Ultimate Sauna Stones [Select & Maintain]

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Sauna rocks play a central role in generating steam during a sauna session. Think of the sauna heater like a car’s engine and the rocks as the car engine oil. Just as oil is crucial for the engine to run smoothly, sauna rocks are essential for a soothing and rejuvenating escape. Without them, the engine would stop working, and similarly, a sauna would not perform its function without the right rocks. These stones should be changed regularly to prevent the sauna from breaking down. This is part of normal sauna maintenance. You need to inspect the stack and replace any that are broken or cracking. This guide aims to help you understand the different types of sauna rocks and their unique benefits. With the right choice, you can use them for an unparalleled experience.

What are Sauna Stones?

Ultimate Sauna Stones [Select & Maintain]
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Sauna stones are very important for a good sauna bathing experience. They help control the temperature and humidity in the sauna. When you need to buy new ones, it’s important to know what makes good sauna rocks. This information is key for a great sauna experience.

Hot rocks make the room temperature go up and make a nice feeling with “löyly”. This is when water gets poured on the hot stones, and it makes steam. The idea is to make the room warm and keep it that way. Stones are better than metal or other things for making heat. Stones give a good heat that makes the sauna room feel nice. Hot metal can make heat too, but it’s not the same.

Why Different Sauna Rocks Are Used

Ultimate Sauna Stones [Select & Maintain]
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When placing chosen stones on a sauna stove, think of it like setting up a large radiator. This setup makes the room warm. Users often keep a bucket of water nearby. They occasionally splash water on the stones. This increases both the temperature and the humidity. The stones used can drastically impact the experience for the user. Every type of stone has unique properties. For example, softer stones like sandstone might emit a pleasant aroma when heated. On the other hand, harder stones, like granite, take longer to heat up but retain heat well and release minerals into the air during heating. This can be beneficial for health purposes.

Choosing the right stones for your sauna can really change how it feels to use it. Some stones make the heat soft and gentle, while others can make the room very hot quickly. This choice allows every sauna user to find what best suits their needs for relaxation and health benefits.

Sauna Rocks: The Core of Your Sauna Experience

Choosing the type of rock for your sauna should depend on what you want to get out of your experience. Not all sauna stones are just picked from a local field or your driveway. They are carefully sourced for their unique properties, then processed and sold for use in saunas. Traditional sauna stones are often igneous rocks, formed when magma cools and hardens. These rocks are great because they can retain heat well and withstand rapid temperature changes without cracking or discolouration. Common choices include basalt and granite.

Newer, more expensive, and sometimes scarce stones like olivine and quartz are also choices for those looking for something different. Choosing the right stones often comes down to personal preference. They should be smooth, nonporous to prevent them from exploding when they heat up. While igneous rocks, including volcanic rocks or lava rocks, are popular for their high heat capacity and thermal mass, making them an integral part of the sauna experience. They provide thermal heat much like dense heat from heating mass or heavy water, compared to heated radiators or tinny electric baseboards. In theory, some sauna manufacturers promote using volcanic rocks in sauna stoves because they are lighter weight, reasonably priced, and easier to ship.

Big Fan of Granite Rocks

Ultimate Sauna Stones [Select & Maintain]
Source of image: Freepik
I’m a big fan of granite rocks for saunas. These rocks, often rounded and aged by time, can be found on the icy shores of Lake Superior. The best rocks for your sauna are those without cracks or crevices. There’s a stigma or fear that sauna rocks might explode if they have any cracks. This happens when water gets in and causes hydrofraction. The bottom line is you want non-porous, granite rocks on top of your sauna stove.

Here’s a tip: Take two of your proposed sauna rocks and smash them together. If they don’t crack or break, the chances are you’re holding two good sauna rocks. This simple test can ensure you’re using rocks in your sauna that are strong and stable.

What Size Sauna Rocks are Best?

Ultimate Sauna Stones [Select & Maintain]
Source of image: Freepik
Choosing sauna rocks within the size range of a softball to a golf ball works well for most saunas. Different size rocks hold heat and their thermal mass differently, which affects how they release steam, or löyly, when water is tossed onto the hot sauna rocks. This creates a nice hot environment, whether you have a wood burning or an electric sauna stove. The heat turns into steam in a process that can temporarily cool the sauna but also helps to maintain a better overall temperature. Smaller rocks react quicker to water, turning it into vapor efficiently, which is an expense some sauna users want for a quick heat recovery. Mixing different size rocks can provide a balanced sauna experience, offering both quick heating and long-lasting heat retention.

