Infrared Sauna vs Traditional Sauna: How to Choose Between the Two

Infrared Sauna vs Traditional Sauna: How to Choose Between the Two

Dec 18, 2023 · Angi Genes

Infrared Sauna vs Traditional Sauna: How to Choose Between the Two

Saunas have long been sought after for their soothing heat and potential health benefits, but with different types available, you might wonder which one suits your wellness goals best.

Are the gentle waves of warmth from an infrared sauna more beneficial, or does a traditional sauna's steamy embrace offer greater health perks? If you're grappling with this question, you're not alone in your journey to discover the ideal path to relaxation and well-being.

Recent studies reveal that both traditional and infrared saunas can enhance your health by easing tension in muscles and improving circulation. This blog post is designed to unravel the differences between these two popular types of saunas, examining their unique advantages so that you can make an informed decision tailored to your personal health needs.

large traditional sauna room

Key Takeaways

  • Infrared saunas use light to heat the body directly, which can be better for heart health and those who prefer a gentler type of warmth. They also help improve blood circulation and may boost metabolism.
  • Traditional saunas heat up the air around you to high temperatures, leading to intense sweating that helps with detoxification and fighting off sickness by killing viruses and bacteria.
  • Both types of saunas are good for relaxation, reducing pain, improving mood and sleep, but always check your health conditions with a doctor first.
  • Sauna risks include dehydration and overheating; infrared saunas have lower overall risks due to cooler air temperatures but may expose users to EMFs depending on the heating technology used.
  • When picking the best sauna, consider your personal health goals, safety needs based on any medical conditions you might have, comfort preferences regarding heat levels, and cost savings from energy efficiency in infrared models compared to traditional sauna's steam generators.

Understanding Saunas: Infrared vs. Traditional

Infrared saunas and traditional saunas heat your body differently. An infrared sauna uses light to create heat, which warms you directly without warming the air around you too much.

This kind of sauna is gentle and can make your core body temperature rise quickly. On the other hand, a traditional sauna heats the air with wood-burning stoves or electric heaters, making the room hot first.

Then, this hot air warms your body.

Traditional dry saunas get very hot inside. The high temperatures make you sweat a lot, helping your body get rid of toxins through sweat. Infrared saunas don't get as hot, so they are good for people who want gentler heat therapy but still like to sweat for health reasons.

Both types help relax sore muscles and improve blood circulation in different ways because of how they produce heat.

Health Benefits of Infrared Saunas

infrared sauna booth

Infrared saunas harness the power of light to penetrate human tissue, which may lead to various health improvements. This technology differs from traditional sauna methods by offering a unique set of benefits, from deeper tissue heating to potential enhancements in cardiovascular function.

Improved Heating Method

Infrared saunas warm your body directly with infrared rays. This is different from traditional saunas that heat the air around you. Your skin takes in the warmth and it goes deeper into your tissues.

This kind of heating can help relax your muscles more and make you feel good all over.

This type of sauna heats up quickly, using less energy than old-style saunas with heated stones. Because they work at a lower temperature, they are easier on your heart and lungs. People who find normal saunas too hot might like this better because it's gentler but still gives great benefits for health and wellness.

Boosted Metabolism

Sitting in an infrared sauna can help your body burn more calories. The heat makes your heart beat faster, much like it does when you exercise. This means your body works harder to keep cool and, as a result, you use up more energy.

Some people find that this helps with weight loss.

Infrared saunas also make the blood flow in your body better. When blood flows well, it carries oxygen around your body more effectively. Oxygen is important because it helps turn food into energy in our cells.

So with more oxygen moving around, our bodies can create energy more efficiently which may boost our metabolism even further.

Enhanced Blood Circulation

Infrared saunas are great for your blood flow. They make your heart beat faster and open up your blood vessels. This means more blood gets to different parts of your body. It's like giving your veins and arteries a good workout without having to move! Better blood circulation helps with lots of health stuff, such as keeping your heart in good shape.

Using an infrared sauna is one way to get your blood moving well. It can help keep you healthy by boosting how well your heart and blood vessels work together. A heated sauna session makes the body think it’s exercising, which kicks off some cool things inside you that help with this.

Non-Physical Workout

An infrared sauna can make your body work hard without you having to move. It heats up your body and makes your heart beat faster. This is like getting the benefits of a light jog or walk while you just sit and relax.

The heat helps with blood flow and may help with heart health.

Your body tries to cool down when in an infrared sauna. This takes energy, which means you burn calories even though you're not exercising. It's an easy way for people who can't do regular workouts to get some of the same effects, like a better metabolism and more energy.

