Saunas, using steam or infrared heat, can be beneficial to your health by helping you release toxins, relieve pain and lose weight.
How to Choose
Types of Saunas
Traditional Finnish and Estonian saunas involve pouring water over heated stones to create steam. What began as a cultural ritual has now become a widespread therapeutic phenomenon. The goal of the modern steam sauna is to let the steam heat the air so that you perspire heavily. Temperatures of up to 190° F (87.8° C) are necessary to achieve desired results, which can be stressful on the body if not conditioned to adjust gradually to the high heat. The moisture can cause wood to warp, which is why saunas are conventionally built using cedar wood for its natural water repellant qualities.
Infrared saunas are a more modern take on the traditional steam sauna. Infrared rays are actually light rays that our bodies interpret as heat. Instead of heating the air in the room, saunas using infrared technology will heat only your body. The rays penetrate the layers of skin, helping achieve a deep heat. Unlike steam or hot air saunas, infrared saunas can operate effectively with an internal temperature of only 120° F (48.8° C).
Infrared rays should not be confused with harmful ultra violet rays. Both types of rays are given off by the sun; however, infrared has positive effects on the human cellular system and has been used therapeutically for years. Infrared saunas take less time to heat up than traditional saunas and are typically easier to install and operate and require less maintenance. Infrared saunas are strictly dry; no moisture is used to generate steam.
Carbon Heaters vs. Ceramic Heaters
Infrared saunas use two types of heaters to disperse heat. Carbon fibre heaters are large built-in panels that help achieve more even heat distribution throughout the sauna. Ceramic heaters are smaller and more directional. They have a high surface temperature making them hot to the touch, which can be a disadvantage.
Benefits of Sauna Use
Benefits of saunas may include:
- weight loss – in order to sweat and stay cool, your body burns extra calories
- detoxification – perspiration pushes minerals and toxins out of your skin
- increased blood circulation – your entire cardiovascular system works harder to increase blood flow to your extremities in the extreme heat
- pain relief – deep heat from infrared rays can ease painful joints and muscles, even for people suffering from arthritis
Many of the benefits of saunas come from the perfuse sweating achieved during a sauna session. In order to stay hydrated, it is recommended to drink 2 to 3 glasses of water for every 15 minutes spent in a sauna. Consult a doctor before using a sauna if you suffer from heart disease, asthma or skin disease.
Size & Price
How large of a sauna do you need? Will guests be using your sauna frequently, or will it be strictly for family use? At-home saunas are available in sizes to suit anywhere from 1 or 2 people to as many as 10. Size is the most important factor in determining price. Larger saunas are not only more expensive, but might also require professional installation and use more power, meaning higher energy costs.