When talking about a steam bath, almost immediately people associate it with a Turkish bath or vice versa. However, these are two installations with different histories, which differ both in the type of dry and humid heat generated, and in the interior construction of the respective room.
The dry or steam sauna might seem like a modern heat generation system, but in reality it is not, as it has a long history recorded going back thousands of years. However, due to the benefits of the sauna for the human body, this type of installation managed to transcend to the present day.
Likewise, there is the wet sauna or wet room, popularly known as a Turkish bath, whose purpose is aimed at caring for the mind and body. This is because, in ancient times, men used to go to these baths after work, in order to relax, meditate or chat with their friends.
In fact, today we will not only find domestic saunas, Turkish baths at home or spas with dry and wet steam rooms, as there are also prefabricated sauna cabins. It is a structure that generates heat by means of lamps.
In addition, this type of equipment is accessible, easy to install, does not take up much space and has intuitive operation. On the other hand, we can find on the market the so-called portable saunas, which are smaller in size and are aimed at a specific area of the body.
Steam Sauna: History and Etymology
The first sauna has its origin in Finland, where this type of facility is completely rooted in its culture, since it is considered by the inhabitants as a space intended for the purification of their bodies.
In fact, according to historical records until the 20th century, the sauna was used by the Finns, both for women’s labor and to carry out the preparation of the corpses of their loved ones. It is a room in which the objective is to breathe peace and tranquility, leaving aside conversations with other people during the course of the session.
However, in other societies, sauna rooms have a slightly more informal protocol, since people attend these spaces to talk about business, religion, everyday problems, among other topics. These settings have remote historical records, so it will suffice to take a look at the baths of ancient Rome, passing through the Japanese bath houses and the popular Korean saunas.
The sauna culture invaded the Middle East and all of Eastern Europe, but it was in the middle of the 19th century when the Turkish bath began to become popular in Western Europe, which, unlike the sauna, uses moist heat. It is a heat concentration technique, which could be similar to that of the onsen in Japan, and even to the modern jacuzzi (here you can find some options to choose from).
Regarding the etymology of the word sauna, as expected, it is a Finnish term, which refers to a steam bath. In addition, if we explore this word in depth, we can find that the Royal Spanish Academy defines it as “steam bath, in a wooden enclosure, at a very high temperature, which produces rapid and abundant sweating”, which leaves a clear idea of its meaning.
Differences between saunas and Turkish baths
We have previously commented on the proximity between saunas and Turkish baths, since both facilities generate a high volume of heat for the benefit of health. However, there are some differences between a Turkish bath and a sauna, which we will comment on below.
We will start by differentiating the type of heat offered by saunas and Turkish baths. And it is that the sauna generates dry heat through electricity, gas or infrared radiation. For its part, in the Turkish bath the heat is humid, because the room incorporates a special system responsible for heating the water so that the steam is distributed throughout the bathroom and creates a light mist, which is harmless for electrical equipment such as an underwater camera. Of course, in case you want to bring said device into the room.
Construction of the rooms
Another difference between Turkish bath and sauna is based on the construction of their respective structures. In this sense, we must clarify that the walls of dry saunas are made of wood, since it is a material that does not get too hot, to avoid burns on contact with the skin, when opening the door or sitting down to enjoy the heat. Likewise, the wood absorbs any dampness that may occur in the environment of the room.
Meanwhile, wet bathrooms possess a tiled interior as they are highly heat resistant and have a non-porous surface. This means that the evaporated water will be able to run down the walls without causing deterioration.
Combining sauna and Turkish bath will bring great benefits to your health, since the heat generated by both systems helps to release tension, since it relaxes the muscles, while the pores are opened and toxins are eliminated through sweating. In addition, circulatory problems are improved.
However, those who wonder what the sauna is for, will be interested to know that it is recommended for people with arthritis and other bone problems, since these pathologies tend to intensify with humidity, which is precisely a factor absent in dry saunas..
Regarding the benefits of the wet sauna, health experts say that the mist produced in these rooms is favorable for those who suffer from respiratory problems, nasal congestion and allergies.
Although there are a number of differences and benefits of the Turkish bath and the sauna, both systems of hot rooms have had a marked evolution in history and continue to be widely used, thanks to the evident improvements offered in favor of the physical health of the Humans.