While it may not be one of the more popular ways to relax here in the United States, there’s no question that frequent sauna use runs deep in cultures throughout the world. This is seen especially in the Nordic countries and eastern Europe, but sauna culture is indeed wide spread.
Saunas have been claimed to be beneficial in a variety of ways centuries, from helping you sweat out toxins, to relaxing your muscles, to assisting in thorough sleep, to even some suggestions of aiding with weight loss. On the contrary, Western culture has claimed that they can be bad for your health, causing excess strain on your heart, dehydration, or other shortcomings. It’s hard to subscribe explicitly to one particular school of thought, but as with all things there’s probably some extent of truth to many of the claims. One thing is for certain, a nice session in the sauna can be incredibly relaxing for the mind and body, and it can certainly leave you feeling great and full of energy.
The Introduction of Infrared Technology
When you think of a standard sauna, these days they usually involve a heater which draws it’s energy from high voltage electricity. The coils heat up much as an electric stove would, and the heat radiates from the coils to bring the sauna up to the desired temperature. These types of saunas work excellent, and they have for years, but it would be remiss to overlook the other style of saunas that have been emerging in recent years.
Specifically, I’m talking about infrared saunas. At first glance infrared saunas may look quite a bit like a traditional sauna. The shape of the unit is for the most part unchanged, and you’ll even find them constructed from similar types of wood as traditional saunas, ranging from pine to cedar and hemlock. The main difference here is that rather than relying on radiant heat to bring up the temperature in the sauna, they are using low frequency infrared waves to transfer the energy.
As a result infrared saunas can operate at a lower temperature, which in theory would mean that an infrared sauna would keep your body temperature lower leading to less stress on your heart and other organs. Of course this needs to be vetted by the medical industry, and if the track record with research done on traditional sauna sessions is any indication then data in this regard may take years to come. It is certainly a novel idea that merits a deeper look.
Of course, right off the bat the question becomes whether or not prolonged exposure to infrared ways may harm your body by other mechanisms that we have not yet come across. One thing is for sure, if you want to buy an infrared sauna make sure that you’re getting a model that uses low EMF heaters – most of the products on the market today are already on board with this standard.
Are Traditional Saunas a Thing Of The Past?
In short, absolutely not. Traditional saunas have been around for centuries if not millennia and their use is highly unlikely to decline any time soon. However, there are some reasons why some people might find infrared saunas attractive. Aside from the speculative benefits discussed above, there are some practical reasons that an infrared sauna might make more sense for your home than a traditional sauna.
First of all, one of the most (if the the most) expensive components of a traditional sauna is the heater. Conversely, infrared heating elements are relatively affordable and as a result infrared saunas come with a noticeably lower price tag. Secondly, infrared saunas often do not require the voltage that traditional saunas require, meaning they can be used with a standard 110V outlet here in the US and may not even require an electrician to install. Last but not least, their design lends them much more easily to being portable, so if you’d like you can even find a model that you can fold up and stow away when not in use.
It’s unlikely that traditional saunas will be dethroned by infrared alternatives, but it’s no question that there are potential benefits to infrared saunas as well. Only time will tell if they will lead to further adoption by homes across the United States.