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Infrared Sauna vs Traditional Sauna

infrared sauna vs traditional sauna

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Are you thinking about purchasing a sauna for your home but have no idea where to start or what to buy? Don’t worry! This blog post deals with everything you need to know about different types of saunas – their working mechanisms, benefits, heating methods, and costs. Before proceeding, let me provide some general info.

infrared sauna vs traditional sauna

Saunas are enclosed wood-lined rooms with impeccable therapeutic effects. They have been used for centuries as a way to promote relaxation, health, and wellness. Imagine stepping into a hot sauna within the comfort of your home after a long day at work. It sounds amazing, don’t you think? The dry heat emitted from the bathtub helps you to unwind and relax. Furthermore, these Scandinavian steam baths are heated between 150-190 degrees Fahrenheit to promote sweating and detoxification. In essence, these jacuzzis also help in reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety, making them ideal tools for managing emotional well-being.

Whether you are looking to unwind after a long day or improve your overall health and wellness, a Finnish bath can be a great addition to your self-care routine. However, many people find themselves bewildered between infrared saunas vs traditional saunas when it comes to purchasing one for their home. I have curated detailed descriptions of both types of saunas and their benefits so you can make the right decision. Let’s get started!

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What is the difference between a traditional sauna and an infrared sauna?

Understanding the difference between the two will help you to make a better decision.

  • Unlike traditional saunas, which use heated rocks or other heating elements to warm the air, infrared ones use electromagnetic radiation and infrared lamps to warm the body directly. Instead of heating the air around you, infrared saunas help warm your body. This makes the spa experience even more relaxing and enjoyable.

  • Infrared saunas use less heat as compared to traditional ones. Furthermore, the former also warms the bath more quickly than the latter. This makes infrared saunas more efficient and affordable. You can also use them easily at home!

  • Compared to the regular type, infrared hot tubs deeply penetrate heat into the body. This helps generate more sweat that detoxifies the body by removing harmful toxins. Additional health benefits include increased body temperature, improved cardiac health, and reduced muscle inflammation.

    When it comes to maintenance and cost, there are some key differences when it comes to infrared saunas vs traditional saunas. 

traditional and infrared saunas

Traditional saunas require more materials and labor to build, and that’s why they tend to be more expensive. Moreover, they require regular maintenance, such as cleaning the rocks and replacing the heating elements frequently. Not only do these maintenance procedures add to the overall cost, but they also become very hectic. (People who have regular spas in their homes can relate to the struggle!)

On the contrary, infrared saunas are comparatively low maintenance and less expensive. They require occasional maintenance, such as cleaning the interior or replacing worn-out parts, etc. Additionally, infrared spas are also easier to use at home.

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Your Guide to the Benefits and Disadvantages of Infrared Saunas

Infrared designs are a modern take on the traditional sauna experience. And let me assure you, they are definitely worth the hype!

In essence, they use a unique type of electromagnetic radiation and infrared heaters to provide more targeted and efficient heat therapy. As a result, the heat penetrates deeply into the skin and allows you to have a wonderful relaxing experience. The waves are emitted by carbon heaters, and they are completely safe for the human body.

The best part about an infrared sauna is that it causes excessive sweating in less time. This aids in homeostasis by flushing out harmful toxins from the body.

Another thing that you need to know about the working mechanism of infrared hot tubs is that these types of saunas use light to create heat energy. They include a wide range of wavelengths that create a more relaxing spa experience. Additionally, the panels present in these hot baths also help in the penetration of conventional heat that helps in relieving muscle sores, chronic fatigue, joint pain, and body inflammation.

infrared sauna benefits, health benefits, infrared sauna vs traditional sauna

Benefits of using an infrared sauna

Infrared saunas operate at an average temperature of 105 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The electromagnetic radiations allow these baths to operate at a lower temperature while still providing all the essential therapeutic benefits. Some of these are discussed below.

Boosts cardiac health

Do you know that using an infrared sauna is good for your heart health?

Yes, you heard that right!      

The heat emitted from the steam bath helps improve cardiovascular function by boosting blood circulation. It also helps lower your cholesterol levels, making it a win-win situation!


