What is a Sauna Hat?

sauna hat protects head when in a sauna

A sauna hat is a type of hat worn in a sauna to protect your head from intense heat. It keeps the head cool and allows you to remain in the sauna longer. Longer sessions mean increased sweating, greater health benefits, and deeper heat penetration into the body.

Yes, they might look a little bit silly but sauna hats really do have a purpose. They are used to shield the head and prevent it from over-heating. This allows you to remain inside the sauna for longer.

Why Wear a Sauna Hat?

When you’re inside a sauna, your head is the part of the body that begins to heat up fastest. If your head begins to overheat you will begin to feel unwell. It can cause feelings of nausea and dizziness.

So, why wear a hat in a sauna? Because it will protect your head, prevent it from overheating and allow you to stay in the sauna for longer. If you have experienced nausea and dizziness in the sauna before – a sauna hat might just be for you!

Another benefit of a sauna hat is that it protects the hair. This is of particular interest to people with long or delicate hair. The intense heat of a sauna can dry-out and damage hair. Wearing a sauna hat will add a layer of protection to your crowning glory.

how does it work?

How Does a Sauna Hat Work?

A sauna hat works by providing a protective insulating layer between your head and the heat of a sauna. It creates a physical barrier that slows down the heating process and keeps your head cool.

Most sauna hats are made from a material called felt. Felt is a natural insulator, made from wool, that works by trapping small pockets of air. This slows down the transfer of heat from the sauna to your head.

Think of it like wearing a winter coat on a cold January morning. The sauna hat works in a similar way. But instead of keeping cold air out like a coat, it is keeping hot air out in a sauna. They work equally well in infrared saunas and traditional saunas.

Some people like to soak them in water before entering the sauna for better cooling. See below –

Soaking In Water

glass of cold water

A sauna hat can be soaked in water to increase its cooling effect. As the water evaporates from the hat it creates a cooling action on the head. This is known as evaporative cooling.

It is the same process the body uses during sweating to cool itself down and maintain body temperature. Soaking sauna hats in water is a popular custom in many parts of Finland to prolong the sauna session.


But It Looks A Bit Funny

Yes, they do look a bit funny and may not be to everyone’s taste. But it is definitely a case of function over style. Sauna hats are designed to block out heat and protect the head – not as a fashion accessory. And they do a great job.

Fashion tip – don’t wear one when you are popping out for a coffee or calling over to a friend’s house. You will get some funny looks. Keep it for use in the sauna. Unless you’re going to a fancy dress party. Then it takes on a whole new lease of life outside your infrared sauna.

Keeping It Clean!

Let’s face it, your sauna hat is going to be put through its paces. From the very first day you wear it, it is going to be soaking up large amounts of sweat. So, you need to make sure you keep the thing clean.

Cleaning is easy. While each hat is different and you should check individual washing requirements – here are some general rules of thumb. As felt is made from wool the best approach is to hand wash.

Give it a quick rinse out in the sink with lukewarm water. You can use some hand soap or gentle detergent. Then rinse out the suds and wring to remove most of the moisture.

When done, make sure you shape it back into its original shape before drying. Wool is a delicate material and can lose shape if not treated properly. Always handle with care.

Secret Storage Compartment

One of the great things about a sauna hat is the unusual cone shape it has at the top. This makes it ideal for hiding small items. No one needs to know what’s under there. You can pop in your locker key, aromatic oils, or even a small beer. It’s like a secret sauna pocket.


Do Sauna Hats Increase Sweating?

lady entering a sauna

Sauna hats protect the head and prevent it from overheating allowing you to stay in the sauna for longer. And when you spend a longer period of time in a sauna you will sweat more. So, yes – you will increase your overall level of sweating by wearing a sauna hat.

The sauna hat will protect your head and make you feel more comfortable. This will reduce the level of sweat coming from your head, but because you will spend a longer period inside the sauna your overall sweat levels will increase.

Which Is Better – Wool or Felt?

The best type of sauna hat is a felt hat. Felt is made from wool that is pressed and rolled. The fibers compress and mat together to create a smooth surface and durable material.

Felt is an excellent insulator and provides amazing protection from the stifling heat of a sauna. A woolen hat is a good option. Wool is a natural fiber that comes from the fleece of an animal. But felt is your best option as it provides a better level of protection.

What Is a Traditional Finnish Sauna Hat?

A traditional Finnish sauna hat is made from wool or felt. It sits comfortably on the top of the head and helps keep it cool. The head tends to heat up more quickly than the rest of the body.

A traditional Finnish sauna hat will help you stay in the sauna for longer. If the head becomes too hot, too quickly you can begin to feel light-headed and unwell. Traditional sauna hats have also been popular in Russia and throughout the Baltic region for many years where they’re known as banya hats.

woman with long blonde hair in a sauna

Will a Sauna Hat Keep Your Hair Dry?

The heat inside a traditional or infrared sauna is dry. Therefore there will be no moisture to wet your hair. Steam rooms on the other hand are high humidity environments.

If using a sauna hat in a steam room it will help protect your hair from the moisture of the steam but will not protect it from sweat.

Whether you are in a dry sauna, infrared sauna, or steam room – you are going to sweat from your head.

