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Rocket Powered Sauna!!!  RSS feed

 
Paul Daniels
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Location: Pacific NW
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Greetings!

I've been lurking on this forum for well over a year, and happened to discover it shortly after deciding to finally build an outdoor sauna. After a half-dozen odd mockups/prototypes/screwups, I have an authentic Finnish "sow-nuh" (please don't say "saw-nuh") that is heated by a 6 inch batch box rocket heater. Much to the disbelief of my patiently skeptical wife and amazed children, it works!

Some pictures...
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Outside, with some finishing left to do of course
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Looking into the dressing room
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The heart of the beast, excuse the ugly temporary safety railing
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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can't feel clean without a sauna, myself. how about some specs? what size room, how long to heat up to what temperature, how's the löyly, &c.
 
Julia Winter
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Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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That's gorgeous! Congratulations!
 
Jerry Ward
Posts: 191
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
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Please more details. This is on my dream list to build and I hope to start on it next year. I keep running through my head on how to do this with a rocket stove and haven't been able to come up with a way.
 
Dave Dahlsrud
Posts: 503
Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
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This thing's awesome, tell us more! Do you have any build pics, specs, please do share!!!
 
Kelly Mitchell
Posts: 30
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Very nice - on my 2 do list. Specs? Build pics? Cost?

Would love to hear more. Thanks.
Good work, Paul.

 
Bret Mayo
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Beautiful! I would pay for detailed building plans and specs. This is something my wife had been after me about for ages. This would be perfect.
 
Paul Daniels
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Location: Pacific NW
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Thank you all for the nice comments. Here is how it went... I grew up with an electric sauna, and my wife and I always intended to build one once we had some acreage. I began the project in 2014, but didn't want to spend the money for an electric heater right away (I'm quite cheap). Inspired by my wife finding me an arc welder at a garage sale, I began to look for a way to build a simple wood heater as purely a temporary step until I could find a good deal on an electric unit. Right about that time I happened on a link to a RMH article and the gears began turning. Fast forward through lots of reading and many prototypes and design changes... here we are.

It honestly works far better than I believed possible. To answer Tel specifically: The overall building is 16 x 8 outside dimensions. The steam room is 8ft 5in x 7ft 3in inside with a 7ft 3in ceiling, so large for what I am used to.

I have had it up to 210F, but the stove body kicks off a lot of radiant heat - making the walls and benches uncomfortably hot to the touch. We have found that 160-180F feels really nice. What I am really happy with is the heating time. The other night it was 160+ about 40 mins after lighting the fire. That was with a load of alder and oak. I have been burning lots of random wood (pallet pieces, cottonwood, unseasoned branches), so around an hour is pretty common.

Cost: We are still tracking some things, but it will honestly top $6,000 before it's done. That was with sourcing as many discount materials as possible and doing all labor myself. There are certainly places I could have shaved costs, but I found out simply building a watertight outdoor insulated buildng is expensive.

Plans: No plans, sorry. I came up with the overall dimensions and just went with it. I will try to answer any specific layout/dimension/construction questions though.

More pictures as I dig them up!
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Door to burn chamber
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Steam room - still need to finish safety railing
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Start of a nice burn
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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Paul Daniels wrote:
I have had it up to 210F, but the stove body kicks off a lot of radiant heat - making the walls and benches uncomfortably hot to the touch. We have found that 160-180F feels really nice. What I am really happy with is the heating time. The other night it was 160+ about 40 mins after lighting the fire. That was with a load of alder and oak. I have been burning lots of random wood (pallet pieces, cottonwood, unseasoned branches), so around an hour is pretty common.


my own rocket kiuas also puts out a lot of radiant heat. when I rebuild it, I think I'll put some sort of shield around it to reduce the radiation and increase convection. I like a sauna in the vicinity of 240 °F on the top laude, but when I'm up to that temp, the surface of my kiuas is close to 800 °F and looking at it heats my eyes up. I like to sweat, but I don't think hot eyeballs are desirable.
 
Paul Daniels
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Location: Pacific NW
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Found a few pictures on my phone of the stove construction.

Tel, I also have thought about the heat shield idea. I may go that route if we decide to try pushing the air temps up. Right now anything much above 180F and my kids complain about it being too hot

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Heat riser inside the barrel - fire cement mix with perlite inside sheet metal forms
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Constructing the burn chamber and bottom of the riser from firebrick
 
Bernard Welm
Posts: 80
Location: Minnesota
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Looks like a really nice stove/sauna heater. Did you follow any plans/thoughts on how to build the batch box? I like the idea of a rocket stove but the places I would want to use it are less frequently used so having the ability to heat longer on one load of wood would be really nice.
 
Jake Manchester
Posts: 1
fish hunting woodworking
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Paul Daniels wrote:...
I have had it up to 210F, but the stove body kicks off a lot of radiant heat - making the walls and benches uncomfortably hot to the touch. We have found that 160-180F feels really nice. What I am really happy with is the heating time. The other night it was 160+ about 40 mins after lighting the fire. That was with a load of alder and oak. I have been burning lots of random wood (pallet pieces, cottonwood, unseasoned branches), so around an hour is pretty common.

More pictures as I dig them up!


I'm thinking a nice water jacket on the face of the stove would be an ideal solution. Can your welder handle that?
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