Choosing Saunas: Infrared or Traditional? [Expert Insights]

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Written By Lalabrothers

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In the world of wellness, infrared saunas are new compared to Finnish-style saunas. I learned a lot about saunas in functional medicine. Saunas help with detoxification and relaxation. People used saunas for health and purification for a long time. I like this old way.

Traditional saunas heat rocks to make high temperatures. This heat is strong and good for health conditions. Infrared saunas use light for heat. This is softer but still works well. I use saunas and feel better. They help with pain, make me feel good, and may lower the risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Studies say saunas might make people live longer. This article looks at how saunas affect our health and lives. Which sauna is better? This is interesting to think about.

What to Expect From a Sauna Session
Sauna Session Expectation

When you use a sauna, it is a special time. You can use an infrared sauna or a traditional sauna. Both are good for relaxation and health. They heat up differently, but both make you feel warm. You stay in the sauna for 5 to 30 minutes. You will sweat and your heart rate goes up. After, you feel calm and clear.

In a sauna, your body gets used to the heat. This is good for your cells and heart. Infrared saunas have softer heat. Many people like this. Traditional saunas have stronger heat that goes deep into your skin.

Some people like to use cold water after the sauna. They go to gyms, spas, or health centers. This makes the sauna time even better. You can also buy a sauna for your home. Then you can have your own health place at home.

Differences Between Infrared Saunas vs Traditional Saunas
Infrared and Traditional Saunas


Infrared saunas and traditional saunas heat up in different ways. In traditional saunas, they use a heater. This can be electric or a wood-burning stove. The heater has rocks. In these saunas, you sit in a room with wood walls. When water goes on the hot rocks, it gets warm and steamy. This makes the room hot and a bit wet. It feels very warm.

Infrared saunas are different. They do not make the air hot. They use EMF (electromagnetic field) from heating panels. The EMF does not heat the air. It goes into your body and makes you warm. This feels different from the warm air in traditional saunas. The heat from the infrared is direct but soft. Some people like this better. It is not as strong as traditional saunas but still helps you feel good.


Traditional saunas and infrared saunas work differently. Traditional saunas heat the air a lot. They can get as hot as 140 to 176 degrees Fahrenheit (60 to 80 degrees Celsius). This makes steam and some humidity. You sweat a lot in this heat.

Infrared saunas are not as hot. They get to 125 to 155 degrees Fahrenheit (52 to 68 degrees Celsius). This may not seem like a big change. But it makes the sauna feel different. The infrared heat goes right to your body. It does not make the air too hot. This means you can feel comfortable. You still get the warm, relaxing feeling that saunas are known for.

Time to Optimal Temperature

Traditional sauna and infrared sauna heat up at different speeds. Traditional sauna takes longer. It needs about 30 to 40 minutes to get warm. You put water on hot rocks to make steam. The heater warms the air, which then warms you.

Infrared sauna is faster. It gets warm in 10 to 15 minutes. This is because infrared heats you directly. It does not need to warm the air first. This is not only easier but also changes how you use your sauna time.

Running Costs

When you think about running costs for traditional and infrared saunas, size and power use are important. Infrared saunas usually use less energy. They heat fast and right to your body. So, they use less power. Traditional saunas need to make a big space hot. They take more time to warm up. This means more power. If you use an infrared sauna a lot, you might save money. It costs less to run than a traditional one. This makes infrared saunas a good choice if you care about saving money.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Saunas don’t need a lot of work to keep clean. But, you still need to clean them sometimes. Traditional saunas make the air wet. This can make the wood inside wet too. Wet wood can get mold or mildew. It’s important to clean this. People who like the old way of saunas should remember to do this.

Infrared saunas don’t make the air as wet. The only wetness is from sweat. So, they are easier to keep clean. If you don’t want to clean a lot, infrared saunas are better. You decide what you like. Do you like old-style saunas or easy ones like infrared? Both have their good points.

Read more about: How to Clean a Sauna

Purchase Price

Buying a sauna costs different amounts of money. Traditional saunas usually cost more than infrared saunas. A basic traditional sauna might cost about $2,000-2,500. A better one could be $5,000-10,000. The best ones can cost more than $10,000.

Infrared saunas are a bit cheaper. A good one might be $4,000-7,500. The best infrared saunas can cost $10,000-15,000.

Are Infrared Saunas Better Than Traditional Saunas?
Are Infrared Saunas Better Than Traditional Saunas

People often ask if infrared saunas are better than traditional saunas. There’s a lot of talk about this. I looked into research and the good things about both kinds of saunas. A big study in 2018 looked at 40 other studies. It had about 3,800 people in it. They found that it’s hard to say which sauna is better. Both kinds have their own special things. They are good for different reasons.

I see more people using infrared saunas now. They like that it’s new and uses less energy. But traditional saunas are still popular. They have a long history and a different kind of warm feeling. What you choose depends on what you like and what you want from a sauna.

Benefits of Infrared Saunas vs Traditional Saunas

Infrared saunas are really good because they are easy to use. You can set them up fast, in just a few minutes. They plug into a normal outlet, like 110v, and start in about 5 minutes. This is much faster than traditional saunas. Traditional ones need more time and work to get ready.

Being able to move them is great too. You can put infrared saunas anywhere there is an outlet. You can have one in your living room, office, or even in a holiday home. They are easy to put in place.

