Sauna Types and the Benefits of Each: Choose Your Healing Experience

Sauna Types and the Benefits of Each: Choose Your Healing Experience

Dec 19, 2023 · Angi Genes

Sauna Types and the Benefits of Each: Choose Your Healing Experience

In our ever-busy lives, finding a moment to unwind and rejuvenate is crucial for maintaining balance and health. You might have heard about the therapeutic effects of sauna bathing but feel lost in choosing which type suits your needs best.

The world of sauna therapy offers an array of options, each with unique features and wellness benefits.

Saunas are not just hot rooms; they can be a sanctuary for detoxification, relief from muscle soreness, or simply a retreat for mental clarity. With various types such as traditional wood-burning saunas, electrically heated saunas, infrared cabins, steam rooms, and portable setups available on the market today—one fact stands out: regular use can significantly enhance circulation and promote relaxation.

Whether you're looking to invest in your health routine or seeking that perfect post-workout session recovery aid, this guide will lead you through the maze of options toward the ideal sauna experience tailored just for you.

traditional sauna

Key Takeaways

  • Saunas come in various forms like traditional wood - burning, electric, infrared, steam, and portable home saunas. Each type offers its own unique setting for relaxation and health benefits such as improved circulation and stress relief.
  • Infrared saunas provide a gentle heat directly to the body at lower temperatures which may offer additional health advantages including pain relief and detoxification without high humidity or extreme heat.
  • Traditional wood - burning saunas offer an authentic experience with high temperatures that promote intense sweating and can be adjusted for dry or wet sessions by adding water to heated rocks.
  • Portable home saunas are convenient solutions for small spaces or temporary setups, often using infrared technology to deliver therapeutic benefits similar to larger installations.
  • Safety practices like proper hydration, monitoring time spent in the sauna, cooling down afterward, and consulting with healthcare providers before starting a sauna regimen are crucial for a safe and enjoyable sauna experience.

The Rich History of Saunas and Their Global Popularity

outdoor sauna in a forest

Saunas have woven themselves into the tapestry of numerous cultures over thousands of years, becoming a global phenomenon with an allure that transcends borders. Originating in Finland over 2,000 years ago, these heat rooms were first dug into embankments in the earth.

Over time, they evolved into wooden huts known as Finnish saunas or smoke saunas (savusauna), which are still cherished today for their authentic experience and connection to tradition.

Use of saunas spread across the world, adapting to various traditions and innovations along the way. Electric sauna heaters now offer convenience while infrared saunas provide targeted heat exposure with lower temperatures and potential health benefits according to recent research.

From public bathhouses in Russia and Turkey to luxury spas globally, each culture has embraced the concept, making it their own by infusing local practices like aromatherapy and löyly—a Finnish term for steam created by splashing water on hot stones.

This widespread popularity demonstrates how saunas have become more than just a place for bathing; they serve as social hubs where people can relax and invigorate both body and mind.

Exploring the Different Types of Saunas

Saunas come in various types, including traditional wood-burning saunas, electric saunas, infrared saunas, steam saunas, and portable home saunas. Each type offers unique experiences and benefits to cater to different preferences and needs.

Traditional Wood-Burning Sauna

A traditional wood-burning sauna offers a deep, soothing heat that many users love. As the heart of this type of sauna, the wood stove radiates warmth after being stoked with firewood, creating an environment for dry heat therapy.

The scent of burning wood adds to the immersive atmosphere, enhancing the experience in a way that feels rustic and grounded.

This form of sauna harnesses simple yet effective principles: as stones placed atop the wood stove get hot, they release stored thermal energy into the room. Humidity levels can be adjusted by sprinkling water on these heated rocks to generate steam according to one's preference for wet or dry heat sessions.

Positioned typically in outdoor settings or separate outbuildings, these saunas encourage a connection with nature while delivering health benefits such as improved circulation and stress relief.

The design allows for an authentic Finnish-style session where temperatures climb to upwards of 180-200 degrees Fahrenheit. Users often take breaks from this intense heat to cool down before returning for another round, which stimulates their cardiovascular system - resembling a form of hormetic stress that can lead to increased resilience over time.

This practice not only promotes relaxation but also contributes positively toward overall well-being without relying on modern technology like EMF (electromagnetic field)-emitting electric heaters found in other types of saunas.

