If you have never been to a Scandinavian spa, I highly recommend it. This apparently two thousand-year old relaxation technique involves altering hot, cold, and neutral periods. The benefits of this are said to be many, including the elimination of toxins, better sleep, stimulated immune system, improved oxygenation, and spiritual purification (source). Now I am not one who falls for hokum, but I can concede that Scandinavian / Nordic baths are über relaxing, great for your skin, and all around lavish fun. But with hot tubs, temperate pools, and waterfalls, they can also be a tad expensive.
So this is how you can have your own Scandinavian spa at the cottage or campsite, on the cheap.
- a fire-pit with wood and kindling
- 4-5 round rocks without cracks, no bigger than a cantaloupe
- 2 or more tarpaulins
- two trees
- a rope
- a metal pail or dish
- a shovel
What to do:
- Collect the rocks and pile them neatly in the center of the fire-pit.
- Stuff paper between the rocks, and surround with kindling. You want your fire to be hot and as close to the rocks as possible.
- Light your fire, keeping it stoked with larger pieces of wood or logs, for at least 4 hours.
In the mean time, build your sauna. In all honesty, my survival-camp boyfriend build it and called it a “lean-to“. But I watched and it looked more like a bottomless tent.
- Tie a rope between two trees, one right on the base, and one about 4 feet up.
- Drape the tarp, or tarps over the rope close enough to the lower end that you can still crawl in the higher end.
- Seal off the lower end (the back) and the sides by placing rocks or heavy things on the edges of the tarps.
- Place some towels inside for comfort, but leave room in the middle for the rocks.
Get into your bathing suit, it’s sauna time!
- Allow the fire to die out, push any chard pieces to the side exposing the rocks, which will probably be ashy white.
- With a shovel, carefully pick up the rocks and place them in the metal pail or dish. We used an old old campfire griddle.
- Being careful, place the pail of rocks in the center of the sauna.
- Go on in, not touching the rocks, bring a bottle of water, and seal the door behind you as best you can. Our sauna was a tight fit for the two of us, but that meant it got hot real fast!
- Throw small amounts of water at a time on the rocks to make it steam. Water sizzling off hot rocks has to be one of the best sounds in the world!
- Relax. Let the heat loosen your muscles. Lets the steam open your pores and clean your skin.
- Once you are so hot you can’t take it any more, quickly exit the sauna and jump into a the waiting cool refreshing lake.
- Then, as per Scandinavian method, relax in neutral temperature area (I recommend the muskoka chair on the deck) until you are ready to do it all over again. Our rocks stayed hot enough to do the cycle three times.
And there you have it! A Scandinavian spa for no money, little effort, and whenever you want at your camp or cottage. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!