Excessive sweating occurs when the heat from the hot bath penetrates deeply into your skin. This greatly aids in maintaining the homeostasis of the body and also helps in detoxifying it. Your skin starts glowing when harmful toxins are removed from the body.

Soothes sore muscles

Infrared hot tubs are your best shot at soothing sore muscles, reducing inflammation, and relieving cramps.

Fights insomnia and other sleeping disorders

Sleep plays an important role in determining your health and well-being. If you constantly suffer from insomnia or other sleeping disorders, soaking in a hot tub at night will solve this problem for you. An infrared sauna not only helps you to relax mentally but also soothes your muscles and relieves any headaches so you can sleep peacefully.

Disadvantages of infrared saunas

Although infrared saunas are generally considered safe for usage, there are some things that you need to be aware of before jumping into the hot tub. Such as;

  • Staying inside for too long can cause dehydration or dizziness.

  • People who suffer from heat sensitivity should avoid the sauna. Why? Because, in their case, it increases the body’s temperature and may cause heat discomfort.

  • There are some possible EMF risks associated with the use of an infrared sauna. EMF stands for electromagnetic radiation. However, you can prevent the hazard by checking the EMF levels before entering. You are good to go if the levels fall into the normal range!

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What does a sauna do?

Saunas have been used by millions of people all around the world to maintain their health and well-being. In fact, there are so many benefits of using a sauna – it can do wonders for your overall wellness!

For instance, engaging in relaxing sauna sessions helps to:

  • Burn unwanted calories

  • Improve blood flow to the skin

  • Improve the cognitive function of the brain

  • Helps you to relax and unwind

  • Provides quick recovery from sore muscles

  • Repairs skin barrier

  • Lowers blood pressure

Why Athletes Should Be Spending More Time in a Sauna

Spending more time in a sauna can help athletes to improve their performance. Why? Because the high sweat rate generated from the session can help to amplify the function of thermoregulatory control. This way, athletes can sustain their performance while performing on the field. Furthermore, a relaxing sauna session also increases blood flow to skeletal muscles, which makes the sportsperson stronger.

heat therapy, blood pressure decrease, infrared sauna vs traditional sauna

And guess what? They also act as recovery tools for sports lovers by relieving muscle inflammation and reducing soreness. As a result, athletes will wake up fresh and ready for the next day. In essence, hot baths significantly enhance endurance and also help with healing injuries. The sauna climate is also good for reducing headaches and muscle cramps, making it perfect for athletes who wish to perform brilliantly on the ground. Due to increased blood circulation, oxygen and other essential nutrients are able to reach body organs easily. This significantly aids in the growth and recovery of muscles. 

Spending 5-10 minutes in a sauna two to three times a week is enough for athletes who are just starting out. You can gradually increase it up to 15-25 minutes once you’ve built the stamina.

barrel sauna, type of sauna

Types of Saunas

HOME SAUNAS (Traditional and Steam Sauna) Types of saunas

There are many different types:

Home saunas (traditional and steam saunas)

The history of the traditional saunas date back to 2000 BC when they were first used by ancient Romans and Turks. However, they began to gain huge popularity in the mid-20th century.

Now you might be wondering about what is a traditional sauna. Simply put, it is a heated room where people relax and unwind.  

A traditional sauna refers to a wooden room or cabin that involves the use of heated rocks to create a relaxing atmosphere for you. They are also known as ‘dry saunas’ as they work in extremely high temperatures. The heat used in traditional spas is generated from an electric or wood-burning stove.

The heating element used in a dry sauna is responsible for creating a steamy humid environment that helps in increasing blood flow. There are two key components – heat and steam. You can adjust both according to personal preferences. You can also control the level of humidity by adding more or less water during the session.

dry heat sauna, infrared sauna vs traditional sauna

Traditional saunas come in all shapes and sizes. However, they require more materials and labor to work properly, which makes them expensive for regular use.

