What is birch whisk used in sauna? How to do it in one hour… even if you’ve never done it before!
- 1 What is birch whisk used in sauna? How to do it in one hour… even if you’ve never done it before!
- 1.1 Whether birch whisk is called vihta or vasta in Finland
- 1.2 Health benefits of sauna whisk
- 1.3 Birch whisk instruction
- 1.4 What wood is the sauna whisk made of?
- 1.5 How long does it last?
- 1.6 Vihtoja’s memory rule:
When the question of whether birch whisk is called vihta or vasta in Finland is raised, there are many correct answers. However, it all depends on where in Finland you come from and which expression you are used to using in sauna conversations. Read more about why we use birch whisk in the sauna and how to make a sauna whisk easily at home.
Whether birch whisk is called vihta or vasta in Finland
What is birch whisk used in sauna? In Finland, people commonly talk about vihta on the west side and vasta on the east side. But what is this birch whisk all about? Sauna birch whisk is a bouquet made of birch branches, which is used to whip yourself in the sauna. It means whipping the birch at the body with some force. Not too much, but so that it feels good against the skin, but not so that it hurts. Often, if you whip someone else’s back, you may even hear the instruction: “Whip as hard as you can!” If whipping with the sauna whisk is a completely new concept for you, then the movement is somewhat reminiscent of tamping the carpet, but in this case, the carpet is your body. Similarly, in the movement of tamping, dirt is released from the body, that is, dead skin cells are shed and blood circulation improves.
Health benefits of sauna whisk
Sauna vihta and its health benefits are well known in many Nordic countries, such as Finland and the Baltic countries, such as Estonia and Latvia. As already mentioned earlier, when whipping with sauna whisk, dead skin cells come off, thereby cleansing the skin. Blood circulation and metabolism are also improved. This is due to the fact that the leaves and branches of birch clean the skin well. The skin can also be cleaned by whipping with sauna whisks made from other branches, such as oak branches.
Since birch contains methyl salicylates, it has pain relief effects. Wet birch leaves can also be used for rashes, and since the birch whisk is usually wet and warm, it is good for the skin.
Especially for asthmatics, whipping with birch whisk is good because its leaves are rich in essential oils that relieve symptoms, but at the same time do not replace medicines and do not cure the disease.
Birch whisk instruction
First of all, it’s good to know that the sauna whisk is at its best when fresh. Therefore, it is used immediately after preparation or frozen with plastic wrap around it to make it as fresh as possible. The preparation of sauna whisk is usually carried out in the summer from the end of June to the beginning of July. A good rule to remember is to keep the time interval from midsummer a few weeks onwards. The time interval for making the sauna whisk is not very long, but sufficient nonetheless.
Making a sauna whisk is easy, but a skill. Once you know how to make it, the preparation of the sauna whisk goes smoothly.
1. Acquisition of branches
First, let’s start by acquiring branches with leaves. Remember that birch branches may not be folded without the permission of the landowner, as birch trees are not subject to everyman’s rights. About 30 branches are well suited for making one birch whisk. If you want a bushy sauna whisk, put about 40 or even more in one bouquet. It is good for the branches to be about 50 cm long.
2. Preparation of the dressing branch
Once the branches have been acquired, we start with the first branch, which is then used to tie the entire bouquet closed. This branch is usually longer and is plucked clean at the base and peeled off the bark. After that, the branch begins to be bent so that a spiral is created, which is extended for the entire length of the branch. Once the branch is rotated, it is soft and flexible enough for tying.
3. Assembling the birch whisk into a bouquet
Next, the birch branches are laid out in one bouquet. Below the bouquet, at the base of the branches, small branches and leaves are torn off to give the hand enough room to grab hold of the bouquet.
4. Fasten the sauna whisk
Now the bouquet is tied by putting a twig for tying through the bouquet horizontally. Wrap the branch a few times around the bouquet, i.e. make a loop or two, thread the branch through the bouquet again, and make a loop again. At the same time, it is good to rotate the branch, making the bouquet stronger. Repeat the movement until the whisk is tied tightly and finally cut off the lowest (extra) ends of the branch so that it becomes flat.
If tying with a branch sounds too complicated, nowadays it is also easy to use a thread that can be used to tie the sauna whisk tightly.
What wood is the sauna whisk made of?
Sauna whisk is made from birch, and especially from silver birch, because it is more resistant to whistling than downy birch. In addition to birch, sauna whisk is also easily made from oak and eucalyptus branches. There are also many other trees, from the branches of which sauna whisk is made, which have different effects on the hardness and aroma of the leaves. The choice of tree branches largely depends on your own preferences and the culture of the family, which each family is used to using traditionally. However, in Finland, birch whisk is the most common.
How long does it last?
Fresh sauna whisk lasts a couple of days, but it can be reused many times by rinsing the whisk and storing it in a dry and cool place. After this, the fresh birch whisk dries, but it can be made soft again by soaking in water before use. Fresh sauna whisk can also be frozen with plastic wrap, in which case the whisk can be taken into use even after a year from the frost.
Vihtoja’s memory rule:
- Best fresh
- Made from silver birch
- Permission to fold branches must be sought from the landowner
- The skin is allowed to soften in the heat of the sauna before whipping
- Preparation starts in midsummer
- Vihta and vasta are both correct
Did you know that birch leaves can also be used to make tea?
*The article was not written on behalf of a medical professional and its sole purpose is to educate the main term and its purpose.