fbpx

Infrared is not a sauna

This is my blog.  These are my opinions.  I am not some yahoo.  I lived in Scandinavia.  I have been taking saunas for over 25 years.  I know saunas.  I am not Finnish, I am half Italian and a 1/4 German, so I talk half the time and analyze 1/4 of the time.

If you own an infrared, perhaps you could recycle the cedar for a real sauna.  If you are thinking of buying an infrared, don’t.  Do your research.  You are smarter than that.

  • You avoid tanning salons, they give you cancer and turn your skin a weird color.
  • You don’t smoke tobacco cigarettes, same thing.
  • You don’t sweat by stuffing yourself in a microwave oven.

Imagine for a moment you are a sauna enthusiast from Finland, a country with more saunas than cars.  You have grown up with sauna,  a centuries old cultural tradition.  Now, you read and hear about $499 microwave boxes you can assemble in your living room called “infrared saunas.”  Imagine how pissed you would be.  I am waving this flag for all the polite Scandinavians who may only speak up on this topic after 3 sauna rounds and a few beers.  Infrared is not a sauna.

Wood sauna is preferred.  Electric sauna is ok, but Infrared is NOT a sauna.  Infrared is a marketing scam.  Infrared makes unrealistic claims to lure consumers.  Infrared is fueled by light bulbs and sold by guys that used to sell mops and knives at state fairs.  Infrared hucksters hitch their wagons to weight loss, pain relief, homeo whatever therapy, detoxify, and it’s all horse shit.  They have taken real benefits of a Finnish sauna and packaged them up to try to sell their high margin light bulb closets.  But you know this already, you are smarter than this.

Infrared is not a sauna.

19 thoughts on “Infrared is not a sauna”

  1. I am a Finn and have to tell you that there has been a trend of installing infrareds in Finland during the past couple years. It’s probably still pretty marginal and will likely never gain widespread >5% usage in the sauna. And while I have unfortunately not tried one in order to give a fair review, there are people who have some good things to say about it.
    I have to agree that it’s not a sauna, since you aren’t throwing water, and the room temperature is not hot. You just sit in the infrared radiation that works differently from the steam. The consensus seems to be that the infrared is used more as a treatment for various conditions or in addition to the real sauna. Infrared treatments have been widely used for many years outside of the sauna room, now someone just came up with the idea of putting the elements into the sauna room, and thus create this mix-up about what the sauna is. And from what I can tell, nobody with infrared elements in their sauna would call it a replacement for a sauna. It’s just another type of relaxation method since it works much deeper in the tissues than the steam sauna. All people I know who have one, also have a normal steam sauna.

    For me a sauna is any room that has a stove (wood-burning or electric) with heated stones in it, and whose temperature is >55°C (~130°F), and where water is being thrown on those stones to create steam (löyly). The average temperature is somewhere around 80°C (176 °F) in Finland. With that definition, the infrared version could not be qualified as a sauna, even if it were installed in a room that looked like one.

    I don’t know how those things are marketed in the U.S. I can only imagine that consumers are being fooled, just like they are all the time.

  2. I like wood best, electric if I have to.

    Infrared seems more like a tanning booth experience than a sauna (steam, heat, etc)

  3. Ove said it well that infrared is another relaxation option.Much like a cold beer or a thorough workout except that neither of those pleasant escapes involve elctrical cooking of your internal organs. In summary, wood stove sauna at home, electrical stove suana in your hotel and infrared units for overhead maintenance garage heating.

  4. Agreed Glenn! And thanks for posting to spread this info.

    Infrared (kills me when idiot infrared dealers spell it infared. Happens all the time) rooms are NOT saunas at all. People need to understand that “sauna” is not only a Finnish word, but a very specific Finnish experience. You would never say Finnish Banya because Banyas are Russian and also a very specific experience.

    The ONLY reason infrared units sell is because of their low price. That’s it. You can take that to the bank. If traditional Finnish saunas could be had for a grand and infrared units were 5 grand which would sell better? That’s what I thought. People settle for the microwave because it’s cheap (also cheaply made). A real sauna is a commitment that takes time to build with quality materials but will last 100+ years if built properly.

    I recently had the opportunity to try an infrared room and was just not impressed. It was a good one too, at a high end spa. Even there, it’s uneven heating and an odd feeling about being cooked from the inside out. Not fun.

    Get on a payment plan and get a real sauna if you know what’s good for you. When that payment annoys you just get in there after a long day of work. You’ll be writing checks with a smile after that.

  5. Yes!

    Infrared enclosures are not saunas. The environment is not the same, the benefits are not the same. Not only do the inflated and made up benefits that infrared dealers spout dupe people into spending their hard earned money, but they give true traditional saunas a bad name.

    We love saunas, we’ve been selling them for over 3 decades. It infuriates us to see people making ridiculous claims that have no scientific backing about infrared “saunas”, which aren’t really even saunas to begin with!

    As a side note, and something we think you might appreciate, we had a customer who owned one of these so called infrared “saunas” (who incidentally was hoping to turn their infrared enclosure into a real sauna) compare the enclosure not to a sauna, but to sitting in a closet with a space heater.

  6. THANK YOU all for the good information… I was about to buy one of those infrared saunas, and then found this page…. Can you tell me what to look for in a \good\ sauna for 2 or 3 people? I need one that I can build and take apart because I move a lot. Maybe even some websites to begin looking at?

    Thank you!!

