The project is made with ultra-light materials that stand up well to moisture. It is essentially a box that measures 5 feet tall and 4 feet square. It is constructed using a plastic pipe frame and lined with reflective insulation. The box sets directly on the floor for a single steam session and then can be moved to allow everything to dry thoroughly.
My steam generator is a 900 watt hot plate under a pot of water. With this configuration, the upper half of the box can reach 122 F, while the lower half can be as much as 10 degrees cooler. If you prefer higher temps, either add more wattage or add more insulation.
I judged the final result as acceptable. It offers all the qualities I expect from a top end facility without the cost. When I really have the itch to hit the steam room, its great to have this option right inside my home, 24/7.
The total cost for me for this project was about $100. I did not have to buy the stock pot because I already have one. The pot is especially important to the quality of atmosphere in your steam room. Use a pot with a SOLID thick base, and best results will come from stainless steel.
Cost and Materials
8 each of 1/2" cold water pvc line 10' long - $16 (lowes)
16 each of 1/2" slip 90 degree elbow - $4 (lowes)
1 each of 48" wide x 24' long roll of Reflectix - $40 (lowes)
100 each zip ties - $6 (lowes)
Electric hot plate 900 watts - $20 (target)
6-quart stainless steel stock pot - $30 (target)
A hacksaw for cutting pipe.
A utility knife for cutting insulation.
Pliers for cinching certain zip ties.
I dimensioned the steam room to stay within the limits of a single roll of Reflectix. And if you are like me, you will probably need to use the hacksaw to cut the pipe in half in the parking lot so they will fit in your car.
This video is an overview of the finished product (with no steam of course):
Step 1: Measure, Cut, Assemble
2. Cut PVC to length for horizontal pieces. 8 are needed @ 43".
3. Use 90 degree elbows to assemble square frame. Final dimensions will be 58" by 45".
4. Unroll insulation far enough that a single frame can be set upon it. Attach with zip ties as shown. There should be at least 1 inch of insulation wrapping around the pipe. This will form the seal when the panels are tied together. Do this for all frames.
Step 2: Construct
1. Stand two panels vertically such that the edges meet. Use about 4 zip ties along the outside corner to bind the pipe together tightly. Do this for all panels until you have a box with no top and bottom.
Step 3: Top it off
You are seeking to achieve no air gap, so add ties as needed. One thing that will really help you for this step is if you place a lamp inside the box. Any light that escapes will show you where the bad gaps are. Seal it good, heat rises.
Having said that, a little bit of air loss is desirable, however, I simply prefer to have control over it. When you are sitting inside the room, you are using up the oxygen. But to each his own on making allocations for fresh air if you think you need it.
Step 4: Instructions for use
I place about a gallon of purified water in the pot and then bring it to a boil on the kitchen stove. From there I move it to the hot plate which is on a cookie sheet in the steam room. I also have a light in the room which is a must for safety reasons.
You will also want to lay down a few towels on the floor to catch all of your sweat.
When I feel I need fresh air, I push the flap open a bit. Please enjoy responsibly. For safety reasons, you may also use a timer on the hot plate so that the steam will shut down automatically if you should happen to pass out.