Electric Sauna

Electric saunas heat up quickly and maintain a steady temperature, making them a popular choice for those wanting to enjoy a sauna session without the wait. They work by using an electric sauna stove that radiates heat into the room, often featuring built-in controls that allow users to adjust temperature settings easily.

This type of sauna offers dry heat, which can facilitate deep sweat and aid in relaxation.

Not only are electric saunas convenient, but they're also energy-efficient compared to traditional wood-burning alternatives. Installation is simple with no need for a chimney or ventilation system as required by wood stoves, putting these units at the forefront of modern home spa technology.

Users get consistent warmth and the benefits of regular sauna use, including improved circulation and stress relief—all with just the touch of a button.

Infrared Sauna

infrared sauna

Infrared saunas use infrared light to heat the body directly, rather than warming the surrounding air. This allows for a more comfortable experience at lower temperatures compared to traditional saunas.

In addition, studies suggest that infrared saunas may offer unique health benefits such as improved circulation, pain relief, and detoxification through increased sweating. The penetrating warmth from infrared wavelengths has been associated with alleviating conditions like chronic pain, joint stiffness, and even cardiovascular health concerns.

Some keywords used: chronic pain, joint pain, far infrared, cardiovascular disease

Steam Room Sauna

Steam saunas, also known as wet saunas, utilize heated water to create a humid environment. The high humidity in steam saunas is achieved by pouring water over hot rocks or using a steam generator.

This creates a sensation of enveloping warmth that encourages profuse sweating, providing the body with deep cleansing and relaxation. Steam saunas are particularly effective at opening up the airways, making them beneficial for individuals seeking respiratory relief.

The use of steam saunas can be traced back to ancient civilizations where it was believed to offer numerous health benefits. Today, scientific evidence supports their ability to aid in detoxification and promote healthy skin by opening pores and removing impurities through sweat.

Portable Home Sauna

If you're seeking the relaxation and health benefits of a sauna without the space or installation requirements of traditional models, a portable home sauna could be the ideal solution.

These compact units are designed for easy assembly and disassembly, making them suitable for smaller homes, apartments, or spaces where permanent fixtures may not be feasible. With options ranging from foldable fabric saunas to collapsible tent-style designs, there's a portable home sauna to suit different preferences and needs.

Portable home saunas typically utilize infrared heat technology to generate therapeutic warmth within the enclosed space. This method can provide similar benefits to traditional saunas such as detoxification through sweating, improved circulation, stress relief, and muscle relaxation.

Key Considerations When Choosing the Right Sauna for You

When choosing a sauna, it's important to assess your sauna goals, understand budget constraints, and decide between an indoor or outdoor installation. These considerations will help you narrow down the options and find the right sauna for your needs.

Assessing Your Sauna Goals

Consider your specific sauna goals when choosing the right type of sauna. Whether aiming for relaxation, detoxification, or relief from certain health conditions, understanding your objectives will guide you toward the most suitable sauna experience.

Factoring in your desired results alongside any potential health benefits associated with different saunas can help narrow down the options that align best with your wellness objectives and overall well-being.

Understanding Budget Constraints

Budget is a significant factor when choosing a sauna. Assessing your financial limits allows you to focus on options within your means. If you're on a tight budget, electric and portable home saunas are cost-effective choices.

Meanwhile, traditional wood-burning saunas may require higher upfront costs due to installation and maintenance expenses, but they provide an authentic sauna experience.

When deciding between different sauna types, it's vital to weigh the initial investment against long-term benefits. For instance, infrared saunas may have higher upfront costs than electric units but can offer energy efficiency and lower operating expenses over time.

Deciding Between Indoor vs. Outdoor

Consider your climate and available space before deciding between an indoor or outdoor sauna. Outdoor saunas offer a unique connection to nature, providing an invigorating experience with the surrounding environment.

On the other hand, indoor saunas provide convenience and privacy year-round, making them suitable for those in colder climates or urban settings.

When choosing between indoor and outdoor saunas, also consider maintenance requirements. Outdoor saunas may require additional upkeep due to exposure to the elements, while indoor models generally have lower maintenance needs.

