What's that funny smell from the sauna?
May 16, 2012 3:03 PM   Subscribe

Over the last few months we've noticed a strange lighter fluid/butane scent coming from our home sauna. I need help trying to figure out a possible explanation.

We've had the sauna for 6 years without any problems but in the last couple of months, it's been making this funny smell. It has this sort of heater. I spoke with the retailer and her explanation was that someone must have poured some kind of scented oil onto the rocks (though we haven't had many house guests ever use it). I've removed the rocks but the smell seems to have returned when I turned it on again (though at this point, I don't know it I'm imagining things).

It's not like the smell of hot cedar or burning cedar. It's not the smell of natural gas. It's very distinctly like lighter fluid. It's not strong enough to fill the whole house but it's noticeable in the basement. Our furnace is gas but it's brand new and the smell predates it. The water heater is gas, in an adjoining room. No other gas appliances. We have working CO detectors.
posted by bonobothegreat to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
Also,,,the only change I can think of is that I've been using a handsaw a few times over the last few months and that it's possible that trace amounts of pine dust had settled on the elements. It's not like the smell is unbearable; it's just disconcerting.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:10 PM on May 16, 2012

Is the timber you've been cutting with the handsaw treated in any way? Some timber treatments (often described as LOSP) use a light oil as the carrier and this would explain the smell if some sawdust had settled on the elements, perhaps.
posted by dg at 3:39 PM on May 16, 2012

No treatments. Just plain pine boards from the lumber yard.

We're going to air the basement out and wait until tomorrow before starting it up again, just in case it actually was the rocks and we were smelling the residual odor in the air after I removed them.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:51 PM on May 16, 2012

Do you use your sauna often?

We have the same heater in ours, and whenever we go a long time without using it, we also notice a faint scent when we do use it for the first couple of times. Sounds like what you're describing. Could it be dust or something like that?
posted by MiG at 4:17 PM on May 16, 2012

We've been using it more often, actually because our furnace slowly died over the last month. I was hoping it might just be dust but was worried that some component of the heater is melting/ burning out.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:40 PM on May 16, 2012

Seems that it must have the rocks after all. Thanks anyway.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:00 PM on May 21, 2012

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