by Jaakko M. February 12, 2021 7 min read

Your Guide to Infrared Saunas vs. Traditional Saunas


It's an undeniable fact that Infrared saunas brought technology into the Sauna world. These tradition breakers have become quite popular over the last 40 years. Infrareds share many of the health benefits from the traditional saunas, with a few of their own to add to the mix.

In this post, we will learn why infrared saunas are worth considering even for those who already own a traditional sauna.


Infrared Heat Explained

Infrared heat is light on a spectrum that our eyes can’t see. Yet, not being able to see it doesn’t mean we can’t experience it. When the infrared light reaches our body, we perceive it as heat. For example, if you get out into direct sunlight then step into the shade, you’ll notice that you feel hotter in the direct sunshine. That’s caused by the infrared light emitted by the sun.

To illustrate this point, imagine yourself sitting outside on a sunny day. As you sit in the direct sunlight, you can feel the warmth on your skin.

This warmth is caused by the infrared light emitted by the sun. Now, if you were to step into the shade, you would immediately notice that the temperature feels cooler. This is because you are no longer being exposed to the infrared light that was warming your skin in the sunlight.

This same principle applies to infrared saunas. The infrared heat is emitted by specialized heaters and is absorbed by your body, resulting in a warming and relaxing experience. The heat penetrates deeper into your body than traditional saunas, providing a more intense and therapeutic experience.

Infrared saunas had an intriguing beginning. The first ones were made with the heaters used in hospitals to keep newborns warm. The technology was soon adapted for use in saunas due to its ability to penetrate deep into the body and provide a more intense sweat experience. Some early models also used different kinds of infrared lamps, such as food lamps.

Later development has led to specialized heater types used only in infrared saunas. These new heaters have several advantages over older models, but most notably these newer models have very low EMF (electromagnetic field) levels and better heat dispersal. We'll talk further about the EMF in a future blog post - stay tuned!

Overall, infrared saunas offer a unique and beneficial experience that is worth exploring. The heat emitted by infrared saunas penetrates deeper into the body than traditional saunas, typically reaching up to 1.5 inches below the skin's surface however our Health Mate Saunas penetrate 1.5 to 3 inches below the skin’s surface.

This deep penetration results in a more intense sweat and detoxification experience. The heat from infrared saunas also increases blood flow and circulation, which can potentially help with pain.

Infrared Sauna vs. Traditional Sauna: Heaters

Infrared saunas may share important similarities with traditional saunas, especially when it comes to health benefits. But the way they distribute heat is completely different. Let me break down how a sauna heater works for each type:

The heater in an infrared sauna gives “direct heat” to your body while the traditional ones heat the air in the sauna. What this means in practice is that infrared saunas are faster to heat up compared to traditional. In an infrared or electric sauna, you'll start feeling the heat immediately when you turn the sauna on. For an optimal sauna therapy experience, we recommend waiting 15-20 minutes for your sauna to heat up.

In traditional saunas, the heater needs a lot of time to reach an ideal temperature, especially if the electric heater for the sauna room has a large number of stones. We're talking 30-60 minutes or a little more depending on the weather outside. With an infrared sauna, you get faster heat with less energy use and a cheaper electric bill for better health.

Infrared Sauna Heaters Emitting Infrared Light

Another difference lies in the way you feel the heat throughout your body. In an infrared sauna, you'll feel the heat where the infrared light hits your body (the "direct heat"). In the traditional sauna, you feel the heat more evenly throughout your body - since it comes from the air that gets heated up.


Infrared Sauna vs. Traditional Sauna: Health Benefits

We know that the science behind sauna health benefits is based on traditional saunas. Nowadays, a lot of those benefits were also proven on infrareds.

It's important to note that here are two main components to the health benefits of saunas: physical heat and mental relaxation. Both are present in infrared and traditional saunas, although their heating mechanisms are different.

With both saunas, the mental relaxation factor is present. Sweating in a sauna helps us release stress - it doesn't matter what kind of sauna we're using. You can explore new levels of relaxation in the new HealthMate infrared saunas - they come with chromotherapy lights and Bluetooth so you can listen to your favorite playlists in the sauna.

While the measured air temperature in the infrared saunas doesn’t get as hot as in traditional saunas, the direct heat on your body compensates for this. Milder temperatures also favor more sauna time, so if you like things such as long meditation sauna sessions the infrared is the way to go.

You might be surprised to find out that the biggest health benefit of infrared saunas has nothing to do with any technical feature. That's because of one simple thing: the right sauna for you is the kind you can use daily. Being so simple and fast to use makes it easier for you to integrate an infrared sauna into your routine.

That is more important than any technological gismo or specification - consistent routines are the key to health. For most people, the solution to frequent sauna use is the infrared sauna.

Young Blond Woman Relaxing in Infrared Sauna

Infrared Sauna vs. Traditional Sauna: Pros & Cons

When it comes to choosing between an infrared sauna and a traditional sauna, there are pros and cons to consider for each. Ultimately, the choice will depend on your personal preferences and wellness goals.

