To get maximum pleasure from the steam room, it is not enough to choose the right tree for the walls and take into account heat loss through the roof. The steam room has always been the heart of a Russian bath, and the heart of the steam room has always been a heater. The stove produces light steam and even heat. The heart of the heater is stones, which must perform many functions and have the appropriate properties. The heater should quickly heat up and not give off heat immediately, and the stones themselves should not crack when the temperature changes.
Basic stone requirements
When choosing stones for a stove-heater, you need to know their features, shape, characteristics, mineral composition. Here is an overview of some basic requirements.
- Heat resistance - the rock must tolerate large temperature differences. When water gets on a red-hot stove, the rock has to endure enormous loads, because at first they heat up to the maximum, and then their temperature decreases spasmodically, since the thermal energy goes to the evaporation of water, and different parts of the same piece of rock lose temperature unevenly.
Not all stones can withstand such regimes and not crack. The higher this characteristic, the more critical the stone will withstand critical conditions without cracks. There is a simple way to check the density of the rock - just knock on it or subject it to a temperature drop (how to heat it and throw a piece of rock into a container of ice water).
In the event that the stone remains intact after such tests, it is quite suitable for use in the steam room stove. If cracks appear, it is not worth putting it in the heater, there is a risk that the rock will crack and its hot pieces will get on the skin of the soaring ones.
- The heat capacity level of a stone is called the time during which it is able to remain hot, or the time during which it will completely give up this heat. Heat capacity is the main requirement that is placed on the heater. Pieces of rock with high heat capacity should be quite heavy, and their structure should be as homogeneous as possible, without extraneous inclusions, only in this case they will combine heat capacity and heat resistance.
- When selecting the necessary rocks that differ in the above characteristics, you need to remember about their dimensions - a large piece of rock in a small steam room simply will not enter. A common mistake is that they try to select the breed for aesthetic reasons. This is wrong - only the breed’s functionality needs to be put at the forefront.
A stone of 8-16 cm in diameter will perfectly serve in stoves where firewood is used as fuel. For bath stoves that use electric heating, a smaller diameter of 5-7 cm is the best option.
- When choosing a stone, one should not forget that the rock is able to accumulate and absorb through its pores those substances that enter them from air, water, soil, albeit in small quantities. Among them, those that were produced as a result of human technical activity and which inevitably fall into nature turn out to be not the safest. When a stone is heated, what is contained in it begins to stand out.
Therefore, one cannot discount the environmental safety of stones, one must try to select them in areas remote from industrial enterprises.
Varieties and properties
To date, a large number of rocks are offered, suitable for use in a bathhouse.
Strictly speaking, a “salt stone” is not a stone - it is a piece of pure, natural structured salt that has been used for the so-called artificial “salt saunas” or “salt caves” not so long ago, where they are also faced with walls.
Its use in the heater is also not forbidden - evaporating, the salt has a tonic effect on the respiratory system, the immune system, and helps with skin diseases and allergies.
The composition of salt stone includes potassium, magnesium, iodine, chlorine, calcium, iron, barium, chromium, manganese.
Do not use salt stone in the bath when:
- high temperature;
- exacerbation of bronchopulmonary diseases (those who have been ill or have had tuberculosis in the past, such procedures are completely prohibited);
- heart problems and pressure;
- renal disease.
It is proved that a temperature of 60 ° C and a humidity of 20 to 40% give the best therapeutic effect, salt under these conditions is most useful. And if the humidity exceeds 74%, the stone will “leak”, so when it is used in the bath, humidity must be monitored.
(other names for the stone are serpentinite, chemist's stone) is characterized by a greenish tint and characteristic "snake" patterns. In the Middle Ages, this stone was revered as one of the most valuable - so it was appreciated for its unique properties. He was credited with the opportunity to protect the owner from someone’s evil influence or “evil eye”, jewelry from this stone was of considerable importance in Russian culture, including that it was also appreciated in the construction of bathhouses.
At present, it is preferred to use it as a strong, durable, excellent heat storage material for wall or furnace facing surfaces.
