly & Site Preparation

Our lightest sauna weighs ~900 lbs.

Our heaviest sauna weighs ~2,000 lbs.

The weight for each sauna is shown on the product page in the specifications tab.

When building a foundation, remember that you must also account for the weight of the bathers inside the sauna. This can easily add an extra 1,000 lbs if you have an 8-person unit.

Choosing a site with a level, strong, and stable foundation is essential. This is critical because a sauna with several bathers can weigh over 1000 lbs. A deck or concrete pad (patio) are excellent options for placing your sauna.
If placing the sauna directly on the ground, we recommend you rest the support cradles atop concrete pavers to prevent the cradles from settling into the ground. This could result in the sauna not sitting level and may cause issues over time.

Building an outdoor sauna can be a challenging project for one person, but it is possible to do it yourself with proper planning and preparation. It's important to clearly understand the necessary building materials and tools, as well as a detailed plan for the construction process. We typically recommend having a few friends to help with the process.

If you have ever seen a sauna on a deck, you know it is a wonderful place for a sauna. It looks great, and it is close to the house, meaning you will maximize your usage of the sauna. If you choose to install your sauna on a deck, be sure that your deck has been designed to support the weight of a full sauna (over 1,000 lbs). We recommend you have the deck inspected by a qualified architect or building engineer prior to proceeding.

It is generally not recommended to place an outdoor sauna directly on the ground. Instead, placing the sauna on a solid foundation, such as a concrete pad or a deck, will provide a stable and level base for the sauna and will also help to protect the sauna from moisture and rot.
Additionally, placing the sauna directly on the ground can also attract insects and small animals that can cause damage to the sauna.
It is also a good idea to consider the drainage of the area where you are planning to place the sauna and ensure the sauna will not be in a low-lying area where water could pool and cause damage. If you decide to place the sauna directly on the ground, it is recommended to place a layer of crushed gravel or stones below the cradles.

Maintenance & Sauna Care

It is recommended to regularly clean the inside of a sauna to maintain hygiene and prevent the buildup of bacteria or mould. This can be done by wiping the surfaces with a mild cleaning solution and a damp cloth. It's also important to keep the sauna dry after each use. Additionally, it's important to check the sauna's ventilation system to ensure it works properly to prevent mould growth.

Never use chemicals inside your sauna! They can damage the wood; you may breathe them in when the sauna heats up.

It is recommended to regularly clean the inside of a sauna to maintain hygiene and prevent the buildup of bacteria or mould. This can be done by wiping the surfaces with a mild cleaning solution and a damp cloth. It's also important to keep the sauna dry after each use. Additionally, it's important to check the sauna's ventilation system to ensure it works properly to prevent mould growth.

Never use chemicals inside your sauna! They can damage the wood; you may breathe them in when the sauna heats up.

To clean the exterior of a sauna, you can use a mild cleaning solution and a soft-bristled brush or cloth. Avoid using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals, as these can damage the surface of the sauna. Instead, start by sweeping or blowing away loose debris from the sauna's exterior, such as leaves or cobwebs. Then, mix a mild cleaning solution with water (such as dish soap and water) and gently scrub the sauna's exterior surfaces, paying particular attention to any areas that may have accumulated dirt or grime. Next, rinse the sauna thoroughly with a hose or bucket of clean water and dry it off with a clean towel. Repeat this process as needed to maintain the appearance and integrity of the sauna.

The wooden hot tub has a drainage valve. Simply connect a hose to the valve and release the water. It is not necessary to change the water each time you use your wooden hot tub. Change the water only when necessary.

Treating the exterior of an outdoor sauna can help protect it from the elements and prolong its lifespan. The type of treatment will depend on the type of wood used in the construction of the sauna.

  • For cedar saunas, it's recommended to use a clear water-repellent sealer to help protect the wood and maintain its natural colour.
  • For other types of wood saunas, it's recommended to use a high-quality, oil-based wood preservative to help protect the wood and maintain its colour.

It's important to note that any product you use should be appropriate for sauna use, as some products can give off harmful fumes at high temperatures.

Additionally, keeping the sauna in good condition is essential by regularly checking for any damage and repainting or resealing as necessary. This will help protect the sauna from rot, decay and insect damage.

It's also important to keep the sauna dry after each use, as moisture can cause rot and decay in the wood. Lastly, keeping the sauna covered when not in use is also a good idea to protect it from the elements.

The frequency at which you need to re-stain your sauna will depend on a few factors, such as the type of wood used in the sauna's construction, the climate, and how often the sauna is used.

  • For cedar saunas, it's recommended to re-apply a clear water-repellent sealer every 2 to 3 years, or as needed.
  • For other types of wood saunas, it's recommended to re-apply a high-quality, oil-based wood preservative every 3 to 5 years, or as needed.

If you are in a harsh climate, with high humidity or a lot of rainfall, you may need to re-apply the preservative or sealer more frequently. Also, if the sauna is used frequently, the wood will dry out faster and may need to be re-stained more frequently.

It's also important to keep an eye on the condition of the wood, and if you notice any signs of fading or cracking, it's a good idea to re-stain the sauna. Additionally, if you notice any water damage or rot, it's important to address these issues as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

A small amount of water seeping into the sauna isn’t going to hurt it and is likely due to condensation. However, if you notice a substantial amount of seepage, this may mean that your bands have loosened and water is getting in around the staves.
The wood will naturally shrink during warm, dry weather so that cracks can appear after extended periods of warm weather. The wood will also naturally shrink with age so that cracks can appear after a few years of use. Check the tension of the bands every few months, so you catch problems before they start. If you notice the bands are loose, retighten them following the same process as when first installing.
If you cannot close cracks by tightening the bands, you need to add more staves under the bands. When the sauna's inside and outside are dry, remove the top portion and rebuild it with additional staves.
We recommend adding shingles to the roof of your sauna, as they will significantly increase your sauna's longevity and water resistance.

