Infrared Sauna vs Traditional Sauna – Differences, Similarities, and the Benefits of Each

Whether you just finished a big HIIT workout, a long day of work, or feel like your body could use some extra attention, hopping in the sauna can feel so relaxing. Your mind focuses on nothing but the intense heat, and your body is sweating out all the toxins and dirt in your skin. Sitting in a sauna is also known to help improve cardiovascular health and improve blood pressure.

Athletes and other people who do intense workouts or their jobs require lots of physical labor enjoy saunas because they are relaxing on the muscles, which can help the recovery process and not leave you as sore.

infrared sauna vs traditional sauna

Another common place you can find saunas is at spas since the heat will open your pores and skin. As saunas have become more popular for different people and cultures and technology has advanced, you now have the option between going to an infrared sauna vs a traditional sauna.

The traditional steam sauna has been around for at least 2,000 years now. It is what we all know when we think of a sauna, a room with wood walls with places to sit, and a large stove. Then using water, you would create steam by having it poured overtop of hot rocks.

Nowadays, the most common way traditional saunas are heated is using electricity, but some also use gas or fire. The traditional sauna is ready to be used once it has reached a temperature between 150 to 195 degrees, so get ready to get sweaty.

You also have the option of going to an infrared sauna instead. This type of sauna is much newer; only in the last 40 years or so have they become available and popular among the public. These saunas use an infrared heat source rather than steam to heat the room and tend to heat up quicker than a traditional sauna so that you can use it faster.

Infrared sauna therapy uses unique infrared lights that emit heat that our skin can absorb, and the inside looks similar to a traditional sauna as most also use wood walls. Although they don’t use steam, they still get the job done by making you sweat.

Today, we will dive into the similarities, differences, and benefits of going to an infrared sauna vs. a traditional sauna. This will help you decide which sauna is best for you, although any sauna will be a relaxing one. Now that you know a bit about each type of sauna, let’s look at some of the similarities between the two.

Similarities Between Infrared Saunas vs Traditional Saunas

Although these two types of saunas may sound completely different, they are both still saunas when it comes down to it. They are both trying to do the same job and accomplish the same things but in different ways.

  • Both have the same goal of stress relief and relaxation, soothing your muscles and helping to relieve aches and pains. They are both using some sort of heat to achieve the same benefits.
  • Most saunas, whether they are traditional steam sauna or one that uses infrared waves, have the same look and style. You can have small saunas that fit one person or a whole group of people, but they are usually made with wood walls and look relatively similar. There will be more technology in the infrared saunas, so mimicking the wood walls is a way to create the same relaxing space as the traditional sauna.
  • Both saunas are going to be dry heat therapy. Although the traditional sauna will likely be a bit drier depending on how often and how much water is being poured on the hot rocks. Infrared saunas cannot control the humidity level, so both can end up being quite dry depending on how long you are sitting in it for.

Differences of Infrared Saunas vs Traditional Saunas

After talking about the similarities of the two saunas, now let’s go over some of the key differences between both. Although they are trying to achieve the same things, the method by which you use both saunas, and everything in between is essentially different.

Method of Heating-Up

Starting with the most obvious difference, traditional vs infrared saunas use completely different heat sources to heat the room. Traditional saunas use a large stove with hot rocks on top, and once water is poured on top of the hot rock, the room fills with hot steam. As we previously mentioned, traditional saunas today can also use fire, gas, and most commonly, electricity to create steam.

There is no steam involved with infrared saunas; they use an infrared light source that produces heat. This is the biggest difference because it affects all the other factors and the overall experience for the user for each sauna type.

Temperature and How Long It Takes to Heat Up

The next big difference between the two saunas is how hot they can get and how long they take to heat up. A traditional sauna takes approximately 45 minutes to fully heat up and can reach temperatures of up to 150 to 195 degrees. One hundred ninety-five degrees F is the hottest temperature a sauna can legally be in the United States.

We will discuss this more in the overall experience, but it is important to do multiple short sessions in the sauna rather than one long period.

Infrared saunas only take about 15 to 20 minutes for the infrared light emitters to heat up. They get up to as hot as 115 to 135 degrees F. This allows users to have a sauna session of up to 20-30 minutes, and they sit directly beside the light to absorb as much heat and sweat as much as possible.

Amount of Energy Used

Since traditional saunas tend to be bigger and can fit more people, they tend to use more energy during each sauna session, especially if they use electricity. Most infrared saunas are built for one person, two maximum, so heating a smaller space requires less energy.

Although you can buy traditional one-person saunas, it all depends on how many people will be using the sauna and how often. Most people don’t have the room or money for an at-home infrared sauna, so the amount of energy used isn’t a huge concern for most users.

Overall Experience

The last big difference between these two saunas is the overall experience for the user. Like we previously talked about in the last section, an infrared sauna room is typically built for one person. This can be a lot more relaxing, therapeutic, and calming to be in a room by yourself for a little while. Others may find sauna bathing by yourself lonely, or you prefer to have some company, so a traditional sauna experience would be the way to go.

Another difference that affects the sauna experience is that traditional saunas get considerably hotter than an infrared energy sauna; you must sit in the sauna in sessions. Most people sit in a traditional sauna anywhere from 5-15 minutes and then get out to cool down, then go back in and repeat this process up to 3 times.

This totals approximately 45 minutes of being in the sauna. When you choose an infrared sauna, you don’t have to get in and out repeatedly and can sit inside for up to 20 to 30 minutes to produce a deep sweat.

Benefits of Traditional Saunas

Benefits of Traditional Saunas

Here are some of the best benefits to sitting in a traditional sauna:

  • Produces a deep sweat, and since it uses steam, it can help with detoxification and opening your pores.
  • Sitting in a sauna includes health benefits such as reduced pain in muscles, increased blood circulation, improved cardiovascular functions, can help with anti-aging and skin rejuvenation, and more.
  • You can control the humidity level in traditional saunas by how much steam you create, depending on how much water is being poured on the rocks.
  • It provides you with the traditional sauna experience, and you can sit in the room with multiple people rather than by yourself.

Benefits of Infrared Saunas

infrared sauna vs traditional sauna

Now let’s look at the best benefits of using an infrared sauna:

  • You receive the same health benefits using an infrared sauna as you would a traditional sauna, except it takes less time to heat up, and you don’t have to get back in and out of the room constantly.
  • Most infrared saunas don’t get as hot as traditional saunas, which some may not find beneficial, but some may find these lower temperatures more comfortable and tolerable.
  • Infrared heat can penetrate deep into your muscles, so you will feel a difference if you start your session with sore and stiff muscles.
  • Most infrared saunas are built large enough for only one person, so this session can be relaxing and soothing as it is some quiet time alone from the rest of your friends and family.

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