Using & Maintaining Sauna Stones

Ultimate Sauna Stones [Select & Maintain]
Source of image: Freepik
It’s recommended to periodically clean and replace your sauna stones to ensure a safe and enjoyable sauna experience. Sauna stones should be stacked to allow good ventilation in the basket. If they sink down, you should reposition them. This helps to prevent the stones at the bottom from disintegrating faster than the rest, especially those closest to the heating elements. If you sauna bathe regularly, it’s important to keep your stones clean. Using essential oils with antibacterial properties, like tea tree oil, from time to time can add a pleasant aroma and maintain the cleanliness of your stones.

How Much Water Should I Toss on the Sauna Rocks?

Ultimate Sauna Stones [Select & Maintain]
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Minnesota Fats, a famous pool player, once gave advise on two ways to hit a pool shot: soft and softer. This is a good way to think about how to toss water on sauna rocks. Start with a little water and add more as you go. It’s always best to start slow. Clint says that sauna stoves are made to take water. Rocks have thermal mass, which means they hold heat energy. When water tossed on the rocks, this heat is transferred to the steam. The steam makes contact with your skin, making you feel the heat.

If you’re thinking about pouring a whole liter of water on the rocks, think again. It’s not a macho ploy. This could be too much at once. Steam from water tossed on sauna rocks is called Löyly. It’s a spiritual thing, with negative ions like those from waterfalls and rainbows. It can give your mind some altering assistance. Bonuses include: Starting with little water and adding more water slowly. This doesn’t shock the sauna stove. In theory, the stove will suffer less fatigue. When rocks get depleted of their thermal mass, they respond quicker to more water, making a smile and sizzle. It’s a misnomer that the temperature in the sauna goes up. It just feels hotter because the heat transferred from water vapor to your skin.

Benefits of Different Sauna Rocks

When you pick the right sauna rocks for your heater, it’s important to know about the different types. Some common sauna rocks and minerals work well in a sauna stove.


Ultimate Sauna Stones [Select & Maintain]
Source of image: Shutterstock
Basalt is a type of rock that is very dense and heavy. This means it can heat up quickly and retain that heat for a long time. Basalt is one of the most commonly used rocks in saunas because it’s good at holding onto heat. Also, basalt can handle very high temperatures, which makes it perfect for use in saunas where the heat can get very intense.


Ultimate Sauna Stones [Select & Maintain]
Source of image: Shutterstock
Granite is another rock that is very durable and resistant to cracking. This makes it a popular choice for saunas. Granite rocks can maintain heat well, which is important for keeping the sauna at a consistent temperature. Because of its durability, granite is less likely to crack or break under the high heat conditions found in saunas.


Ultimate Sauna Stones [Select & Maintain]
Source of image: Shutterstock
Olivine is known for its high density and durability, making it another excellent choice for sauna rocks. It is relatively inexpensive compared to some other rocks, which can make it a more accessible option. Olivine heats up quickly, providing warmth to the sauna in a short amount of time. Additionally, olivine rocks are often considered beautiful, adding an aesthetic element to the sauna stove.


Ultimate Sauna Stones [Select & Maintain]
Source of image: Shutterstock
Jade is prized for its stunning green colour and is one of the most durable stones you can use in a sauna. It is known to never crack, which means it doesn’t require any additional treatment to make it suitable for sauna use. However, jade is one of the more expensive options for sauna rocks, largely due to its aesthetic appeal and durability.


Ultimate Sauna Stones [Select & Maintain]
Source of image: Shutterstock
Quartz is a mineral that is appreciated for its ability to heat up quickly and evenly. It has aesthetic qualities, including a range of clear to coloured appearances, which can add visual interest to your sauna. Quartz’s ability to distribute heat evenly makes it an effective choice for enhancing the sauna experience.

Red Quartz

Ultimate Sauna Stones [Select & Maintain]
Source of image: Shutterstock
Red quartz is particularly popular in Russia and is known for its ability to save energy consumption. Like other quartz, it heats up quickly and evenly but has a unique red colour that makes it visually striking. Its energy-saving properties make it a valuable addition to saunas, potentially reducing the amount of energy required to maintain the desired temperature.

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You Can Collect Your Own “Rocks”

Welcome to Dick from Scandia, Minnesota, who works in Research and Development at Andersen Corporation, focusing on Windows, design, project management, and materials research. Just like collecting sauna rocks is a part of preparing for a wood burning sauna, it’s similar to how one collects wood, cuts, and dries it. This careful preparation is akin to the Gestalt Principle, where the action of preparation is as important as taking the sauna itself. Finding and placing sauna stones can be an exhilarating experience, enriching the overall sauna experience.

A Word of Caution!

