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Sweating in the dark of winter

 
Posts: 140
Location: 5,000' 35.24N zone 7b Albuquerque, NM
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Some years ago, I participated in a sacred sweat lodge ceremony that had a profound impact on my life path. Each winter I make a temporary space to enjoy the amazing renewing experience of an outdoor sweat. To delight in more frequent steams, I'm making a modular steam space out of repurposed objects that I can use inside my house privately. I cobble together ideas published from around the world. Each year's indoor project is different and more or less successful.
Today, this article about "heubad" or hay bathing came up on BBC http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20201208-is-this-europes-new-wellness-trend?referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.com%2F
Anyone out there ever tried hay bathing or any other diy sweating experiences to soothe the physically fit but sometimes overworked Permies body? Do you have any temporary shelter designs that you've built and are willing to share?
 
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Looks like your in NM probably low humidity. Here in NC I just put on a winter coat and split wood by hand for an hour or so at the end the coat is soaked at times like you dropped it in the river.Even in NM I'd say you could split wood in a rain coat and likely sweat out fair, expecially if it's a little damp out . Be careful to not over do it !
 
steward
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I have no idea if this counts, but I often wrap myself in a blanket and sit next to a small space heater. I arrange my blanket so almost all of the hot air comes in and cooks me. Sometimes I stay there just long enough to get warm on a cold day. But, when I'm sick or feeling unwell, I sit there cooking myself until I've got a good sweat going and I'm too hot to keep sitting there. I usually feel less sick after doing this.

When I was a kid, we had floor registers, and I would sit on those wrapped in my blanket so that my blanket captured the heat and I would warm up. We don't use our floor registers--heating primarily with wood. And for some reason the woodstove doesn't heat me up as well as a space heater. So, I'm thankful for the space heater on those times I just need to heat myself to feel better!
 
Amy Gardener
Posts: 140
Location: 5,000' 35.24N zone 7b Albuquerque, NM
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Yes Nicole! Just sitting with a heat source and a blanket begins the steam-bathing odyssey at its simplest and most rudimentary stage.  This is not a work project, Jamie, but an after work project. Yes, we have an abundance of energy as homesteading types so this might be a big challenge to just relax and breathe. But take some time away from chopping wood to experience the wonders of a basic chair sauna or steam. This can be a life-changing discovery.

Like Nicole said, it could be a space heater, but I prefer a steam source like an electric kettle or a pot of boiling water in a hay box. Place the steam kettle below a wooden chair or stool, cover yourself and the seat with a large blanket or sleeping bag or even a large coat as Jamie said. Then enjoy a calm relaxing steam.  The chair sauna is the most basic way to sooth aching muscles and relax in a warm tented microclimate after working in the winter chill.

P.S. Nicole, would you remind me how to drag a photo to a forum post and I'll show the haybox. Thank you.
 
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IN listening to the "ways of knowing forum" (https://www.waysofknowingforum.ca/)

I heard the idea of a sweat lodge as ceremony for life guidance. Also in reading the Frenchmen's 1st contacts/interactions with the Native people here I came across the use of A "Sweat Lodge" ceremony done for a month every few days to bring vigor back into a weak Frenchmen. The Natives would also rub the body of the Frenchmen.

I have also heard "Phillip Deere" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROSIkvYiWjY) speak of getting his health back via a Sweat Lodge.

Now can we use a sauna or similar type of structure to emulate the Sweat Lodge and receive similar benefits...

How long does one spend in a Sweat Lodge?  

Are any Herbs or other ingredients used ?

thank you for your time. !!  

ps we just received a foot of snow or so...  I have done and heard of going into a sauna and then running out into the snow and rolling in the Snow only to return to the sauna...any idea of the origins or purpose?
 
Amy Gardener
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The best advice I ever received about using herbs came from a curandera here in New Mexico. She said, and I paraphrase, look at the plants that thrive in your region. Choose one each year that speaks to you and holds some draw or mystery. Get to know that plant in each of its seasons. Watch it, smell it, touch it, taste a little bit. Befriend it. Ask the plant for guidance. Learn about its history and lore.
There are plants waiting for you to discover them.
 
pollinator
Posts: 142
Location: Southern Utah
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Last week I used plastic sheeting to enclose an area under the treehouse.  Used 2" foam screwed to the treehouse as the ceiling and taped the plastic all around with about an extra foot at the bottom that was held down with a few shovels of dirt.  Leave plenty of flap for the door to close because ny draft is a bad draft.  A small planned opening near the top is helpful to vent exhaust fumes from the burner, but capable of being closed off to hold heat after the burner is turned off.   Placed a wood bench with backrest inside to sit comfortably.  Stacked lava rock from the yard on a 2 burner BBQ to heat the rocks, after an hour or two we turn off the burners and splash water on the rocks and enjoy the steam bath.  The rocks need to be large enough, or stacked high enough, or both, to retain heat for the desired length of your steam bath.  