The Finns invented steam saunas almost 1800 years ago. They formulated the concept of hot baths for wellness and rejuvenation. In a steam sauna, the pressurized steam is released into an enclosed room. An interesting fact is that instead of using dry heat like traditional saunas, the former uses moist heat for warming the room. The steam released into the enclosed room is produced by heating water. But keep in mind – a complete steam sauna installation can only be carried out by a professional. Furthermore, they require high maintenance – you must clean them regularly to avoid mold and mildew buildup.

Infrared saunas

Infrared saunas are a modern novelty. Instead of heating the air around you like traditional saunas, they work by heating your body directly.

As mentioned before, infrared saunas work by using electromagnetic radiation, infrared lamps, and panels to produce heat. Then, the infrared heaters emit light that is converted into heat energy.

These types of saunas have numerous health benefits. The good news is that they come in different types, so you can purchase the one that suits your needs best.

infrared sauna, infrared and traditional saunas

Difference between steam and infrared saunas

Generally speaking, there exist huge differences between steam and infrared saunas. Their cost, maintenance, and working mechanisms are entirely different from each other.

  • Steam saunas require more maintenance – which also makes them very expensive. On the other hand, the modern techniques used in infrared saunas make them more efficient and less expensive.

  • The steam sauna works by heating water and releasing pressurized steam. On the other hand, an infrared sauna works by using EMF and using light as heat energy.

  • Conventional steam saunas need to maintain a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees to induce sweat and to work properly. In contrast, infrared saunas can work well under temperatures of 60 degrees. This makes them safe for regular use.

  • Infrared saunas use dry heat, whereas steam saunas utilize moist heat. This makes the former more energy efficient as compared to the latter.

  • Infrared saunas use infrared light to emit heat, whereas a steam sauna creates a moisture-rich environment by boiling the water.

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Infrared Sauna vs Traditional Sauna

Infrared saunas vs traditional saunas- Which one is the right choice for you?

Both infrared and traditional saunas have their unique set of properties, advantages, and uses. Ultimately, the choice between traditional and infrared saunas depends on your personal preferences, health goals, and budget. Here are some key points that can help you to make the right decision. 

Benefits of Infrared Saunas vs. Traditional Saunas

Infrared saunas require little maintenance. This makes them less expensive as compared to traditional saunas.

Another great advantage of infrared saunas is that they are quicker and easier to use. Just plug in, and voila, you are ready to jump into the steamy hot bath! This makes them more energy-efficient and eco-friendly. Moreover, infrared saunas are also ideal for people who have respiratory issues and cannot handle the heavy air of the conventional dry sauna.

The cost of running a traditional sauna is much higher as compared to an infrared one. This is because the former requires more materials and labor to function properly. While the latter is more energy-efficient and can be managed easily. 

The maintenance and cleaning process of a traditional sauna is also very hectic. The hot rocks produce steam inside the wooden cabin. This makes the wooden room damp for long periods. As a result, it attracts molds and mildews. You need to get professional cleaning done frequently if you are opting for traditional saunas in your home. On the contrary, infrared saunas do not attract mold buildup. Why? Because instead of heating up the entire room, they work by raising the temperature of your body by directly penetrating the heat. They just require regular cleaning ‘touch-ups’.

Infrared Sauna’s Heat vs Traditional Sauna Heat

This is the key difference between the working mechanisms of infrared vs regular sauna.

Infrared saunas use light to emit heat energy. The EMF is radiated from different panels, and it plays an integral role in raising the body’s temperature.

On the other hand, traditional saunas use a ‘dry’ mode of heating. This means that they involve the use of a single heater to heat the air around the room. The heater is used to warm up the rocks. And then the water is poured into the hot rocks to produce steam. The steam subsequently raises the temperature of the entire wooden cabin. The working mechanism of the traditional sauna requires professional handling. On the contrary, with the infrared saunas, you just have to plug in, and you are good to go!

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Factors to consider when purchasing a sauna

Here is what you must consider:

  • EMF rating (This is extremely important if you are purchasing an infrared sauna. Having a normal EMF rating can protect you from potential hazards)

  • Make sure that your sauna is made up of non-toxic materials.

  • Consider the size and shape before making the purchase. Choose the unit that aligns well with your property setup.

