We often get questions about the wood we use to make our sauna barrels. For example, why do we use clear western cedar rather than thermowood, knotty cedar, or pine? Either option has both advantages and disadvantages, but we settled on clear western cedar. Now you’ll learn the differences between the types of wood and why we only make cedar barrel saunas.
CLEAR WESTERN CEDAR BARREL SAUNAS
Western cedar is highly valued as a building material. It is chosen because it is immune to termites and resistant to decay. These are essential qualities if we plan to use a barrel sauna outdoors.
- Lightweight material;
- Expands when heated, which improves insulation during the use of the sauna;
- When cooled, the wood “breathes,” so it is excellent at removing moisture and is not affected by fungus and bacteria;
- Suitable for outdoor usage;
- It has a delightful healing smell.
Because of its aesthetic appearance, low weight, and good texture, there is a significant expansion in the uses of this wood. Western cedar is also perfect for roofing, siding, building greenhouses, and stationary saunas. Clear western cedar barrel saunas will last a long time and not bring much trouble.
THERMOWOOD BARREL SAUNAS
This type of wood is created artificially by heat processing. First, the wood heats up to 180 – 230° in a special chamber furnace, and this process continues for four days. Wood is also treated with steam to prevent splitting or damaging while the heating is going on.
The purpose of this method is to change the chemical and structural properties of the wood. Through the process, thermowood get these new properties:
- The wood becomes more stable. The raw material is dried deep in the core during the process, so no moisture or resin remains. These qualities help reduce the risk of cracking, shrinkage, or swelling.
- Any nutrients leave the wood, so no fungus or rot grows in the wood.
- Processed pine lasts longer than untouched ones.
- Softwood becomes more porous, so it insulates better.
- After the resins and moisture are removed, the material can be used indoors.
This material has its drawbacks, including:
- Possible termite infestation;
- Reduced density and strength;
- An unpleasant odor remains for some time due to processing;
- During further processing, dry knots may appear.
Because of these disadvantages, we do not risk using this material.
PINE (SPF) FOR A BARREL SAUNAS
SPF wood is a group of woods made from spruce, pine, or fir trees. This group of wood is commonly selected for the construction of house frames in North America. It is also suitable for furniture or packaging material. SPF wood can be used for many things, from a packing container to a modular home, all because of its characteristics:
- Low price;
- Resistant to splitting;
- Durable material;
- Wood maintains stable dimensions.
However, coniferous untreated wood is not recommended for exterior work. The primary and decisive disadvantage is that such wood has no protection against decay, or resistance to rot is meager. Even a modern sauna barrel made of this wood will last 5-10 years, and we want to offer our clients only durable and reliable sauna barrels.
KNOTTY CEDAR BARREL SAUNAS
Knotty cedar can be used for barrel saunas, but its quality is much lower than clear cedar. All because of two reasons:
- The wood will expand and contract, depending on whether you use the sauna or not. The knots are much denser than the rest of the wood, which means that they will not expand as much. Over time, they can become loose and fall out, and your sauna will have a hole, even more than one. The holes can be small, but the heat will leave, so you will find it increasingly difficult to use your sauna in the winter.
- In addition, knots retain heat very well because of their density, but this is not a benefit when they are inside the sauna. Those dense knots can burn your skin! If you make a sauna bench out of knotted wood, it can become practically unusable.
So if your goal is to buy a sauna barrel in Canada that will last for decades, the choice is obvious. We are not looking for a compromise and use only the highest-quality clear cedar for our barrel saunas.