Farmer's bath

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The Karlbad , a historic farmer's bath

Under Bauernbad is understood historically one hand, a mineral - or sulfur with accommodation means, on the other hand, the Bauernschwitzstube (farmers sauna ).

Creation of the farmer's baths

Salt was also an economic factor in pre-industrial Europe. Therefore it was searched intensively. In addition to salt deposits, additional mineral springs were found , which developed into the medicinal baths known today . Especially in the 18th century, these baths experienced a strong boom, as they were positively received by the upper class (upper class and nobility). The differences in class that existed at that time prevented the ordinary population from accessing these baths. At that time, further trips were also associated with high costs that the ordinary population could not afford. By the standards of that time, the elegant spas were simply too sophisticated for the common people. In the 18th century, the so-called farmer's baths were created, especially around the Wiehen Mountains in what is now East Westphalia (North Rhine-Westphalia), but also in Tyrol and Carinthia . For example, Bad Oexen , Bad Senkelteich and Bad Randringhausen (now part of Bünde ) were built between the Weser and Wiehen Mountains . The baths had their own mineral or sulfur source , and there was also some moor which could be used therapeutically. The altitude ensured clear air and a pleasant or stimulating climate (depending on the location).

Importance for rural life

Wooden bathtubs made from larch trunks in the Karlbad bathing room

In the peasant baths, it was not the upper-class citizens and nobles who cured their ailments, but the farmers in the area. The local rural population visited the farm baths often and gladly. The farmers often came together - farmer, servant, maid - mainly from the area easily accessible by horse and cart. Those who lived too far away for a daily bathing trip could also stay on the spot for the duration of the cure , whereby mostly only one sleeping place was used. The people hoped for healing or at least alleviation of the predominantly rheumatic complaints. From numerous studies it is now known that the sulfur absorbed in the bath stimulates the cell metabolism, intervenes in enzymatic processes and is incorporated into organic substances. In addition to bath cures, nanosulfur is also used today. Grandparents liked to take one or two grandchildren with them, because it should be good for them, but also to avoid boredom themselves. At that time no consideration was given to going to school. Those of the parents involved in the farm work routine who needed a spa treatment should, if possible, have it in early summer. When the vegetable gardens had been sown and the hay had been brought in from the first cut, there were a few quieter weeks on the farm until the great working and harvesting time began around Jakobi Day (July 25th). Another common time to start a cure was after the harvest. It was customary to think about family and one's own wishes and needs during these weeks. Larger invitations were given and accepted, weddings were celebrated and something was done for health even without being directly ill. There were peasant marriage contracts in which the right to regular spa cures for the future peasant woman was stipulated with the bride's dowry. The demands were based on the size of the farm. It was in our common interest to keep costs as low as possible. You fed yourself with what you had brought with you, e.g. B. ham, sausages, bread and butter, also groats and legumes, which were then prepared by yourself. You had your own bedding for the beds. People trusted the healing properties of the baths and were happy about the change from sober work and the tightness of everyday life. You got to know new people and met old friends from previous joint cures. They exchanged ideas about where and why, and told each other about the farm, cattle, meadows and fields, and of course about children and maids.

Farmer's bath as a sweat bath

The farmer's bath as a sweat bath is a special type of dry sauna originating from Tyrol. The specialty lies in the combination of a slowly rising, gradual overheating of the body with herbal vapors rising parallel to this, which are supposed to clean the airways.


  • Bad Oexen. Looking back at a former farmer's bath on the southern slope of the Wiehegebirge (manuscript). Marianne Busche, 1980