How to Build a Sauna Heater

Lead Image
  • 4-6 hours
  • Advanced
  • 15-30
What You'll Need
Angle grinder
Propane tank (empty and non-working)
Metal mesh
Tin snips
Metal wrack
Exhaust pipe
Granite rocks

A sauna is a great way to unwind and relax and building one yourself is not difficult. However, buying a sauna heater is expensive. Most sauna heaters that you find are electric with rocks that sit on top of a grate. The rocks are heated which transfers the heat to the sauna. You can build your own wood-burning sauna heater fairly simply and the article below will show you how.

Step 1 - Make the Tank Safe

A non-working propane tank is the best solution for a sauna heater because it is a thick and durable metal. It will hold up to the heat as well as radiate the heat correctly. A propane tank needs to be completely empty and out of service. There can be no propane left in the bottle when you cut it as the sparks can cause a fire or explosion. Remove the knob from the bottle and insert a hose where it used to be and turn on the water. Fill the bottle with water until it spurts out of the top. Dump the water from the bottle then place the bottle in a bucket of water. This process will eliminate any propane.

Step 2 - Cut the Tank

red, rusty propane tank

You need an exhaust on the tank and a door. Use the angle grinder to remove the top and the bottom of the propane tank. Also cut a hole in the side of the tank that is smaller than the opening of the exhaust pipe. Since the sauna heater is going to be wood burning the exhaust is important to route the smoke away from the inside of the sauna. In the center of the tank cut out a door. This will allow you to add wood to the sauna heater as well as to clean it.

Step 3 - Create the Sauna Heater

woman wearing a welding mask and gloves

You are basically rearranging the physical structure of the tank. Use the angle grinder to remove the hand grips from the top of the tank. Flip the bottom piece over and weld it to the top of the tank. This will now become the bottom of the sauna heater. Flip the top over and insert it into the bottom of the tank so that the domed area is inside the tank and weld it in place. The domed area also concentrates the heat. Weld the hinges to the door you made and then to the tank to make a working door. Trim the metal rack so it fits inside the tank and weld it in place. Weld the handgrips to the new top. Weld the exhaust pipe to the hole you made in the side.

Step 4 - Use the Sauna Heater

Place the exhaust outside the sauna and put wood inside the tank on the rack and light it. Put the rocks on top. The fire heats the top of the tank which heats the rocks. Pour water over the rocks to create steam.