If you’re considering purchasing a sauna for your home, you have a lot more options as to types of saunas than were available even a few years ago. Perhaps the most common question among prospective buyers is whether to purchase a conventional sauna (which used to be the only option) or an infrared sauna (recently touted for additional health benefits and sold by holistic health companies such as Sauna Zen). The most obvious difference between the two sauna types is the way heating is accomplished; conventional saunas generally use wood stoves or (now more commonly) electrical heating elements, while infrared saunas use infrared rays emanating from carbon filters or ceramic elements in the walls. But as we will see, the ramifications for this difference in technology are far-reaching. The checklist below enumerates the top five differences between infrared and traditional saunas, so you can make an informed decision about which kind is right for you.
  1. Traditional saunas heat the air; infrared saunas warm the skin. Conventional heating relies on creating a superheated environment to cause perspiration, which can be uncomfortable for some. In an infrared sauna, infrared rays (emulating the helpful rays of the sun) warm the skin directly, evoking perspiration without having to superheat the internal temperature. This makes for a much more relaxing environment within the sauna.
  2. Infrared saunas enable more weight loss than conventional saunas. It is known that perspiration helps to burn calories, but direct warming of the skin due to infrared radiation enables the burning of even more calories—sometimes as much as 700 calories per session.
  3. Infrared saunas promote more detoxification than conventional saunas. Perspiration is the body’s natural way of cleansing itself of toxins, but many toxins reside deeper in our tissues, and sweating alone won’t remove them. Infrared technology warms the skin at a deeper level, helping to dislodge more of these toxins so the body can expel them.
  4. Infrared saunas provide improved circulatory benefits over traditional saunas. While increased body temperature is known to increase heart rate and blood flow (leading to lower blood pressure), the additional deep-tissue warming of infrared rays promotes further dilation of the blood vessels and oxygenation of the blood, adding even more benefit to the circulatory system.
  5. Infrared saunas are more energy efficient than traditional saunas. On a highly practical level, an infrared sauna uses less energy while doing a better job of warming the skin. Infrared saunas are also frequently easier to install, and in many cases do not even require a separate circuit breaker.
Hopefully, understanding these differences between infrared and traditional saunas will help you decide which type is best for your home.