Health Benefits of Traditional Saunas (Dry Saunas)

sauna with a large evergreen forest seen through the window

While infrared saunas offer a modern twist on the age-old practice of sauna bathing, traditional saunas are steeped in history and come with their own array of health benefits. They use intense heat and often steam to create an environment that promotes sweating and deeply penetrates tissues, aiding in everything from detoxification to mental well-being.


Sweating is a natural way to help clean your body from the inside. Both infrared and traditional saunas make you sweat a lot, which can help get rid of bad stuff like toxins. The heat in these saunas works to open up your pores so that when you sweat, more of these unwanted toxins can leave your body.

This process is kind of like giving your body's cleaning system an extra boost.

Using an infrared sauna may be even better for detoxing than the traditional one. Studies show that because it heats your body directly with far infrared light, not just the air around you, it might pull out more toxins through sweat compared to regular saunas.

So if getting rid of toxins is important for you, choosing an infrared sauna could do a good job at helping with this goal.

Fat Burning

Saunas get your heart rate up like you are working out. This can help your body burn fat. Spending time in either an infrared or traditional sauna may have effects similar to mild exercise for some people.

The heat makes you sweat and raises your heart rate, which is similar to what happens when you go for a brisk walk.

Traditional saunas make the air hot, while infrared saunas warm your body directly. Both types might support weight loss efforts along with diet and regular exercises. Remember, always talk to a doctor before starting any new health routine, especially if it involves high heat or has possible risks for your heart health or blood pressure.

Elimination of Viruses and Bacteria

Hot air in traditional saunas helps your body fight off sickness. The heat makes it hard for bad germs and viruses to live. Studies say that sitting in this kind of sauna can get rid of more toxins than an infrared one.

This means you stay healthier by keeping away things that make you sick.

Your immune system gets stronger from the high temperatures too. It's like giving your body's defense team a workout, so they're ready to protect you better against infections and diseases.

Heat also makes your heart work harder which is good for pumping blood and bringing oxygen everywhere it needs to go, helping kill unwanted guests like bacteria and viruses faster.

Pain Reduction

Saunas are a great way to ease aches and help with chronic pain. Both infrared and traditional saunas can make you feel better if you hurt from things like rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia.

The heat helps your muscles relax, which can calm the pain. Studies show that traditional saunas are especially good at this.

Taking regular sauna baths might also help your muscles recover after you work out. This is because the heat makes more blood flow to your muscles, which helps them heal faster. People who use saunas often say they feel less pain and stress, too.

Your body feels relaxed in the warmth, which can make you happier and less stressed overall. This indirect effect of feeling calm can also help reduce pain because when we're not so tense, we tend to hurt less.

Relaxation and Positive Mindset

Sitting in a traditional sauna can melt away stress. The heat relaxes muscles, making you feel calm and happy. This could help with things like depression and anxiety. Many people also sleep better after spending time in a sauna.

Studies show that using a sauna can make your mind stronger against stress. You might find it easier to deal with tough feelings or problems after relaxing in the warmth of traditional saunas.

This is important for keeping a positive way of thinking and feeling good inside your head.

Comparing the Risks Associated with Infrared and Traditional Saunas

infrared sauna booth

Exploring the potential risks associated with sauna use is crucial for informed decision-making. The following table highlights the key risks of both infrared and traditional saunas: 

Risk Factor Infrared Sauna Traditional Sauna
Dehydration Can occur, as body sweats in response to heat exposure Significant risk due to high temperatures causing profuse sweating
Overheating Lower risk due to lower ambient temperatures Higher risk as temperatures can exceed 185°F (85°C)
Blood Pressure Fluctuations Possible, particularly for those with pre-existing conditions May cause more dramatic blood pressure changes due to intense heat
Ease of Breathing Generally easier due to milder air temperatures Can be challenging for some individuals, especially those with respiratory issues
Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) Potential exposure depending on the heating technology used No EMF exposure related to heat production
Duration of Use Longer sessions possible due to lower temperature environment Shorter sessions recommended to avoid excessive heat exposure

Each sauna type presents unique risks, from dehydration to EMF exposure. Users must assess these factors when selecting the most appropriate sauna for their health and wellness goals.

How to Choose the Best Type of Sauna for Your Needs

Choosing the right sauna for your needs is important. Think about what you want from a sauna before you decide.