  7. shannon, several manufacturers offer pre-fab sauna kits for the homeowner to assemble. these are free-standing structures that can be set up in any large enough room in the house. you will need to get electricity run to it, they do not simply plug into a receptacle on the wall. the kit includes panels that are screwed together and can be unscrewed for transport. it will take several hours to set it up and take it down but sounds like an option for moving. check out the link below, they even have the assembly instructions on there so you know what you are getting into.

    http://superiorsaunas.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=258

    other retailers offer these kits as well, just do a web search.

  8. Wow, I better say this again…

    NEWSFLASH:
    I’ve used “authentic” traditional saunas, and also steam rooms, for over 35 years. My opinion is that YES, infrared saunas are superior, for sweating and removing toxins from body. Why? In traditional dry saunas, and of course in steam rooms, my sweat feels like water. However, in infrared sauna (using *ceramic* heaters, not carbon heaters) my sweat feels very slimy and oily, AND SMELLS LIKE CHEMICALS, and it does not feel like its just water, it feels more like grease. Carbon heated infrared saunas haven’t produced this result, I think because carbon heater panels don’t penetrate body very deep due to lack of concentrated, focused emissions. 99% of infrared saunas are made using carbon heater panels which are spread out over very large surface area, and thus lack focus and concentration of infrared waves to directly hit body. Also, Ceramic infrared saunas can produce this greasy skin effect at only 110F which is much more enjoyable than sitting in 180F in authentic traditional saunas, and because I usually have maximum temp of 120-130F in infrared sauna, I can stay inside infrared sauna much longer resulting in more grease-sweating time. AND, In infrared sauna there is no wasted time waiting for warm-up of sauna, because infrared heater starts heating body immediately via infrared waves, so I can jump into sauna at room temp while it heats up to 110-130F, then not long after that I’m already done, and this all by the time old style sauna finally heated up to usable temp. I think Heavenly Heat saunas are the best, because they actually are cleanly built. They are the ONLY manufacturer of saunas, traditional or infrared, in USA that truly have a toxin-free construction and composition. They make both traditional “authentic” saunas, and infrared, and combinations of both. Every other infrared sauna maker, including so-called cleanly made ones like Therasauna, Saunacore, and HealthMate, uses toxic glues, or particle boards, or plywoods, usually well-hidden, for example, under seat bench, back wall, and roof, which out-gas chemicals they used. Only Heavenly Heat made in Phoenix, Arizona, and SaunaRay from Canada, are actually toxin-free saunas. I prefer Heavenly Heat over SaunaRay because the location of heaters are much more effective on Heavenly Heat saunas. All other infrared sauna makers, including Therasauna, Saunacore, and HealthMate use toxic glued cabinets, plywoods, and particle boards, full of chemicals, made in China, or Vietnam, and 99% of makers utilize the inferior carbon heaters, which lack deep body penetration of infrared, and are really just water-bed heaters from the 1970s.

  9. I agree with john. As someone who has used a traditional steam sauna, I am now using an infrared sauna to treat my late stage Lyme disease. The reason infrared is far superior when it comes to healing and detox. The infrared heat penetrates deep into the tissue, delivering a far superior healing experience when compared to the steam sauna that is a more shallow and superficial experience. It is a dry heat. You know that the only fluid on your skin is from your own body. As someone who is using the sauna to heal from a disease, I always tell a huge difference when I’m done with my session. I understand that you clearly have a bad opinion of us lowly Americans, but here I’m pretty sure we are on to something. Infrared is best.

  10. It is one thing to put an infrared light on a wound, it is completely another to put massive infrared lights in a small room and bombard your whole body like a butter in a microwave. It penetrates into the skin at least one an one-half inches… what are the long term effects? Say on the eyes because they would go easily as far as your retna? On your brain? Remember there are NO long term studies. There is a huge infrared industry worth billions now and they will tell us how great these things are, just like they told us how artificial sweeteners would make us healthy and natural fats are bad for us.
    Thanks for this blog.
    You are right. It is a shame that even some health bloggers are promoting this microwave for people bullshit.
    Best to you,
    Dr. Max

  11. I’ve just read through each and every comment with great interest. Sadly I don’t believe anyone here has used an Infrared Sauna nor really understands them. I started using one in Australia 5 years ago and the benefits have been remarkable. From removing pain in an arthritic knee from hockey injuries from when I was a kid, to my skin actually changing for he better that people who have known me for years actually started commenting on how good I looked. The place where I go to use these saunas in Melbourne are filled with other people who also swear by them. From a mother who’s 7 year old son is autistic and his erratic behaviour and overall well being has improved significantly to a 70 year old gentleman who came in barely able to walk form back pain and had just been prescribed very strong pain killers (i was there I saw him) now walks pain free without those horrendous drugs. I’ve met a lady there who was bitten by a tick and had been sick for two years and started using infrared and now has little to now side effects.
    For the chap who keeps on talking about a microwave, it couldn’t be further from what it is. Its a heat wavelength and when you get the wavelength exactly right it penetrates the body. Its a soft heat. Unlike sitting in a traditional sauna where your nostrils burn and its like a right of passage that it has to hurt, this doesn’t. The feeling of wellbeing is so great that when I leave, I usually here someone who has just come out raving about how good they feel. Do some research please. This appears to be simply a blog for those that don’t understand.

  12. I am concerned about potential negative effects of elecromagnetic radiation (EMFs) emitted from these infrared light bulb closets. Intuitively, infrared far, near, or otherwise seem like tanning beds of a different color. Need straight scoop to validate, of course, as i’m not a weatherman, but I am sensing the direction from which this wind is blowing.

Leave a Comment