Healing herbs in the sauna

You can intensify the cleansing in the sauna with various plants, with a whisk, in a foot bath and in a sauna container.

Cleansing sauna herbs

The whisk (vihta, usually made from birch twigs) is a familiar part of the Finnish sauna, but you can use plants in the sauna in many other ways. You can have a foot bath, make a satchel wrap of the herbs or you can collect the plants in a sauna container to be placed on the top bench of the sauna. When various plants are used in a sauna to enhance the cleansing of the body, this sauna is called a cleansing sauna. The most familiar of the plants is birch, but many other plants are also suitable for use.


Sauna preparation

1. Heat the sauna to about 60 – 80 degrees C, the temperature of the cleansing sauna may be slightly lower than normal.
2. Collect plants from pure nature before taking a sauna and prepare a foot bath and a sauna container.
3. Wash yourself well before going in the sauna, including your hair, and sauna for about 20 min.

And what’s nice about a cleansing sauna: when you use a foot bath and a sauna container, the sauna won’t have as much of the leaf rubbish like when you use a birch whisk.


Sauna container

Plants are collected in a sauna container, such as a wooden bucket, to cleanse the sauna goer. Three fist-sized stones are placed on the bottom of the bucket with some moss on top of them. The collected plants are arranged like a flower arrangement on top of the moss. The finished sauna container is placed to the uppermost bench in the sauna. It is good to collect both deciduous and coniferous trees into the sauna container. Plants are not needed in a huge quantity, but it is good to have a few different varieties. During the sauna, the selected plants effectively cleanse the body of impurities and exude nature’s strength into the sauna goer. Take the sauna container to the sauna at the same time as you head to the benches yourself.
Each plant has its own cleansing properties.


The plants

There are numerous plants that cleanse and care for your well-being, but you can get started with these four most common trees:
Birch – refreshing and strengthening birch is a general cleanser and also strengthens the immune system. Birch increases the excretion of urine, sweat, bile, salts and waste products. Birch is the basis of the entire Finnish cleansing sauna culture.
Alder – especially good for those suffering from rashes and it opens the lungs and airways as well. Alder leaves and the bark of branches are antiseptic and cure inflammation. In folk healing, specifically tar alder (Alnus glutinosa) has been used to cure inflammation. Alder also contains analgesic salicylic acid.
Pine – especially for cleansing and strengthening the lungs. The substances contained in pine increase the function of the cilia (sensory organelles) of the bronchial mucosa. Pine also lowers blood pressure, increases bile secretion and reduces nerve pain.
Spruce – a quick cleanser with the coniferous steam removes chemical impurities. Also helps with a cough. The moist, mild spruce steam removes mucus well. Spruce tips also work well in a wrap.


With these four trees you can already achieve a good cleansing sauna.



Spruce tip wrap for shoulder pain. You can wrap steamed spruce tips in a towel and use them as a treatment for shoulder pain during the sauna.
Alder twigs among birch twigs. If you wish, you can also make a birch whisk and include, for example, a few alder branches.
Aroma of black currant leaf on the stove. On the sauna stove, you can put a black currant leaf wrapped in a nettle leaf and get a wonderful scent in the sauna, which cleanses the airways and strengthens the immune system.

Experiment freely and enjoy wonderful herbal sauna moments,