How To Take A Sauna

Wondering how to take a sauna? It’s simple, really. All you’ll need is a few towels, water and your common sense.

On this page:

• How to take a sauna
• What to expect in the sauna
• Why some people don't sweat in the sauna initially
• How often is it okay to take a sauna?

Assuming you’re going into the sauna for about 20 minutes or less, as is generally recommended for recreational dry heat sauna use, here are the three steps to follow at home or at the health club:

(Learn how to take a sauna for intensive detoxification on our upcoming sauna detox pages.)

How to take a sauna - your personal sauna

1. Warm up the sauna to the temperature of your choice

For a far infrared sauna , most people set the temperature for anywhere between 100-140 degrees. If you are a beginner, and particularly if you are not in great health, you’ll want to start at 100 degrees or less. This way you’ll give yourself a chance to get used to the heat.

It’s okay to get into an infrared sauna 10-15 min. after you’ve turned it on, even if the temperature is not up to your target temperature yet.

It doesn’t take longer than that for infrared sauna heaters to warm up, and once they do, you’ll be getting the infrared heat effect. The infrared-emitting heaters will be on continuously until the heat gets up to the temperature you set.

For a traditional sauna, most people set the temperature for anywhere between 160-200 degrees (come back for our upcoming Finnish saunas page). In this case, you’ll probably want to wait until you’re within 5-10 degrees of the temperature you’ve set it at to get the full effect throughout your whole home dry sauna session.

Remember that heat rises, so choose whether to sit on an upper or lower bench (or change positions) accordingly.

2. Drink a glass of water.

Have a glass of water before you enter the sauna. Take some water into the sauna with you, too. This is the most important "how to take a sauna" step!

Other good drinks to take into the sauna with you would be a sports electrolyte replacement drink (or coconut water, which is nature's electrolyte replacement drink!).

3. Bring towels with you into the sauna

You’ll need a towel to sit on and a smaller towel to wipe down with once you start sweating. In our sauna we also put a towel under our feet.

Your body will be sending out toxins, including heavy metals, with your sweat, and you won’t want your sauna bench or floor to absorb these. Come back to see our upcoming sauna detox pages and you'll learn how to take a sauna for top-speed detoxification.

When I do a sauna detoxification and go into the sauna for more than ½ hr., I know I’ll sweat through a towel easily, so I sit on several layers of folded towel!

4. If possible, take your sauna in the nude

If you can’t, then wear the absolute minimum of clothes that you can—-not more than a bathing suit, for example. (Maybe you can go in the nude of you drape a towel artfully over your private parts! )

Some people think they’ll sweat more if they enter a sauna with clothes on. This is dangerous and a mistake! When you cover your skin with clothes, your sweat can’t help cool you down by evaporating on your skin. You will quickly overheat and also lose the benefits of wiping away your toxin-loaded sweat. When you wipe away the toxin-filled sweat, the toxins don’t sit in contact with your skin and possibly be reabsorbed.

More on how to take a sauna without danger.

5. Relax, reflect, listen to music, read a book, or socialilze

This is your time and it’s a time to relax. I’ve come to love my time in the sauna. Sometimes I’ll close the lights for a bit to rest my eyes and mind or meditate for a while.

How to take a sauna at the health club

I used to sometimes find the sauna set to a temperature way hotter than I like it when I used the traditional sauna at the health club. If this happens to you, don’t decide in advance how long you’ll stay in, let your body tell you. Get out as soon as it feels like enough, even if you’ve only been in a few minutes. Over time you may get used to a higher temperature, but it can take several sessions.

If it’s too hot and no-one else is in the sauna with you, you can open the door a crack (a sandal wedged in the door opening does the trick). I used to do this to bring down the temperature and get some air. The next person may glare at you and close the door, but don’t worry because the temperature will climb back up quickly.

Bring in enough towels so you don’t have to touch the hot wood surfaces

Yes, the hot wood can feeling burning hot to your bare skin… plus, who wants to have contact with the sweat and toxins others have left there before you?

Be careful what you drink before taking a sauna

Bring some water or other diluted juice or sports drink in with you if you’re planning to stay in the sauna for more than a few minutes. Avoid the sauna entirely if you’ve had an alcohol-containing drink.

What you can expect to happen in the sauna

Don’t expect to sweat right away when you enter the sauna. For someone who has learned how to take a sauna, taken many and sweats easily, it can take a few minutes or more to start sweating noticeably.

As you use the sauna more regularly, you’ll notice that you sweat more profusely. At some point, if you persist, you’ll likely become a champion sweater, like I did! You should see the sweat drip off me! I can soak a towel! The more you sweat, the more you have to drink to make up for the loss.

Some people don’t sweat in the sauna initially

But, if you’re new to the sauna, you might find you don’t sweat at all the first few times, or even the first several times! That may sound strange, but some people have suppressed sweating mechanisms due to past pesticide exposure or other toxic exposures.

If that’s the case for you, take things slowly, realizing that you won’t be able to tolerate the sauna as long or get the same sauna benefits from it without sweating. As you keep at it, the problem should correct itself and your ability to sweat will return.

Also remember that you have to be well hydrated to get a good sweat going. If you’re not sweating as well as usual in the sauna, try drinking some more water.

My mother didn’t sweat at all from her right knee down during the first 14 days of our sweat detoxification program. She had had surgery on that ankle, followed by leg swelling up to the knee and her lymph system and sweating ability in that leg was affected. Two weeks into the program, we cheered when we saw she was sweating normally from that leg again.

How often is it okay to take a sauna?

If you're a healthy person - or one whose health issue doesn't prevent sauna use - you can take a sauna every day! In fact, you can sauna more than once a day, if you like. Dangers of the infrared sauna are few and avoidable.

Now that you know How to Take a Sauna -- enjoy! -- and learn more about the Sauna Benefits you can expect.