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Article: Infrared Sauna vs Traditional Sauna: Which Is the Better Choice?

Infrared Sauna vs Traditional Sauna: Which Is the Better Choice?

Infrared Sauna vs Traditional Sauna: Which Is the Better Choice?

Written by Chris Lang

When you need to rest and recuperate, a sauna is a terrific place to spend some time. But there isn’t just one type of sauna. They come in a variety of styles, using different heating methods to warm up the space, with infrared (IR) saunas being one of the more recent technological twists on the traditional formula. But you might be wondering about the differences between infrared vs. traditional sauna.

Both can provide fantastic health benefits, but they differ in a couple of key areas, such as their ways of working, cost, and ease of use. This guide will cover all you need to know about both types of sauna, evaluating infrared sauna benefits and traditional sauna benefits to see which one comes out on top.

How Each Type of Sauna Works

Before diving into the IR sauna benefits and average costs of each type of sauna, it’s important to understand how they function. This is one of the biggest differences between infrared saunas and traditional saunas. Both heat the room and your body, but they do so in totally different ways.

Traditional Saunas

Traditional saunas have been around for thousands of years. They’re often associated with Finland, but nobody knows exactly where they were first used. Regardless, they’re a big part of life and culture in countries like Estonia, Russia, and the nations of Scandinavia, with many people using them for their relaxing and therapeutic properties.

Traditional saunas are wood-lined rooms that make use of either fire, gas, or electricity to heat a container of stones. The sauna user can then pour water over the hot rocks. The water becomes steam, which spreads around the room, warming the air and then warming up the user’s body in turn. They can reach very high temperatures and fill the space with moisture as they function.

Infrared Saunas

So, what is an infrared sauna, and what does an infrared sauna do? Unlike traditional saunas, infrared saunas haven’t been around for millennia. Instead, these much more modern sauna styles first appeared in the 1960s. A Japanese inventor, Dr. Tadashi Ishikawa, created the first working infrared sauna.

Infrared saunas, as the name suggests, make use of infrared light rather than hot stones. The infrared waves help to generate heat directly on the body. So, in effect, infrared saunas heat you directly rather than warming up the air, like a traditional sauna would. What’s more, infrared saunas operate at much lower temperatures than their traditional counterparts.

Health Benefits of Using Saunas

The health benefits of saunas are well-documented. Many peoples and civilizations have used these soothing spaces throughout history, with generations of users enjoying their calming and rejuvenating effects. But, you might be wondering if there are any notable differences in the benefits of an infrared vs. traditional sauna.

Benefits of Traditional Saunas

Traditional saunas have been highly prized throughout the ages, offering benefits for both mind and body. Various studies have looked into the effectiveness of saunas with many indeed confirming the existence of these benefits.

Easing Stress and Anxiety

One of the main reasons why so many people love to slip into a sauna, especially at the end of a long day, is to release some stress. Sitting in a peaceful, warm, soothing space can work wonders for the mind, helping worries and anxieties fade away.

Improving Circulation

As the body is exposed to warmer surroundings, blood vessels expand, opening up and allowing for better blood flow. This can help improve the heart’s and circulatory system’s health, making it more efficient for delivering oxygen to muscles and organs.

Soothing Aches and Pains

Many users also find that saunas can soothe soreness in the body. Aching joints, back pain, and similar issues can become far less noticeable after spending a little time in a sauna. Even those with chronic pain conditions can experience relief from regular sauna usage.

Relieving Certain Skin Problems

It’s suggested that sauna use can aid with certain skin problems. Those who have psoriasis, for instance, may notice some relief from their symptoms while sitting in a sauna. However, it’s not recommended for all conditions and may worsen some.

Asthma Relief

Those who have asthma may also notice some soothing of their symptoms while using a sauna. The heat and humidity can help to open up the airways and make it easier to breathe while also lowering the stress that is often associated with asthma.

Benefits of Infrared Saunas

So, how do the benefits of infrared saunas compare, and is infrared sauna good for you? In reality, infrared saunas are believed to provide most of the same benefits as traditional saunas. They haven’t been subjected to as many studies or as much research, but are considered to work just as well at soothing the mind and body.

So, more often than not, you can expect to get the same kinds of benefits from an infrared sauna as you would from a traditional one. In addition, here are some bonus health benefits of an infrared sauna.

Improved Sleep Patterns

Thanks to their stress-busting properties, infrared saunas can be beneficial for those dealing with insomnia or struggling to get to sleep in general. They can calm users’ minds without subjecting them to uncomfortably high temperatures.

Boosted White Blood Cell Production

Research has also shown that exposure to infrared heat can trigger the body to produce more white blood cells. Those cells are one of the first lines of defense of the immune system for battling viruses and other harmful invaders.

Detoxifying Properties

It’s also believed that sauna use can be an effective form of detoxification. As the heat increases, the body begins to sweat, releasing toxins and impurities through the pores. This is an effective way to flush out the things your body doesn’t need.

