Novice Rambling Quickie #5: If you can't stand the heat ...

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Blog entry by NewPickeringWdWrkr posted 05-31-2010 03:05 PM 2000 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Eureka! Part 5 of Novice Rambling Quickie series Part 6: A new bench »

also posted on my blog
My father was a Fin through and through even though. Like many who have chosen to find a new way of life in Canada, he was immensely proud of his heritage, loved all things Finnish. He would read Vappa Sana, eat pickled herring, drink Finlandia vodka and take a Sauna (not all at the same time though – although he had been known to sneak vodka into the sauna). He was my childhood hero.

Growing up, it was a requirement to take sauna (My dad always built one where-ever we lived). Traditional Finnish sauna meant dry heat to clear the pores. Sometimes it was just family. Sometimes friends were included. When it was family, we’d all be together. If friends were included, the women and men would take turns as it was done ‘au natural’.

Occasionally, someone would throw water onto the heated rocks to create a blast of steam which turned the air from comfortably hot to lung choking, skin searing agony.

This very act would either send me to a lower bench or scurrying from the room in search of breathable air. I think Fins try to make bathing an act of bravery. If I left, my father would sternly say, “If you leave, you can’t come back!” So I would hunch down on the lowest bench and hold my breath as I didn’t want to be excluded or be less of a man (I was 12). The moisture would quickly dissipate either through a crack under the door or sucked into the dry ceder panelling on the walls. I would stay on that lower bench, but sit up a bit straighter. If I made it through the entire session without leaving, I would somehow feel like I had completed a step on the passage to adulthood. It didn’t always happen.

25 years later, I can take the heat, but still hold my breath when the water is tossed onto the rocks. There’s just something about hot humid air that I can’t seem to handle.

This week, has been hot and humid. Not that clean heat of the sauna. The hot, sticky and nasty humidity that co-mingles with the polution in the city air. You can’t cool yourself down by sweating as your sweat won’t evaporate. The dirty, muggy air clings to you making you feel filthy just by being outside. Stain and water based finishes won’t dry after the initial tack up because they can’t push more moisture into the air. Seems many things had stacked up against me this week in making progress on the nursery cabinet.

My house has also conspired against me in the attempt to emphasize the discomfort I’m feeling. The air conditioner expired quietly on its own over the winter and was only replaced yesterday.

So, without a solace to retreat to, I decided against working out in the shop this week and hope to get back to it next week with a break in the weather predicted. This weekend is slated for garden work. It will be sweaty work, but at least I can retreat into air conditioned comfort at the end of the day and enjoy a cold beer and look forward to getting back into the shop.

Hopefully my tools haven’t started to rust during this spell of humidity. Somehow, I think they’ll handle it better than I do.

-- Mike - Antero's Urban Wood Designs

8 comments so far

View jackass's profile


350 posts in 4878 days

#1 posted 05-31-2010 03:24 PM

Great description of Sauna, I only had one experience in a Sauna, I was wiped out for about two days following the extreme heat. Have never wanted another. Good post though.

-- Jack Keefe Shediac NB Canada

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 4201 days

#2 posted 05-31-2010 04:07 PM

We used to have a sauna where I worked in the early 80’s. Great for sweating out a cold or sobering up for a night shift. Yes I couldn’t cope with the steam either.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View a1Jim's profile


118163 posts in 4742 days

#3 posted 05-31-2010 06:21 PM

I’m always on the warm side so I don’t think I would like a sauna.


View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 5155 days

#4 posted 06-01-2010 04:52 PM

Come to Houston in August if you want a sauna. WE have humidity above 100% and temperatures that approach boiling. You can apply four coats of water based finish in about an hour. Sanding between coats too. You’re prolly in the 80’s in humidity and temp. Another Canadian lightweight I suppose. ;-)

-- Jim

View NewPickeringWdWrkr's profile


338 posts in 4178 days

#5 posted 06-01-2010 05:10 PM

Hate to say it OP Jim, but relative humidity can never exceed 100% under natural conditions as that represents the dew point and water in a puddle or glass or whatever will not evaporate any further unless the temperature increases further. If the temperature drops even a little bit, the water vapour would be forced to condense into fog or rain or dew.

However, the amount of water that can be absorbed into the air changes with temperature. With Houston heat, I’ll agree that it can get quite a bit hotter that Toronto which means more water can be absorbed into the air before reaching that 100% RH level. But it really means the same thing. 30 C vs 38 C at 100% relative humidity still means that your sweat won’t cool your body as it will not evaporate.

I guess you just need to make sure you have your salt tablets handy and drink plenty of fluids.

Oh, and yes, it does reach 100% humidity, but I have only a couple of times seen it reach 100 F here, maybe 102 once. We have this big lake next to us called Lake Ontario that drives the humidity levels up, but moderates our temperature away from extreme heat/cold.

Kinda like paradise :-P …. Shall we fence some more? LOL j/k

-- Mike - Antero's Urban Wood Designs

View NewPickeringWdWrkr's profile


338 posts in 4178 days

#6 posted 06-01-2010 05:11 PM

Martyn, I forgot about the sobering effects. Been a while since I’ve had to do that. I don’t drink nearly as much as I did when serving in the Canadian Forces.

-- Mike - Antero's Urban Wood Designs

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 5155 days

#7 posted 06-01-2010 06:19 PM

Mike, you’ve obviously never been to Texas. We’re not limited by things like 100%. Our sweat doesn’t evaporate, it boils off. We don’t need no salt tablets either, the weak just die…

And, by the way, it’s a wonderful place to live.

-- Jim

View NewPickeringWdWrkr's profile


338 posts in 4178 days

#8 posted 06-01-2010 06:57 PM

Too funny Jim. I like a sense of humour.

San Antonio is beautiful. Been there in May from a trip in high school.

-- Mike - Antero's Urban Wood Designs

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