Comparing Sauna Types: Benefits and Experiences

infrared sauna

Traditional saunas use dry heat produced by heating stones, while infrared saunas use radiant heat to directly warm the body. To learn more about the benefits and experiences of different sauna types, keep reading for a comprehensive comparison.

Traditional vs. Infrared Sauna

When considering sauna therapy, a key distinction to make is between traditional and infrared saunas, each offering unique experiences and health benefits.

Feature Traditional Sauna Infrared Sauna
Heating Method Heats the air using wood-burning or electric heaters Uses infrared panels to directly warm the body
Temperature Higher temperatures (150-195°F) Lower temperatures (120-150°F)
Heating Time Requires preheating (30-40 minutes) Quick heating time, often ready in 10-15 minutes
Humidity Typically offers both dry and wet options Low humidity, generally dry heat
Health Benefits Detoxification, relaxation, respiratory relief, circulation improvement Detoxification, relaxation, potential for deeper tissue penetration, and additional benefits as indicated by research
Feeling and Experience Immersive with intense heat, promotes "feel good" endorphins Direct, gentle warming, less intense heat sensation
Installation Often requires more space and complex setup More compact options available, easier to fit in homes

Both sauna types enhance well-being through heat exposure. The traditional sauna provides a high-heat environment for sweating and purification. In contrast, infrared saunas deliver heat directly to the body, promoting a more focused and gentle experience. Understanding these differences is crucial for selecting the right sauna for personal health goals and preferences.

Dry Sauna vs. Wet (Steam) Sauna

Understanding the contrasts between dry and wet saunas is crucial for anyone considering their sauna options. Both styles offer relaxation and health benefits, though they operate differently and suit various preferences.

Dry Sauna Wet (Steam) Sauna
Heats the air with wood-burning or electric heaters Uses steam to create high humidity and heat
Typically operates at higher temperatures, between 150°F and 195°F Operates at lower temperatures, usually around 110°F to 120°F
Low humidity, usually between 5% and 30% High humidity, often close to 100%
Offers an immersive, traditional sauna experience Creates a moist environment, beneficial for respiratory issues
Encourages intense sweating and toxin release Steam can help open up airways and hydrate the skin
Users may add a small amount of water to rocks for a burst of steam Consistently envelops the user in warm vapor
Can improve circulation and promote muscle recovery May assist in alleviating cold symptoms and congestion
Often preferred by sauna purists for its dry heat Ideal for those seeking the therapeutic effects of a humid environment


Both sauna types play a role in improving wellness, offering distinct experiences. Users must consider personal health goals and preferences when deciding which sauna experience will best suit their lifestyle.

Health Benefits of Sauna Use

steam room 

Regular sauna use has been linked to a range of health benefits, including detoxification and relaxation, improved respiratory function, muscle recovery, and potential weight loss.

Explore the many ways saunas can contribute to overall well-being and learn how to incorporate them into your wellness routine. Read on for more detailed information about sauna types and their respective benefits.

Detoxification and Relaxation

Saunas are known for their ability to aid in the detoxification process through sweating, helping the body eliminate toxins and impurities. The heat from saunas increases blood circulation, promoting relaxation and reducing stress levels.

This therapeutic heat can also soothe sore muscles and joints, providing relief from tension and aches. Additionally, saunas stimulate the release of endorphins, known as the body's natural "feel-good" chemicals, which contribute to an overall sense of well-being.

Regular sauna sessions have been linked to various health benefits such as improved cardiovascular function, enhanced respiratory health, and reduced symptoms of certain chronic conditions like hypertension.

Respiratory Relief and Circulation Improvement

radiating red heart

Saunas improve circulation by dilating blood vessels, increasing heart rate, and causing the body to perspire. This increased blood flow can help soothe sore muscles, reduce inflammation, and promote faster recovery from injuries.

Sauna use has been associated with improved respiratory function as the heat encourages deep breathing which can provide relief for mild respiratory conditions such as congestion and bronchitis.

The increased heart rate during sauna sessions also mimics light exercise, promoting cardiovascular health. For individuals dealing with hypertension or poor circulation, regular sauna use may support better heart health by stimulating blood flow throughout the body.

