Sauna and Steam: The Difference Between These Ancient Rituals 

Sauna v. Steam

Though widely practiced all over the world, many don’t know that the practices of both sauna and steam, also known as a hammam or Turkish bath, often date back to ancient times. Sauna and steam rooms are two distinct experiences with differing origins, and each of their wellness benefits are well documented and still highly therapeutic.

First, the basics: Sauna is a dry environment with high heat—it has a overall humidity level of between 20% and 30% and can reach a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit (though legal heat levels may differ). On the other hand, a steam room is, well, steamy, with a much higher humidity level of 90% to 100% and a maximum temperature of 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on your preferences, both can be essential rituals of health and wellness.

So where did sauna and steam rituals originate? The traditional Finnish sauna originated, as the name implies, in Finland and Scandinavia. The ritual may have started as a way to keep warm during frigid winters, and the first saunas might have been pits built into the ground. However, the Finnish sauna now refers to a wooden structure, usually outside or separate from the home, with high heat that contributes to physical and mental wellbeing.

Steam rooms, also known as hammams and Turkish baths, originates in the East: in ancient Arabic and Eastern European societies. Throughout the ancient world, bathhouses with steam rooms were widely used, especially in ancient Rome and Greece. Contemporary people referred to this ritual as “salus per aquam,” or health through water. They understood the healing properties of steam and the overall importance of bathing and running water. Roman bathhouses were often complex structures with many different areas for water therapy, of which the steam room was one.

Harnessing the Power of Modern Thermal Spaces

Nowadays, it’s easier and more pleasant than ever to harness the therapeutic benefits of sauna and steam—whether it’s in the privacy of your own home or at a spa. Here at Perfect Wellness, we are the expert providers of both Plug&Play and bespoke thermal spaces using the highest technology available, combined with Italian design, craftsmanship, and materials. Browse our product offerings to learn more, or visit Professional Spa to start planning a commercial project.