This sweat will inevitably come into contact with your hair. However, if you wear a sauna hat – you will generate less head sweat and therefore less sweat will wet your hair.

frequently asked questions

What Is the Best Sauna Hat?

The best sauna hats are made from 100% natural wool felt. They should fit your head comfortably and provide excellent protection for sauna heat.  And you’ll look great too!

The best sauna hats will allow you to get the best out of your sauna session. You will enjoy longer sessions, increased sweating across the body, and increased health and relaxation benefits.

What Is a Viking Sauna Hat?

A Viking sauna hat is a sauna hat that has two big horns on either side. It is a novelty feature for a bit of fun. The shape of the hat looks like a helmet a Viking would wear into battle. But you can wear it into a sauna – and feel fearsome!

How to Make a Sauna Hat

If you’re feeling a bit creative and know your way around a sewing machine – you can make your own sauna hat. You’re going to need some woolen felt, a steady hand, a sewing machine, and nerves of steel!

There are some great tutorial videos available online that take you through the process. So, if you fancy a personalized home-made sauna hat why not give it a go.


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Basswood For Sauna Build

basswood for a sauna build

Basswood is an excellent choice of wood for building a sauna. It is affordable, has a beautiful appearance, is heat resistant, and has a very soft grain giving it a gentle, smooth touch. It is also hypoallergenic – which means it is great for people with sensitive skin.

When choosing a type of wood for building a sauna you will need a timber that doesn’t overheat, stands the test of time, looks great, and is soft to touch. Many hardwoods will overheat in a sauna so these must be avoided.

You’ll also need a wood that will stand the test of time and won’t warp or bend when exposed to sauna temperatures. Basswood can absorb the intense heat of a sauna without suffering any deterioration in shape or strength.

Is Basswood A Good Choice For Building A Sauna?

legs in a basswood sauna

Yes, basswood is an excellent choice for building a sauna. It is a suitable wood for both infrared saunas and traditional saunas. Several qualities make basswood an ideal wood for use, see below.

Excellent Heat Distribution

Basswood is a soft hardwood and does not overheat when exposed to the high temperatures of a sauna for prolonged periods. It performs well in heat absorption without becoming too hot to touch. Hardwoods like oak and teak tend to overheat in saunas making them an unsuitable choice.

Great For Sensitive Skin

For people with sensitive skin, basswood is the best wood for sauna construction. Its hypoallergenic qualities mean it won’t irritate your skin and it has a gentle texture giving it a gentle touch. Basswood for a sauna build is great for people who are sensitive to allergic reactions.

Light Color & Gentle Texture

Basswood lumber has a beautiful light color making it an ideal option for sauna construction. Its vibrant bright color is complemented by the fact that it contains very few grains. It has a very clean and uniform appearance throughout the timber.


Basswood does not have a fragrance. This makes it the preferred wood choice for many. It does not emit any scent or toxins. The heat of a traditional or infrared sauna can lead to other woods emitting strong fragrances.


It is a great choice commercially as it is a more affordable wood compared to the alternatives. Its low cost will help you keep your construction costs down. It is one of the cheapest sauna woods available.  Basswood for a sauna build will save you money.




smiling happy lady

Basswood vs Cedar

Cedar is also a very popular choice of wood for building saunas. Structurally they are very similar woods. The main difference between the two are fragrance and appearance.

Basswood is fragrance-free while cedar emits a fragrance – especially when heated. Many people prefer the fragrance free sauna while some like the scent of cedar.

They also differ in appearance. Basswood has a light, bright appearance and the color is uniform with very little grain. Cedar has a noticeable light honey color and contains bands of a red like hue.

What Kind of Wood Is Used For Sauna Benches?

Basswood is a good choice of wood for sauna benches. Its ability to absorb heat without becoming too hot to touch makes it a suitable type of wood for sauna benches. Other popular woods used in sauna construction are hemlock, spruce, and pine wood. 

Where does Basswood Come From?

Basswood is a tree from the Malvaceae tree family. The tree is commonly found across North America in southern, south-eastern states of the United States and across many parts of Mexico. There are three commercially available types – Carolina, American, and White basswood. 

What Does It Look Like?

It is a deciduous tree that can reach a height of 37m. It has a grayish-brown bark, reddish-green twigs, and deep large roots. Its leaves are green, asymmetrical, and ovate. It has a life expectancy of 200 years. 

Basswood Physical Properties


The MOR strength of basswood is 8,700 psi and it has a stiffness score of 1.46 million psi. This is in the expected range of a lightweight soft hardwood and makes it suitable for sauna construction. It has good resistance to bending and warping over time.

Density Rating

It has a density rating of approximately 25 pounds per cubic foot. A planed piece of 3/4-inch thick basswood at 7% moisture content will weigh less than 1.5 pounds per board foot.


Basswood is a rapidly drying wood and low risk for defects. Shrinkage of 7% is expected during drying. The wood must be properly dried before being used to build a sauna – or it could develop staining.

Color & Texture

Basswood has a light and bright creamy color giving it a fresh and vibrant appearance. It has a very fine texture and an indistinct grain. Basswood for a sauna build is a popular choice for its aesthetic appeal.


Basswood is a very forgiving timber.  This makes it easy to work with. It machines very well once it has been properly dried. And it glues well too – just make sure you apply pressure as soon as possible once the glue has been applied – to avoid a starved joint.


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