Traditional Sauna

Infrared vs Traditional Sauna: A Comprehensive Guide to Suit Your Lifestyle & Budget

Choosing between an infrared vs traditional sauna is a critical decision that can significantly impact your lifestyle and budget. This comprehensive guide delves into the nuances of both sauna types, comparing their benefits, costs, and suitability for different wellness goals. 

Whether you’re looking to invest in your health, seeking relaxation, or aiming for long-term savings, understanding the distinctions between infrared and traditional saunas will empower you to make an informed choice that aligns with your personal preferences and financial considerations.

History of Saunas

Delving back into the origins of saunas, we find ourselves in Finland around 2000 years ago. Traditional saunas, known as “savusaunas” in Finnish, have been a part of Finnish culture for centuries. They weren’t always the luxurious wellness retreats we know today. For Finns, these saunas served a more practical purpose: a place for cleansing, healing, and even birthing.

The principle behind traditional saunas is straightforward: generating heat. They utilize a wood stove or electric heater to heat up rocks to high temperatures. Pouring water over these hot stones creates steam, which increases the room’s humidity and makes the atmosphere feel even hotter. It’s a process that’s classic, simple, and effective.

Fast-forwarding to the late 20th century, infrared saunas entered the wellness scene. In contrast to their traditional counterparts, infrared saunas utilize infrared light rays to warm the body directly, without heating the air around it. In the 1960s, Japanese health practitioners introduced infrared therapy as a method for cardiovascular improvement. By the 1980s, the first residential far-infrared saunas were developed, marking a pivotal shift in sauna technology.

Today, both types of saunas have evolved into wellness tools, shedding their purely functional pasts. They are not just places to sweat and cleanse the body anymore, but have also become sanctuaries for relaxation, stress reduction, and healing.

How Traditional Saunas Work

Diving deeper into traditional saunas, I’ve noticed their operation revolves around basic principles of heat transfer. They’ve taken a simple, age-old concept and turned it into a fantastic wellness tool.

In a nutshell, traditional steam saunas work by heating the air inside the sauna room. The source of this heat typically comes from a stove, often electrically-powered in modern versions but previously wood-fired in the most traditional Finnish saunas. Hot stones are placed on top of the stove, absorbing and storing the heat that’s being generated. Once these stones are scorchingly hot, water is sprinkled onto them, creating steam that rapidly increases the room’s humidity and temperature.

The heat from the sauna room then permeates into our bodies, mainly through convection, followed by conduction. This process results in a significant rise in body temperature, promoting intense sweating and enabling the body to shed impurities. But it’s not just about sweating. It’s the sensation of the heat, the moisture on my skin, the aroma of the sauna oils, that makes the traditional sauna experience remarkably purifying and relaxing.

Yes, the experience might get a little intense for some, and that’s because traditional saunas can get pretty hot. We’re talking about temperatures ranging from 150 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit. For this reason, its always crucial to listen to your body during the sauna sessions, and step out if it gets too uncomfortable.

Traditional sauna purists advocate for the unique healing capabilities of this setup. In their view, the repetitive cycle of extreme heat exposure followed by a quick cool-down (a dive in a cold lake in Finland) promotes circulation, muscle relaxation, and overall wellness, something that the more modern infrared saunas might find hard to replicate.

How Infrared Saunas Work

Before diving into the benefits and drawbacks of infrared saunas, it’s crucial to understand how they operate. Unlike traditional saunas, infrared models don’t rely on heating the ambient air. Rather, they use special heaters that emit infrared light. This light, similar to the healthy rays emitted by the sun, is absorbed directly by your skin and heats your body from the inside out.

Infrared light falls into a part of the light spectrum invisible to the naked eye, extending beyond the red part of the visible light spectrum. There are three types of infrared light: near, medium, and far. It’s mostly the far-infrared waves, due to their longer wavelengths, that are used in infrared saunas.

These waves penetrate deep into the body, heating it directly and leading to a rise in core temperature. This process results in an intense sweat at a lower temperature, with sauna cabins generally ranging from 110 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Consequently, many find infrared saunas more tolerable, since the air in them stays much cooler.

An interesting fact about infrared saunas is their power consumption. They typically draw less power than traditional saunas, making them more energy-efficient. For example, a 1,500-watt heating element in an infrared sauna uses the same power as a hairdryer.

My next move is to bring you face-to-face with the unique benefits and potential disadvantages linked with infrared sauna use. Stay tuned to learn how this wellness trend might fit into your health regime.

Health Benefits of Traditional Saunas

Now let’s shift our focus and delve into the fascinating world of traditional saunas. They’ve been cherished for centuries globally, especially in countries like Finland, for their soothing and substantial health benefits.

To start off, traditional saunas promote cardiovascular health. When you’re in a sauna, average heart rate increases and blood vessels widen. This action boosts circulation, akin to mild exercise. A Finnish study even demonstrated that regular sauna use may significantly decrease the risk for cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.