Mold can be a serious problem in saunas, as the high humidity and warm temperatures can create the perfect environment for mold growth. Here are a few steps you can take to prevent and treat mold in your sauna:

Keep the sauna dry: Make sure to dry the sauna thoroughly after each use, and keep the sauna well-ventilated to prevent moisture buildup.

Use a dehumidifier: If your sauna has a high humidity problem, consider using a dehumidifier to keep the humidity levels in check.

Clean the sauna regularly: Clean the sauna regularly with a mild cleaning solution and a damp cloth. Pay particular attention to corners and areas that may be prone to mold growth, such as the ceiling and walls.

Check for leaks: Regularly inspect the sauna for any signs of leaks or water damage, and repair any leaks as soon as they are found.

Treat existing mold: If you find mold in the sauna, it's important to treat it as soon as possible. You can use a mold remover that is safe to use in saunas, such as a solution of water and bleach, to clean the affected area. Be sure to wear protective gear and open windows for ventilation.

Keep the sauna clean and dry after treatment: Keep the sauna clean and dry after treatment to discourage mold regrowth.

It's important to remember that mold can be harmful to your health, so it's important to address any mold issues in your sauna as soon as they are found. If you have a large amount of mold or you are not comfortable with cleaning it yourself, it may be best to hire a professional to handle the job.

Sauna Heater & Electrical

All electrical wiring must be performed by a qualified and licensed electrician with complete knowledge of local codes and regulations. Costs of hiring an electrician can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as your sauna’s distance from your electrical service box, the state you live in, and the cost of materials. We recommend you get quotes from 2 to 3 different licensed electricians before you begin the installation.

An electric sauna heater typically requires a dedicated electrical circuit with a voltage of 220-240V and a current rating of 30-50 amps, depending on the size and power of the heater. It is important to consult the specific installation instructions for the heater you are using, and to have the electrical work done by a licensed electrician, to ensure that the heater is safely and properly installed.

Sauna heaters can be made in various countries around the world. Some popular countries for manufacturing sauna heaters include Finland, where saunas have a long tradition, Germany, China and the United States. Many sauna heater manufacturers are based in these countries and export their products to other countries as well.

It's important to note that, just like any other product, the quality and reliability of sauna heaters can vary depending on the manufacturer and the origin of the product. It's always recommended to research the brand and read customer reviews before making a purchase. At Backcountry Recreation, we only sell heaters tested by our team and are 100% certified for use in Canada.

Sauna Use & Operation

Typically people find a temperature between 160F and 190F ideal for their sauna.

Our electric heaters are designed to heat the sauna to a maximum temperature of 195F. The heaters use a thermometer to gauge the temperature inside the sauna.

Our wood-fired stoves are not temperature limited and can heat the sauna up to >200F.

The time it takes for an outdoor sauna to heat up depends on factors such as the size of the sauna, the desired temperature, and the heating system used. On average, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour for an outdoor sauna to heat up.

The cost of running an electric sauna heater depends on various factors such as the size of the sauna, the heating system used, and the cost of electricity in your area. On average, it can cost anywhere from a few cents to several dollars per hour to run an electric sauna heater. To get a more accurate estimate, you can consult your local electricity provider to find out the cost of electricity in your area, and calculate the cost based on the average usage of your sauna.

To calculate the cost of running an electric sauna heater, you will need to know:

  • The wattage of the sauna heater: This information can be found on the heater's label or in the manufacturer's specifications.
  • The cost of electricity in your area: You can find this information by contacting your local electricity provider.
  • The number of hours you use the sauna per day: This information will depend on your personal usage.

Here's an example calculation, using an average cost of electricity of $0.15 per kilowatt-hour:

Cost = (9 KW) * ($0.15 per kilowatt-hour) * (Number of hours used per day)

If you use the sauna for 1 hour per day, the cost would be:

Cost = (9 KW) * ($0.15 per kilowatt-hour) * (1 hour) = $1.35 per day

This is just an estimate and actual costs may vary based on your local electricity rate and usage habits.

For best performance, we recommend placing the thermometer ~12" to the right or left of the heater and ~20" below the ceiling.
Heat will rise to the top of the sauna so that the top will be hotter than the bottom. To run your sauna at a higher temperature, place the thermometer lower. If you plan on lowering your thermometer, we recommend lowering by ~3" inches at a time. After lowering the thermometer, use the sauna a few times to test the sauna's maximum temperature at this height. Then, continue lowering until you reach your desired temperature.
Customers running the sauna at high temperatures do so at their own risk. Consult with a doctor before using your sauna.

Yes! All of our heaters are wet/dry heaters and are designed to have water poured on them. The water will evaporate, creating a steam-filled environment which some users prefer over the dry sauna feel.
Only pour so much water as can easily evaporate on the rocks. The rule of thumb is "don't overdo it." Go slow and relax. If the water reaches the elements, you are using too much.

Still have questions?

Read our sauna articles & resources, or give us a call at 877-446-3565

Shop Our Outdoor Saunas