My current living situation is tight and my budget is low when it comes to a home steam sauna. BUT I wanted one. My brother got one earlier this winter (after building a bunch of traditional saunas for clients around Montana) and hasn’t stopped talking about it ever since.
I looooove saunas and have loved getting a sample sauna session in every location I’ve lived as a digital nomad in the last 10 years. And now I am finally anchored in a place so that I can have a steam sauna right in my own home.
I use mine every single day. Around knock off time (4:30 p.m. most days) I find myself getting impatient to hop into that bad boy. And I got my portable sauna for under $200, so it’s a pretty affordable investment with lots of health benefits.
Okay, let’s get into it.
How I Chose The Best Steam Sauna For The Home
As I mentioned just a second ago, I have a bit of experience with saunas. I’ve sat in more saunas around the world than the number of dollars it cost me to have this sweat tent right in my own home. I’ve had a taste of the traditional sauna (Australia is really good for this), sauna rocks (I tried this in Seattle), the infrared sauna (Australia, again, is good at luxury things in general), dry saunas (Sacramento had a really great dry sauna), and all the outdoor saunas in tropical places like Bali and Thailand, where one time, in Koh Phangan, people started chanting kirtan inside the outdoor sauna dome and I swear to god it was like I was transported to another planet altogether.
And now I have a tiny single person, portable sauna right in my tiny rental here in Montana (notice the original publish date on this is January 2024… winter time). So here are a few things I am considering in these recommendations based on what I know now:
- Home sauna cost: Home sauna costs range from $100 to $5,000 and more, with average costs around $200 – $300 on the cheaper end and $2,000 on the higher end. I was looking for the absolute cheapest option that I could store easily when not in use.
- Ability to store the indoor sauna: Like I’ve mentioned, my place is small. I’m also compulsively tidy. So I like the idea that I can fold my portable sauna in half and tuck it away whenever I want to. My broth keeps his in the basement so that he never has to store it away. More permanent home saunas will require adequate space to comfortably use the sauna.
- Size: My sauna usage is limited to me. I’m 5’11” and slim. The portable sauna I recommend below fits me, technically. But it’s awkward. It’s not glamorous by any means but the portability was more important to me than the ✨experience✨. More permanent home saunas, like those my brother is building this winter in Montana, take up heaps more space and can fit one adult body comfortably and others can even hold 2-5 people. Obviously, the bigger the home sauna, the higher the cost.
And that’s basically it. Most home saunas will offer the same temperature range, given they’re traditional saunas. Infrared saunas are typically cooler, but I won’t include any of those here.
Best Steam Saunas For The Home
Okay, based on my personal experience both in traditional saunas around the world and having a very portable sauna in my bathroom, here’s what I recommend.
Now that I’ve been using a foldable sauna at home, I kinda wish this was the one I had purchased. The detachable frame, made of sturdy stainless steel, means a hassle-free assembly and disassembly, making it perfect for homes where space is a luxury. It’s also pretty quick to set up compared to the one I have. In just 8 minutes, you can immerse yourself in a 360° steam experience, thanks to the 2.6L, 1000W steam generator. And, like most home saunas, its safety features, like automatic shut-off when water runs low, mean that you can relax with peace of mind.
I really like how lightweight this thing is. I once had to transport a grow tent from Oregon to Montana with a similar design as the sauna tent above and let’s just say it was a hassle. This portable sauna tent folds a lot like a sun shade for your windshield, making it super easy (in theory) to stow away or take with you on the road. One con is that I haven’t successfully folded it into the cute little circle that fits nicely into the storage bag yet. It eludes me. But I can fold it in a way that fits behind my washer, so I’m okay with it.
It heats up to a cozy 140 degrees Fahrenheit, thanks to its robust 1000W steam generator. It takes between 10-15 minutes to heat up, in my experience. If I put room temperature water in there, then it heats up much quicker.
The chair is convenient and honestly the sauna tent works just great. It’s a bit awkward getting in and out and sometimes it’s annoying how all of the steam escapes before I can get in and settled. I think this is where a sturdier home sauna tent would be a lot less frustrating.
This home steam sauna has a detachable frame, like the number one recommendation, which simplifies storage and an 800-watt steam generator that can be set for up to 60 minutes. It’s an ideal solution for anyone looking to enjoy the relaxing and detoxifying effects of a steam sauna without the need for permanent installations or significant space.
It includes two zippered openings for hands, which might be nice if you want to read something or use a device while you’re steaming.. but I personally want my entire body in it. (My perioral dermatitis makes my face the primary target.) The space-saving design means it can be set up anywhere in your home, and the included foldable chair adds to the convenience. The sauna operates at an internal temperature of 110-115°F.
This one is sooooooo much cheaper than most other home saunas, so it’s not “nice” but it does the effing job at an extraordinarily low price. It heats up quickly with a 1000W heater and lets you tweak the heat with nine different settings. The design is smart too – it’s got three layers of fabric that keep the heat in and make it sturdy. Plus, it’s got all the safety bases covered with features like a timer and overheat protection.
The best part? It folds up, so you can tuck it away when you’re not using it or even take it with you if you move around AND there’s a slot for your hands and head, if that’s interesting to you. It’s perfect for anyone who wants the sauna experience without needing a lot of space or spending a ton of cash.
This sauna tent is pretty spacious, measuring 2.6′ x 2.6′ x 5.9′, giving you enough room to sit back and relax. If I had the space for it, this would be my preferred home sauna size. I feel quite cramped in my foldable sauna.
