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Best Sauna Rocks (A Complete Guide)


This is a guide on the best sauna rocks available in the market today. 

In our research, we found that the Replacement Sauna Heater Rocks offer a combination of high-quality and budget-friendliness. So that's our top pick. 

Besides sauna rock reviews, in this article, we have also addressed the most common questions around sauna rocks. Dive right in.

large flat stones piled on top of each other

In a hurry? Here’s a quick comparison of the best sauna rocks

Our Top Pick

sauna rocks piled together

🔹 Heats up fast
🔹 Free of nasty smoke
🔹 Non-porous and durable
🔹 Retains heat for a long time
🔹 Large and medium-size rocks

Editor’s Choice

sauna rocks piled together

🔹 Large stones
🔹 Withstands fast heating
🔹 Perfect for high output heaters
🔹 Comes clean, no need to wash

Best Value

sauna rocks piled together

🔹 Durable
🔹 Odorless
🔹 Large surface area
🔹 Retains heat for a long time
🔹 Comes clean, no need to wash



What are Sauna Rocks?

Sauna rocks are special kinds of rocks that are used to produce steam (also called leil or löyly) in a traditional sauna.

Löyly

Löyly‘ is a Finnish word and it is used to describe sauna steam. Löyly is produced by pouring water over heated rocks. In Finland, löyly is a common topic of discussion among sauna enthusiasts. “Was the löyly any good?” is commonly asked when someone visits a public sauna or builds a new home sauna. There is a reason why löyly receives such attention. According to professor Niilo Teeri (University of California), steam produced by pouring water on hot rocks results in a greater sense of rest and well-being. Löyly contains negative ions and the more negative ions are present in the air, the fresher you tend to feel.

Quick History of Sauna Rocks

Sauna rocks often provide insight into how saunas were operated in the past. For instance, in 2010, archaeologist Jim Leary from the University of Reading found remains of an ancient sauna close to the Hedge Stones in England. Interestingly, outside the building, they found a fire pit where the ground was scorched and littered with fragments of rocks that were heated at some point in time. They concluded, that the rocks were heated outside and then bought inside the sweat lodge. This is not surprising. Before the chimney was invented in the 12th century, it was common to light a fire outside the sauna room.

a bird's eye view of an archaeological digging site
Remains of a very old sweat lodge type building (source)

Research suggests that people used wood way before they learned to use stones for heating the sauna. But rocks quickly gained popularity because they were readily available everywhere and were very convenient to use. 

Although sauna stones were a central design focus in traditional sauna houses, today there is a trend towards covering up the sauna stones. Reasons for this shift include the invention of electrical stoves or heaters and a preference for chimney saunas and infrared saunas. 

Luckily, there is also a reverse trend gaining popularity in which people are looking for an authentic sauna experience and they are investing in minimalist “Instagrammable” sauna design with stones as a central focus. Manufacturers are building high-quality sauna heaters to hold minimal stones and produce superior heat and steam. We have compiled a list of the top-notch sauna heaters available in the market today. Take a look – best sauna heaters (coming soon).

How to Choose the Best Sauna Rocks

To choose sauna rocks, you need to consider the following:

1. Types of rocks: Dark and dense (or non-porous) rocks are ideal for sauna. Dark igneous rocks (also called lava rock for sauna) are excellent heat retainers. 

2. Size of the rocks: Small rocks are unable to retain heat for long. And large rocks can take a while to heat up. Therefore, medium-sized rocks (the size of a golf ball) are ideal sauna rocks. But if medium size rocks are hard to find, then go for a combination of small and large rocks. 

Wondering whether you need to consider the sauna stove before buying rocks for sauna? Don’t worry, most sauna rocks can be paired with any kind of heater (electric, gas heater, or wood).

How to Prepare Sauna Rocks for First Time Use

To prepare sauna rocks for first-time use, follow the steps below: 

Step 1: Buy or gather rocks from your garden or city park (with permission). The rocks you bought can be placed straight into the heater unless instructed otherwise. But the rocks you gathered have to be cleaned first.

Step 2: Place the rocks in the heater. If you arrange it too tightly, you risk overheating the heater. But if you arrange it too loosely, water will pass through quickly and you would have a hard time soaking the rocks.

How Often Do Sauna Rocks Need to be Replaced?

Depending on how often you use the rocks, you may need to replace the rocks every few months or once a year. If you are a regular user (3-4 times a week), consider replacing the rocks every 4 months. But if you use the rocks once a week, replacing them once a year should be enough.

How Much Water Should You Splash on Sauna Heater Rocks?

You can splash a cup of water on the sauna rocks every few minutes, instead of dumping a jug of water at one go. This will prevent flooding the heater and the rocks will last longer. Sauna rocks are sensitive to the heat and cold cycle. Bringing the temperature all the way down with a big jug of water will cause the rocks to crack. Hence, dump a small amount of water every few minutes.

