Best Barrel Saunas

Updated November 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

35 Models Considered
10 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
201 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best barrel saunas

The first time you entered a sauna, chances are you were on vacation. After that, you may have joined a gym or pool club just so you could keep experiencing that invigorating rush. Believe it or not, you don’t have to go on vacation or be a member of an exclusive club to reap the benefits of a little heat therapy.

A barrel sauna is an ingeniously designed backyard structure that can transform your home into a luxury resort. If you are unfamiliar with the barrel sauna, it is exactly as it sounds: a huge barrel lying on its side with a door, two benches, and a heat source inside. 

To learn about the potential health benefits of owning a barrel sauna and what you should look for when shopping for one, keep reading. If you would like some quick recommendations for a quality barrel sauna, consider the hand-picked products we spotlight here.

barrel sauna1
Never used a sauna before? The first time you step into your barrel sauna, don't stay in for longer than five minutes.

Key considerations

Size

Of course, you will want a barrel sauna that can hold the number of people you intend to invite into your sauna. Barrel saunas hold anywhere from two to eight people, depending on the model. Another point to consider is whether you intend to lie down in the sauna. If so, you’ll need a bit more room per person. Barrel height can be an issue if you are a taller individual. Note that as size goes up, so does the price.

Wood

If you do some investigating, you will discover a plethora of lists that recommend the best woods for hot tubs and saunas. While recommendations vary, you will without exception find some kind of red cedar topping each list. Red cedar naturally resists insects and moisture (rot) and may last as long as 15 to 20 years. Plus, it provides a level of insulation superior to brick, concrete, and steel. Notably, red cedar can be expensive.

Heat source

Wood

Wood heaters provide low humidity levels and have the added feature of a pleasant aroma. If there is no electricity, this is your only option. It is important to realize that the temperature of a wood heater is unregulated, and the fuel can be expensive.

Electric

Electric heaters offer high temperatures and low humidity. This type of heater is affordable and easy to operate and maintain. It may offer benefits not found in other types of heaters: for example, some electric heaters are compatible with smart devices. The downside is that your energy bill will go up a little.

Gas

For the typical home, gas is an undesirable option because installation is complicated and the purchase, operation, and upkeep costs tend to be prohibitive.

Infrared

Infrared heaters do not heat the air in a sauna; they heat the individuals in the sauna. While this emerging heating solution is currently considered safe, studies have shown that prolonged exposure to infrared light waves can permanently damage the eyes.

While it may not be true that Finland has more saunas than cars, the Nordic country does have an incredible number of saunas. Even the Burger King located in Helsinki features a sauna.

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Features

Bench type: A wide variety of bench types are available in barrel saunas. They range from simple, horizontal slats to ergonomically designed benches with back support. If you prefer to lie down in your barrel sauna, make sure the bench you choose can comfortably accommodate that position.

Door: The door is another area where you may have a wide selection of choices. Anything from solid wood to glass is available. Choose the door that best suits your comfort level when it comes to privacy.

Changing room: Finding a barrel sauna that has a changing room is rare. You will likely only discover this feature on a large, high-end model.

Front porch: If you want a place to sit and relax away from the heat, look for a barrel sauna with a front porch.

Accessories: Most barrel saunas come with all the accessories that you need. However, there are items that may not come with your purchase, such as a water bucket, ladle, thermometer, or foot rests. If you want these accessories, make sure they are included. Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase them separately.

Hooks and shelves: Hooks to hang robes or towels and shelving to house personal items might not seem like a big deal, but if you purchase a barrel sauna without them, you might be slightly less happy.

Window: If your outdoor space has a beautiful view, you may want to consider a barrel sauna with a window. Even if you don't have the best view, a window can help some people feel a little less claustrophobic when stepping into a barrel.

Décor: While the inside of your barrel sauna will be sparse, the outside can feature anything from flower beds to lights. Some models disguise the barrel shape to make it look more like a cabin than a barrel.

barrel sauna2
DID YOU KNOW?
Extreme temperature changes can be invigorating, but if you have cardiovascular issues, jumping into cold water after being in a sauna can be extremely dangerous.
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Barrel sauna prices

Inexpensive: At the lower end of the price scale, from $5,000 to $6,000, you can get a smaller sauna that may comfortably fit two to four people. At this price, there won't be many extra features.

Mid-range: From $6,000 to $9,000, you will find slightly larger saunas that fit up to six people. Models in this range may have ergonomically designed benches and windows that provide a view.

Higher-end: While barrel saunas can cost over $20,000, those in the $10,000 to $15,000 price range are considered high-end models. These may be large enough to fit eight people and will be customizable, allowing you to choose precisely which elements you'd like to have.

Even when you become a sauna pro, experts recommend limiting your sessions to a maximum of 15 minutes.

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Benefits of using a barrel sauna

  • Relaxation: When your body reacts to the heat of a sauna, it also can deliver a feeling of elation.
  • Pain relief: As your blood vessels dilate, blood flow increases. This can help relieve sore muscles and provide comfort to individuals with minor body aches.
  • Potential health improvement: A few studies suggest that sauna use can actually improve heart function in some individuals. However, it is vital to remember that before engaging in this activity, you must first get the okay from your doctor or cardiologist. A study performed in Finland concluded that frequent sauna bathing (up to seven times a week for several years) was linked to a reduced risk of stroke.
  • Social rewards: Spending time alone in an intense environment can have a bonding effect on individuals. The people you choose to invite into your barrel sauna can quickly become your best friends (if they weren't already).
  • Better sleep: After an invigorating sauna bath, levels of endorphins decline, making you feel relaxed. This peaceful feeling can help individuals drift off more easily and receive a deeper, more restful sleep.
barrel sauna3
While it can take three people as little as five hours to assemble a barrel sauna, it might be best to set aside an entire weekend with friends to get the task done.

FAQ

Q. Why would a sauna be made of a barrel?

A. The shape of a barrel sauna eliminates a great deal of unused air space (the corners), which means the temperature can heat up quickly. The rounded ceiling helps push rising hot air back down, which can keep lower areas of the sauna hotter than they are in other designs.

Q. What happens to your body in a sauna?

A. The temperature in a barrel sauna can climb as high as 170º Fahrenheit. When you step inside, your skin temperature immediately starts to rise. Your body moves into cooling mode, doing everything it can to lower your skin temperature. Your blood vessels dilate, your heart starts pounding, and you begin sweating. All of these functions combine to produce a feeling of elation.

Q. Are there any dangers associated with using a sauna?

A. Yes, there are several risks associated with using a sauna, so it’s important to be cautious and talk to your doctor before using one. A few of the risks include dehydration, a drastic change in blood pressure, reduction in sperm count (for men), and elevating your core body temperature above safe levels.

Q. Can a sauna help me lose weight?

A. Unfortunately, any weight loss you experience from using a sauna is temporary. As you sweat, you lose fluid weight, which will be rapidly replenished as soon as you eat or drink. The best way to permanently lose weight is to eat right and exercise.

Q. Is using a sauna a good detox method?

A. While some evidence suggests that sweating helps remove heavy metals and some harmful chemicals, such as BPAs and PCBs, from the body, the purpose of sweating is to keep your body from overheating. The liver and kidneys are the organs responsible for detoxifying your system. Notably, the liver and kidneys are also two organs that can be damaged by heat.

 

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