In this article we are going to look at the biggest debate, between infrared sauna and traditional sauna. We will explore the differences between these two sauna types, and why you may prefer one over the other.
If you enjoy steam, higher temperatures, and a more social environment, then a traditional sauna may be best suitable for you. If you prefer a lower temperature with body penetrating heat, an infrared sauna will be your best choice.
Let’s look at the similarities of the rooms and the shared benefits. The goal of bathing in a sauna varies by each person, but let’s assume your goal is to enjoy the benefits of heat bathing, along with relaxation and stress reduction, sweating & relieving aches & pains. Both infrared and traditional provide these benefits, although the way these benefits are achieved are slightly different.
Both of these sauna types will be dry. The infrared room tends to be close to normal home humidity levels unless it has been on for an extended period of time. The traditional sauna will be about 10% drier, until water is sprinkled over the rocks. A traditional sauna is the only Sauna Bath in the world where the user can control both the temperature and humidity. Humidity is controlled by each user to his individual taste by how much water is thrown on the rocks. In an infrared sauna you control the temperature, but not the humidity.
In either sauna, you will experience deep relaxation, loosened sore muscles, and aching joints will feel relief. Perspiration burns calories, though the exact amount of calories burned is dependent upon each individual. Most of the weight lost in a sauna is water loss and is re-gained easily by hydrating. Without a doubt, sauna can be a very important part of a healthy weight loss program.
The temperature of a traditional sauna is typically between 150 and 185 F. In the United States, Underwriters Laboratory (UL) dictates that the maximum temperature at ceiling level of the sauna is no more than 194F. This means that the hottest point in the sauna, which is the ceiling directly above the heater, is typically around 190F.
The temperature in a infrared sauna is usually between 120-140F, however unlike a traditional sauna, the goal in an infrared sauna room is not to achieve a high temperature, but instead the bather wants the emitters to remain active because infrared energy is only being emitted when the sauna is on. Due to this, the temperature difference is almost irrelevant, since heavy sweating happens in both sauna types, but the method of heating the body is different. In an infrared sauna the user will feel hot and will sweat profusely, but at a lower temperature. If the goal is to spend longer periods of time in the sauna, infrared is a great choice.
In a traditional sauna, perspiration is achieved when the user enters a heated room. When the sauna has been properly heated, the sauna walls are warm, the air temperature has achieved the desired temperature and the rocks are super heated. The process of heating the room most often involves an electric heater that heats the stones, which then radiate the heat throughout the room. When high temperature is achieved, the elements cycle on and off to maintain temperature. Most traditional sauna users pour water over the rocks to create steam & raise humidity levels in the sauna. The benefit of pouring water over the rocks include making the room more comfortable, moistening of the nasal passages, & allowing the use of aroma therapy by mixing water with essential oils.
The heating time for the two rooms can be different, depending on how they are used. For a traditional sauna, the user should allow 30-40 minutes for the room to achieve desired temperature and to preheat the rocks. The heating time is dependent on the ambient temperature from which the rooms begins heating, the amount of insulation inside the walls, and the ventilation in the room. A well constructed sauna will typically heat to a 150-160 F temperature in about 30-40 minutes. For a hotter temperature, the room will need to heat for a longer period of time. Once the room has achieved the set temperature, the heater will cycle on and off, typically operating at about 50% of the time. The walls and heated rocks will keep the room hot and at a stable temperature.
For an infrared sauna room, a person may begin using the sauna when the room is turned on, since infrared energy is being emitted, however many users prefer to wait until the room has reached 110 F. The length of recommended use for each room is approximately the same, however due to lower air temperatures and the ability to feel the effects of infrared heat faster than a traditional sauna, it is not uncommon for a person to spend 20-30 minutes inside an infrared sauna. Regardless of which system is used, the user must closely monitor how they feel while using the sauna, and must be sure to drink plenty of after each session. Drinking right before or during the sauna session causes you to sweat out the water you just ingested, instead of releasing toxins built up in the body through sweat.