Saunas: Infrared vs. Steam

By Heat Master

Saunas Infrared vs. Steam

Saunas are prolific across the United States. They can be seen in spas, fitness centers, and even in individual homes. If you’re looking to install one in your house, you should consider the different types of saunas available for personal use.

The two most common are the traditional sauna (steam room) and the infrared sauna. Each type offers a range of benefits, so you should gain a good understanding of both in order to understand which will work best for your household.

Stay Traditional or Go Infrared

While many still consider steam saunas as the way to go, a new type of sauna that uses infrared heat has emerged, and as you will subsequently find out, this new type deserves its equal share of glory. So, which should you get, a steam room or an infrared sauna? Here’s an overview of both:

Steam Sauna

A steam room is an airtight space that is typically made of glass or tile, or any non-porous material. It comes with a steam generator that creates a moisture-rich environment that can warm the body through high heat and humidity. You can purchase a steam sauna as a kit that you can assemble on your own. You can also order a custom-made one that a contractor can install for you.

Steam rooms require specific settings before you can operate them. For instance, you need to follow the specified plumbing and electrical requirements to avoid any problems down the line.

Make sure to install the sauna in a safe location in your house to minimize burns. Also, make it a point to clean the steam room and drain the tile cleaner regularly to inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Infrared Sauna

Unlike a steam room, an infrared sauna is a wood-based structure that warms the body by emitting infrared rays. These infrared rays penetrate the body in approximately one and a half inches, thereby heating it directly.

According to medical professionals, this method of heating helps relieve pain and improves circulation. Also, because of the low humidity levels and mild air temperature, infrared saunas can also promote detoxification and weight loss.

An infrared sauna is relatively easier to transport and install since it doesn’t come with complicated insulation equipment. In fact, it can be assembled within an hour without professional help. Some infrared saunas actually need nothing more than plugging the switch into an existing outlet.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Steam and Infrared


One of the most important factors you need to consider before making your mind about which sauna to use is the heat involved in each unit.

Traditional saunas or steam rooms are usually insulated at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, although temperature levels can rise up to 195 degrees Fahrenheit. As you can imagine, this temperature level might overwhelm heat-sensitive people.

Infrared saunas, on the other hand, use an environment with milder temperature—one that doesn’t exceed the 150-degrees-Fahrenheit mark. Still, because infrared heat travels much deeper into the body compared to steam heat, it can cause you to sweat more, even if the temperature is lower.


Another crucial factor you need to consider is humidity. The thing about steam saunas is that they use a large amount of heated steam to create a humid experience. Steam rooms are widely known for their high heat and humidity, which creates an experience unique to this type of sauna.

If you want a steamy environment while relaxing and detoxifying, then you should go for a steam room. Otherwise, infrared saunas will do since they don’t necessarily use steam. As you know, infrared saunas rely heavily on infrared heaters instead of steam generators.

Power Needs

If you’re concerned about energy efficiency, then you need to consider the power needs of each type of sauna before deciding on which one to purchase.

To operate a traditional sauna, you need about six kilowatts of power. This is in comparison to an infrared sauna, which can run at only one or two kilowatts. The implication of this is clear. Steam rooms or traditional saunas require more power to run. In fact, they’re almost three times as expensive as infrared saunas.

Making Your Decision

All kinds of sauna bring a wide array of health benefits like stress relief, relaxation, weight loss, and detoxification. In other words, they can all contribute to the improvement of your health one way or another.

However, as you have seen, the two most common types of sauna, steam and infrared, can come with great perks that the other may not have. Because of this, you need to take your time assessing your individual needs and preferences before deciding which sauna type will benefit you the most.