The healing properties of serpentinite were first discovered by the healers in ancient Russia. It served as material for mortars, containers for storing powders and potions, and in the bathhouse improved overall well-being, calmed nerves, helped against colds, kidney diseases, and stabilized blood pressure. Today, doctors have determined that the stone somehow helps to heal the bones in fractures.
Russian rich people used jasper in the bathhouse since ancient times. This semiprecious stone does not have a very pronounced structure, but multicolored green, yellow, red stains on the surface are clearly visible. They tried to treat her internal organs, heart. It was believed that it calms, strengthens a dream.
They used to believe that heating jasper in a heater would make the steam healing and help women, heal the “obsession”, and heal the damage. Many of these medicinal properties today have their own scientific rationale.
It is distinguished by its unusual properties - when it is heated, oxygen evolution begins from it. In addition, white quartz is able to emit ozone-containing compounds, which are especially pleasant for the female part of the population, since with the help of ozone the skin is rejuvenated and cleansed.
Basalt stones are relatively inexpensive, but they are durable, heat-resistant and can easily withstand a sharp change in temperature.
In addition, it is noted that due to its antibacterial properties, basalt rock cleanses the skin, helps the functioning of the respiratory system, treats migraines and colds.
If the choice fell on a river or sea pebble - you can accept congratulations, you can save on it, and besides, pebbles are easiest to find in nature, simply by typing from the ground on the banks of any river or bay. Of course, you can buy pebbles for money, but collecting is clearly cheaper.
The choice is best to stop on pebbles having oval or flattened outlines, since they will give fewer gaps in the masonry, but the steam circulation will not be blocked, but rather even improved.
River pebbles are more durable than sea pebbles. If there are inclusions of a red tint in it, it is undesirable to use a stone, since red tint gives them oxidized iron (FeO, Fe2O3, etc.).
The most common use of this type of stones is in the lower tier, so as not to spend a lot of money on stones of other breeds, which are not so easy to collect under your feet.
In general, pebbles in a bathhouse are not very cost-effective, since they do not have high strength; they have to be inspected and replaced relatively often.
Dolerite is an obsolete name for a variety of basalt, but most of all its properties correspond to another common stove stone, as well as a variety of basalt - gabbro-diabase.
Gabbro diabase is a rock of volcanic origin. This stone has:
- excellent heat storage ability, as well as its long-term storage;
- good resistance to sudden changes in temperature;
- high temperature resistance;
- a high degree of homogeneity (practically not prone to cracking);
- The classification table claims that its degree of water absorption is 0.19-0.2%
If the stone from gabbro-diabase is overheated, it may produce an unpleasant odor, which does not make it too popular among steam room lovers, despite the fact that the prices are quite democratic.
It is also possible the appearance of a dark coating on the surface, which occurs after a long and intensive use in the heater. This plaque must be removed or changed stones, because it is harmful.
Many lovers of the steam room fill their stove-heater with a noble black filler - chromite. “Bogatyrsky Stone” (this is the second name of chromite, and is also sometimes called “Black Stone” because of its shade) is a high-density igneous mineral with a large mass, which as a result of bathing procedures can have a positive effect on a person’s ability to have offspring. Also, from ancient times they were treated for colds.
Chromite is highly refractory (it can be melted only when the heater temperature exceeds the melting point of aluminum by a factor of 2), which at its high density guarantees its safe use even at very high temperatures of the heater, and its coefficient of thermal expansion is practically zero.
The use of ceramic fillers for heaters of artificial origin is gaining more and more popularity. This can be an alternative to natural stones, since ceramic stones can be given the desired properties, make them safer, increase their heat capacity and heat resistance. Surely they can never completely replace natural stone, but they can perfectly lay the top layer in a stone oven.
An alternative to ceramic artificial fillers can be fillers made of cast iron. They differ in good characteristics - heat capacity, heat dissipation, safety (they are not subject to cracking), but they also have significant disadvantages - they do not bring any benefit to the human body and are subject to the destructive effect of corrosion, and therefore are relatively short-lived and the rating of bathing professionals is quite low.
How to choose?
Appearance when choosing a breed, which they plan to use in a stove-heater, of course, plays a role, you should not forget about it either. Smooth stones with a surface in which extraneous inclusions are not visible may well be a suitable option, and besides, they will be safe to use.