You can find infrared saunas almost everywhere. If you don’t want to buy one for your home, you can go to a gym center, spa or beauty . They usually have them ready to use.

The best thing about infrared saunas is you can use them a lot. They are not as hot, so it’s safe to use them every day or every other day. This helps you get a lot of health benefits.

Heart Disease and Longevity

Saunas, especially traditional saunas, are really good for your heart and living a long time. A big study with more than 2000 Finnish men found that using a sauna a lot, like 3-7 times a week, can really lower the chance of heart problems and dying from them. This is even better if you also do a lot of exercise.

Another study with 1621 men showed that using a traditional sauna often for 25 years can lower the chance of getting high blood pressure.

There are also studies on infrared saunas, like the Waon therapy in Japan. These studies in 2018 found that people with heart failure got better after using infrared saunas. A 2016 study with 149 patients showed that using this kind of sauna for two weeks could make their heart disease better. They could walk more and their heart size improved.

Brain Health

A 2017 study looked at how traditional saunas help your brain. It followed 2,300 Finnish men for 20 years. The study found that using a sauna often can lower the chance of getting dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. People who used the sauna 4-7 times a week had a much lower risk, like 65%-66% less, of getting these brain diseases compared to people who used it once a week. This shows that regular use of traditional saunas could be really good for your brain.

Mental Health

A 2018 study looked at 2,138 Finnish men for over 20 years. It found that using a traditional sauna a lot can lower the chance of getting mental illnesses. This shows how good regular sauna use can be for your mental health.

Also, a 2016 study with 93 people with depression tried something special. They used infrared lights to make the body very warm. After just one time, these people felt less depressed for up to six weeks. This means traditional and infrared saunas might really help with feeling down or depressed.

Chronic Pain and Fatigue

Studies show infrared saunas are good for chronic pain and fatigue. One study had women with fibromyalgia use infrared sauna therapy and do underwater exercises for 12 weeks. They had less pain after this.

Another study looked at people with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, a kind of arthritis in the spine. After four weeks of using infrared saunas, they felt less pain and stiffness.

There were also two studies on people with chronic fatigue syndrome. They used Waon infrared sauna therapy. They felt less tired and better overall.

These studies are hopeful. But, it’s important to remember, not one sauna type is best for everyone. What you choose depends on your health and what you like. Different saunas can help in different ways.

Pros and Cons
Pros and Cons

Traditional Saunas

Traditional saunas have good things and not-so-good things about them.

Good Things:
  • They give a real sauna feeling that is very special.
  • Great for outside. They look nice in nature and have an old-fashioned charm.
  • You can change how steamy they are. This is good if you like a lot of steam.
Not-So-Good Things:
  • They cost a lot to set up. This might be too much for some people.
  • They use a lot of energy to get hot and stay hot. This can cost more money over time.
  • They take time to get hot. This might not work for you if you are busy.

I think traditional saunas are really nice and can feel good. But you should think about these things before you get one. Your choice should match what you like and what you want for your health.

Infrared Saunas

Infrared saunas are popular in modern wellness for several reasons, but they also have some downsides.

Good Things:
  • They heat up much faster than traditional saunas. This is great if you’re busy.
  • They cost less to buy and run. This makes them more affordable.
  • You don’t need to clean them as often. This is handy, especially at home.
Not-So-Good Things:
  • Many can’t be used outside. This might be a problem if you like being outdoors.
  • They don’t have steam. Some people miss this because it’s different from the traditional sauna experience.
  • There’s talk about EMF (Electromagnetic Field) exposure. Some people worry about this, but it’s still being studied.

I think infrared saunas are very useful and save money. But they might not be right for everyone, especially if you really like the steamy, outdoor feel of traditional saunas. Your choice should fit what you need and what you like.


In the end, both traditional and infrared saunas are good for health and wellness. If you can’t use an infrared sauna, a traditional sauna is still much better than no sauna. But, many studies show infrared saunas might have even better health benefits. The choice between them depends on what you need and like, whether it’s for relaxing or for your health.


Which is better infrared or traditional sauna?

Infrared or traditional sauna? Infrared saunas use less energy. They save money over time. Saunas need cleaning sometimes. Traditional ones need it more because they make humidity and moisture. Your choice depends on what you like. Think about energy efficiency and how easy they are to keep clean.

What is the healthiest type of sauna?

For better skin health, circulation, and pain relief, an infrared sauna is often best. It has gentle heat that goes deep into the skin. This helps with circulation and pain relief more. It’s a top choice for health and wellness benefits.

What is healthier steam or infrared sauna?

Infrared saunas have good effects that grow with more use. The infrared goes deep into the body. This helps with relaxation, better circulation, pain relief, and detoxification. They are easier and cheaper than steam sauna. This makes them a smart, health-focused choice.

Why is a traditional sauna better?

Traditional saunas have research support for health benefits. They can lower the chance of getting dementia and help immune health. These benefits are not as much talked about in infrared saunas. This shows the unique part of traditional saunas in whole wellness.

Which sauna is better for the skin?

Saunas, especially infrared saunas, are good for acne. They help clean skin pores and stop blockage of the sebaceous gland. This gland makes sebum, the skin’s natural oil. These benefits help make hair follicles healthier. This shows how saunas can be good for hair health.

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