What is a Barrel Sauna and Should You Get One?

When it comes to increasing both your health and your quality of life, you can’t go wrong with a sauna. For thousands of years, civilizations around the world have enjoyed the many benefits of sauna sessions. This is especially true for the Finnish, whose ancient saunas have become the model for traditional saunas around the world.

Today, you have quite a few options to choose from for your own home sauna. The barrel sauna design, for example, has been around for years and is now gaining more popularity worldwide. But it’s important that you understand the benefits and options available to you, so that you get the most enjoyment and satisfaction from your new sauna.

But don’t worry, because after you read through our guide, you’ll know exactly how to find the best barrel sauna for you.

What is a Barrel Sauna?

A barrel sauna is a cylindrical outdoor sauna that’s shaped like a barrel laying on its side, with all the same curves you’d expect a barrel to have. Like a true barrel, the interior is also cylindrical thanks to long planks of cedar that fit together around the circular ends.

Barrel saunas are actually just one of many options when it comes to traditional saunas. Other shapes and styles include the raindrop-shaped Pod sauna and the Luna sauna, a square with slightly rounded corners.

But there are some big differences between a barrel shape and the more traditional or classic shapes.

How is a Barrel Sauna Different from a Traditional Sauna?

A barrel sauna is a type of traditional sauna, but the barrel style has a few distinct advantages over more classical sauna constructions.

First of all, the barrel design changes the overall interior shape of your sauna. These actually heat up faster than saunas with hard angles because the round interior has no corners. However, the interior’s ceiling height and general square footage are essentially unchanged, meaning you don’t sacrifice anything in exchange for the shorter heat-up time.

Another huge benefit is how easily you can move a barrel sauna. This sauna can be effortlessly lifted and moved by a crane without any disassembly. If you might be moving out of your current home at any point in the future, a barrel sauna is going to make your life much easier down the road.

When it comes to the health benefits of saunas, you’ll enjoy the same positive impacts no matter what shape of sauna you choose. Weight loss, stress reduction, and improved heart health are just a few of the many health benefits you may experience, thanks to a barrel sauna. (1)

“Sauna bathing is a form of whole-body thermotherapy that has been used in various forms (radiant heat, sweat lodges, etc.) for thousands of years in many parts of the world for hygiene, health, social, and spiritual purposes.”
NCBI

What Size Sauna is Right for Me?

The sauna size that’s right for you will vary depending on your family size and frequency of guests, but generally, you want to pick one a bit bigger than what you expect to need.

Say, for example, you and one other person will be using the sauna simultaneously.

Even if you’re married to that person, you’re both going to want enough space to relax in the sauna. The more you’re able to extend your arms, lay back, and relax in general, the more beneficial your sauna sessions will be. (2)

“Ultimately, the size should be determined by the number of users, with about two feet of interior bench space per user.”
–Forbes

Many people find that a 2-person sauna is too cramped for two people to enjoy fully. And if you ever have company, you can’t all use the sauna at the same time. For this reason, we recommend that everyone consider a sauna that fits 3-4 people.

At the same time, you don’t want to oversize too much. The bigger your sauna, the longer it will take to fully heat up and the more fuel it will require. This means bigger saunas use slightly more energy than smaller ones, whether you have a wood-burning or electric heater.

Does the Type of Sauna Wood Matter?

Yes, the type of sauna wood you use matters quite a bit because it needs to perform well under specific circumstances. Most people at first only consider how the wood looks, if it’s comfortable for benches, and if it’s durable.

But that only scratches the surface of selecting wood for a sauna. First, think about what happens inside your sauna: extreme temperature and humidity changes, which are normally the enemy of wood. Certain kinds of wood will severely swell, warp, twist, and buckle under the extreme conditions of a sauna.

Cedar, however, is strong, robust, and sustainable. It’s overall the most energy efficient and eco-friendly type of wood available today. It’s resistant to decay and rot, insulates extremely well, and absorbs sound. These features combine to create the ultimate warm and relaxing sauna experience. Plus, many sauna fans swear by the unmistakable rich and spicy aroma of cedar. In Finland, spruce is one of the most popular wood choices for their saunas.

Every single barrel sauna choice from Divine Saunas is made from sustainable cedar, or thermally modified spruce so you never have to worry about making a wrong choice in materials. For cedar you get to choose between red or white cedar. Both varieties share all the benefits mentioned above, but there are a couple small differences.

Red cedar is more expensive when you purchase it, but requires the absolute least amount of care and upkeep. White cedar is more affordable upfront, but may require a small amount of maintenance as time goes on.