Gathering stones for your sauna should be done with care. Not every stone you find can be used in a sauna. Rock collecting isn’t about grabbing the prettiest agate from a restaurant’s landscaping or a city park. Collecting rocks from public beaches, parks, or private places without permission is not alright. It’s better to take care and collect with permission, or purchase from a local landscape company or nursery supply business where you can sort through a pile and pick the Perfect ones.

Importance of Stones

Stones play a crucial role in delivering steam. The stone size, density, porosity, and surface play a significant role in transferring heat from the fire. Stones that are too small won’t hold heat well, and too large ones take longer to heat up. A rough fracture increases surface area, enhancing the stone’s ability to hold on to water and gives off heat effectively. The way stones are stacked is important to prevent or allow free flow of heat and water.

Black Rocks Matter

Ultimate Sauna Stones [Select & Maintain]
Source of image: Freepik
Darker rocks tend to give off heat quicker, a simple physics thing. When looking for sauna stones, if you see Finnish stones for sale that are dark, it’s a good choice to move on with those.

Types of Stove Stones

Some companies may claim that there are only correct stones for a sauna, but the truth is any structurally sound rock can work. Igneous rocks like Vulcanite, gabro, peridotite, Basalt, Olivine, Granite, Obsidian, and Pumice are all bonafide igneous rocks suitable for sauna use without issues. They are smooth, allowing water to run off quickly and evaporate, providing the light, porous quality needed to cool quickly yet retain mass for sustained heat.

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Loading of Sauna Rocks- Stone Can Be Dirty

When loading stones into the Rock Chamber, it’s important to wash and rinse them first to avoid soil on the floor and imparting off odors when heated. Start with the largest stones first, then stack the smaller ones around until the Rock Chamber is full. They should be close enough to pour water on but not so tight that air has a hard time getting through.

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Rock Replacement

Rocks do not last forever; they crack, get smaller, and the hottest rocks near the fire pot degrade from the thermal expansion and heat-cold cycle. To limit stress on the rocks, pour a cup of water at a time, rather than dumping 2 cups all at once. When rocks start getting small or ending up on the floor, it’s time to replace them. Mix old usable good ones with new rocks for the best results.

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The Spiritual Side

The spiritual side of sauna rocks is like a rock pile that gains significance as a single man contemplates it, seeing it as bearing the image of a cathedral sauna.

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Where to Get Sauna Rocks

After approaching the Finnish line of your authentic sauna build, you’ve followed every step in the DIY ebook. Your sauna stove has had a good long burn, burning off any factory paint. You’ve put the finishing touches on, like attaching towel hooks and hot room door hardware. You’ve checked the calendar and invited friends for an inaugural Friday sauna. Everything’s set to go, except you need sauna rocks. A quick trip to the shores of Lake Superior is out of the question. This might feel like looking for a metaphor in a million grains of sand.

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You might feel guilt dragging a 5 gallon pickle bucket along the beach shoreline to collect free range organic sauna rocks. Some suggest looking near railroad tracks, but that’s a fringe line of thinking. Asbestos from train brakes might make those dem der rocks less appealing. Getting caught up in the idea that everybody gets their sauna rocks from train tracks can be misleading. Every time you hear a train whistle blow, it’s not a sign that a train ran off the tracks, offering up perfect sauna rocks.

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If you’re a sauna enthusiast looking for sauna rocks but want to do it the right way, consider this. Spend a few bucks at Landscape Love in South Minneapolis. Here, you can bring your own milk crate or 5 gallon sauna bucket and hand pick from a pile of landscape rocks. They have a great assortment of rocks, ranging from golf ball to softball size, perfect for sauna rocks. This way, you get what you need without any guilt.

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In conclusion, different types of sauna rocks come with their unique advantages. Whether you opt for rounded stones for efficient heat accumulation or choose another type for a more balanced sauna atmosphere, selecting the right sauna rocks can elevate your sauna experience to new heights.

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The main function of sauna stones is heat storage. They are heated gradually by the heating elements or a fire in a wood-fired sauna and then release the heat rapidly when needed to warm the sauna efficiently.

Water can be thrown over sauna heater rocks using a ladle. The right amount of water hits the rocks, it turns into steam. It's important not to pour too much, as the heater needs to drain and it's convenient for cleaning purposes.

Sauna Stones are special. Choosing the Right ones for Your Sauna is crucial. Traditional sauna stones are igneous rocks that form when magma cools and hardens. They can retain heat and withstand rapid temperature changes without cracking or discolouration. Basalt and granite are good choices.

Overloading the heater with too many stones can prevent good airflow and lead to overheating of the elements. Similarly, Too few stones won't give you the best sauna experience because they won't retain enough heat.

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