Three months have flown by since our sauna was commissioned and there has been much to take in. Our St Albans Barrel Sauna has given us lots of joy (and some sorrow). Anna and I have enjoyed using the sauna almost every other day and have really got to know the product inside out. On a personal note, I feel more more relaxed and can get off to sleep much easier after a session. My blood pressure has also gone down, which has meant no more medication –  a full bottle of Atenolol confirms this!


Should you build the sauna yourself, try to avoid the midday summer sun and remember to stay hydrated. Although a reasonably straightforward and rewarding task, putting the barrel sauna together was made more of a challenge in the hot summer just gone. A burnt neck was a reminder to be sun safe!

Using the Sauna

When using the sauna, we have noticed that the barrel will heat up faster in the summer, compared to winter. In between sessions it is very important to cool down and allow the pulse to return to resting. Winter cooler temperatures obviously make cooling down easier and faster. Heat up times are also slightly influenced by the seasons. After a big day gardening or walking in the Banks Peninsula, aches and pains have certainly been eased by the heat and steam. Our ideal temperature seems to be around 70-80 degrees Celsius. To the uninitiated this may seem a little high, however practice makes perfect and we have a secret weapon.

Secret weapon

I must thank my Estonian friend Reio for his recommendation of a Sauna hat.  Initially I was skeptical about looking silly and doubted the efficacy of a hat. However, a Sauna hat is truly an essential accessory in the heat. These woolen wonders allow the user to enjoy higher temperatures and longer sessions. Thank you Reio!


Users of this website may have noticed a large black metal garden arch way in some photographs. It’s function is two fold, to give our wisteria a happy place to grow and to provide us with a cooling shower. Simple garden irrigation pipes run up the side and cross spans of the arch, with nozzles providing a fantastic cold shower effect. There are no worries about drainage, as the arch is over a wide gravel path.


The outdoor seats have been somewhat of a revelation, as it allows Anna and I to sit in an area of the garden which was previously under utilised. On a crisp starry night, sitting in this space feels safe and relaxed, cocooned in by the barrel.


Enjoying the Barrel Sauna approximately every two days has created little impact on our electricity consumption. Using data from our smart meter and online bills, electricity costs are between $1.5 – $2 a session (based on current contact prices April 2018). Enjoying a sauna won’t break the bank and if you are lucky enough to live in an area that allows wood burning, consider a wood burning heater.