This one comes with a 2.6L steamer that heats up hot and fast, so you won’t have to wait long to start your session. Plus, you can control the temperature and timer either on the steamer or with a handy remote control. And when you’re done, it’s easy to fold up and store away, or even move to a different spot in your house.
How To Use A Sauna
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:
- Preparation: Before you begin, make sure you’re well hydrated. Drink a glass of water to ensure you don’t get dehydrated during the sauna session. Choose a comfortable spot in your home where you can set up the sauna tent. Ensure the area is well-ventilated and away from any water-sensitive surfaces or electronics.
- Set Up the Sauna: Unfold the sauna tent as per the instructions provided. Place the steamer in the designated spot, usually at one end of the tent. Fill the steamer with water up to the indicated level. Avoid overfilling as this could affect the steam generation.
- Preheat the Sauna: Plug in the steamer and turn it on. Set the desired temperature and timer. Most home saunas will have a remote control for this. It usually takes about 5-10 minutes for the sauna to reach the desired temperature. While waiting, you can gather any other items you might need, like a towel or a book.
- Enter the Sauna: Once the sauna is preheated, enter and sit down comfortably. If your sauna comes with a chair, set it up inside and sit on it. Close the sauna tent to keep the steam and heat contained.
- During the Sauna Session: Relax and enjoy the warmth and steam. You can read a book, listen to music, or simply close your eyes and relax. Start with a shorter session (about 10-15 minutes) and gradually increase the duration over time as you get used to the heat.
- Stay Hydrated: It’s important to keep hydrated during the sauna session. You might want to have a bottle of water with you inside the sauna. Take small sips throughout the session to replace the fluids you’re losing through sweat.
- Finishing Up: When the timer goes off, or you feel like ending the session, turn off the steamer and carefully exit the sauna. It’s normal to feel a bit lightheaded, so take a moment to sit outside the sauna and cool down.
- Cool Down: After exiting the sauna, it’s important to allow your body to cool down naturally. Drink more water to rehydrate yourself. You can take a cool shower to rinse off the sweat and further help your body cool down.
- Clean and Store: After use, wipe down the inside of the sauna tent with a dry towel to remove any condensation or sweat. Allow the tent to air dry completely before folding it up for storage. Empty and clean the steamer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Safety First: Never use the sauna for longer than recommended, and avoid alcohol before or during the sauna session. If you feel dizzy, nauseous, or uncomfortable at any point, exit the sauna immediately.
Steam Sauna Benefits
The health benefits have been talked about for centuries, and now with modern science we’re able to throw some data behind these claims. Here are the most established health benefits of using a steam sauna:
- Reduction of Systemic Inflammation: Steam rooms can help reduce systemic inflammation, a significant cause of chronic diseases like stroke, heart disorders, and diabetes.
- Circulation Improvement: Moist heat from steam rooms can enhance circulation, particularly in the lower legs, leading to lower blood pressure and a healthier heart.
- Congestion Relief: Steam rooms are effective in clearing congestion in the sinuses and lungs, providing temporary relief.
- Cardiovascular Health: Regular use of steam rooms can lower high blood pressure and improve heart rate, contributing to overall cardiovascular health.
- Stress Reduction: The heat in steam rooms helps produce endorphins and reduce cortisol levels, aiding in stress relief and relaxation.
- Mental Wellness Promotion: Heat treatments like steam rooms can support mental wellness by fostering relaxation and mindfulness.
- Skin Health: Steam rooms open up pores and help in clearing out toxins, leading to clearer and more even-toned skin.
- Workout Recovery: Heat therapy in steam rooms can relieve delayed onset muscle soreness and assist in muscle recovery.
- Joint Flexibility: Using a steam room before workouts can help loosen stiff joints and reduce the risk of injury.
- Calorie Burning: While not a significant weight loss tool, steam rooms can increase heart rate and aid in burning calories.
Questions About Home Saunas
These are the questions I had when first creating my nighttime self-care routine so I’ll answer them here for you.
How Much Does A Sauna Cost
The cost of a home sauna can vary widely depending on the sauna type, size, and features. Portable saunas, like the one I have, are generally more affordable, ranging from $100 to $300. Traditional wood saunas or more advanced infrared saunas can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 or more. When budgeting for a sauna, also consider the cost of electricity for operation and any additional accessories you might need.
What To Wear In A Sauna
Comfort is key in a sauna. Lightweight, breathable clothing like cotton shorts and a t-shirt or a bathing suit is ideal. Avoid synthetic fabrics as they can trap heat and hinder sweating. You might also want to have a towel to sit on for comfort and hygiene. Some people prefer to use the sauna without any clothing, but always have a towel handy to maintain personal hygiene.
How Long Should You Sit In A Sauna
The ideal duration for a sauna session varies from person to person. As a general guideline, start with 5-10 minutes and gradually increase to 15-20 minutes per session. Listen to your body – if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or uncomfortable, it’s time to get out. It’s also recommended to take a break between sessions if you’re planning to do multiple rounds. Remember, the key to a beneficial sauna experience is relaxation and comfort, not endurance.
Finding the right home steam sauna was a challenge given my tight living space and budget, but it’s been a rewarding journey. Inspired by my brother’s enthusiasm and my own love for saunas from my travels, I’ve now made this relaxing ritual a part of my daily life in Montana. My portable sauna, which cost less than $200, fits snugly into my small space and meets my needs perfectly. I hope that my journey helps you find the right sauna for YOU on the first try!