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5 DIY Sauna Stove Plans You Can Make Today (With Pictures)

barrel sauna in the backyard

Saunas are normally heated to temperatures ranging from 150 to 195°F. Characteristically, they usually feature temperature controls, relative humidity, and unpainted interiors.

Speaking of, if you’ve ever used one before, you must have realized it had interiors that were made of wood. The reason for this is, unlike other materials, wood is notoriously known for releasing more heat into the atmosphere.

The interiors aren’t painted as the paint will affect how the wood “breathes.” That is to say, it won’t be able to efficiently absorb or slowly release heat and humidity.

Saunas have several health benefits. According to health experts, they can potentially lower the risk of Alzheimer’s, reduce muscle soreness through increased blood circulation, promote relaxation, and even improve your cardiovascular health.

We want you to enjoy some of those benefits, so we made this list of sauna stoves you can build on your own, today.

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The Top 5 DIY Sauna Stove Plans

1. Wood-Fire Sauna Stove

Difficulty level: Moderate

The wood fire stove is not as common here in the United States as it is in Europe. Even though those countries are as advanced in technology as we are, they believe some things need not be changed. If you ask them what makes the wood-fire sauna stove so special, they’ll talk about the sound, scent, aroma, and softer heat that can only be generated by this type of stove.

How does the stove work? The same way as a gas or electric stove, save for the fact that it requires a chimney to facilitate ventilation. Speaking of ventilation, because you’ll be working with fire—an element that requires oxygen—you’ll have to find a way to draw air from the outside.

The size of the stove is not a critical factor, if we’re talking about the amount of heat that it’s capable of producing. How hot the stove burns will hinge on the type of wood you use. If you go for pine, you likely won’t be able to get to the required heat. But if you choose to work with maple or ironbark, you’re guaranteed an experience of a lifetime.

2. Far-Infrared Stoves (FIR)

Difficulty level: Moderate

Are you wondering why you’ve never heard of or seen this type of stove? Well, it’s because it’s still a relatively new concept. And the way they operate is so different from what we’re used to. Instead of heating your space using convection, they’ll do so through radiation heating. That is to say, they’ll heat your body directly, instead of heating the room.

Infrared light should not be confused with ultraviolet light. The latter is capable of causing cancer and has a shorter wavelength in comparison to visible light.

Since you’ll be absorbing all the heat being radiated, nothing will be lost in the space around you. But you have to position the heater in a way that allows the heat to travel directly to you—infrared heat only travels in a straight line.

An infrared stove is an incredible option for those who find the air in a traditional sauna too humid to breathe. The degree to which it affects the humidity and temperature of the room is insignificant if you compare it to other stoves.

3. Wood Burning Sauna DIY

Wood burning sauna
Image Credit: Instructables
Difficulty level: Moderate

This plan provides you with the whole plan for making a sauna—not just the stove. However, there is a particular section for the stove within the plan. Therefore, you can easily just make the stove if that’s what you need. For those that want to build the whole sauna, this is one of the easiest plans to follow.

With that said, the plans are written in more of a “this is how I did it” than a “this is how you can do it” mode. Therefore, it can be a bit harder to follow the plans. There isn’t a clean, defined list of steps, so the plans themselves require a bit of interpretation.

Of course, there is a lot of wisdom that can be gleaned from these plans, which is why we recommend giving them a look.

4. Steam Generator

Difficulty level: High

The latest entrant into the market is the steam generator. It’s also used to heat the room by filling it with steam, but the other difference is in its application. You see, unlike other heaters, this particular one can be used in showers.

Your steam generator should operate the same way as a hot water system. The ones that we’ve come across were relying on electricity to power up, but we’ve heard of others that solely rely on gas.  So you can go with an option that suits your needs.

5. Propane Tank Sauna

Build a Sauna Stove
Image Credit: sunrisespecialty
Difficulty level: Easy

This plan utilizes a propane tank to create a sauna. This plan doesn’t describe how to make the whole sauna—just the stove part. It has very clear steps that explain everything pretty easily, as well as pictures and a video to go with the plan. Therefore, simply because it’s very well put together, the plan is one of the easier options to follow.