Next, it’s worth mentioning that traditional saunas are notably good for your skin. They open up pores and increase sweat production, which in turn helps remove toxins and impurities from your body. Enhanced blood flow also brings more nutrients to the surface, giving your skin a healthy, radiant glow.

Moreover, traditional saunas can aid in pain relief. The profound heat penetration allows the body to release endorphins, natural painkillers within our bodies. Many individuals have reported improved pain management, especially those dealing with arthritis or muscle soreness.

We can’t overlook the stress and anxiety relief often associated with sauna use. The heat in a traditional sauna stimulates the production of feel-good hormones like serotonin, promoting relaxation and better sleep.

Here’s a stylish little table that presents these benefits and the associated studies:

Traditional Sauna BenefitRelevant Study or Data 
Improves cardiovascular healthFinnish study on sauna use
Benefits the skinIncreased blood flow and toxin removal
Aids in pain reliefAlleviates symptoms of arthritis
Offers stress and anxiety reliefPromotes serotonin release

Having gone through these evident benefits, let’s continue with our discussion and delve into the potential drawbacks associated with traditional saunas that you might wish to take into account.

Health Benefits of Infrared Saunas

When looking at the benefits of infrared saunas, it’s essential to note they go beyond the typical relaxation and comfort. They also present a wide variety of health benefits that have been supported by scientific research. These include helping with chronic diseases, improving overall well-being, and many more.

At the forefront of these advantages is detoxification. Compared to traditional saunas, infrared saunas are particularly effective at this. They run at a lower temperature, which allows users to endure a longer session. Extended exposure to the heat leads to more profuse perspiration. This kind of deep sweating helps the body eliminate toxins, improving overall health.

Next, it’s been shown in studies that using an infrared sauna can improve cardiovascular health. Infrared rays penetrate the skin and heat the body from the inside. This gentle, deep heating, coupled with the sweat-induced demand on the heart to pump blood, helps improve cardiac function and circulation.

Infrared saunas also aid in weight loss and metabolism boost. Sitting in an infrared sauna can simulate the effects of moderate exercise. The body responds to the induced sweat and heating by increasing heart rate and metabolic rate. Over time, this can lead to weight loss.

Furthermore, we have evidence that infrared saunas can bring about pain relief. They promote increased circulation and help the body release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. This makes them an excellent addition to treatments dealing with chronic pain, muscle aches, arthritis, and joint stiffness.

Lastly, those seeking to improve their skin might find the solution in an infrared sauna. The deep sweating can clear out bacteria from the skin, leading to better tone, elasticity, and clarity.

So, based on this wide array of benefits, it’s clear that infrared saunas offer a meaningful platform for enhancing personal health and wellness. Let’s now shift our attention to potential drawbacks and considerations when opting for infrared over traditional saunas.

Drawbacks of Traditional Saunas

Venturing beyond the health benefits of infrared saunas, let’s delve into potential drawbacks associated with traditional saunas, which are often heated with electricity or wood. Though globally recognized for inducing relaxation and a sense of well-being, traditional saunas aren’t devoid of their own share of cons.

One chief characteristic to consider is the high heat environment of these saunas. Traditional saunas heat up to a scorching 185 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit. This high temperature can be uncomfortable for many, particularly those sensitive to heat or with certain medical conditions. It’s key to always consult a healthcare professional before starting new wellness routines, especially those involving high temperatures.

An adequate ventilation system is essential in traditional saunas. Without one, humidity and heat levels increase, leading to a stuffy and heavy atmosphere. This can deter those looking for a relaxing experience.

Traditional saunas also consumer more energy compared to their infrared counterparts. The reason? They heat the air instead of directly warming the body. This means a longer waiting time and higher energy bills.

Comparing the financial aspect, traditional saunas often have a more demanding maintenance schedule. Regular cleaning and occasional repairs due to the high temperatures and steam employed can cost sauna owners extra in the long run.

Here’s a quick recap:

DrawbacksTraditional Saunas 
High HeatUncomfortable for some users
VentilationNecessary to prevent stuffy atmosphere
Energy ConsumptionUses more energy than infrared saunas
Financial ConsiderationsHigher maintenance costs and energy bills

Drawbacks of Infrared Saunas

While I’ve touched on the benefits of infrared saunas, it’s essential to also acknowledge their shortcomings to develop a well-rounded perspective. Knowing both sides of the coin will help you make an informed decision about choosing the best sauna type for your health and wellness needs.

First off, infrared saunas may lack thorough heat distribution. This uneven heat can lead to hot spots in the sauna, causing discomfort and ineffective detoxification. You might not sweat uniformly and hence miss out on the full potential of this sweat-induced therapy.

Another drawback is that infrared saunas do not reach the same high temperatures compared to traditional saunas. Consequently, people desiring intense heat may feel unsatisfied. This low heat might also limit the cardiovascular benefits as the lower temperature doesn’t stimulate the heart rate as much.

Further along, some individuals report headache or dizziness following an infrared sauna session. This could be due to dehydration, but it’s nonetheless crucial to note these potential side effects.

