Infrared vs. Steam Saunas

Infrared vs. Steam Saunas

Steam Saunas vs. Infrared Saunas: A Comprehensive Comparison


Saunas have long been hailed for their numerous health benefits, including relaxation, detoxification, and improved circulation. Among the various types of saunas available, steam saunas and infrared saunas are two popular choices, each offering distinct advantages. In this comparison, we'll delve into the differences between steam saunas and infrared saunas to help you determine which might be the better option for you.

1. Heating Mechanism:

  • Steam Saunas: Steam saunas, also known as traditional saunas, rely on heated rocks or elements to produce steam when water is poured over them. The resulting steam creates a hot, humid environment, with temperatures typically ranging from 150°F to 195°F.

  • Infrared Saunas: Infrared saunas utilize infrared heaters to emit infrared light, which directly heats the body instead of heating the surrounding air. These saunas operate at lower temperatures, usually between 120°F to 140°F, but provide a more intense heat that penetrates deeper into the skin.

2. Heat Distribution:

  • Steam Saunas: In steam saunas, heat is distributed evenly throughout the space, enveloping the entire body in warmth. The humidity levels are also higher, which can promote sweating and detoxification.

  • Infrared Saunas: Infrared saunas emit infrared rays that penetrate the skin more deeply, targeting muscles and tissues directly. This can result in a more intense, focused heat experience, with less emphasis on the surrounding air temperature.

3. Detoxification:

  • Steam Saunas: The high humidity levels in steam saunas induce profuse sweating, which aids in detoxification by flushing out toxins from the body through the skin pores. The steam also helps to open up the airways and promote respiratory health.

  • Infrared Saunas: While infrared saunas also promote sweating, the detoxification process may be less pronounced compared to steam saunas due to the lower humidity levels. However, the deep penetration of infrared heat is believed to stimulate detoxification at a cellular level.

4. Relaxation and Stress Relief:

  • Steam Saunas: Many people find the moist heat of steam saunas to be deeply relaxing, helping to alleviate stress and tension. The soothing steam can also have a calming effect on the mind, promoting mental relaxation and well-being.

  • Infrared Saunas: Infrared saunas are praised for their ability to induce a state of relaxation and tranquility, despite operating at lower temperatures. The gentle warmth penetrates deeply into muscles, relieving tension and promoting a sense of calm.

5. Health Benefits:

  • Steam Saunas: In addition to detoxification and relaxation, steam saunas are associated with numerous health benefits, including improved circulation, pain relief, and skin rejuvenation. The high humidity levels can also be beneficial for respiratory conditions such as asthma and sinus congestion.

  • Infrared Saunas: Advocates of infrared saunas tout their therapeutic effects on various health conditions, including muscle pain, arthritis, and cardiovascular health. The deep penetration of infrared heat is believed to stimulate circulation, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.

6. Installation and Maintenance:

  • Steam Saunas: Traditional steam saunas typically require a dedicated space with proper ventilation and waterproofing to prevent moisture damage. Installation can be more involved, involving the construction of a sauna room with a steam generator. Maintenance may also involve cleaning and occasional replacement of heating elements.

  • Infrared Saunas: Infrared saunas come in a variety of sizes and configurations, including portable models that can be easily assembled and disassembled. They typically require less space and no plumbing, making them more versatile in terms of installation. Maintenance is relatively low, usually involving cleaning the sauna interior and periodically checking the infrared heaters for any signs of wear.

7. Personal Preference and Comfort:

  • Steam Saunas: For some individuals, the enveloping heat and humidity of steam saunas offer the ultimate relaxation experience. The sensation of steam against the skin can be invigorating and cleansing, providing a sense of physical and mental rejuvenation.

  • Infrared Saunas: Others may prefer the gentle warmth and targeted heat of infrared saunas, which penetrate deeply into the body for therapeutic benefits. The lower temperatures and dry heat may be more comfortable for those who find steam saunas too hot or humid.


Both steam saunas and infrared saunas offer unique benefits and experiences, making them popular choices for relaxation and wellness. Ultimately, the best option for you will depend on your personal preferences, health goals, and comfort levels. Whether you prefer the enveloping heat of steam saunas or the deep-penetrating warmth of infrared saunas, incorporating regular sauna sessions into your wellness routine can provide numerous health benefits and promote overall well-being.