Sauna whisks are a special part of bathing in a Finnish sauna. For many sauna lovers a whisk 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 flu or cold. Made of fresh birch twigs and warmed up in hot water, whisks release pleasant, summery 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 ready-made. To make a whisk you need 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 that has been recently made, has to dipped into cool water before the use. Dried whisks need to be soaked in lukewarm water for 10-20 minutes before using. Defrosting a frozen whisk takes about an hour and it doesn’t require soaking before using. Ready-made dried and frozen whisks can be bought from large supermarkets around the year.
There is no exact rule as to the use of the whisk. The idea is to gently whip your own or fellow sauna bather’s body with the whisk. This gives the muscles a nice massage, improves blood circulation and cleanses the skin making it silky smooth. This habit might seem odd at first but once you get the hang of it, whisking is really relaxing and enjoyable.