It happens that mica veins or traces of another breed are visible in the body of the stone - such stones will not withstand constant temperature changes, since their monolithicity (uniformity) is broken, and cracking is more than likely. To take such material for a heater means to face the need for its quick replacement.
Stove can be chopped or polished. Here are their differences.
- The chopped stone is preferred by the regulars of the steam room because it has large heating faces that are able to form a larger volume of steam when water is splashed onto them.
- A polished stone, due to the fact that there is more free space between the rounded sides, creates better circulation, but you have to wait for them to warm up longer than when using chipped stone.
- When choosing the filling of a stove-heater with rocks, it is important to consider their origin. Those stones whose rock is igneous (volcanic) have a high degree of heat resistance. Sedimentary and metamorphic rocks for use in the steam room will not work.
- If the rock contains large amounts of silica, it is acidic . It is also not used in a heater.
- When choosing a stove stone from specialized retail chains , you should always check that the package contains a mention of its passage through special radiation monitoring.
- The use of only medium and large stones (supposedly they reduce the evaporation area, therefore, the steam volume will be insufficient) is not justified, because without the use of very fine fractions stone too much water will have time to leak through and get on the metal of the furnace top. This will lead to the appearance of an unpleasant “metallic” smack of steam and to premature wear of the furnace due to the appearance of rust.
- How tightly it is necessary to lay the stone can be determined empirically - if the steam does not enter the steam room well enough - the installation is broken, something is done incorrectly.
The optimal result is the thickness of the masonry from a quarter to a third of a meter. In this case, all the water will probably have time to turn into a state of steam, since it will visit both the most (relatively) coldest stones and the hottest. As a result, different layers of steam are mixed and it will acquire the desired "softness", it will not be either too dry, which can be burned, or too wet.
In no case can limestone rocks be used in the steam room , since limestone belongs to soft bottom rocks and, not having sufficient resistance to sharp temperature drops, has high hydrophilicity and, when dried, tends to collapse to a dust fraction, which subsequently ends up in lungs soaring.
It is categorically not recommended to collect stones where the railroad tracks pass, because all substances and materials that are in the vicinity of the railway contain creosote. This is a harmful chemical substance, which, when heated, with its fumes can cause severe poisoning by inhalation. The same applies to stones collected close to construction sites, industrial dumps, etc.
Granite rocks for steam rooms will not work for the same reason - they have a high silica content.
If the stones are collected independently, it is better to move away from the reservoirs and collect them in the fields. For example, excellent pebbles in Soviet times were used to fill the foundations of the supports of power lines (power lines).
Recommendations for use
Often there are doubts about the order in which the stones should be placed. A high-quality steam room requires a certain arrangement of stones to create favorable conditions during the passage of heated air masses.
You need to act in a certain order.
- It is necessary to start work with thorough washing and drying of all stones. This should be done very qualitatively, since any foreign substances will burn when heated, releasing undesirable odors into the steam room.
- It is necessary to lay them, observing the principle "from large to smaller", that is, the lower tier will consist of large stones. With a gradual increase in height, their size will decrease.
- Those stones that have an oblong shape should be placed “standing”, since their surface has a large area and heats up sooner.
- If the furnace is heated by electricity, during the laying process it is necessary to lay the stones loosely so that the free space separates the heating elements from the stones. This will help the tubular heaters last longer and avoid accidental damage.
Over the course of a year, experts recommend that the stones in the heater be “audited”: to check for cracks, chips, harmful plaque on them and, if necessary, immediately replace them with new ones.
Using essential oils, you need to be prepared for the fact that because of them the stones will be covered with soot and you will have to clean and shift the stove much more often than usual.
There is a life hack so that the heater warms up faster. To do this, the stones are folded, adding steel or cast-iron substitutes in them (they have shorter heating times, but also faster heat transfer than natural stove stones).
A stone can be easily checked for quality by hitting it with a piece of iron / hammer. The appearance of a dull sound means a latent defect - the stone is heterogeneous and there is a crack inside, and vice versa - a loud sound confirms that there are no cracks.
On how to choose stones for a bath, see below.