What is Loyly in a sauna?
Loyly is a Finnish word that describes the steam that is produced when adding water to the hot sauna rocks. This word is difficult to translate as there is no other similar word in the English dictionary. However, in Finnish language it means “Spirit of Life”. The sauna in traditional Finnish culture was a holy place similar to a church. Families celebrated births and mourned deaths in the sauna. The Loyly is the cloud of steam that engulfs the bathers when water is added to rocks. However, the Finnish see this more than steam. The steam is the essence of the sauna and what drives out diseases, removes stress and displaces anger with well-being.
Loyly in English is associated more with the steam and the physiological effects that come with adding water to the saunas. First, the steam contains latent heat energy that is transferred from the rocks. This heat is much hotter than the convection heat energy from the air and when it condenses on your skin it causes the heat energy to be released. So by adding water to the rocks, you will feel an immediate increase in relative body temperature event though the room temperature may drop slightly.
The condensation of steam on your body also opens the bodies skin pores. You will notice a rapid increase in perspiration which is the main benefit of saunas.
Caution about Loyly – If you are new to a sauna a few things to keep in mind, steam can burn the skin so when applying water to the rocks be sure to use a long sauna ladle. Second, start off slow and at a lower room temperature. Loyly can have a dramatic effect on the sauna bather so go slowly to avoid extreme temperature increase. Finally, be respectful to fellow bathers. They may prefer a dry hot heat so have the courtesy and ask fellow bathers if it is alright to add water to the heater before doing so.