This is a true DIY plan. You’re cutting stuff up and repurposing items. Therefore, there are quite a few tools involved, so be prepared accordingly. If you don’t have these tools available, then you may not be able to complete this plan accordingly.

It’s also a bit more expensive than other plans, as you’re using many high-quality materials.

divider 1 Different Types of Saunas

We’ve looked at the stoves, and now it’s time to look at the structures housing these stoves, along with detailed instructions so you can make one at home.

1. Barrel Sauna

wood barrel sauna
Image Credit: Piqsels

Funny thing is, even though this type of stove is cylindrical in shape, it can easily fit into any square space. The other good thing is, compared to your typical sauna, this one comes with less unused air space and an even heat distribution. That curvature will automatically push down the hot air rising, enabling the heat to flow evenly throughout the space.

The barrel sauna is the best option for people who live in cooler climates, and consider themselves outdoorsy. It has a sturdy structure that cannot be compromised by any amount of snow, even if it precipitates for weeks. You could use the Western Red Cedar to ensure it has a high resistance to rot and water.

2. Portable Sauna

bucket and white towels in a sauna
Image Credit: Ground Picture, Shutterstock

You can obviously tell that this is the plan for anyone thinking of living in a van or on the road. It’s a pod design that’s small enough to go with you anywhere, without looking conspicuous. Well, unless you’ve managed to construct a portable sauna that’s so pretty it can’t go unnoticed.

The point is, you don’t need a large vehicle or an RV to haul this type of stove across the country if that’s one of your concerns. Portability means even a bicycle can drag it with ease. Also, don’t let its size fool you. Just because it looks small from the outside, doesn’t mean that only one person can comfortably sit inside this sweat pod.

Depending on the size of the individuals going in, it can accommodate up to six people, before that space starts to feel crowded. The heating system is also efficient, sustainable, and the pod has a chimney to keep smoke at bay.

3. Backyard/Outdoor Sauna

Outdoor sauna in the garden with deck chairs
Image Credit: jennyfriedrichs, Pixabay

Is there anything better than having a sauna in your own backyard? Basically, you’ll be getting the best of both worlds—enjoying an outdoor experience while relieving stress through perspiration.

To top that off, the backyard sauna is very easy to construct, doesn’t require a lot of materials, and always looks great in the backyard.

4. Shipping Container Sauna Box

With some time and patience, it’s possible to turn a shipping container into a sauna. We now have what the market is referring to as “the sauna box,” and it’s been designed to mimic the conventional wood-burning steam room.

“Wood-burning” means it comes with a wood fire stove, and the “conventional” is meant to tell you that it’s as watertight as the sauna you’re used to. The other thing that makes the sauna box different is the fact that it’s powered by solar panels. What’s more, it’s been custom-built using a material that has been fabricated from corten steel. Hence, making it resistant to corrosion.

5. Panoramic Barrel Sauna

If you’ve already fallen in love with the barrel sauna stove plan that we’ve described above, you’ll fall in love with this one more.

The panoramic barrel sauna has everything the barrel sauna has, and then some. It’s aesthetically pleasing, made of wood, cylindrical in shape, has a wooden stove, and a huge observation window.

6. Indoor Bathroom Sauna

The indoor bathroom uses an infrared or wood-fire stove. The whole plan is designed for homeowners looking to spend more time at home and save money. Building it is not all that difficult, seeing as you have the walls and everything else already set up. The only thing that you’re advised to do is to ensure the space is well-insulated, and all the fixtures and fittings removed.

If you want to make it look a little more traditional, you can incorporate cedarwood into the design. Or any other type of wood that won’t expand too much once it has been exposed to the heat.

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We would really like to know what you think about the plans that we’ve just shared. Did you like them? Or did you find them too complex to understand?

Also, if you get the chance, kindly share this article with your friends and family members. Educate them on the benefits of using saunas, and the kind of fun that you get to experience while building one.

Featured Image Credit: Aaron Finn, Shutterstock


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