Muscle Recovery and Weight Loss

Saunas aid in muscle recovery and weight loss through increased circulation, relaxation of muscles, and promoting sweating. This process helps flush out toxins from the body while reducing water retention, supporting weight loss efforts.

Additionally, saunas promote endorphin release, which can ease post-workout soreness and aid in muscle recovery.

Infrared saunas have been linked to increased calorie burn and improved muscle recovery. The deep heat penetration aids in relaxing muscles and reducing inflammation after intense exercise sessions.

Sauna Safety Tips and Best Practices


Sauna safety is of utmost importance for a positive and beneficial experience. Here are some key safety tips and best practices to keep in mind:

  1. Monitor Heat Exposure: Pay attention to your body's signals and avoid staying in the sauna for too long, especially if you are new to sauna use or have health concerns related to heat sensitivity.
  2. Hydration: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after using the sauna to stay properly hydrated and counteract the fluid loss through sweating.
  3. Time Limits: Limit each session in the sauna to a safe duration, typically around 15-20 minutes, especially if you are not accustomed to the heat.
  4. Clothing: Remove all jewelry and ensure you are wearing appropriate clothing that can handle high temperatures without causing discomfort or injury.
  5. Cool Down: Allow yourself time to cool down after leaving the sauna, preferably by taking a lukewarm shower or resting in a cooler area.
  6. Health Check: Consult with your healthcare provider before starting any sauna regimen, particularly if you have medical conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, or any chronic health issues.
  7. Supervision: If using a sauna at home, ensure it is installed according to manufacturer guidelines and always supervise children or individuals who may need assistance while using the sauna.


Understanding the different types of saunas, such as traditional dry saunas, steam rooms, infrared saunas, and salt therapy saunas, along with their unique health and relaxation benefits, can help you make an informed decision when choosing which type is right for your needs.

Carefully considering your health goals, budget, availability of local sauna facilities, and personal preferences will lead to finding the optimal sauna experience. It is also good to consider ideal heat exposure times, hydration and cooling off tips, appropriate attire, and precautions around underlying medical conditions to safely enjoy their chosen sauna type.

Saunas have the potential to allow you to experience significant improvements in cardiovascular health, stress levels, circulation, pain relief, skin quality, immune function, and overall well-being. The positive effects of different heated sauna environments are well documented, but always consult with health professionals for further engagement with this impactful health and wellness topic. An informed, responsible, and open-minded approach to integrating sauna use into one's lifestyle can yield tangible personal benefits.

Different Sauna Types FAQs

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

A: A traditional Finnish sauna offers numerous health benefits, including improved circulation, relaxation, stress relief, and potential detoxification through sweating.

Q: What is the best type of sauna?

A: The best type of sauna largely depends on individual preferences and health considerations. Traditional Finnish saunas and infrared saunas are the most commonly used types.

Q: What are the differences between infrared and traditional saunas?

A: Infrared saunas use infrared heaters to emit radiant heat, while traditional saunas heat the air within the room. The experience and potential health benefits differ between the two types.

Q: What are the health benefits of infrared saunas?

A: Infrared saunas are believed to offer benefits such as pain relief, improved skin health, relaxation, and potential detoxification. However, research on these specific benefits is ongoing.

Q: What should I consider when choosing the right sauna for my home?

A: Factors to consider include available space, installation requirements, preferred sauna experience, health considerations, and overall budget.

Q: How often should I use a sauna?

A: The frequency of sauna use varies among individuals. However, many people find that enjoying a sauna session once a week provides beneficial effects for overall well-being.

Q: Do saunas offer any specific health benefits for users?

A: Studies suggest that regular sauna bathing is associated with various health benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health, reduced risk of certain diseases, and potential mental well-being.

Q: Can I install a sauna in my home, and if so, what type is best?

A: It is possible to install a sauna in your home, and the best type depends on your preferences and available space. Options may include traditional Finnish saunas or infrared saunas.

Q: Are saunas popular in certain cultures?

A: Saunas are particularly popular in Finnish culture, where the traditional Finnish sauna holds significant cultural and social importance. However, saunas are also widely enjoyed in various other cultures around the world.

Q: What are the benefits of spending time in a sauna?

A: Sauna bathing is inversely associated with the risk of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and other health conditions. It also offers potential relaxation and stress relief benefits.

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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