Friday, January 22, 2016

Would Grandpa Ivar approve?

Finally I got new sauna rocks. I purchased them instead of scavenging river beds and lake shores.

That's the first thing Grandpa Ivar would probably disagree with. I can almost hear him cluck at such foolish economy, “Outside they are free. And you can pick the best ones.”

Actually they were hard even to purchase locally. My “sauna store” no longer exists and its replacement no longer handles saunas. I thought I might save the shipping cost of rocks by picking them up in town. Turns out the shipping cost is always included somewhere.

The store was somewhat willing to make a prepaid order — I just had to decide how many pounds I wanted. I opted for the larger size — 23 kilograms (50.7 pounds; it felt like more!), though I don't “need” that many. Yet. Down the road, I probably will. I only hope they are still “fresh*” when the time comes.

For my 1/40th ton of rocks, I paid about $100. Grandpa Ivar would also take issue with this — “How much?!?”

And they are probably the “wrong” kind of rocks for him. In all the traditional saunas I've visited, rounded granite rocks are most favored. They're easiest to find. What I bought was quarried vulcanite.

Last year I learned that quarried rocks are fresher* because they have been in the ground longer. Compare that to granite stones which have been tumbled for thousands of years above ground, drying them out. And rough quarried rocks have more edges — inlets and outlets — for the heat to radiate from.

Besides Finnish, English and Russian, I'm not sure what the other languages are on the box. Where else would they be exporting sauna stones??

My next project will be to remove the crumbling — and overused — stones from the stove. 


Friday, January 8, 2016

A "new" sauna scent

This summer I was shopping at Bergquist Import, a delightful store in Cloquet, Minnesota, chock-full of Northern European treats, Scandinavian and Finnish among them. Of course I loaded up. 

Among the products they featured were scents, and I found “cedar.”Why, you ask, am I interested in buying a scent for my l√∂yly when I could just as easily use cedar boughs? 

It's not easy for me to find cedar. We only have Russian cypress and spruce in the yard, but they don't produce the kind of boughs I need (nor willow nor maple). I'd have to scavenge in the woods, but first I'd need to get permission to cut. 

When the sauna was new, I could smell the cedar (out of which it was built), every time I walked in the porch. But that's long gone. 

And a dear friend had given me a trio of citrus scents when she visited a German spa. But they, too, are long gone.

The bottle of scent is a treat—I not only smell it while I sauna, when sprinkling a few drops of the cedar scent in the dipper of water for the rocks, but it also scents the porch. I inhale that fresh tree aroma each time I walk past the sauna.

Back to Bergquist's, there were other scents I might have purchased. I plan to stock up next visit.