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What is a Vapor Bath?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 21, 2024
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Sometimes referred to as a steam bath, the vapor bath is a relaxing treatment that combines the benefits of perspiring with the comfort of an invigorating shower or tub bath. One of the best examples of a traditional vapor bath is found in the structure of a traditional Turkish bath. Today, there are several variations of a vapor bath used in private residences, public bath facilities and in health clubs.

The history of vapor baths is normally traced back to what is today referred to the Middle East. One school of thought has the vapor bath originating in modern-day Turkey. In this incarnation, businessmen could gather in a setting composed of a large bathing pool along with heated rocks mixed with herbs. The idea was to create a relaxed setting where it was possible to conduct business and refresh at the same time. Often, the selection of herbs would include options that were thought to be soothing to the mind and body.

Over the years, the concept of the vapor bath became popular in many parts of the world. Great Britain and the United States in particular found the inclusion of a vapor bath along with a muscle rubdown and a cold shower to be a great way to relax after exercising and to emerge with a sense of being ready to take on the rest of the day. To a degree, this application of the soothing vapor bath is still found in any health club today that provides steam room facilities and showers as part of the locker room layout.

It is also possible to set up a vapor steam bath in the home. In small bathrooms, a quick and easy solution is to close the door and turn on the hot water in the shower. The room will quickly fill with steam and provide several minutes of a nice steam bath. As the water flow begins to cool, shut off the hot water and turn on the cold water. By stepping into the shower and bathing using cold water, it is possible to emulate an authentic vapor bath, at least for a short period of time.

There is also the possibility of purchasing a small heating device designed to warm rocks to a temperature high enough to create steam as small amounts of water are poured over the rocks. This approach is actually more cost-effective than using up all the hot water in the home, especially if the residents like to engage in a steam bath on a regular basis. Pouring small amounts of water over the hot stones will produce enough steam to create a humid environment that will in turn promote perspiration. Follow up the sweat session with a cold shower to get the full effect.

A vapor bath is often credited with promoting emotional as well as physical well being. The idea is that the sweating helps to release toxins from the body, thus assisting the immune system in keeping all the internal organs healthy. Using herbs to create healing vapors during the bath is also a time-honored tradition and is said to have a beneficial impact for persons who are anxious, stressed or physically exhausted.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including BeautyAnswered, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By jennifers — On Sep 23, 2009

I would be interesting in hearing how often people use the steam room and for how long? Does it help anything to do it once in a while or does it need to be regular? What are the benefits?

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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