Advancements in technology have led to many different innovations in the sauna industry over the last few years. Most notably, infrared saunas have come to the forefront of the sauna industry as the leading breakthrough of the last few decades. The traditional Finnish steam sauna has been a mainstay in Nordic regions of Europe for hundreds of years, whereas the Infrared sauna has been a recent development.
Now, companies are competing to produce models that are able to better deliver the benefits of saunas to their customers. The question facing many consumers right now is between steam saunas vs infrared saunas.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the inner workings of steam saunas vs infrared saunas and which one is able to deliver the usual benefits associated with saunas better than the other.
Steam Sauna vs Infrared Sauna: Which is Better?
There are many reasons why people choose to use saunas, whether it’s for the proven health benefits of sauna, or for the simple feeling of escape from the hustle and bustle of every day life. For hard core sauna enthusiasts that have been using them for many years, a traditional Finnish steam sauna is the obvious choice. But for many folks who are just starting to research the world of sauna, the question of whether or not they should buy an infrared sauna is one of the most frequent we get.
There are major differences between an infrared sauna and a traditional sauna. The number one largest difference is in the fact that you cannot pour water over a sauna heater in an infrared sauna. Infrared sauna rooms create heat from the infrared sauna panels in the room whereas traditional saunas create heat from a traditional sauna heater that hangs on the wall or stands on the floor.
- Traditional saunas: single heat source
- Infrared saunas: multiple heat sources surround the room
Steam Saunas: the Traditional Finnish Sauna
The traditional Finnish sauna is known as a steam sauna. Finns and those in Nordic regions have been utilizing saunas for hundreds of years. Nordic peoples were credited with discovering the use of saunas to alleviate the body’s usual ailments like sore muscles and joint stiffness, among other things that are common to humans. Traditional steam saunas have exploded in popularity here in the United States as well as around the world, particularly over the past two decades.
Biggest Advantages of Traditional Steam Sauna over Infrared Sauna
- Create intense heat and humidity by adding water to the hot sauna heater rocks
- Large amount of sweat is generated quickly
- Can be wood fired or electric powered
- Can be both indoors and out
One of the most well known, trusted and respected sauna manufacturers in the world is Finnleo, of whom we are a dealer. Actually, Finnleo North America was born right here in Cokato, Minnesota where our sauna showroom is located.
The traditional Finnish steam sauna is a sauna room with an electric sauna heater or a wood burning stove, where water is poured over the rocks to create a soothing steam effect for the sauna user. This creates a high humidty, hot environment which provokes an excessive amount of sweat, ultimately helping the body to rid itself of toxis.
Steam saunas are the traditional method of sauna use as ancient Nordic bathhouses are known to have included areas where large pots of water were used to produce high levels of steam inside a tightly locked cabin or underground bunker that was ideal for creating a hot, steamy environment that was conducive to making people sweat and expunge harmful toxins from their body.
Although the overall design of steam saunas has changed considerably since that time, the underlying concept of steam saunas remains very much the same as it did hundreds of years ago.
Infrared Saunas: Major Differences from Traditional Saunas
Infrared Saunas have become one of the hottest new items in the sauna world over the past two decades. Not all infrared saunas are alike, which we’ll get to shortly. The major difference between an infrared sauna and a steam sauna is that the infrared sauna does not use a traditional sauna heater. Rather, these saunas get their name from the infrared sauna panels that line the sauna walls.
Biggest Advantages of Infrared Saunas over Traditional Steam Sauna
- Highly versatile, all of the infrared saunas we offer run off of standard 120V household power
- Installation of infrared sauna takes 1/2 the time (or less) of a traditional sauna
- Heat created from infrared sauna is much softer than that of a traditional sauna
Infrared saunas operate much the same way of a traditional, minus the ability to add water to the sauna heater rocks that creates intense humidity in the sauna room.
Infrared saunas use heat that is transmitted through a series of wavelengths that carry heat and deliver it deep into the skin and muscle tissue of the human body in a way that has not been possible with older steam sauna technology.
According to scientists, infrared heat works to penetrate deep into the body and activate every single cell structure in a way that produces a greater level of heat and encourages the body to sweat and expunge toxins and other unwanted material from the pores.
Health Benefits of Steam Saunas
The health benefits of steam saunas are undeniable and have been evident for many hundreds of years across various cultures in the world.
Steam powered saunas work using heated steam that helps to force the body to sweat and expel any unwanted toxins and other elements from the skin and muscle tissue.
The steam sauna works by trapping heat and moisture on the body’s skin, forcing it to continually sweat in an effort to cool the body’s overall core temperature.
In an enclosed, sealed chamber that is filled with hot steam, the body’s sweat is unable to evaporate and cool the skin, therefore forcing it to continue sweating to a much higher degree than it normally would through exercise.
The healing properties of steam powered saunas act to purge the skin from harmful toxins, as well as the kidneys and liver.
Health Benefits of Infrared Saunas
The overall health benefits of infrared saunas are very similar to those offered by steam powered models.
They act to force the body to sweat in an effort to cool down the core temperature, sweating and expelling toxins and unwanted elements in the process.
This, much like the benefits of a steam sauna, can be excellent for mental, physical, and emotional health.
Infrared saunas are able to activate the body’s mitochondrial responses on a much deeper level than steam saunas as infrared is capable of inducing positive circulation.
Research has also shown that infrared light is also able to improve the skin’s overall tone and elasticity, which truly gives many regular sauna users a youthful glow and excellent skin tone.
Many sports medicine professionals have used and recommended infrared heat as a means for improving muscle and joining recovery after minor or moderate injury.
There is also research currently being done that indicates infrared heat is capable of improving the endocrine system and the many glands that are involved with it such as the thyroid, pituitary, pineal, and reproductive glands.
Major Differences in Steam Saunas vs Infrared Saunas
There are some glaring differences that some users must take into account in order to make the best possible decision as to whether or not they will purchase a steam sauna or go with a much newer, more advanced infrared model.
It is no secret that portable steam saunas are much more susceptible to mold and other bacteria growing on the inside of the unit if it is not properly cleaned after each use.
Infrared saunas are also capable of experiencing mold or mildew issues due to excess amounts of sweat that accumulate inside each unit, meaning it also must be properly cleaned out after each session.
Infrared saunas don’t require as much of a thick outer layer to keep heat inside as steam saunas, especially as it relates to portable models.
This usually means that infrared saunas are going to be much more lightweight and easy to carry than steam models, especially when you consider the fact that infrared saunas also don’t require a steamer pot.
Both steam and infrared saunas can be fully installed in a short amount of time. With steam saunas, you’ll be dealing with a much wetter overall experience and might require the need for towels and other means to clean up any drippage that can occur.
Individual users should take into account the benefits and anything else that is involved when it comes to steam saunas vs infrared saunas in order to make the best decision as to which version is right for their own personal needs.