Sauna Water

Upfront disclaimer: There is no such thing as sauna water. There is no special type of water for saunas. You can pour normal water over sauna stones and that would produce humidity which will help you perspire and deep cleansing your body.

If you have questions about using ladles or sauna temperature or anything related to water, take a look at our dedicated article on sauna water.

FAQs

Q. What kind of rocks do you use in a sauna?

A. In a sauna, you need rocks that are dense enough to retain heat. Igneous rocks (Granite, Vulcanite, Gabro, Basalt, Peridotite, Olivine, etc) are ideal rocks for sauna. That said, you should avoid Obsidian and Pumice because they are unable to absorb water and cools off too quickly.

Q. How long do sauna rocks last?

A. The longevity of sauna rocks is determined by the rock quality and how regularly you use the rocks. For instance, if you use them regularly (3-4 times a week), replace the rocks every 4 months. But if you use them once a week, replacing them once a year should be sufficient. As for the quality, choosing good quality rocks is a challenge simply because of the sheer number of below-average rocks available out there. We have compiled a list of the best sauna rocks later in this article.

Q. What rocks hold heat best?

A. Igneous rocks (Granite, Gabro, Basalt, Peridotite, Olivine, Vulcanite stone, etc) are the best rocks to use in a sauna. It’s a dense rock with high thermal conductivity which means it’s one of those rocks that hold heat well.

Q. Can decorative rocks be used in the sauna?

A. We don’t recommend using decorative rocks because these rocks are too delicate for regular sauna use. The main purpose of decorative rocks (like white rocks) is to give your sauna a modern look. 

white stones against black background (sauna rocks for sales)
White decorative warming stones by Finnmark Sauna

Q. Do rounded or split-faced stones produce better heat and steam in the sauna?

A. No, neither is better. When you pour water over split-faced stones, it covers a large surface area therefore the steam is robust. In a collection of rounded stones, however, water tends to trickle down quickly as a result the steam produced is softer. So go for split-faced stones, if you want robust steam. But use rounded stones, if you prefer soft steam.

Q. How to check if sauna stones are safe?

A. To check if your sauna stones are safe you need to subject them to the following tests:

  1. Scratch it with your nails
  2. Drop it on a hard floor 
  3. Throw it into the fire, heat it thoroughly and then plunge it into water 

If the stone didn’t chip away, break or crack, it’s safe to use.

Q. What’s the best way to arrange stones on the stove?

A. The best way to arrange stones on the stove is to begin by placing the large stones and then use smaller stones to fill in all gaps. The stones will expand and contract so with time you will need to remove old stones and add new ones.

Best Sauna Rocks

1. 45 lb Replacement Sauna Heater Rocks

Rock Type: Peridotite

Weight: 45 pounds

Suitable Heater or Stove: All models

Sauna rocks from The Sauna Place are our top pick. These high-quality rocks, imported from Finland produce amazing soft steam. Just make sure you wash and rinse them thoroughly before using them.

HIGHLIGHTS

🔸 Heats up fast
🔸 Retains heat for a long time
🔸 Non-porous and durable
🔸 Large and medium-size rocks
🔸 Free of nasty smoke

sauna rocks piled together

2. Sauna Stones by Fino Sauna

Rock Type: Dolerite

Weight: 42 pounds

Suitable Heater or Stove: Small heater

From the house of comes high-quality sauna stones designed for high output heaters. You’d most likely need to order two boxes of stones if you have a heater above 8kW.

HIGHLIGHTS

🔸 Withstands fast heating (perfect for high output heaters)
🔸 Comes clean, no need to wash
🔸 Large stones

black rugged stones piled together

3. SAWO Finnish Sauna Rocks

Rock Type: Igneous

Weight: 35 pounds

Suitable Heater or Stove: All models

These are top-quality sauna rocks from a reputable Finnish manufacturer.

HIGHLIGHTS

🔸 Comes clean, no need to wash
🔸 Retains heat for a long time
🔸 Large surface area
🔸 Odorless
🔸 Durable

stones piled together

4. Coasts SSBAG Replacement Sauna Rocks

Rock Type: Not specified

Weight: 35 pounds

Suitable Heater or Stove: All models

Coast Sauna Rocks are one of the best sauna rocks out there but they are way too large for electric heaters. You will need to chisel them down.

HIGHLIGHTS

🔸 Medium to large-sized rocks coupled with few small ones
🔸 Flat rocks, large surface area
🔸 LHeats up super fast

stone sauna, piled together

5. Baltic Leisure Sauna Stone

Rock Type: Not specified

Weight: 33 pounds

Suitable Heater or Stove: Infrared

The only white(ish) sauna stones on our list.

HIGHLIGHTS

🔸 Odorless
🔸 Heats up fast
🔸 Looks wonderful

rock sauna, piled together

Final Thoughts

That’s it for this one folks. We hope you were able to find high-quality, durable, budget-friendly sauna rocks. If you have any questions, leave a comment below.


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