Steam History

Steam Room History

For thousands of years, cultures around the world have indulged in the soothing heat of the steam bath. The concept of showering in steam goes back at least as far back as the early Roman times, and was also popular with ancient Greeks, Turks, Russians, and Chinese. Although there have been many changes and technological advances over the years, the core philosophy and health benefits remain the same.

During the ancient Roman era, large steam houses, or sudatoriums, were constructed. These steam houses were built with raised slab floors that could be heated from underneath and terra cotta flues to conduct heat throughout the room. Many Romans saw the sudatoriums as a place to socialize, engaging in events, artistic and literary pursuits, and other social activities while enjoying the steam together.

Turkish baths, or Hamams, also have a place in steam room history. These large structures were typically built connected to a mosque and featured three main rooms: the hot, warm, and cool rooms. Bathers would move from the steam of the hot room, to the warm room for rinsing and massages, to the cool room for relaxation and socialization.

Similar to the Turkish Baths, Russian Banyas were also public bath houses constructed with three main rooms. The first is a pre-bath room where participants would prepare for the bath. Next there was the actual bathing room, followed by the final steam room. Banya attendees would use the steam and lash themselves with reeds to improve the circulation and enhance the overall refreshing experience.

In American culture, the steam baths were typically only found in commercial applications, such as private clubs or gyms. As steam baths became more popular after World War II, the demand for steam units began to increase. Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, commercial jobs generated the largest amount of steam unit sales. It was not until the 1970’s when companies began to see a jump in the demand for residential steam units. Today, steam still continues to play an important role in our daily health and relaxation. Through the innovation and strength of companies such as Apex, steam rooms have become affordable, private retreats that anyone can enjoy.