Sauna Terminology


Here is a list of some common Finnish words related to the sauna.


Finnish style sweat bath.


Smoke sauna: the original form of sauna with no chimney. While being heated the smoke from the burning wood under the stove fills the sauna and escapes through a hole in the ceiling (lakeinen) and through the door which is usually kept slightly open during heating.


Sauna stove.


Stones in the sauna stove.


1) Steam or vapour created by throwing water on the stones of the stove
2) The heat, humidity and temperature in the sauna in general.


The hot room.


The washing room.


The dressing room.


Vihta, vasta
Whisk, made of birch (or similar) twigs. Used for beating the body in the hot room to stimulate the feel of the löyly.


Elevated platform to sit on in the hot room (the physical fact is that warm air rises).


Opening in the ceiling of a smoke sauna where the smoke escapes during heating.


Duct or vent on the sauna wall close to the ceiling. The size of the opening is usually adjusted with a simple slideboard.


Small pail or bucket to contain the löyly water. Usually made of wood: boards tied together with wooden hoops.


Kippo, kauha
Ladle to throw water on the stove.


Tiku, kisu, kitku
Unpleasant fumes in a smoke sauna right after heating. This disappears in an hour or two after which time the sauna is ready.


A hole in the ice of a frozen lake or sea.




For those interested here are a couple of rules to give an idea on how to pronounce Finnish:

  • each character (consonant or vowel) is always pronounced the same way, i.e. Finnish is pronounced exactly as spelled (and vice versa)
  • the special dotted vowels “ä” and “ö” follow the above rule and sound as in German or Swedish
  • single characters are pronounced short and double ones long
  • otherwise the pronunciation is rather close to Spanish or Italian, only consonants are softer
  • the stress is always on the first syllable