Sauna whisks are a special part of the bathing in a Finnish sauna. For many sauna lovers it is a must-have item. The use of whisks is not merely a part of a ritual. Using whisks in sauna is a great way of relieving muscle pain, cleansing the skin, getting better blood circulation or helping to recover from flus and colds. Made of fresh birch twigs and warmed up in hot water, whisks release pleasant aroma. Whisks can be made of birch, oak or eucalyptus. The most typical type of whisks in Finland is the one made of birch.
Many Finns make their own whisks, while some prefer to buy readymade. To make a whisk you have to collect a bunch of fresh birch twigs. The best period for making whisks is June when the leaves are young. The branches are gathered into one bunch so that the middle part has the longest twigs, the leaves are turned with a coarse side and an overall form reminds a fan. The handle is cleared off the leaves and has to be long enough for a person to comfortably keep a whisk.
While enjoying sauna in a group of people, there is no need to have a separate whisk for each bather. It is enough to have one, which is strong enough to be used for several persons and for several times. A whisk, which has been recently made, has to dipped into cool water before the use. Frozen or dried whisks have to be warmed up in hot water so they get softer.
There is no exact rule as to the use of the whisk. Generally, the process starts from “head to toes” with one bather gently whipping the other’s back, shoulders, arms, legs. The sequence, however, is a matter of taste and preferences. In any case, the experience should be pleasant and relaxing.
For many Finnish people a whisk is associated with the summer and with one of the most important holidays of the year – Midsummer. Such a connection can be explained through a symbolic meaning of a cleansing ritual on one of the most magic nights of the year. It is also due to the fact that most of the Finns use whisks at their saunas located near summer cottages (after all there might be a bit of cleaning for a sauna in an apartment). Some people associate whisks with the Christmas season.
If you have not dared to have a sauna with a whisk, try it! It will be an unforgettable sauna experience!