What is a Sauna Whisk (Vihta)
A sauna whisk or also known as a Vihta in Finland was traditionally made from birch branches that were tied together to act as a fan. The Vihta serves a few different uses
Air circulation – a Vihta is used in a sauna to circulate the hot and cold air by using it as fan. Mixing the hot and the cold layer of a sauna will provide a more even heat. By swirling the whisk in circular motion, you will cause a rapid mixture of the air.
Blood circulation - traditionally the Vihta or sauna whisk is also used by sauna bathers to increase the blood circulation at the skin. By soaking the Vihta in water and then gently lashing it on the skin causes the blood flow to increase at the skins surface. This is believed to elevate the sauna bather’s circulation and promote health and well-being. The water from the whisk also helps to cool the bather.
Aroma therapy – the type of branch that is used is equally important. The most common types of Vihta as Birch, Oak, Linden and Eucalypts. Each has it a different healing property. As an example, birch leaves contain ethereal oils, tanning agents as well as vitamin A and C and leave the bathers skin smooth and silky. The natural oils help open the lungs and increase breathing. Oak branches on the other hand are suited to oily skin and have an extraordinarily strong anti-inflammatory agent that reduces swelling and blood pressure.
Most whisks you purchase will come dried and before use will need to be hydrated. This is done by soaking the Vihta in warm water for 30 minutes and then standing it up like a flower in a vase for another 30 minutes. This will bring the branches back to their natural moisture level. Always keep these branches in water in the sauna as the heat will destroy the leaves quickly.