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), or sudatory, is a small room or building designed as a place to experience dry or wet heat sessions, or an establishment with one or more of these facilities. Infrared therapy is often referred to as a type of sauna, but according to the Finnish sauna organizations, infrared is not a sauna.Originally borrowed from the early Proto-Germanic *stakna- whose descendants include English stack, the word sauna is an ancient Finnish word referring to the traditional Finnish bath and to the bathhouse itself.The "wet heat" would cause scalding if the temperature were set much higher.In a typical Finnish sauna, the temperature of the air, the room and the benches is above the dew point even when water is thrown on the hot stones and vaporized. In contrast, the sauna bathers are at about 38 °C (100 °F), which is below the dew point, so that water is condensed on the bathers' skin.Some North American, Western European, Japanese, Russian, and South African public sport centres and gyms include sauna facilities.They may also be present at public and private swimming pools.This process releases heat and makes the steam feel hot.Finer control over the temperature experienced can be achieved by choosing a higher level bench for those wishing a hotter experience or a lower level bench for a more moderate temperature.
Under many circumstances, temperatures approaching and exceeding 100 °C (212 °F) would be completely intolerable and possibly fatal if exposed to long periods of time.Air temperatures averaged around 75–100 °C (167–212 °F) but sometimes exceeded 110 °C (230 °F) in a traditional Finnish sauna.When the Finns migrated to other areas of the globe they brought their sauna designs and traditions with them.Finnish hygiene depended so exclusively on saunas, that they had built saunas not only in mobile tents but even in bunkers.Archaeological sites in Greenland and Newfoundland have uncovered structures very similar to traditional Scandinavian farm saunas, some with bathing platforms and "enormous quantities of badly scorched stones".