Basking in Basswood

Cool Wood

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Doctors often prescribe sauna therapy to help patients recover from deep-tissue injuries, arthritis and other body pain; the problem is, many people are allergic to cedar, one of the most common woods used to build saunas.

   About a decade ago, SaunaRay answered the call for toxin-free, non-allergenic infrared saunas. Based in Collingwood, Ontario, the company headquarters is a short drive from
its wood supply. Each unit is hand-constructed of locally harvested basswood, a non-allergenic wood that’s also used to make popsicle sticks and tongue depressors – which is “so soft it cuts like butter,” says the company founder, Rodney Palmer. Basswood also grows to maturity in only seven years, so it’s easily replenished.

   The logs are individually selected, and then milled at the SaunaRay workshop. Standard sauna units are available in several sizes, from small enough for one to “family size” for four people, using high-quality stainless steel and ceramic far infrared heaters. With an emphasis on using all-natural materials, the saunas are assembled without toxic glues, chemicals or plastics of any kind. The wood is hand-finished with Canadian beeswax.
   Instead of using steam or hot air to warm the body, an infrared sauna increases the body’s core temperature from within. A variety of health benefits are credited to infrared exposure, from weight loss to increased collagen production. SaunaRay has constructed custom “athletic saunas” for hot yoga studios and larger, spa-like installations in residential projects for architects such as Hariri Pontarini; they’ve also shipped units internationally, including overseas.

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