Here's a breakdown of some of the key pros and cons of each type of sauna to help you make a more informed decision:

Finnish sauna pros

  • Löyly  allows to control the humidity levels
  • Can work as a dry or wet sauna
  • All-encompassing total body heat
  • Wood-heated models work off-grid, no electricity required
  • Modern, customizable design options

Finnish sauna cons

  • Higher price points
  • Longer heat-up times, especially on electric heaters
  • Higher energy use
  • Indoor saunas need professionals to build

Infrared sauna pros

  • Fast heat-up times & lower electric bills
  • Simple to assemble, plug-and-play
  • Can be used indoors in any room/apartment
  • No water is used - no risks to damaged floors
  • Easy to disassemble
  • Mobile apps & Bluetooth Connection

Infrared sauna cons

  • Limited availability of outdoor models & different designs/looks
  • The heat is felt more directly where heaters are located
  • No löyly

Thinking of Choosing an Infrared Sauna Experience Over Traditional Saunas?

There are many reasons why infrared saunas are becoming a more popular choice for modern home saunas. If you’re thinking about choosing an infrared sauna over a traditional sauna experience, then you’re not the only one.

First, the deeper penetration of infrared heat provides a more intense sweat and detoxification experience, which can potentially lead to greater sauna benefits such as pain relief, improved circulation, and immune system support.

Secondly, infrared saunas are more energy-efficient, using less electricity to operate and keep running than traditional saunas. This makes them not only better for the environment, but also more cost-effective in the long run.

Best of all, infrared saunas can be a more accessible option for individuals who may be more sensitive to higher temperatures, which can make the traditional sauna experience difficult. The lower operating temperature of infrared saunas makes them a much more comfortable option for people who experience heat intolerance. We believe infrared saunas are a more modern spin on the traditional sauna experience.

Sauna Benefits of Traditional Finnish-Style Heat

If you don’t think infrared saunas are the way to go for your home, there’s still plenty of benefit to choosing the traditional finnish-style saunas. A timeless choice for sauna enthusiasts, there is a reason why these saunas have been enjoyed for centuries and are still around.

The intensity of Finnish-style saunas can help to promote muscle recovery and reduce pain and stiffness, making them a popular choice for athletes or individuals who suffer from chronic pains.

Another unique feature of Finnish-style saunas is the opportunity for socialization. Many Finnish-style saunas are designed to accommodate multiple people, making them a great place to gather and connect with others. In fact, the sauna has long been considered a central part of Finnish culture, and it's not uncommon for people to gather in saunas for community meetings.

Finally, unless you choose a dry sauna, the steam generated by Finnish-style steam saunas can potentially help clear out the respiratory system and improve lung function. For those who can tolerate it, the humidity of Finnish-style saunas can potentially help to improve skin health, reduce inflammation, and even speed up wound healing.

Choosing the Best Sauna for Your Home

Traditional Finnish-style saunas offer a unique and time-honored sauna experience that many people find appealing for its therapeutic effects. The high temperatures and steam generated by traditional saunas provide a deeply relaxing and cleansing experience that has been enjoyed for centuries.

However, infrared saunas offer a more modern take on the sauna experience. Their lower operating temperatures and deeper penetration of heat provide a more intense and therapeutic sweat experience. Infrared saunas also offer a range of health benefits that traditional saunas may not be able to match, including improved circulation, pain relief, and immune system support.

While traditional Finnish-style saunas are still a top choice for many people, it's clear that infrared saunas are becoming much more popular as the technology continues to improve. As more people become aware of the unique benefits offered by infrared saunas, we can expect to see them become even
more widely adopted in homes and wellness centers around the world.

No matter which choice you make, regular sauna use can be a great way to support overall health and wellness. Whether you prefer an infrared sauna or a traditional Finnish-style sauna, incorporating frequent sauna sessions into your wellness routine can help you feel rejuvenated, refreshed, and ready to take on the day.


Final Thoughts

So far, we’ve only been working with Traditional Finnish-style saunas. However, we couldn’t ignore the benefits of infrared saunas any longer. We also didn’t want to give up on our strict focus on quality. That’s why we partnered up with the original infrared sauna manufacturer in the US - HealthMate. They’ve been manufacturing saunas since 1979.

With over 40 years of experience and very rigid quality controls, we were sure they were the right partner for us. We hope this new partnership will help you enhance your health from the comfort of your own home.

Discover the new HealthMate Infrared Saunas at our shop and find the one that best suits your needs!

Couple Relaxing in an Infrared Sauna

Jaakko M.
Jaakko M.

The author has lifelong experience of saunas, as is natural for Finns. When not busy learning about how Bitcoin makes the world a better place, he's learning more about saunas. Jaakko shares his findings here in Divine Saunas blog!

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