What did we do over the Christmas break? We built a sauna, obviously. Well, technically we reclaimed our unused chicken house, we didn't build it from the ground up, but it's still more fun than a blog about the food we ate.
A couple of years ago a family of racoons moved into the area, and after years of peaceful chicken rearing all of a sudden we had a massacre. We decided to take a break from poultry for the time being. Then one morning we woke up and realized we had a few key ingredients at our disposal: an empty chicken house, an old wood stove that a friend had given us, a holiday break, and the knowledge we were starting our next build just in time for the coldest months!
The building had to be cleaned and then we added a layer of insulation to walls, floor, and ceiling. For this we used 1" foam with foil backing on both sides. This is more about draft reduction than it is about insulation
We then sheathed the walls in plywood (plan to add cedar at some point), installed the wood stove with some advice from a friend who knows about these things (no point burning it down on the first day!), and then we had a few test fires to make sure everything worked. This proved a good idea as it became clear we needed an external air source so the fire didn't use up our breathing air. The building isn't 100% airtight but it was getting stuffy, so we ran a pipe through the floor that goes up to the air vent in the stove, this way cold air gets sucked straight into the fire to provide it with the oxygen it needs for a good hot burn. A good hot burn is the difference between warm and sweltering; we wanted sweltering!
Then we added benches and we were ready to sweat.
New Year's Day was our inaugural sauna, it took a while to get things really hot, but we got it cracking up to 200 degrees and forgot it was -10 outside for a while!
Since then we have had a few more saunas, and it makes the winter a bit easier to deal with. One of the joys of the wood burning sauna is that it takes time. From start to finish it is a few hour process, and it is wonderfully NOT immediate, instead it is a process to transform a Sunday afternoon. Jamie likes to go in and start the fire, take a book and start to shed his layers as it heats up. I prefer to wait until it is sweltering and then enjoy. It is easy to be in a rush, like slow food and slow money this a slow sweat. Wonderful.
We are starting our next build and so the next blogs will be all about that!