In Finland, the use of a birch switch in the sauna is an age-old tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. The birch switch goes by many names, such as bath broom, birch broom and sauna whisk, and of course its Finnish names, “vihta” and “vasta”. There are many traditions surrounding how to make a birch switch, and different families may have their own way of making one. Whipping oneself with a birch switch is believed to have numerous health benefits, such as improving blood circulation, making you feel relaxed afterwards, cleaning the skin and opening up the pores. The best time to make a birch switch is between Midsummer and the beginning of July, using the branches of the silver birch.
A birch switch should be roughly 40 to 60 cm long, and it can be as bushy as the user prefers. The leaves around the handle part are removed and the branches are placed together neatly with the light side of the leaves facing outward. A birch twig is wrapped tightly around two parts of the handle, and a loop is left at the end so the switch can be hung up. The switches can be dried or placed in the freezer, so the fragrant birch leaves can be enjoyed in the sauna year-round.
Koskisen wishes you a pleasant summer!