Lastly, infrared saunas are often pricier than their traditional counterparts. The technology behind their heat source is the major factor contributing to this high cost. Yet, I’d like to clearly state that despite the initial high outlay, infrared saunas generally have lower operating costs than standard saunas, primarily due to their energy efficiency.

  • Heat Distribution: Uneven
  • Maximum Temperature: Lower
  • Side Effects: Potential Headache or Dizziness
  • Initial Cost: Higher

Cost Comparison

In general, infrared saunas tend to be costlier than their traditional counterparts. This is often due to the advanced technology they employ, which can add a significant amount to the initial price tag. Traditional saunas, on the other hand, are more affordable to install but can have higher running costs over time.

Diving into specifics, the price of an infrared sauna can range from $1,000 to $5,000 depending on the brand, the quality of materials used, and the size. Traditional saunas, however, usually cost between $500 and $3,500 with the same variables in mind.

Here’s a simple table summarizing the cost of each type of sauna:

Infrared SaunaTraditional Sauna 
Base Price Range$1,000 – $5,000$500 – $3,500

While these are the initial costs, you also have to consider the ongoing expenses, such as electricity. Since infrared saunas use less electricity than traditional saunas, they generally cost less to run. However, the exact amounts really depend on your usage habits, the size of the sauna, and local electricity rates.

It’s also worth noting that maintenance expenses can vary. While both types of saunas require regular cleaning, infrared models may need additional servicing due to their complex technology.

As you consider the cost comparisons, remember that the best choice for you is not only about the cheapest option, but also about what suits your specific health, wellness, and lifestyle needs. Consideration of cost should therefore be balanced with the overall benefits.

Which Sauna is Right for You?

Choosing the right sauna might seem overwhelming, given the distinct features and costs inherent in either infrared or traditional saunas. But, don’t fret; I’m here to help sort that out.

Let’s kick off with infrared saunas. They utilize advanced technology, employing infrared heat to directly warm the body. If you’re the kind who thrives on the latest technological advances and values energy efficiency, then infrared might be your go-to choice. But bear in mind, infrared saunas come with a steeper price tag, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

On the flip side, if you’re after the classic sauna experience with rich steamy heat and don’t mind a slightly higher running cost, traditional saunas might be the ticket. They typically cost less upfront (between $500 and $3,500), an attractive aspect if you’re keeping an eye on the initial investment.

It’s not really a one-size-fits-all decision though. Your best bet involves considering a few key factors:

  1. Health needs: Infrared saunas reportedly offer significant benefits for chronic joint conditions, detoxification, and boosting energy. Traditional saunas, conversely, are famed for reducing muscle tension, improving circulation, and promoting relaxation.
  2. Lifestyle preferences: Enjoy heat bathing alone, or prefer a communal setting? Infrared saunas can be a perfect pick for solo time while traditional saunas often accommodate multiple people, offering a social vibe.
  3. Cost and space considerations: Do you have the room and budget accommodating a larger traditional sauna or prefer the compact, energy-efficient infrared?

Remember, the goal is to find a sauna that reciprocates your personal health, wellness, and lifestyle needs. It’s all about identifying what truly matters to you in this thermal journey and tailoring your choice accordingly.


So, it’s clear that both infrared and traditional saunas have their unique advantages. If you’re tech-savvy and don’t mind spending a bit more, an infrared sauna could be your best bet. It’s energy-efficient and utilizes advanced technology. 

However, if you’re a fan of the classic sauna experience and have a tighter budget, a traditional sauna might be more up your alley. Ultimately, it’s about aligning with your personal health, wellness, and lifestyle needs. 

At CalmSpas Saunas, we understand the importance of this decision. It ensures you find the perfect one for your lifestyle. With CalmSpas, choosing the perfect sauna is easy and fun. 

You can focus on what truly matters: your health, wellness, and relaxation. So, take your time, weigh your options, and make the choice that feels right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key differences between infrared and traditional saunas?

Infrared saunas use advanced technology for efficient energy use, though they have a higher initial cost ($1,000-$5,000). Traditional saunas offer a classic steamy experience at a lower upfront cost ($500-$3,500).

Which type of sauna is more energy efficient?

Infrared saunas are more energy efficient due to their advanced technology that directly heats the body.

What is the cost range for infrared and traditional saunas?

Infrared saunas typically cost between $1,000 and $5,000 upfront. Traditional saunas have a lower upfront cost, ranging from $500 to $3,500.

What are some considerations in choosing between an infrared and traditional sauna?

Deciding factors between infrared and traditional saunas include health benefits, lifestyle preferences, and budget/space constraints. The choice should align with individual needs for health, wellness, and lifestyle.

Are there health benefits associated with using a sauna?

Both types of saunas offer health benefits, including stress reduction, improved circulation, skin rejuvenation, and potentially, detoxification. However, it is essential to seek medical advice before using a sauna for health purposes.

Are infrared saunas worth the higher initial cost?

Whether an infrared sauna’s higher initial cost is worth it depends on your budget, lifestyle preferences, and how you value the sauna’s energy efficiency and health benefits.

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