Traditional Saunas vs. Infrared Saunas

Recent trends have revealed that infrared saunas are growing in popularity over traditional saunas owing to their lower prices and simple operation utilizing infrared lamps. However, while these two popular forms of sauna may have a practically similar degree of popularity, they are distinct from each other in some areas.

What They Are and How They Can Be Defined

A typical Finnish sauna consists of a wooden chamber where heat is created by heated stones. It generally has a humid environment that is maintained by splashing water over the hot stones. It is generally cooked to a range of 70ᵒC to 110ᵒC. That heat and humidity produce the sauna treatment for one or multiple persons ideally.

On the other hand, an infrared sauna is often set up by spa builders in a wooden or plastic box where infrared ceramic, carbon panel, or Incoloy heaters are used to produce infrared light to heat the spa environment. The heat is sensed as radiant heat induced by the absorption of infrared light by our skin cells. Therefore, only when you are directly in front of, and within proximity to, the infrared panel will you feel the heat. The environment of this sauna preferably has 50ᵒC to 60ᵒC temperature with no in-built humidity.

Overview of the traditional and infrared saunas

First things first, what is the difference between a traditional Finnish sauna and an infrared sauna? A traditional Finnish sauna is a wooden chamber or building that combines heated stones and water to generate a hot and humid environment capable of giving a multitude of health advantages. This space is frequently big enough to hold a lot of people but ultimately may be created to be any size. The traditional sauna is normally heated to between 70ᵒC and 110ᵒC and it is the heat of the room that causes the user to feel warmer and sweat. Water is poured over heated sauna stones to produce the unique löyly, or ambiance, of a traditional steam sauna. This environment may be as humid or as dry as the sauna bather likes – but normally it is regulated to roughly 5 percent to 15 percent. Aromatherapy may also be employed as part of a typical sauna session, either occurring naturally owing to the presence of birch whisks or a wood-burning sauna heater, or with extra fragrances and oils which have been introduced to the water.

People utilizing a traditional Finnish sauna would normally remain in the sauna room for anywhere up to 30 minutes, after which time they may opt to step out and have a cold shower or ‘ plunge’ (full submersion in cold water) before repeating the process as many times as is desired. This cycle of sauna and plunge is said to promote circulation and muscle function, activate the immune system, and also produce endorphins.

Infrared saunas are generally significantly smaller than regular saunas and may usually only accommodate between one and four users. The heat itself is normally maintained between 50oC and 60oC, with no humidity unless a separate steam generator is installed. The effect of this is far longer, gentler, and typically dryer heating sessions compared to what you would experience in a regular sauna.

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Their origins and histories

The traditional sauna’s history spans back an astounding distance of over 10,000 years. Even in the UK, saunas have been unearthed that may be dated as far back as Neolithic times; an example of one such sauna can be seen at Marden henge in Wiltshire. Although these saunas are considered to have been established initially as a form of ‘sweat lodge’ used by a nomadic people that would later become Finns, they have evolved a lot over the previous few thousand years. Saunas have progressed from basic fire pits excavated in the ground and wrapped under animal skin tents into beautiful professionally constructed wooden constructions. Throughout these changes, however, they have never lost their role as places of cleaning, healing, relaxation, social connection, and general well-being.

The infrared sauna’s history, on the other hand, is not that outstanding or vast. Despite the name, Infrared saunas are not regarded as legitimate saunas by practically all sauna organizations, notably those in Finland, since they do not utilize hot air and the sauna design. They were created to fill the demand for saunas in the US, where a combination of insufficient power supplies (US appliances run on 110 volts, whereas UK appliances are approximately 220 volts and European appliances are around 400 volts) and strict flue regulations mean that it is extremely difficult to install a traditional wood-burning sauna. Steam generators were also deployed in order to attempt to reproduce the traditional sauna environment, although this has been a decreasingly popular feature in recent years. The general objective was to offer a comparable experience with similar advantages to those given by traditional saunas, but with significantly reduced power consumption. Unfortunately, the real product was a poor copy that is capable of attaining just a tiny proportion of the advantages and joys of a typical sauna.

The comparative advantages and effects of both infrared and regular saunas The conclusion of these basic dissimilarities between infrared and regular saunas considering both design and history is a major divergence concerning the intensity of their effects. Most importantly, while the infrared sauna is characterized primarily by its use of far-infrared radiation, all saunas create this radiation as a by-product of the energy input required to generate the heat they utilize, and frequently in larger amounts.

In reality, traditional saunas typically emit this radiation in significantly bigger amounts than genuine infrared saunas since, as indicated previously, they employ far greater power supply which in turn produce more radiation. This implies that although both saunas have the ability to deliver a calming and physically healthy experience, the traditional sauna has significantly more comprehensive benefits. On top of this, traditional saunas also have been discovered to provide a range of psychological and wellness advantages as of yet unmatched by other sauna kinds, including infrared. In the findings of a worldwide sauna study, it was revealed that relaxation and stress reduction, mental health improvement, sociability, and sleep enhancement were some of the key reasons most individuals opted to wash using a traditional sauna. These advantages also extend to areas like as addiction owing to the endorphin release induced by the sauna bath, particularly when paired with a cold plunge. The consequence is a significant endorphin surge when you rest, resulting in pleasant sensations of dissociation and relaxation.

Differences Between Them In Terms of Benefits

Whatever structural and operational differences these two saunas may have, the major foundation of picking anybody between them is largely the differences in their advantages. A common person basically evaluates how the sauna might benefit them in bodily and emotional well-being. The infrared saunas are largely renowned for their radiation yet, owing to the better usage of power supply in traditional saunas, the amounts of radiation become considerably higher in them. This also boosts the advantages of the classic saunas to a significant amount.

Though the most popular advantages of these two forms of sauna are practically the same, the traditional sauna has some added benefits. Both of them enable us to fight against cardiovascular illness, chronic tiredness, rheumatic diseases, pain syndromes, enhance exercise performance, muscle recovery, and skin moisture barrier qualities. But, owing to the larger degree of heat and humidity, the traditional sauna generates certain added advantages i.e., less danger of development of memory illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia, less chance of pneumonia, improvement in arterial stiffness, and less risk of respiratory infections. [Source]

Also, the traditional sauna offers various other psychological and lifestyle advantages that cannot be matched by any other sauna kinds including infrared sauna. Those advantages include stress reduction and relaxation, an increase in mental health, sleep, and socializing. A worldwide study has validated these advantages of a traditional sauna. If a typical sauna session is mixed with a cold plunge, it might enhance endorphins that help us get rid of numerous addictions. These advantages urge individuals to select a traditional sauna that might lead them to tremendous sensations of relaxation and dissociation.

These are some of the fundamental distinctions between a typical sauna and an infrared sauna. Both have their own advantages in various ways. Hence, one may select the most suited style as per one’s needs and wants.

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