  • When selecting a sauna, you need to think about how many people will be using it. If you are sharing it with others, make sure to purchase the one that isn’t congested and has more space.

  • Choose the one that aligns with your lifestyle, budget, and preferences. And that’s why I always recommend researching thoroughly!

  • Decide the location where you want to place it before bringing it home! Take proper measures to avoid any inconvenience afterward.       

  • Think about whether you wish to install it indoors or outdoors. Both are correct methods, and it depends entirely on an individual’s preferences.

How Saunas Produce Heat

Conventional, aka traditional saunas, produce heat by pouring water onto the hot rocks. These rocs are heated by electric or wooden stoves.

Infrared saunas produce heat with the help of EMF radiations and infrared panels. They act by directly warming the body.

What to Expect From a Sauna Session

You will be amazed by the wonderful effects on your physical and emotional well-being. After a sauna session, you can expect to experience the following:

  • Increased pulse rate

  • Improved blood circulation

  • Excessive sweating

  • More energized and invigorated

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Health Benefits of Spending Time in a Sauna

There are numerous benefits of spending time in a sauna, such as:

  • Improved cardiac health.

  • Reduced body inflammation

  • Reduced stress and anxiety

  • Increased muscle growth

  • Relief from headaches and cramps

  • Improved sleep

  • Better lifestyle

  • Increased metabolism

  • Clear pores

  • Relaxation

  • Improved attention span

  • Improved mental and physical health

  • Glowing skin

Far-Infrared vs. Near-Infrared Saunas

There are two major types of infrared saunas:

1. Near-infrared spa therapy

Photobiomodulation therapy or Near-infrared therapy uses visible light and near-infrared spectrum to promote wellness. The penetration associated with this type of therapy is remarkable. Such types of saunas are safe for infants as well.

2. Far infrared spa therapy

Far-infrared therapy is also known as ‘dry sauna bathing’, and it works by activating our sweat glands. Moreover, it helps in raising your core body temperature efficiently. If you experience muscle spasms or shoulder/neck aches, investing in a sauna with far-infrared therapy might be the best choice for you.

Costs of Running a Sauna

The cost of running a sauna depends upon its type (infrared or traditional), size, and working time. On average, you can expect to spend $8-$15 on running a conventional one and $4-$6 on running an infrared sauna.

Please note the above-listed prices represent the cost on a monthly basis. The rates are exclusive of cleaning and maintenance charges. Financing is available for most saunas and recommended unless you can afford to pay in full.

fun sauna session with ladies

Which Type of Sauna Is Best?

Honestly, the best type of sauna is the one that suits YOUR needs the best! At the end of the day, it comes to your preferences, budget, and lifestyle choices that determine the kind of sauna you should purchase. However, in my opinion, infrared saunas hold greater value as compared to traditional ones. Not only are they less expensive and offer a wide range of benefits (huge advantage!), but they are also energy-efficient, and the entire process of operating the sauna is so smooth! 

infrared sauna vs traditional sauna

How to Reduce the Risk of Side Effects

Follow these suggestions to reduce the potential side effects of a sauna session:

  • Staying for a long time in the sauna can cause dehydration. A good rule of thumb is to just stay inside for 20-30 minutes.

  • To avoid dehydration, drink plenty of water before and after the sauna session.

  • Do not sit in the traditional sauna if you are sensitive to heat or have respiratory diseases.

  • If you are using an infrared sauna, always check the EMF levels! Never compromise on this one!

  • Always moisturize your face after the session. This helps in preventing your skin from dehydration.

  • Don’t jump into a sauna during a hangover! 

I hope that the above guide on infrared saunas vs traditional saunas proves to be helpful for you. There are so many advantages of a sauna session. If you wish to improve your health and well-being, indulging in the sauna is defiantly a must! For more wellness tips, head over to the website and read more blogs. 

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  • Cameron Allen

    Cameron is the Founder of Grapplers Graveyard. He is an athlete, a life-long learner, and a combat sports enthusiast. His goal is to build websites that help people become smarter, healthier, and happier.

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