  • Consider your health goals: If improving cardiovascular health or helping with chronic heart failure is important, infrared saunas might be better. They offer deep heat that can help your heart and blood flow.
  • Look at sauna safety: If you have skin problems or get dizzy easily, traditional saunas with lower temperatures could be safer for you.
  • Think about comfort: Infrared saunas heat up faster, which some people find more comfortable than waiting for traditional saunas to warm.
  • Check on costs: Infrared saunas can save money since they use less energy compared to steam generators in traditional ones.
  • Ask experts: Talk to a healthcare professional like a family physician if you have health issues like high blood pressure or coronary heart disease. They can advise on sauna benefits for your condition.
  • Research benefits: Find scientific evidence about how each type of sauna might help with things like inflammation or mental health issues such as major depressive disorder.
  • Know the risks: If you are worried about sudden cardiac death or other serious conditions, study how different types of saunas might affect those concerns.
  • Measure space at home: Infrared saunas often take up less room, making them a good choice if space is tight.
  • Evaluate time commitment: If you’re busy and want quick sessions, fast-heating infrared might match your lifestyle better than traditional Finnish-style saunas.


a split screen of an infrared sauna booth and a traditional dry sauna

Saunas can help your body in many ways, whether they use infrared or traditional heat. They make you feel relaxed and can soothe your muscles. Both kinds also get your blood flowing better and might even help with heart problems.

Think about which sauna is right for you. Do you want to sweat a lot and don't mind high heat? Then maybe the traditional sauna is best. Or do you like quicker sessions with less intense heat? In that case, an infrared sauna could be what you need.

These warm rooms are not just places to sit and sweat. They're good for more than one part of health – from easing pain to making stress levels drop. Just remember, it's smart to talk with a doctor first if you have any health worries.

Some time in a sauna may be just what your body needs after a long day or tough workout. Let the warmth surround you and enjoy how good it feels.


Infrared Saunas VS Traditional Sauna FAQs

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

A: Traditional saunas use a sauna heater to heat the air, while infrared saunas use infrared light to directly heat the body. Traditional saunas operate at higher temperatures, typically between 150-190°F, while infrared saunas operate at lower temperatures, usually around 120-140°F.

Q: What are the benefits of using a traditional sauna?

A: Traditional saunas have been linked to various health benefits, such as improved circulation, relaxation, detoxification through sweating, and relief from muscle tension and pain.

Q: What are the benefits of using an infrared sauna?

A: Infrared saunas offer benefits such as increased sweating at lower temperatures, improved skin health, pain relief, and potential cardiovascular benefits. Some users also report feeling more energized and relaxed after an infrared sauna session.

Q: How do traditional and infrared saunas differ in terms of the sauna experience?

A: Traditional saunas provide a steamy and intense heat experience, whereas infrared saunas offer a milder and more gentle heat that directly warms the body without significantly heating the surrounding air.

Q: Are there any health and wellness differences between infrared and traditional saunas?

A: Both types of saunas have been associated with various health benefits, but the mechanisms and intensity of the heat differ. Traditional saunas may provide a more intense sweating experience, while infrared saunas offer the benefits of infrared heat at lower temperatures.

Q: What are the differences in the sauna use and associated effects between traditional and infrared saunas?

A: Traditional saunas can reach higher temperatures and encourage more profuse sweating, while infrared saunas use infrared light to heat the body directly, promoting sweating at lower temperatures. The effects and experience of using both types of saunas may vary based on individual preferences and health needs.

Q: Can you use an infrared sauna and a traditional sauna during the same sauna session?

A: While it is possible to use both types of saunas in a single session, it may be advisable to wait between sessions to allow the body to adjust to the different heat experiences. It's important to stay hydrated and listen to your body's signals during sauna use.

Q: What are the best saunas to use for outdoor applications?

A: For outdoor saunas, options such as barrel saunas or traditional Finnish saunas can provide a classic and effective sauna experience. When considering outdoor sauna use, it's important to select a sauna design and materials that can withstand outdoor conditions.

Q: What are the associated health benefits of frequent sauna use, whether traditional or infrared?

A: Regular sauna use has been associated with various health benefits, including improved cardiovascular function, relaxation, stress relief, improved skin health, and potential detoxification effects. However, individual responses to sauna use can vary, and it's essential to consider personal health conditions before incorporating frequent sauna sessions into a routine.

Q: How does infrared sauna heat differ from traditional sauna heat?

A: Infrared sauna heat uses infrared radiation to warm the body directly, providing the perception of a milder and more comfortable heat compared to traditional saunas. Traditional saunas rely on heating the air in the sauna room, creating a more intense and enveloping heat experience.

Profile Image Angi Genes

Angi Genes

Angi Genes is a dedicated nutritionist and fitness enthusiast with a remarkable track record in bikini competitions. Her journey into health and wellness began as a personal quest to balance her busy life as a mother with her passion for fitness. Her success in bikini competitions is a testament to her dedication and knowledge in the field of nutrition and fitness.

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