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Steam of Life

Premiere Date: August 2, 2011

'Steam of Life' in Context

The Sauna in Finland: The Sauna Ritual

The basic Finnish sauna ritual is very simple, and Finns are taught to behave in the sauna as they would in church: noise and sexual or otherwise indecent behavior are unacceptable.



The basic Finnish sauna ritual is simple. The temperature in the room rises to between 70 and 100 degrees Celsius, or about 160 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Bathers, who are almost always naked, warm up and begin to sweat.

Humidity is then created by ladling water onto stones called kinas. The resulting steam, or löyly, is an integral part of the sauna experience. After löyly comes "whisking," when a bather uses a whisk made of aromatic young birch trees to lightly beat himself, increasing circulation and perspiration and releasing a pleasant smell into the air.

Next, bathers cool down, either by sitting in a cooler room or sitting outside, or by taking a shower or a swim in one of Finland's 200,000 lakes. The process can then be repeated.

Finns are taught to behave in the sauna as they would in church: noise and sexual or otherwise indecent behavior are unacceptable. Men and women bathe separately except within families.

Photo Caption: Men in an Independence Day sauna   Credit: Oktober Oy



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