Sauna vs Steam Room: How Does the Infrared Sauna Shape Up?

dry sauna vs steam room

Ever wondered about the infrared sauna vs traditional sauna – which one is the best sauna for you?

Saunas have been around for a long, long time…

The very first saunas popped up in the bitter cold of north-eastern Europe, mainly Finland, over 2000 years ago.

In fact the word ‘sauna’ is Finnish for ‘bath house’ and it is the only Finnish word used in the English language.

They are a world-wide tradition that also existed among the earliest American-Indians, Indians and Koreans.

Where ever you find these ancient steam houses, the concept is the same – there is fire in the middle of the room, with stones that are heated continuously. When water is poured over these stones, steam is produced – this is also referred to as a ‘wet sauna‘.

In the case of Finland, these also serve as heater for their homes. Historically, these saunas were only used by royals for relaxation.

More recently, the sauna has evolved into steam rooms (wet sauna), dry saunas (heat from rocks) and infrared saunas.

So lets work out which is the best one for your needs and why infrared saunas are becoming so popular…

Dry Sauna vs Steam Room

Both the dry sauna and the wet sauna are now referred to as ‘traditional saunas’ to differentiate them from the new age infrared saunas.

Steam rooms are heated by a generator filled with boiling water

If you skip the water pouring step of a wet sauna or steam room, then it becomes a dry sauna.  Heat from the rocks (produced by electricity) increases the room temperature and the dry heat is used to relax and rejuvenate the body.

Both the wet and dry saunas can can be remarkable for easing pain, reducing stress and improving cardiovascular health.[1]

So which one is the best to use?

Well that depends on the kind of moisture you prefer. The dry heat, along with the ventilation of the sauna allows any secreted sweat to evaporate from your body. It makes the area far less humid and higher temperatures can be achieved in a traditional dry sauna.

The wet heat of the steam room means that you can get some added benefits from the increased humidity, but your may feel hotter and you will get quite sweaty.

Both have the benefit of opening your pores to release toxins, improve circulation and make your skin clearer. Add in some exercise and you can also lose weight.  They are both good for enhancing your bodies detoxification processes.

So what about the infrared sauna – how does it shape up?

Infrared Sauna vs Traditional Sauna

More advanced saunas have now moved away from using heated rocks, generators or coils of metal heated by electricity.

In the case of the increasingly popular infrared saunalight is used to create heat.

In comparison to traditional saunas that heat the air around you – infrared saunas heat you from the inside.

Infrared light waves penetrate the body and raise your core temperature.

health benefits of dry sauna vs steam room

Infrared light is emitted by the sun and covers the light spectrum of 700-100,000 nanometers (nm). Humans can’t see it because our vision stops at 700 nm.

There are two common types of infrared saunas:

  • Far Infrared Saunas: Far infrared (FIR) saunas generate heat via infrared light that covers the light spectrum of 3000-100,000 nm.
  • Near Infrared Saunas: Near infrared (NIR) saunas generate heat via infrared light that covers the light spectrum of 700 nm to around 1400 nm.

The lower the light spectrum, the more deeply the infrared light can penetrate into your skin.

NIR penetrates up to 5mm beneath the skin, whereas FIR penetrates to around 0.1 mm beneath the skin.[2]

Most home infrared saunas are FIR saunas, whereas most infrared lamps provide heat and light to the body directly using the NIR spectrum.

Infrared saunas emit infrared light directly onto your body. This light produces heat within the body, heating it up much like traditional saunas.

However, infrared saunas deliver approximately 80% of its energy output directly onto your body. Whereas, 20% goes to your surroundings. Therefore, compared to traditional saunas, less energy is wasted into heating up the surrounding air.

Traditional saunas, both dry saunas and wet steam rooms, can raise the temperature of the surrounding area to 212°F, whereas a near infrared sauna heats up to approximately 120°F to 140°F. Heat is delivered straight to the body, thus requiring less energy. This direct flow of heat and light into the body results in huge savings and comfort.

Both types of infrared saunas (NIR and FIR) provide similar health benefits to traditional saunas – promotion of weight loss, opening of pores, detoxification etc. However….

Infrared saunas have been found to enhance the production of ATP (located in the membrane of mitochondria), an energy carrying molecule necessary for our cells to function efficiently. [3]

Scientific studies have also shown that infrared saunas can stimulate brain neuroprotection processes as well as promoting a wide range of therapeutic benefits in cells or tissues that are not necessarily associated with the use of traditional saunas.[3]

There is also emerging evidence that infrared saunas can even inhibit cancer cell proliferation.[3]

The Wrap

Traditional saunas are more conventional, giving a more authentic experience. However, the energy savings and added health benefits from infrared saunas really make them too good to pass up.

So when it comes to a Sauna vs a Steam Room or an Infrared Sauna vs Traditional Sauna – we hope you have some more clarity now…

Wet or dry heat, the option should come down to what your body needs, how far your budget can go and what is readily available to you in your local area or in your home.

However, everyone should experience the incredible health benefits of infrared saunas when given the chance…

Even better if you want one to use on a regular basis – you can now have one in your very own home.

If you would like your very own home infrared sauna – take a look at our article HERE:

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Infrared Sauna World or its staff.

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