The Cedar Sauna Company’s obsession with sourcing the very best stoves, heaters, timber – in fact any material — all comes about because of löyly (pronounced low-lu). In basic translational terms, a sacred Finnish word for steam.
Löyly transcends our simple understanding of the word steam. It specifically refers to the Finns’ definition of the steam generated in a sauna — this beautiful word has a far greater meaning and depth than our simple understanding of ‘steam’. It reflects the spiritual and emotional qualities induced from the sauna experience. The Finns will ask each other how they felt the löyly was after they have left the sauna and will discuss the very nature of löyly in the same way we may dissect the many differences to be found in a cup of tea.
At The Cedar Sauna Company we obtain the very best materials for our saunas in order to produce amazing löyly for our customers. Regardless of whether it is one of our famed barrel saunas, a mobile sauna or an integrated room sauna, each of our saunas must create excellent löyly – otherwise, what is the point of the sauna if the experience is not the finest?
At the core of every sauna is its kiuas — the Finnish word for a traditional sauna stove or heater.
It stands to reason that if we’re trying to create amazing löyly for our customers, then we must supply stoves capable of creating large amounts of soft, relaxing steam.
After a long process of elimination, we eventually found Iki Stoves who produce stunning looking stoves using the rocks as part of their design feature – in fact, they are one of the first stove manufacturers to do this. One of the reasons we love these stoves so much is that they hold an immense amount of thermal mass; the smallest model they make (the Iki Mini) holds 120kg of rock! The next model, the Löyly Junior, holds 160-180kg, the Iki Original holds an impressive 220kg and the largest Iki stoves hold a colossal 400kg of rock!
Another plus factor is the sizing. The size of the heaters are pretty standard, but the engineered design means they fit more rocks into their stoves than other manufacturers are able to. Therefore, Iki Stoves are capable of providing a greater sauna experience whilst fitting into any sauna design, as they are no larger than a standard sized heater yet in some cases, hold over twice the amount of rock.
Standard heaters mainly only heat the rocks in the centre of the stove, struggling to warm the external ones to the right temperatures to produce the steam required for a great sauna. However, Iki have incorporated a chimney spiral into their design, which makes a larger surface area of contact for the rocks, ensuring the external areas also get hot enough to make good steam. Iki stoves take less time to heat larger amounts of rock than traditional stove designs – it takes only an hour for all Iki wood burners to hit full temperature. Simply build a fire in the furnace, after 30 minutes check you’ve got a glowing bed of coals, add a few more logs if desired and after a further 30 minutes you’re ready to go!
Stove weight is obviously an important issue when contemplating a sauna design, and clearly with the amount of rocks Iki use, these stoves are not exactly light! However, there’s a stove to match every use. For example, we’ve found the brilliant Iki Mini works perfectly in our mobile saunas and the Iki Loyly is perfect for larger, commercial saunas. Iki stoves are designed to be used for different volumes of space, so smaller spaces only require a small heater.
I first tried an Iki Stove at the Beach Box in Brighton, a fab beach-side sauna complex. I visited the complex for a Lithuanian pirtis sauna-master course (Pirtis is Lithuanian for sauna) with 25 or so other sauna practitioners, learning leaf whisking, safety techniques and how to look after other sauna bathers.
The Beach Box had been struggling with the stoves they had first installed; they were not strong enough to handle the burning demand required for a commercial sauna. They eventually installed the Iki Löyly Stove, which holds 400kg of rock, inside their “Big Banya” and had fantastic results.
The stove produced an incredible steam; one of the standalone features was the lack of initial discomfort when the steam first hit my body. Although I had read about Iki stoves, it was the enjoyment I felt from experiencing the one at the Beach Box, that made me realise that these are the stoves The Cedar Sauna Company need to install to create optimum saunas!
Keeping it clean
Iki Stoves are very simple to use, they rarely require stoking and are low maintenance to keep clean and use. All that is required is to slide an ash pan underneath and scrape out the ash. You can even keep the fire burning if you need to remove ash mid sauna! Minimal fuss and mess, and simple to clean.
They are sold with their own stands which keep them 100mm off the ground and do not require a hearth. They can also be situated 100mm from a wooden wall due to their tiny safety clearances, making them perfect for saunas of every size!
Electric versus wooden stove
When Bob Dylan went electric, the music world went into shock. There are similar puritan views held in the sauna world. However, the saying, ‘the rock doesn’t know what’s heating it’ is very true. It takes the same time to heat rocks, regardless of whether it’s elements or flames being used. Iki Stoves are brilliant whether they are wood burning or electrical – individual preference is the major driving factor.
Combining Iki and Saunum products
If you’ve read a previous article we’ve written on Saunum, you’ll understand why we love Saunum products so much. Placing a Saunum device into a sauna to ensure perfect air circulation from the steam generated from an Iki stove creates the most divine sauna experience, Saunum and Iki are a combination made in heaven. You’ve got to try it to believe it!
Want to talk stoves? Give us a call and we’ll help you discover what you need for your ultimate sauna experience