But either way, your barrel sauna’s cedar will require little to no maintenance and will last for years to come.

Don’t Forget the Change Room

As we mentioned earlier, one of the major pros of getting a barrel sauna is the amount of customization available to you. That includes a change room add-on for many of our outdoor options.

Think about what it’ll be like to walk from your home to your new sauna. How much distance do you have to cross? How often is the weather wet or cold in your location? If you picture making the walk while barefoot or wearing flip-flops, how are you going to rinse your feet off before starting your session?

For most people, the answer is simple: adding a change room. This allows you to be fully clothed during your short trek and gives you the privacy to change indoors. It also stops you from tracking any unwanted dirt or debris into the sauna and adds 4 feet of interior space, making it an all-around great improvement to consider.

But it’s not the only upgrade you can make. Barrel saunas are so versatile that you have quite a few options for configuration.

What Other Customizations Should I Consider?

Other customizations worth considering for your barrel sauna include a porch or overhang, upgrading your interior benches and floor, adding windows in the front or back, and choosing a more insulated cedar bevel siding roof. You can also combine any or all of these customizations with the change room.

A porch can add practicality and sophistication to your sauna. Adding one gives you a nice sheltered space to cool off after your sauna and helps keep snow or rain away from your door. Our porches add 2 feet to your barrel sauna.

A cove or overhang is a simplified version of a porch. There’s no additional wood under your feet like with the porch; instead, the overhang keeps rain and snow away from your door while creating a streamlined and finished appearance. This is a smart choice if you plan to place your sauna on a deck or outdoor flooring of some kind.

All of our saunas include standard benches inside, but we strongly recommend at least adding a flat floor to your purchase. A sauna is supposed to offer you comfort and relaxation, which you’re much more likely to get with an upgraded flat and level floor. Otherwise, you’ll feel the slight curve of the barrel as you walk. It’s not painful, but the flat floor is definitely more comfortable.

As for the benches, consider springing for our curved park-style benches or our Lounge Upgrade, which turns your flat benches into adjustable lounge chairs. Again, the flat benches are comfortable because they’re made of cedar, but why not achieve the maximum relaxation and comfort possible with a customization?

Every door for our saunas comes standard with a window. We even have panoramic options if you have a beautiful view from your property. You can also add windows to the front and/or back, depending on the sauna kit. You can add windows to the front or back which lets in lots of natural light and allows you to look outside during your relaxation.

Finally, the option for a cedar bevel siding roof is relatively new within the past couple years. This advancement gives your sauna extra insulation and weather protection. This feature also includes full trim on the front and back of your sauna, adding polish and sophistication to the entire unit.

As you can see, there are quite a few useful and beautiful customizations available for your barrel sauna. This makes it easy to design the perfect sauna for your lifestyle.

Sauna Accessories

You can’t forget about sauna accessories, a very affordable way to make your sauna sessions even more enjoyable. When you buy from Divine Saunas, we often include a gift of a bucket and dipper, plus a thermo-hygrometer to measure your sauna’s temperature and humidity.

You can also purchase luxurious accessories like comfort neck rests, Eucalyptus sauna essence, a cedar light shade and bottle shelf, and marine-grade lights. Accessories like these will take your sauna experience to the next level.

There are a few other aftermarket accessories available for your barrel sauna, like Himalayan salt details, LED light bars, and more. Due to the fact that these accessories are rarely compatible with the steam and moisture in your sauna, we recommend sticking to accessories which are made of cedar or marine-grade and able to stand up to the humidity.

The easiest way to get your sauna accessories is by selecting our Deluxe Comfort Set during your buying process.

What is the Best Barrel Sauna Kit for Me?

The best barrel sauna kit for you depends on your lifestyle and which features are most important to you because they all have different upgrades and customizations.

The easiest way to decide which will be the best fit for you is by writing down the features that are most important to you, and any pet peeves or potential annoyances. Barrel saunas have the most customization options, so you’ll be able to find your perfect fit using the list you write.

Our most popular option is our 7x7’ barrel sauna with an extra rubber roof covered with bevel wood, a cove, flat floor, change room, and wood-burning heater. You can also customize this package if you’d like a different size, more windows, or an upgraded interior.

Once you know exactly what you’re looking for, all you have to do is build your perfect kit here on our website and add it to your cart. If you have any questions about narrowing down your options, contact our team of sauna experts at 888-554-4332. You can also email us at info@divinesaunas.com. We look forward to helping you build your very own divine sauna!

References:

1. National Library of Medicine, Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5941775/

2. Forbes, How to Build a Sauna https://www.forbes.com/advisor/home-improvement/how-to-build-a-sauna/