What Kind of Water Do You Need in Your Sauna? (Complete Guide)

You are here because you want to learn about sauna water. Perhaps you want to:

  • Know what type of water to use in a sauna
  • How to use water in an electric sauna, 
  • How important are sauna stones, etc

In this article, we will answer all your burning questions. Let’s get started. 

Table of Contents

What is Sauna Water?

Sauna water refers to the water which is used to produce humidity (löyly or leil) in a sauna. The phrase ‘sauna water’ can seem to signify a special type of water made for the sauna, but the truth is, there is no special water to be used in a sauna. In fact, you can use normal tap water to produce humidity. 

How to Use Water on a Sauna Heater?

sauna heater filled with rocks kept inside a wooden room
Sauna heater filled with rocks (source)

All types of heaters (electric, gas, or wood) can withstand water. Heaters are designed to offer a traditional steamy Finnish sauna experience. However, flooding the heater consistently can potentially reduce the life of heating elements (especially in electric heaters). This is why we recommend drizzling a cup of water now and then, instead of dumping an entire jug of water over the sauna stove in one go. Just remember to use a ladle to avoid burning your skin from the hot steam.

Dry vs Wet Sauna: What is the Difference?

Any discussion about sauna water is incomplete without the mention of wet and dry saunas.

Here’s the thing: All saunas (with the exception of infrared saunas) are both wet and dry. 

Traditional vs Infrared Sauna: What is the Difference?

An infrared sauna, also simply known as an IR sauna, or sometimes called a far infrared sauna is a room with carbon panel heaters or infrared ceramic that emits infrared light. 

Infrared saunas were built to meet the demands of saunas in the US. Traditional saunas were impossible to operate in the US due to high power consumption. Infrared saunas were manufactured to offer the same experience and benefits that a traditional sauna provides while consuming low power. 

Traditional sauna enthusiasts are not a fan of this sauna because traditional saunas offer a much better experience and great overall health benefits. Nonetheless, infrared saunas also offer some considerable health benefits

What Are the Health Benefits of Traditional Sauna?

  • Protects against Alzheimer’s 
  • Helps prevent dementia 
  • Helps prevent respiratory diseases 
  • Protects against pneumonia
  • Improves arterial stiffness
  • Plus all the benefits from infrared sauna

What Are the Health Benefits of Infrared Sauna?

  • Protects against cardiovascular disease 
  • Helps prevent rheumatoid diseases 
  • Protects against chronic fatigue 
  • Helps prevent pain syndromes 
  • Enhances exercise performance 
  • Improves muscle recovery 
  • Brightens skin 

What Is a Wet Sauna?

A wet sauna is a room in which hot sauna rocks are splashed with water to produce steam (also called löyly). High humidity in the room promotes sweating, which leads to profound relaxation and offers relief, particularly to those with respiratory issues. 

What Is a Dry Sauna?

A dry sauna is a room in which the temperature is kept high by wood or an electric heater. It’s devoid of any steam so there’s very little humidity. Nonetheless, dry sauna rooms can cause heavy sweating and offer great relaxation. 

Difference Between a Wet & Dry Sauna?

a collage of a dry sauna and a wet sauna
Dry sauna vs wet sauna

The difference between a wet and dry sauna is the presence or absence of sauna water. When you pour water over heated rocks, it produces steam which helps you sweat. This is called a wet sauna. And a sauna without steam is called a dry sauna.

So if there is no real difference between a dry and a wet sauna, then why do sauna commercials and even some hotels warn people about the shock hazards of pouring water on sauna rocks? This is just a security tactic. Pouring too much water over the heating elements shortens the lifespan of a heater. Moreover, dumping water over hot stones produces strong steam which could burn the naked skin if you are standing too close to the heater. 


How Much Water Should I Toss on the Sauna Rocks?

You should toss a cup of water on the sauna rocks every few minutes. That’ll produce plenty of steam without overwhelming the room. Make sure to drizzle the water evenly instead of pouring it to prevent flooding the heater. 

Do You Use Water in a Sauna?

A. Yes, you can use water in a sauna. All sauna heaters (gas, wood, and electric) are designed to produce steam if you add water to the heated sauna stones. However, you cannot use water in an infrared sauna. Infrared saunas use infrared light to heat the body. There is no heater involved therefore there’s no need to create steam. 

Is It Bad to Drink Water in a Sauna?

A. No, it’s not bad to drink water in a sauna. In fact, you need to drink lots of water hours before heading into a sauna. Of course, you can carry a bottle of water inside but this is not nearly as effective as pre-sauna hydration. 

Does Add Water to the Sauna Make It Hotter?

A. No, adding water to the sauna does make it hotter. It’s a common misconception. Adding water produces steam causing a rise in humidity which makes you feel hotter. In fact, the more water you add, the lower the actual temperature gets. 

Can I Put Water on My Sauna Heater Rocks With a Ladle?

A. Yes, you can put water on your sauna heater rocks with a ladle. It will ensure that the right amount of water is being applied and it’ll protect you from hot steam that can burn your skin if you are too close to the sauna rocks. 

Do You Suffer From Low Water Retention in a Sauna?

A. Yes, using a sauna will reduce water retention. In other words, it’ll dehydrate you. This is why you need to consume plenty of water before, during, and after using a sauna. You can also eat salted food to help increase sauna water retention. 

(Image by Boris Trost from Pixabay)

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