The Ultimate Guide To Barrel Saunas (Updated 2024)

So you’re interested in a barrel sauna? Awesome! Saunas have been around for thousands of years, and there are many different types to consider.

Some of the sauna types include traditional cedar wood saunas, infrared saunas, portable ones you can take with you on the road, and then barrel saunas.

There are lots of reasons to buy barrel saunas rather than other types for your home or business – they look great, they function better than other types of saunas and they have a vibe you just can’t get with an infrared sauna or even a traditional indoor sauna. 

We'll talk about why they're shaped like barrels, how they work, what makes them so great, and more!

Outdoor Thermory Barrel Sauna

Why Is It Shaped Like A Barrel? 

You've probably noticed that the barrel sauna is shaped…like a barrel.  This shape helps with more than just how they look: it's functional as well!

The barrel shape allows the wood to adequately heat up to do what it does best: heat you up. The heat from the sauna heater goes up and circles around the inside of the barrel instead of flowing out, or gathering at the top.

The shape also provides an even amount of heat to the person inside, and doesn’t create any hot or cold spots as you might get in some other saunas.

Shapes like squares and rectangles can't do this as evenly, but the barrel shape is built specifically to ensure even heat throughout.

This makes heating a barrel sauna faster and more efficient than other traditional saunas with wasted space.

The shape also adds a beautiful structure to your property that will intrigue your guests and neighbors and allow you to bask in peaceful surroundings.

How Do Barrel Saunas Work? 

A barrel sauna is heated by a sauna heater, of which there are a few types.

Barrel saunas can really be heated by any type of heating element you want, whether it be electricity, gas, or a wood stove.  Most people go with an electric sauna heater, but there are a lot of hardcore sauna purists out there who just can’t escape a crackling wood burning stove in their sauna during the winter months. 

Aside from the sauna heater, your barrel sauna will be composed of a few other parts, including wood staves. 

Barrel saunas are usually made with wooden staves, just like a wine or whiskey barrel, and the heating source is usually found at one end of the sauna. As the sauna heater starts cranking up it heats the air inside the sauna, as well as the wood in the sauna, including the staves.

What Makes Barrel Saunas So Great? 

Many people prefer barrel saunas over other types of saunas because they feel so cozy, often times have large panoramic windows, and look amazing tucked away in the yard, especially after a big snow storm. 

You can buy barrel saunas made from all kinds of wood.  But keep in mind different types of wood provide different levels of heat retention.  Cedar and Aspen wood (especially thermally treated Aspen wood) will keep you warm for longer than something like hemlock or pine, which means that choosing these options over other woods will allow you to stay in the barrel sauna longer without having to get back up and reheat things!  

It's also worth mentioning that the wood used in barrel saunas will actually retain its natural smell even after years of use. 

If you're considering buying a sauna for your property but don't want the eyesore of another traditional wood sauna, barrel saunas are an ideal choice!

Why Should I Get A Barrel Sauna? 

If you're wondering why you should choose a barrel sauna over other types, the answer is simple. 

They combine all of the benefits of other types of saunas with a modern twist so that you can enjoy them from the comfort and privacy of your own home without anyone else being around!

Barrel saunas show up us pre-assembled kits that are easy to put together, and actually pretty fun to construct!

Not only that, but compared to other types of saunas, they are much easier to operate and maintain.

Barrel saunas are a great addition to your property or cabin, especially if you're looking for a versatile sauna that can be used outdoors.

If you have incredible scenery surrounding your property, a barrel sauna would be a great choice since you can enjoy the beauty of your surroundings while relaxing in your all-natural sauna.  But those aren’t the only reasons to get a backyard barrel sauna. 

What Are The Benefits Of A Barrel Sauna? 

There are tons of benefits of using a barrel sauna; here are a couple of the main ones below.

Increased circulation

When your body is hot and sitting in a sauna, your heart rate increases and blood flow increases dramatically, helping to increase your metabolism!  This supports clearing toxins out of your skin and other tissues while also enabling you to digest food better.


The heat in the sauna helps to open up your pores and flush out toxins, including environmental ones like cigarette smoke, chemicals, or even stress hormones. This detoxification process allows you to live a healthier life overall by letting go of harmful things that might be affecting your body from the inside.


When you sit back and relax in a barrel sauna, it can also help relieve chronic pain or injury, especially if you use aromatherapy! Aromatherapy is incredible because it can not only calm your mind but soothe sore or tired muscles as well.

