Sauna, cold dunk tank

From Rubbermaid stock tank

Last summer I purchased a used 150 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank (aka water trough). Part of my intention was to possibly purchase a Cowboy Hot Tub wood stove tank heater so that I could create a low-cost, low-hassle backyard hot tub. I ended up changing my mind. The tank is too small for anything but a single person soak. There's nothing wrong with that, but I consider an important part of any soaking or sauna experience to be the social aspect. Whether it is saunaing or soaking, these are best done with company. It's a unique social environment, a space conducive to getting caught up with friends, telling in-depth stories and holding forth the occasional life-exploring conversation.

The other intended purpose of the tank was to use it as a cold water immersion/dunk for the sauna. To this end the dunk tank has been a smash hit success. I cannot stress enough how much the tank has added a fantastic new dimension to my sauna experience. I like it so much now that I almost consider it a prerequisite to having a quality sauna or hot tub.

Here at our house there is of course the solar shower just outside the door of the sauna and it continues to serve a similar purpose to the tank. Before I liberated myself of the oppressive Western psychological fear of cold water, the unheated shower could be very challenging, especially in the middle of the winter. Showering in 40 degree water takes some getting used to. But you do eventually get used to it and it is especially easy when you know that the intense, sometimes discomforting, sensation of the cold water will be rewarded by an equally intense sensation of pleasure once you are back in the sauna, when water is poured on the rocks and you are enveloped by a thick clouds of hot steam.

The dunk tank takes this experience to an entirely new level. Even though the water in the stock tank sometimes may not be as cold as the shower, it is much more challenging to immerse yourself in water. It just feels colder. In the shower, the cold water only covers a few parts of the body at a time. Inside the dunk tank you are 100 percent immersed in thermally-conductive bracing water. Hello! It's cold all over! But, just as it is much more challenging to embrace this intense physically sensation, the reward of pleasure, once back in the sauna, is reciprocally great.

Here is a photo of the dunk tank after a major freeze this winter. I had to take a sledge hammer to the ice to break it up enough to put a stock tank de-icer in it. (The ice was probably 6 to 8 inches thick on top!) The heater, along with warming temperatures, helped break the ice up enough so that it could be used as a slushy dunk tank in the evening. Greta and I both took advantage of it. I was proud of my daughter for taking her own dunk in the tank after a sweat! For us it was extra challenging because the larger ice chunks tended to scrape while soaking. At this temperature the water very quickly gave a 7-11 Slurpy-type brain freeze but all over the body!

From Rubbermaid stock tank
I made a plywood cover for the tank. This helps keep debris from the over hanging Douglas Fir and Hawthorne Berry trees from falling in. Also I'm a little concerned that some toddler from next door might wander over to play on the swing set, discover the tank and then discover that they don't know how to swim.