Cellular Regeneration and Muscle Recovery

One of the benefits of infrared saunas over traditional saunas is that infrared heat can penetrate deeper into the body. It’s believed that this may help regenerate new cells, as well as help muscle recovery, perfect for athletes or those who have been injured.

More Comfortable Temperatures

Another unique advantage of infrared saunas is that they operate at lower and more comfortable temperatures compared to traditional saunas. This can make them more pleasant to use for those who find the intense heat of a typical sauna to be too much.

Practical Considerations: Cost, Ease of Use, and Types

When deciding which is better between,a dry sauna or infrared, you also have to take into account a range of practical factors. Ease of use and cost, for instance, may be essential to help you choose between one type of sauna or the other. This section will examine the more practical side of each variety of sauna.

Cost Comparison

Buying and installing a home sauna can be quite expensive. However, there is a notable cost difference between IR and traditional saunas. And infrared saunas usually work out much cheaper, with lower purchase and installation costs. In fact, depending on the unit size you need, you can find an IR sauna for around half the price of a traditional unit.

Maintenance costs are also a factor, and once again, it’s infrared saunas that win the battle. Typically, infrared units tend to be more low-maintenance than traditional ones, meaning that they’re cheaper to run and look after. A big difference is that traditional units make moisture, which can cause dampness and even mold on the walls. IR units don’t have those same problems or risks.

Ease of Use

In terms of ease of use, infrared saunas once again have several notable advantages over their traditional counterparts. For starters, IR saunas often come in pre-built kit form, making installation much more manageable. They can be set up in various rooms without the need for extensive modifications, and you don’t need to worry about the aforementioned mold and moisture issues.

Plus, with an infrared sauna, it’s simply a case of switching the unit on and then taking a seat to relax. With a traditional sauna, you may have to manually add more water to the rocks to produce steam. The higher temperatures of traditional saunas can also make them a little less comfortable to use, and many users find that the milder nature of an IR sauna is easier to experience.

Types of Saunas

There are various subtypes of traditional sauna and infrared sauna. With traditional saunas, you can pick from electric, gas, or wood-burning stoves. They’re all relatively similar but use different power sources to heat the stones and the space itself. Most modern models use electric stoves for convenience and efficiency.

All infrared saunas use electricity but can be divided into three distinct categories: NEAR, MID, and FAR. NEAR saunas are relatively rare and use very short wavelengths of IR light, believed to provide various skin benefits. MID saunas use medium wavelengths and can offer deeper penetration for pain relief. Finally, there are FAR saunas, which use the longest wavelengths for detoxification and relaxation.

Debunking Myths and Misconceptions

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about saunas, especially about new infrared saunas. In this section, we’ll highlight some of the most common myths on the matter, providing clear and proven evidence to debunk them.

Infrared Saunas Emit Dangerous UV Light

Many people confuse UV and infrared, and some may assume or mistakenly believe they’re the same thing. Other people worry that IR light is a dangerous type of radiation and could cause serious health issues and even cancer.

In reality, infrared light is not at all the same as UV. It’s much gentler and safer on the skin, and there’s no risk of issues like cancer or cell mutations when using an IR sauna.

Saunas Are Expensive and Difficult to Maintain

It’s natural and normal to worry about costs when thinking about getting your own sauna. The initial installation and purchase costs can be quite high, and more prospective owners worry about the added costs of maintenance and upkeep. Fortunately, saunas aren’t as costly or difficult to keep as you might think, especially IR saunas.

Apart from a spot of cleaning now and then, they don’t need much care. For example, quality models like those in the Komowa Wellness collection aren’t likely to break down or require pricey repairs.

Saunas Don’t Offer Real Health Benefits

Some may believe that saunas don’t have health benefits. However, it has been proven throughout the ages and by modern science that saunas can help the human body and mind.

They can provide soothing effects to help de-stress users and have been successfully used to ease a range of physical symptoms, from aches and pains to skin issues.

All Saunas Are the Same

Evidently, this is also untrue. As this guide has shown, there are various types of sauna out there, including traditional saunas and IR saunas. There are also various subcategories, like electric traditional saunas, gas-powered saunas, NEAR IR saunas, and FAR IR saunas.

Each variety is different, with its own specific features and ways of working, and they may offer differing benefits and experiences, too. Users may like to try a couple of different sauna types to discover which one best suits their tastes and needs.

Which Sauna Is Right for You?

Overall, both infrared saunas and traditional saunas have their benefits and can be pleasant and soothing to spend time in. It’s worth trying both out to see which one suits you best, but if you’re looking for a recommendation of where to start, an IR sauna might be best. Many users find that IR saunas feel more comfortable, thanks to their lower temperatures.

Not only that, but IR saunas are also cheaper, making them easier for many people to buy and install in their own homes without going over budget. They need less maintenance, too, perfect for people with busy schedules, and they’re not as intensely hot. So, if you’ve tried saunas before but feel that they’re too hot and overwhelming, an infrared sauna, from a trusted provider like Komowa Wellness, could be the ideal choice.


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