Weight loss

The combination of increased metabolism and detoxification helps your body rid itself of harmful toxins that can cause weight gain. When you lose these, it begins a chain reaction that causes increased energy levels and a better mood overall - this eventually translates into more activity, leading to more weight being lost!  

Cons Of Barrel Saunas (Kind Of) 

Although barrel saunas may be a great way to relax, they are not for everyone.

Barrel saunas have some drawbacks that should be considered before making your purchase. Some of the disadvantages may include:

  • Barrel saunas can take up a lot of room. If you don't have the space for one, it might not be the right choice.
  • Not everyone enjoys the barrel look and style of these saunas. There are other styles available such as corner or infrared, that might better suit your tastes.
  • Barrel saunas are more expensive than other types of saunas. However, they also have the advantage of being larger and more luxurious looking.
  • Some barrel saunas are known for cracking and getting leaks in wet and freezing climates.
  • When the door is opened, it can drastically lower the temperature in the sauna.

Although these are some cons, they don't compare to the benefits and feeling one gets from owning a barrel sauna.  Now, if you’re thinking that a barrel sauna might be right for you, let’s talk about SaunaLife.

SaunaLife Barrel Saunas

Thermory DIY Barrel Sauna Kit

SaunaLife barrel saunas are the crème de la crème of barrel saunas. Every detail is taken into consideration during the production of these barrel saunas.

Constructed from thermally modified Aspen wood harvested in Northern Europe, this wood is heated to over 400 degrees and infused with steam. This method of thermally treating the wood removes its impurities, strengthens it and provides superior protection against freezing temperatures and wet weather. 

Every board is inspected for integrity and discarded if it doesn't meet SaunaLife’s high standards.

This means a chemical-free and sustainable finished product that offers years of enjoyment with little to no maintenance.  The thermal treatment ensures this barrel sauna will last almost twice as long as most other barrel saunas on the market.   

Not only is SaunaLife extremely high quality, these barrel saunas are expert-built and some of the most accessible barrel sauna kits on the market to construct and install. It can be assembled in an afternoon and doesn't require any additional wood cutting. 

With a diameter and height of 7' 3", SaunaLife barrel saunas are more spacious and much more comfortable than others, which generally only have about 6’ 6” in diameter and height. 

Inside Thermory Barrel Sauna

There are many different options to choose from, including an all glass front, a panoramic window rear side, and any barrel sauna heater you can think of. 

Each kit comes with everything you need to build your barrel sauna successfully; all you need to add is your own sauna heater.  We recommend HUUM electric sauna heaters. 

Each model comes with an easy step-by-step instruction manual that will have you enjoying the relaxation of your new sauna in no time.

SaunaLife barrel saunas com with a 1-year warranty which gives you some peace of mind making such a large purchase.  We also offer extended warranties if interested. 

Things To Consider Before Buying A Barrel Sauna 

There are a couple of things you should consider about barrel saunas before making a decision.

  • The price of a barrel sauna can range from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on the wood and options you choose. 
  • Space is another critical factor to consider because barrel saunas need quite a bit of room (usually outside).
  • Capacity can depend on how big of a sauna you want. They can hold anywhere from 2 people up to 8 people.
  • Choose how you want to heat your barrel sauna. The most common choices are either an electric sauna heater or a wood fired sauna stove.

Is A Barrel Sauna Right For You? 

If you are looking for a multi-functional sauna that can provide both heat and health benefits, looks great and gets you in that Finnish sauna state of mind, then the barrel sauna is for you.

Barrel saunas make the perfect outdoor relaxation center. They come in many designs and colors to suit your specific tastes. Whether it's placed in your backyard or by the pool, this sauna will be your favorite place to relax.

If you decide to purchase a barrel sauna, make sure you get a high-quality one that will stand up to the rain and snow, like SaunaLife barrel saunas will. SaunaLife barrel saunas are hearty saunas from Scandinavia that are made for cold winter weather. 

Barrel saunas are perfect for any climate. No matter how hot or cold the weather is, one of these saunas will be able to provide you with clean, dry heat for your relaxing experience.

Did we miss anything? Have any questions? Feel free to give us a call, live chat us in the bottom right corner, or shoot us an email.  One of our sauna experts are happy to help! 

 - Wes, Founder, Sun Valley Saunas


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