Living in the desert area of Utah humidity is a rarity.  I have found this steam bath a great way to clear all kinds of junk out of the sinuses and lungs, usually several hours after the steam bath so it took a few days to convince myself I was not getting sick, I was actually getting healthy.
 
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I have a sweat lodge I built out of willows and have been sweating 2-3 times a week. Love it !

I have a ton of Pinion brush a tops to heat rocks with, I can get about an hour and a half sweat from my lodge and rocks. My rocks are OK but they crack after a bit I am looking around for different ones to try. Anyone know of good sauna rocks in Western Colorado ?
 
Amy Gardener
Posts: 140
Location: 5,000' 35.24N zone 7b Albuquerque, NM
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The only rocks I would ever use are lava. Others can not only crack but explode.
What do you use to cover your willow structure and keep the warmth inside? How do you move the rocks from the fire pit to the willow lodge? Do you put herbs and or water on the rocks or do you opt for dry heat? Please share some of your process. Thank you for sharing your experience.
 
Christopher Westmore
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Amy Gardener wrote:The only rocks I would ever use are lava. Others can not only crack but explode.
What do you use to cover your willow structure and keep the warmth inside? How do you move the rocks from the fire pit to the willow lodge? Do you put herbs and or water on the rocks or do you opt for dry heat? Please share some of your process. Thank you for sharing your experience.



I covered my willows with tarps then moving blankets and Indian blankets. To move the rocks I cut the top off of a 10gal propane tank then cut a handle in the side, it will hold as much rocks as I want to carry. To get the rocks out of the fire/coals I use a pitch fork.

I try to get the most out of my rock which is about 1.5 hours. At first it is hot.. so I dry sweat for about 20mins then start adding little pours of water as the rocks cool a bit. I haven't tried herbs but the lodge smells great.. Maybe my favorite smell in the universe. I do have some white sage I might use. I try to make each sweat a little better.

How do you set up your sweats ?
 
Amy Gardener
Posts: 140
Location: 5,000' 35.24N zone 7b Albuquerque, NM
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Due to Covid, gathering with a group for a sweat is not an option this winter. Covering the willow lodge, setting up a fire, moving the rocks from the fire to the tent, is most enjoyable for me as a small community event. The goal this year is to create a simple one person space that can be used regularly indoors.

My latest indoor sweat project was inspired by the Thai basket coop saunas posted on  sophiesworld.net/changtune-eco-spa-thailand/  
The idea of a flexible basket for a moveable space-saving steam bath struck me as an improvement to the blanket-over-the-head chair sauna. With the basket as frame, the cover blanket wouldn’t touch the sweater’s skin.

After a first-attempt fiasco, I removed the weft from the basket and kept the fabric-sleeve covered cedar-bender-board staves. The rim of the quick assemble “basket” frame is a 5 lb repurposed hula hoop. Spreading the staves at the rim allows a little doorway so one person can enter the sauna without lifting the basket. There is an opening for the head so the bather can sit on a chair and breathe outside of the basket but I prefer to cover the sauna completely and sit on a cushion inside the cedar chamber.

The steam-producing element obviously critical to this somewhat more spacious DIY steam-bath. The deep-fryer offers 4 significant features: 1) gets hot enough to produce continuous steam, 2) separates the container from the heating element, 3) employs an adjustable thermostat and 4) provides a removable lid. The cleanable canister inside a deep fryer can hold water plus medicinal plants for steam inhalant recipes.

Other common household appliances did not work so well: the crockpot did not produce enough steam, the electric kettles have auto-shutoff at the boil point, the heating element in most water kettles cannot be cleaned of plant matter or essential oils, plug in burners topped with a water pan are too precarious.

I am very pleased with this latest version of the steam bath. As a bonus to the relaxation in the tent, I find that the arrangement inside the dry winter house humidifies the ambient air. The cedar and the herbs such as rosemary branches or lavender lend a lovely fragrance to the house.
 
Christopher Westmore
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It is really neat and creative the way you are experimenting with the different sweat huts ! The herbs sound delightful.

Do you put rocks in the deep-fryer ? or just pour some water.

I have been looking for some canvas on craigslist for my willow sweat lodge and saw a ice fishing hut/tent, it made me wonder if it would work for a sweat hut.

 
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