What is the Difference Between an Infrared Sauna and a Traditional Sauna?

What is the Difference Between an Infrared Sauna and a Traditional Sauna?

The pursuit of wellness has taken a heated turn, quite literally, with the emergence of infrared saunas as a hot trend in the spa and health industry. Traditionally, saunas have been the go-to for relaxation and healing, yet recent advancements have given rise to a new contender in the thermal therapy domain. To the uninitiated, the distinction between an infrared sauna and a traditional sauna might seem like mere rhetoric about the source of the heat. However, the distinctions run deeper, penetrating the very core of the wellness experience they offer. In this comprehensive breakdown, we explore the differences between these two modalities to help you decide which one might best serve your relaxation and health objectives.

The Essence of Sauna

Before we step into the sauna, it's essential to understand the fundamental principles that govern this time-honored tradition. Saunas, in general, are designed to raise the user's body temperature, leading to various physiological responses. These include increased circulation, heart rate, and sweating, all of which are believed to bring about several health benefits, such as detoxification and stress reduction.

Traditional Finnish Saunas - The epitome of authenticity and tradition, the Finnish sauna has been around for centuries. It operates on the principle of convection heat, whereby the sauna room is heated by a stove topped with rocks. Water can be added to these rocks, generating steam and increasing the humidity within the sauna. Temperatures typically range from 160°F to 195°F (71°C to 90°C), with a humidity level around 20% to 30%.

Infrared Saunas - Infrared saunas, on the other hand, utilize infrared heaters to emit light in the infrared range, which is felt as radiant heat. This type of heat is less intense than the one found in traditional saunas, with temperatures ranging from 120°F to 150°F (50°C to 65°C). Unlike Finnish saunas, infrared saunas don't drastically increase the ambient temperature but rather focus on heating the objects and people directly, providing a more gentle and tolerable environment for longer sessions.

Delving into the Differences

To discern the choice between the two sauna experiences, it's essential to look at their differences in terms of benefits, operation, and safety.

Heat Perception and Depth - A crucial distinction is the way the body perceives and absorbs the heat. Traditional saunas warm the air, which then heats the skin through conduction. This often results in a more intense feeling of heat and sweat, though with lower penetration into the body. In contrast, infrared saunas heat the body directly through the light they emit, providing a gentler heat that's often felt to penetrate more deeply.

Health and Therapeutic Benefits - Both saunas are championed for their array of health benefits. Traditional saunas are linked with improvements in cardiovascular health, skin condition, and endurance. Infrared saunas, due to their deeper heat penetration, are believed to offer similar benefits along with additional advantages related to cellular repair and toxin elimination. Proponents of infrared technology claim it can also aid in weight loss and provide relief from chronic pain conditions.

Operation and Maintenance - Operationally, traditional saunas often require a longer preheating time, up to 30 minutes, to reach their desired temperature. This is due to the nature of heating the air through the stove. Infrared saunas, by contrast, heat up much faster since they don't need to warm the air. They also tend to be more energy efficient. However, infrared sauna panels may need to be replaced over time, adding a maintenance cost not typically associated with traditional saunas.

Safety Considerations - Regarding safety, both types of saunas are generally safe when used properly. Users should always stay hydrated and listen to their bodies for signs of discomfort, such as dizziness. Traditional saunas might be more challenging for some individuals to tolerate due to higher temperatures, while the relatively lower temperatures of infrared saunas may make them a more suitable option for those sensitive to heat.

Making Your Choice

When it comes to selecting the right sauna experience, the choice is a personal one that depends on your health goals, comfort level with heat, and overall spa experience preferences. Those who enjoy the ritualistic aspect and higher-heat intensity of a traditional sauna may be better served by that option. In contrast, those seeking a less intense heat that offers deeper penetration and those with restrictions who might find the lower temperatures more comfortable are likely to prefer an infrared sauna.

Understandably, the best approach may involve experiencing both types of saunas in your quest for wellness. Some spas even offer combination saunas, where you can enjoy the benefits of both technologies in one session. Remember, regardless of the sauna you choose, maintaining a consistent practice and paying attention to your body's responses will ensure the safest and most beneficial experience.

The sauna experience holds great potential for enhancing our mental and physical well-being. Whether you bask in the rich history of the Finnish sauna or the futuristic innovations of the infrared sauna, the common thread remains the pursuit of health through the healing powers of heat. In the end, it's not just about where the heat comes from, but how it serves to revitalize and relax our bodies amidst the stresses of modern life.

In your exploration of saunas, consider your own heat map – what kind of heat serves you best? Is it the blaze of a flaming stove or the gentle glow of invisible light? The answer may very well be the perfect match for unlocking the full potential of your sauna experience.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.